False Robbery Report Leads to Arrest

OCEAN CITY – A New York man who last weekend made up a false armed robbery story, which led eight Ocean City police officers on an investigation lasting over three hours and led to the false arrest of another man identified as a suspect, was arrested himself after the incident for making a false statement to an officer.

It all started shortly after midnight last Sunday when OCPD officers making a routine traffic stop at Gold Coast Mall were approached by a man, later identified as Richard Ryan Crespo, 21, of West Berry, N.Y., who told the police he had just been robbed at gunpoint by four black males on Jamestown Rd. Crespo told police he was walking out of a nearby pizza parlor when he was approached by the four suspects, one of whom put his arm around Crespo and told him to take a walk with them.

Crespo told police he walked with the suspects down Jamestown Rd. when he was assaulted and kicked to the ground. Crespo told police one of the suspects hit him with the butt of a handgun and then pointed the gun in his face and demanded his wallet and cell phone. Crespo further told police the four suspects got into a white Cadillac and headed west on Jamestown.

His story touched off a search of the area involving as many as eight OCPD officers, who soon found a vehicle and four suspects matching the description provided by Crespo. The officers brought Crespo to the area where the Cadillac and the main suspect were being held and he identified the main suspect as the man who robbed him at gunpoint, saying “he was 100 percent sure,” that it was him. The suspect was then arrested on suspicion of armed robbery.

During the investigation, Crespo was interviewed at different times by as many as four OCPD officers and his story changed each time. For example, it came to light Crespo was not robbed of his wallet and his cell phone, but he did not know what happened to it. He further stated he never actually saw a handgun, but saw something that looked like a handgun.

In another version, Crespo told police he thought the suspect in custody was the man who robbed him at gunpoint, but now he wasn’t so sure. In fact, as he was being driven by police to identify the suspect, he reportedly said, “can’t we just forget about this,” and “do we have to go along with this.”

In yet another version, Crespo told a different officer the armed robbery did not take place on Jamestown Rd. as first reported, but rather at his motel room at the Comfort Inn at Gold Coast Mall. In this version, Crespo said the suspect being detained had entered his room, lifted up his shirt to reveal a handgun, and then took his wallet.

Finally, Crespo admitted there had never been a robbery, saying he made the story up “out of stupidity” and that he was sorry. He told police he was angry and upset about being harassed by the group of suspects earlier in the evening.

The initial officer tallied up the toll of the false investigation and found it had involved as many as eight officers and lasted over three hours. The phony robbery story also resulted in four suspects being wrongly detained for over an hour. As a result, Crespo himself was arrested and charged with making a false statement to an officer.

Drug Surveillance Nets Two Busts

OCEAN CITY – Two OCPD narcotics detectives conducting surveillance on a downtown apartment building last week got a two-for-one bust when they first nabbed a buyer and later got the seller.

On Aug. 17, OCPD narcotics officers were on surveillance at 17 Dayton Lane in Ocean City when they noticed several people entering and leaving the unit, staying only for a short time. The officers approached one of the individuals, a 17-year-old juvenile female from Berlin, who admitted purchasing marijuana from a man living in Unit 3. The juvenile was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana before being released to her mother.

The detectives then approached the unit and identified the man that sold the pot to the juvenile. He was identified as William C. Hausmann, 18, of Berlin. Inside the unit, the detectives discovered two Baggies of marijuana, a pipe with marijuana residue, a digital scale, a metal grinder and $170 in cash. Hausmann was then arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Downtown Fire Investigated

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Fire Marshals Office this week is investigating a fire at The Virginian condominium on 11th Street on Tuesday.

Around 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a fire was reported at the Virginian on Philadelphia Ave. near 11th Street. Initial crews arriving on location found fire in the ceiling of unit 21 on the second floor. Fire damage was limited to the attack area over unit 21 with water damage reported in unit 21 and unit 18 on the first floor. The fire is still under investigation by the Fire Marshals Office.

Two-Day Sentence For Mace Attack

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man was found guilty of second-degree assault last week for an assault on another man with a can of mace outside a West Ocean City coffee shop and was sentenced to three months in jail with all but two days suspended.

On May 11, a Maryland State Police trooper responded to a reported assault at the Starbucks in West Ocean City. While on his way to the scene, the two alleged combatants had left the area and gone first to the White Marlin Mall across the street before heading south on Route 611.

The trooper made contact with one of the individuals involved, William Thomas, at Route 611 and Sunset Ave. Thomas told the trooper he was sitting at Starbucks when a vehicle pulled into a parking space in front of him. The driver, later identified as Matthew Jon Hilty, 32, of Ocean City, reportedly said to Thomas, “What are you laughing at? You think you can park it better, then you do it.”

