Cops And Courts – February 24, 2017

Cops And Courts – February 24, 2017
Social Issues Government

Undercover Sting Nabs Skateboard Thief

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City man faces theft and deadly weapon charges this week after attempting to sell a stolen skateboard to an undercover Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer.

Back on Jan. 2, OCPD officers began investigating the theft of a unique Sector 9 skateboard from a vehicle on Jamestown Road on New Year’s Eve. The victim told police his vehicle had been broken into and the skateboard and other items had been stolen sometime between 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 and 11 a.m. on Jan. 1.

On Monday, an OCPD detective again met with the victim, who told police he had been in contact with a male through an on-line cell phone application called “Letgo,” essentially an Internet person-to-person mobile classified ad application that allows buyers and sellers to connect on various items for sale. The OCPD detective reviewed messages between the victim and a male suspect later identified as Justin Ehmcke, 34, of Ocean City, who was apparently attempting to sell a skateboard matching the description of the one stolen from the victim.

The victim was able to show the detective pictures of his skateboard with unique markings prior to it being stolen and the pictures matched those presented by Ehmcke on the “Letgo” site. The OCPD detective made contact with Ehmcke through the “Letgo” app and agreed to meet the suspect in the area of a convenience store on 26th Street to purchase the skateboard.

According to police reports, Ehmcke did not show up at the appointed place and time at the convenience store on Monday and changed the location of the transaction to a restaurant on the opposite side of Coastal Highway at 28th Street. The detective moved over to the new location and observed Ehmcke’s vehicle, which traveled around the parking block twice with the occupants staring at the undercover officer each time.

The officer identified Ehmcke along with a female passenger and an infant in the back seat. The vehicle finally stopped in the shopping center parking lot and the officer made contact with Ehmcke. According to police reports, Ehmcke walked to the trunk and retrieved the skateboard matching the description provided by the victim.

The victim was brought to the scene and positively identified the skateboard as the one stolen from his vehicle back in January. Ehmcke was detained and the detective observed the handle of a fixed-blade knife concealed in the suspect’s pants pocket. Ehmcke was taken into custody and voluntarily told the detective about the skateboard.

According to police reports, he told the detective he bought the skateboard for $75 and planned to sell it for $100. He then changed his story and said he planned to keep the skateboard and give it to his brother, who was a skateboarding enthusiast. Ehmcke told police he received the skateboard two months ago and utilized a pre-paid cell phone to set up the “Letgo” transaction with the victim.

Ehmcke also told the detective he had brought the knife to the potential sale of the skateboard “just in case,” according to police reports. Based on all of the evidence and the suspect’s own admissions, Ehmcke was charged with theft and possession of a concealed deadly weapon.

Alleged Drug Dealer Busted At Downtown Bar

OCEAN CITY — A local man was arrested on drug distribution charges this week after allegedly attempting to sell prescription drugs at a downtown bar.

Around 1:40 a.m. on Monday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer on patrol responded to a bar on Wicomico Street for a report of an individual armed with a knife selling controlled dangerous substances (CDS). Ocean City Police Communications advised the officer the caller had been the person solicited by the suspect to purchase CDS. The caller, an employee of the bar, told police a white male armed with a folding knife with a four-inch blade had attempted to sell him drugs. The caller told police the suspect put the drugs back in his front left pocket before leaving the bar and likely still had them concealed there.

The OCPD officer arrived on the scene and located a suspect matching the description, later identified as James McGarry, 25, of Ocean City, still standing outside the bar. The officer approached McGarry and conducted a pat-down to ensure his safety and the safety of other bar patrons in the area. During the search, the officer located several pills loosely strewn in McGarry’s pocket along with a plastic bag with more pills inside.

The officer searched further and found 11 pills identified as Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, loosely in McGarry’s pockets. The officer also located five more Xanax pills along with segments and fragments of other pills on McGarry’s person. When questioned, McGarry reportedly told police he did not have a prescription for the pills either on his person or at his home and that he was just “out at the bar with his friends having a good time.”

At that point, McGarry was arrested for possession of CDS. During a search of the suspect’s wallet, the OCPD officer located over $300 in cash along with strips of Suboxone. According to police reports, McGarry told the officer he was recovering opiate addict and used the Suboxone strips to “satisfy his needs and keep him level.”

The officer then interviewed the bar employee who had originally placed the 911 call. The employee told police McGarry was a patron at the bar and had been following him around, always making sure to have his four-inch knife out of his pocket and on the bar in front of him. The employee said he eventually sat down at the bar and McGarry moved to a seat next to him and engaged in awkward small talk before he presented a white pill he was offering for purchase. The employee told police he recognized the pill as Xanax.

The employee suspected from McGarry’s actions that he was attempting to engage him in a drug transaction, which is when he called 911. Based on the evidence and witness testimony, McGarry was charged with two counts of possession of CDS-not marijuana and one count of possession of CDS with intent to distribute. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered to be held on a $7,500 bond.

Wrong Way Driver Flees Scene On Foot

OCEAN CITY — A South Carolina man was arrested on drunk-driving and fleeing and eluding charges last week after first going the wrong way on Baltimore Avenue and then running from police while his wife laid on the sidewalk nearby.

