Theft Arrest For Phony Condo Rental
OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man was arrested on burglary and theft charges last week after allegedly falsely listing a year-round rental on the Internet, showing it to a prospective renter and collecting a security deposit all under a fictitious name and with fictitious documents.
Around 11:50 a.m. last Wednesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer met with the victim of a reported theft in the lobby of the Public Safety Building. The victim told the officer he had located an apartment for rent year-round on Craig’s List at the Ocean Point II condominium on 40th Street. The victim made contact with a man who falsely identified himself as Jason Bowls, but was later found out to be Michael Jopling, 47, of Easton, Pa.
The victim told police he had exchanged several text messages with Jopling regarding the availability of the rental and arranged to meet him for a walk-through. On or about Oct. 20, Jopling met the victim at Ocean Point II and punched in a digital code to access the unit. The victim and Jopling entered the unit through the front door and after seeing the unit, the victim agreed to rent it from Jopling.
According to police reports, Jopling provided Bowden with a detailed copy of the lease agreement, specifying the terms of the lease, the length of the rental, the amount to be paid monthly including a security deposit, and the move-in date. The victim agreed to pay the security deposit of $670 and the first month’s rent of $1,150 and he and his wife signed the lease agreement.
According to police reports, Jopling also signed the lease agreement under the fictitious name Jason Bowls. The victim and his wife paid Jopling the $670 security deposit in cash and was issued an receipt from Jopling signed again with the fictitious name Jason Bowls. The victim told police he and his wife were planning on moving into the unit after he made arrangements for the first month’s rent and that he was waiting on assistance from the health department for the first rent payment.
However, the victim told police at that point, Jopling became unavailable and did not return the victim’s phone calls, which concerned him. Meanwhile, the officer researched the property and learned it was actually owned by a woman named Leona Bramble. The victim met with Bramble and they were able to determine Jason Bowls was a fictitious name used by Jopling during the alleged rental scheme and that Jopling had no permission to rent the unit or even access it at the time he entered the fraudulent lease agreement with the victim.
Police were able to locate Jopling and took him into custody last Wednesday. It was also determined Jopling was wanted on an extraditable warrant from Pennsylvania. After having his rights read to him, Jopling agreed to speak freely with OCPD detectives. Through the investigation, it was determined Jopling was previously familiar with the property, which is how he had the digital access code for the front door.
Jopling had fraudulently listed the unit on Craigslist.com and utilized fraudulent lease documents and a false name to bilk the victim out of $670 in cash for the security deposit with the intention of stealing another $1,150 for the first month’s rent at a later date. He was charged with third-degree burglary, theft less than $1,000 and attempted theft from $1,000 to $10,000. A preliminary hearing has been set for Dec. 1.
Guilty Plea For Stun Gun At Trump Rally
SNOW HILL — A Delmar man, arrested last April on various charges after producing a stun gun at a protest following Donald Trump’s visit to Stephen Decatur High School, pleaded guilty last week to disorderly conduct and was fined and placed on probation.
On April 20, Trump visited Berlin for a political rally attended by thousands, including supporters, protesters and hundred more curiosity seekers. While Trump was speaking inside the school, thousands gathered in areas around Decatur including the parking lot of the old Harley Davidson business across the street.
The protests, while somewhat chippy, were by and large peaceful although an incident later in the evening after the rally threatened to turn violent. After the rally was over, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer who was part of an local allied law enforcement presence on hand to provide security, heard what he believed to be a stun gun being activated in the large crowd in the Harley Davidson parking lot.
The OCPD officer then observed a group of about 20 people running toward the east side of the parking lot. As the officer approached the group, he heard a distinctive clicking sound and could see a light flickering in the center of the crowd. The officer observed a suspect, later identified as Michael Purnell, 21, of Delmar, running toward another man while activating what the officer observed as a stun gun.
The second male was running backward and yelling at the crowd while Purnell chased him while activating the stun gun. The gun had a red activation light on it and it arced as Purnell ran toward the second man. Purnell continued to chase the other man from the center of the parking lot to an area near the rear while the crowd dispersed because of the pending violence.
One of the OCPD officers on the scene targeted Purnell with his taser, which gained immediate compliance and ended the potentially dangerous incident. Purnell was then arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. A search incident to the arrest yielded the aforementioned stun gun along with a canister of pepper spray, which had been recently used with fresh remnants of pepper spray still on the nozzle. As a side note, several people in the parking lot crowd had complained of symptoms associated with pepper spray including burning eyes and throats, but officers never witnessed Purnell deploying the pepper spray canister.
Last week, Purnell pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was placed on probation for one year and fined $500.
Jail Time For Assault
OCEAN CITY — A West Virginia man, arrested last April on assault and false imprisonment charges after strangling and threatening to kill his girlfriend in an Ocean City apartment, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to six months, all but one of which was then suspended.
Around 12:55 a.m. last April 23, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to an apartment at 27th Street for a reported domestic assault that had already occurred. The officer met with a female victim who was hysterically crying who told police her boyfriend, identified as Harry Mozingo, 63, of Martinsburg, W.Va., had strangled her.
The victim told police she had been staying with Mozingo at the apartment for a couple of days when the couple got into a verbal argument that escalated into a physical confrontation. The victim told police she attempted to leave when Mozingo allegedly threw her down on a bed and began to strangle her with both hands. The victim had red marks on both sides of her neck and scratches on her arm consistent with her version of the events, according to police reports.
The victim told officers Mozingo told her he was going to kill her as he strangled her, according to police reports. Eventually, the victim was able to push Mozingo off of her and was able to lock herself in a bathroom and called police. Mozingo had left the scene in his vehicle and a description of the vehicle was broadcast. A short time later, Mozingo was located in the area of 4th Street and was arrested and charged with assault, false imprisonment and other charges.
Last week, Mozingo pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to six months in jail. Five months were then suspended from the sentence, leaving him one month to serve. Mozingo was also placed on supervised probation for two years and fined $500.
Vandals Hit Republicans
SALISBURY — Symbolic of just how nasty the election season got near the finish line, vandals struck the Wicomico County Republican Club sometime last Friday or early Saturday morning, spray-painting the facility’s windows and walls.
Around 8:45 a.m. last Saturday, Salisbury Police responded to the Wicomico County Republican Club on East Main Street for reported vandalism. The investigation revealed sometime between 8 p.m. last Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, unknown vandals had targeted the facility. The spray-paining consisted of derogatory words, phrases and sketches on the building’s exterior walls and windows.
No suspect had been identified as of mid-week and Salisbury Police were seeking the public’s assistance. Mayor Jake Day denounced the politically-motivated vandalism and said it would not be tolerated.
“I have zero tolerance for acts of vandalism or political violence,” he said. “This is an infringement on decency, freedom of speech and freedom from intimidation. No one in our community should fear because of the candidate or political party they support.”
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Salisbury Police Department at 410-548-3165, or Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776.