When Hilty exited the store, he and Thomas began to exchange words, according to police reports. Thomas told the trooper Hilty got back in his vehicle and the two continued to exchange words. Thomas said he then got up and started to walk toward the front of Hilty’s vehicle as they exchanged words.

Hilty then got out of his vehicle and sprayed Thomas with a large can of pepper spray about the face and neck, according to police reports. Thomas said Hilty then got back in his vehicle and exited the scene. The trooper was able to stop Hilty at Route 611 and Sunset Ave., and Hilty told him he had sprayed Thomas with pepper spray when Thomas approached his vehicle.

Witnesses said there were several people exiting the store with small children and several others had to evacuate the area due to the pepper spray that Hilty sprayed. Witnesses also said Thomas made no aggressive movement nor did he approach Hilty in any way.

Hilty was charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and the use of mace/chemical device with intent to injure. On Tuesday, he was found guilty of second-degree assault and sentenced to three months in jail, all of which was suspended but two days, which he will serve this weekend. He was also fined $300 and placed on probation upon release.

Coast Guard Airlifts Five From Vessel in Distress

OCEAN CITY – The U.S. Coast Guard last Friday rescued five people including four children from a vessel taking on water about 70 miles off the coast of Ocean City.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. last Friday, the Coast Guard received a call reporting the fishing boat “Hot Catch” with five adults and four children aboard was quickly taking on water about 70 miles off the coast of Ocean City and was in need of assistance. Help came from several different directions as an HH-65C Dolphin helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City and a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. were deployed and headed toward the location of the “Hot Catch.”

Both air rescue crews arrived on the scene a short time later and the Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted four children and one adult into their helicopter. The four children and one adult rescued were transported to Cape May County Airport in New Jersey where they were picked up by family members. No injuries were reported.

In the meantime, the source of the “Hot Catch” flooding problem was identified and brought under control. The boat was stabilized and the remaining four passengers were not required to be air-lifted from the vessel. With the flooding issue resolved, the “Hot Catch,” with the remaining four adults on board, was able to make it safely back to port at the Canyon Club Marina in Cape May. No injuries were reported among the four adults that remained on the vessel.

Rescue Operation A Success

OCEAN CITY – The Coast Guard was extremely busy throughout the mid-Atlantic area this week with several rescue operations including one on Tuesday off the coast of Ocean City.

On Tuesday, the Coast Guard received a call about a 60-year-old man unconscious and unresponsive aboard the sport fishing boat “Blue Collar Man” about 31 miles east-southeast of Ocean City. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Ocean City and a HH-65C Dolphin helicopter rescue team from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City responded to the scene of the distress call and removed the ill man from the vessel and transported him to PRMC in Salisbury. There was no word on his condition at press time.

Body Found In Fenwick Identified

FENWICK ISLAND – Delaware State Police have identified the body of a man found floating in the surf at Delaware Seashore State Park near Fenwick on last week.

On Aug. 20, Delaware State Police troopers responded to the park after a civilian reported finding a dead body floating in the surf. Officials from Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) also responded and removed the body and turned it over to the Delaware state police.

The deceased had no identification on his person and an investigation into his identity began. With the assistance of the Ocean City Police Department and the Maryland State Police, Delaware State Police detectives were able to identify the body as Derrick Anthony Graviosi, 31, of Huntingtown, Md.

Graviosi had been reported as a missing person a few days prior to his body being recovered in Fenwick and Maryland State Police detectives were able to match his fingerprints to those on file. The cause of death has been determined as drowning, while the manner of death has not been determined.

Charter Captain Scraps With NRP

OCEAN CITY – A veteran Ocean City charter captain got in a scrap with Maryland Natural Resources Police last Saturday which ended with him facing assault, resisting arrest and other charges.

Around 5 p.m. last Saturday, the NRP, working with the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officers, were conducting a joint enforcement agreement patrol at the Talbot Street Pier in Ocean City in an effort to find and deter fisheries violations. The officers boarded the charter boat “Lisa,” captained by Stuart Lloyd Windsor, 65, of Ocean City, to check the daily catch and discovered three fish that required a federal permit to possess.

When the officers asked Windsor for his permit, he became uncooperative, picked up the three fish and walked off the vessel away from the officers. He refused to comply with the officers’ orders and had to be reportedly forcefully restrained. Windsor was charged with second-degree assault, failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer, resisting arrest and obstructing and hindering. He was taken before a Worcester County District Court Commissioner and released on his own recognizance.

