Cops & Courts – May 20, 2022

Seagull Assault Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A Willards man was arrested last weekend after allegedly knocking a seagull from the sky with a large pole, snapping its neck and discarding it in a dumpster.

Around 9 a.m. on Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a reported animal complaint near a north-end hotel at 100th Street. Witnesses reported they had seen a man strike a seagull out of the air with a 10-foot pole before snapping the injured bird’s neck and discarding it in a dumpster, according to police reports. Officers arrived and observed one large dumpster and two smaller ones on the north side of the building.

An OCPD officer climbed to get a look into a larger dumpster, but did not see a seagull. After checking the second dumpster to no avail, officers were able to locate the injured seagull in the third one. According to police reports, the seagull had blood coming from it.

An animal control officer arrived and was able to remove the injured gull from the dumpster using a net. The animal control officer evaluated the seagull and consulted with a bird rehabilitation facility to determine if the bird needed to be euthanized. It was later determined the bird needed to be euthanized.

While officers were interviewing witnesses, the suspect, later identified as Richard Bortz, Jr., 67, of Willards, approached them from the direction of the building. A witness positively identified Bortz as the suspect, according to police reports. When asked if he knew anything about seagull, Bortz reportedly told police he doesn’t know anything about that bird, but he does know seagulls fly into dumpsters.

Witnesses reportedly told officers Bortz walked out of the building with a large PVC pipe and knocked the seagull out of the air. He then went back inside the building with a pipe, but returned a short time later and appeared to try to snap the bird’s neck before discarding it in the dumpster, according to witnesses.

Officers watched hotel video surveillance footage from the dumpster area, which confirmed the witnesses’ accounts of the incident, according to police reports. OCPD officers consulted with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate charges. Bortz was charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal, animal cruelty and animal cruelty-cause.

According to police reports, when Bortz was placed under arrest, he did not ask why he was being arrested, nor did he make any argument about the arrest, according to police reports.


Boardwalk Wallet Theft

OCEAN CITY — A Reisterstown, Md. woman was arrested on theft charges last week after allegedly swiping another woman’s wallet inside a Boardwalk attraction.

Around 1:25 a.m. last Tuesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to Ripley’s Believe or Not amusement facility on the Boardwalk for a reported theft that had already occurred. The officer met with a female victim who reported her wallet was stolen from a table inside the establishment. The total estimated value of the cash, cards and the value of the wallet itself was roughly $300.

The officer reviewed surveillance video from the establishment and observed a woman later identified as Judy Gerst, 44, of Reisterstown, Md., walk by the unattended wallet and cover it with her jacket, according to police reports. Gerst walked around the room multiple times, returned to the jacket and eventually picked it up. When Gerst picked up the jacket, the wallet was missing, according to police reports.

Gerst then reportedly walked to another area of the exhibit, immediately looked through it, according to police reports. Gerst then returned to the table where she put down her jacket and picks it up again, but the wallet still wasn’t there. She then left the exhibit.

OCPD officers located Gerst on the Boardwalk a short time later. Gerst claimed she saw the wallet on the table and took it to turn it in. When asked why she didn’t turn it in and entered another exhibit, Gerst reportedly said he just wanted to look at the other attractions.

Gerst then told police she went into the bathroom and put the wallet on the counter, and when she came out of the stall, the wallet was gone. Based on the video surveillance and the inconsistencies in Gerst’s story, she was arrested and charged with theft.


Assault, Resisting Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A New Jersey man was arrested last weekend after refusing to leave a hotel, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

Just after midnight last Saturday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to a hotel at 4th Street to assist staff with multiple evictions. The officer met with the hotel’s night manager, who reported getting multiple complaints concerning numerous rooms on the third floor about noise and smoking. The manager also told police the fire alarm had been activated in one of the suspect rooms and the alarm could be heard throughout the entire hotel for about three hours.

While speaking with the occupants of the rooms, OCPD officers were approached by a suspect later identified as Parker Curnew, 20, of Cherry Hill, N.J., who appeared to be intoxicated, according to police reports. The night manager told Curnew and the other occupants they were being evicted and needed to start the process of gathering their belongings and leaving the hotel, according to police reports.

However, Curnew refused to start that process, even after being told at least five times. OCPD officers told Curnew he needed to collect his belongings and leave multiple times, but he refused to do so and continued to yell and scream, according to police reports. He was ultimately arrested for trespassing.

OCPD officers attempted to place handcuffs on Curnew, but he attempted to flee into his hotel room to avoid being arrested. Officers were reportedly able to get Curnew out of the room and leaned him against a wall to prevent his attempt to flee again.

According to police reports, Curnew continued his rude and vulgar behavior during a search incident to his arrest, shouting expletives at the arresting officers. Curnew also said during the arrest process, “I’m going to shoot all three of you cops,” and that his “dad is worth $3 million” and they “better watch out,” according to police reports.

While OCPD officers were searching him, Curnew reportedly shoved the left side of his body into the right side of one of the officer’s body. The force of the collision caused the officer to have to re-balance his feet after it occurred. The officer determined Curnew had intentionally assaulted him by shoving him with his body, and then laughed about it, according to police reports.

All in all, Curnew had allegedly ignored numerous attempts to get him to leave the hotel, continued a pattern of yelling and screaming in the hotel, resisted arrest, and deliberately shoved an officer. He was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and second-degree assault on an officer.


Jail For Traffic Drug Bust

OCEAN CITY — A Salisbury man was arrested in February for drug possession charges following a traffic stop in the downtown area pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Around 11:50 p.m. on February 9, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer patrolling in the downtown area observed a vehicle traveling through an apartment complex parking lot and enter Philadelphia Avenue without coming to a complete stop. As the officer observed, the vehicle traveled north on Philadelphia and made a U-turn at 15th Street before slowly traveling onto the sidewalk in front of the fire department headquarters, according to police reports.

Prior to initiating a traffic stop, the officer positively identified the front seat passenger using multiple law enforcement databases and determined she was wanted on a potential warrant, according to police reports. After the traffic stop, the warrant for the passenger was confirmed and she was taken into custody.

Officers identified the driver as James King III, 30, of Salisbury, who did not have a driver’s license in his possession and advised the vehicle belonged to his grandmother. A background check revealed King had been issued an identification card that had expired in 2015, or nearly six years earlier.

The background check revealed King had never possessed a valid driver’s license. According to police reports, King told officers he had to gather the requisite information to take to the Department of Motor Vehicle to obtain a driver’s license, but had not yet done so. King was also arrested at that point.

Because both occupants had been arrested, officers requested a tow for the vehicle, which was still parked on the sidewalk, blocking the entrance to the firehouse, according to police reports. During an inventory of the vehicle’s contents prior to the tow, officers located two clear glass pipes with burn marks and white residue consistent with crack cocaine. Officers also located a ball of copper wire in the pipes commonly used to smoke crack cocaine.

Because the pipes were located in a cigarette pack in the center console within easy reach of the driver’s seat, King was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and possession of paraphernalia, along with traffic violations. Last week, he pleaded guilty to possession and was sentenced to 30 days.