Around 9:30 p.m. last Tuesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer on patrol observed a vehicle leave the rear parking lot of a shopping center at 28th Street and head northbound on the southbound side of Baltimore Avenue. The officer followed the vehicle as it drove north the wrong way on Baltimore Avenue and turned left onto 29th Street.

The officer conducted a traffic stop at 29th Street and the driver, later identified as Christopher Montgomery, 28, of Beaufort, South Carolina, exit the driver’s side and look back at the marked OCPD vehicle and hung his head, shaking it from side to side as if he was disappointed, according to police reports. At that point, the officer observed a female later identified as Montgomery’s wife lying on the sidewalk and landscaped area at the north end of the 28th Street plaza.

Montgomery walked back toward the OCPD officer’s vehicle, and despite orders to remain near his vehicle, he allegedly walked up to the officer’s driver’s side window and said “What’s up?” The officer noted in his report Montgomery had a difficult time maintaining his balance as he walked back toward the police cruiser. Montgomery then heeded the officer’s warning to head back to his own vehicle.

As the officer exited his vehicle, Montgomery reportedly fled the scene on foot and ran south through the 28th Street plaza parking lot. The initial officer broadcast a description of Montgomery to fellow officers in the area and remained with the suspect’s wife and vehicle. OCPD officers searched the area for Montgomery to no avail.

The initial officer then made contact with Montgomery via telephone. Montgomery would not agree to return to the scene, but did admit he made a mistake. According to police reports, Montgomery told the original officer “I worked my entire life serving this country and building a life and I’m going to lose it all by making one mistake? That’s not right.”

Several officers continued to search the area but did not locate Montgomery, who continued to refuse to return to the scene via telephone conversation with the initial officer. The officer eventually discontinued any more phone conversations with Montgomery, whose vehicle was towed to the impound lot. He was eventually located and charged with driving under the influence, driving the wrong way on a one-way street and fleeing and eluding an officer on foot.

Armed Robbery Suspect Still Awaits Extradition

OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man, charged two weeks ago with two armed robberies in the north end of the resort in January, was still awaiting extradition to Maryland this week and has not yet been formally charged.

Two weeks ago, Ocean City Police identified Christopher Jones-Rivera, 18, of Elizabethtown, Pa. as the suspect wanted in connection with a pair of armed robberies at gunpoint in north Ocean City back on January 28. Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) detectives applied for a multitude of charges against Jones-Rivera.

OCPD Criminal Investigation Division Major Crimes Unit detectives traveled to Pennsylvania and identified Jones-Rivera as a suspect and the process for extradition to Maryland was initiated. However, as of mid-week, Jones-Rivera had not yet been extradited and remained in a Lancaster County prison.

The first armed robbery occurred around 10 p.m. on January 28 in a parking lot in the area of 79th Street and Coastal Highway. The second armed robbery occurred about a half an hour later at a municipal bus stop near 138th Street and Coastal Highway. In both incidents, the victims were able to provide a similar description of the victim and told police he pointed a silver semi-automatic handgun at them during the commission of the crimes.

In the second incident, the victim, a nearby convenience store employee, reported she was waiting for a bus on the southbound bus stop on Coastal Highway at 138th Street when she was approached by a white male who demanded her cell phone and money. The victim described the suspect as a white male around 6-feet tall with a medium build who was wearing a dark gray hooded sweatshirt and a black ski mask with eye and mouth holes.

Through the investigation, OCPD detectives identified possible suspects from the Elizabethtown, Pa. area. On Feb. 8, OCPD detectives traveled to Pennsylvania and determined Jones-Rivera was the suspect. OCPD detectives applied for a multitude of charges against Jones-Rivera including three counts of armed robbery, three counts of using a firearm while committing a violent felony, three counts each of first- and second-degree assault and two counts of theft. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was taken into custody on Feb. 8 with assistance from the Elizabethtown Police Department but he has not yet been extradited to Worcester County to face the charges.

Juvenile Break-In Suspect Charged

OCEAN CITY — A Germantown, Md. teen identified as the suspect in a rash of vehicle break-ins in Ocean City by his fingerprints left on the victims’ vehicles was waived to adult status last week and now faces multiple counts of theft and theft scheme.

On July 4, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers took reports for five separate vehicles that had been broken into within a couple blocks of each other in the north end of the resort. The thefts followed a similar pattern for the most part with money, credit cards and other valuables stolen and in each case there was no sign of forced entry.

For example, one victim reported multiple credit cards and store discount cards stolen, along with her driver’s license and golf clubs and bag totaling $900. Another victim reported a wallet stolen containing credit cards and a 1957 silver certificate dollar bill, the total loss of which was estimated at $450. That same victim also reported a large scratch on her vehicle that wasn’t present prior to the break-in that cost an estimated $400 to repair.

A total of five vehicle break-ins were reported all between the evening hours on July 3 and into the early morning hours on July 4. The OCPD Forensic Sciences Division responded and processed the scene, capturing fingerprints suitable for comparison from four of the five vehicles. On July 28, the OCPD was advised by the Maryland State Police that fingerprints belonging to a suspect identified as Raphael Ayala were identified on the driver’s door handles on two of the victims’ vehicles.

Ayala, who was a juvenile at the time of the incidents, was later located and charged with 11 total counts ranging from theft to malicious destruction of property to theft scheme over $1,000 to under $10,000. Last week, a Worcester County Circuit Court judge waived Ayala to adult status and he was released after posting a $3,500 bond.