Illegal PWCs In Commercial Harbor

OCEAN CITY – Two Ohio people were charged with several violations last weekend after getting caught with unregistered personal watercraft in the commercial harbor in West Ocean City.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) stopped two personal watercraft (PWC) operated by Michael Axtman, 25, and Yvonne Axtman, 33, both of Youngstown, Ohio, for allegedly speeding in the commercial harbor. During the stop, officers discovered both PWC registrations were expired and that both vessels had the hull identification numbers removed.

The two were then escorted back to the boat ramp, where the officers discovered the trailer used to transport the PWCs did not have a registration tag displayed. Both Axtmans were charged with failure to affix hull identification numbers as required.

Michael Axtman was also charged with exceeding the established speed limit and failure to attach the registration plate to the trailer. NRP seized both PWCs and the trailer as evidence. The incident is still under investigation.

Guilty Sentence For Assault

OCEAN CITY – A 19-year old came before the Ocean City District Court Monday morning to face charges of second-degree assault that stemmed from an incident in which he bit his girlfriend.

Jason Robert Burns, 19, of Mount Airy, Md., pleaded guilty to second-degree assault Monday morning. On June 13, officers responded to the area of the Atlantic Hotel on the Boardwalk in response to reports of a heated argument. Upon arrival officers found Burns and a female engaged in an argument.

The female told officers that Burns had bit her on the cheek. The officer observed a mark on her cheek that was consistent with her claims and arrested Burns for assault.

Burns’ attorney explained to the court that the girl was Burns’ girlfriend of three years. They had come to Ocean City on vacation together and incidentally broke up while they were here. Burns’s attorney explained that on the night of the incident they were fighting and that when she tried to leave, Burns grabbed her and pulled her towards him, accidentally bumping his teeth into her check.  Burns’ attorney maintained that Burns had not intentionally bitten her cheek.

“Yeah it happens all the time,” Judge Daniel Mumford said facetiously of the accidental bite claim.

Finding no reason to believe the claim, Mumford found Burns guilty of second-degree assault, sentencing Burns to probation before judgment, one year of supervised probation, $557.50 in fines and anger management classes. “You need to keep your hands to yourself and your mouth to yourself,” Judge Mumford advised.

Pair Receives Guilty Sentences

OCEAN CITY – Two Pennsylvania men were found guilty of possession of marijuana in District Court Monday morning after pleading guilty to the charges.

Pierre O. Folks, 19, Christiana, Pa., and Anthony J. Salerno, 18, Atglen, Pa., came before Judge Daniel Mumford to plead guilty to charges stemming from a June arrest.

On June 15, shortly after 6 p.m., officers spotted three individuals walking in the downtown area. Police noticed the smell of marijuana emanating from the individuals. Police stopped them and identified two of the individuals as Folks and Salerno. After searching all three individuals, 1.8 grams of marijuana was found on both Folks and Salerno. No marijuana was found on the third individual.

“Why’d you all come to my hometown to smoke dope,” Mumford asked, explaining the dangers of drug use to the two defendants.

Folks and Salerno were both sentenced to probation before judgment with one year of unsupervised probation and $557.50 in fines.

Possession Charges Stick Despite Excuses

OCEAN CITY – A Dundalk, Md. man pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in District Court Monday morning, but followed his guilty plea with the classic excuse, “it wasn’t mine, I found it.”

Charles W. Barrow, 58, came before Judge Daniel Mumford Monday to face charges stemming from an arrest in June.

On June 16, officers were on foot patrol in the Inlet parking lot when they noticed a red pick-up truck. As they approached the vehicle on foot, Barrow exited, giving the officers a view into the truck of a Baggie of marijuana, which later proved to be .4 grams of marijuana.

Barrow explained that he had found the marijuana on the ground in the parking lot and had made the mistake of taking it. Mumford did not buy the age-old excuse that the marijuana did not belong to him.

Barrow’s attorney mentioned that Barrow suffered from lung disease and cancer, which spurred questions from Mumford.

“If you’ve got lung disease, why would you want to smoke anything at all,” Judge Mumford asked. Barrows had no answer to the question.

“The 60’s and 70’s are over its time to grow up,” Mumford advised, sentencing Barrow to probation before judgment.

“Quit looking for pot in parking lots and in the streets,” Mumford added.

Five Area Families Displaced by Fire

POCOMOKE – Five Pocomoke families were displaced by a fire last weekend at a renovated house converted into five separate apartments.

The blaze was first reported shortly before 3 p.m. last Saturday and did extensive damage to the structure at 501 Market Street. A total of 12 residents occupied the building and one was treated for smoke inhalation and later released from the hospital. Firefighters from Pocomoke, Stockton, Girdletree and Greenbackville in Virginia responded and remained on the scene for several hours.

The fire originated in a first floor apartment bedroom. The cause is still under investigation. The Red Cross is currently assisting the five families displaced by the fire.