Four-hour chase ends with arrest in StocktonPolice flatten nine of tractor-trailer's tires to help stop slow-speed pursuit
By Jason Anderson
Record Staff Writer
January 31, 2014 12:00 AM
STOCKTON - Authorities apprehended the driver of a stolen tractor-trailer who led California Highway Patrol and Stockton police officers in a slow pre-dawn pursuit that lasted nearly four hours Thursday, officials said.
The pursuit started at 3:13 a.m. when Stockton police officers responded to a report of a tractor-trailer dumping debris in the roadway near North Palm and Taft avenues, officials said. Officers tried to stop the truck, but the driver, identified as 42-year-old Michael Anthony Lopez, failed to yield, authorities said.
Highway Patrol officers joined the pursuit about 10 minutes later near Waterloo Road and North F Street when they spotted the stolen 18-wheeler, which was carrying about 31,000 pounds of scrap metal and 75 to 100 gallons of diesel fuel, officials said.
Lopez was captured about 7 a.m. after he exited the slow-moving tractor-trailer near North Airport Way and East Flora Street, said Officer James Smith, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
Lopez jumped fences in a residential area while attempting to flee on foot, but he was taken into custody moments later, officials said.
Speeds never exceeded 35 mph, but the pursuit still posed a number of dangers to officers and public safety, Smith said.
"Because of the size of the vehicle and the fact that we didn't know how much fuel he could be transporting, there's always the possibility this person is going to try to run into a building, run into us or run over someone else, and if they do that, the vehicle could catch fire," Smith said. "We want to make sure we take all of that into account and be as prepared as possible for any of those scenarios."
CHP and Stockton police officers followed the tractor-trailer while a CHP helicopter hovered overhead. Lopez motored through downtown Stockton on the Crosstown Freeway and traversed a number of other city streets, including Walnut Avenue, Mariposa Road, Sutter Street, Alpine Avenue and Bianchi Road, authorities said.
"He was all over Stockton," CHP Officer Adrian Quintero said.
Stockton resident Ben Weed said the tractor-trailer and police officers passed by his house about 6 a.m.
"I heard them coming - the sirens going, getting louder and louder - so I walked out the front door," Weed said. "Lo and behold, the truck goes by at 25 mph, a dual trailer rig full of scrap steel."
Officers deployed spike strips at various locations in an effort to stop the tractor-trailer, authorities said.
They succeeded in flattening nine of the vehicle's tires, but Lopez continued to evade police, officials said.
Sparks were seen coming from the tractor-trailer's wheels as exposed rims scraped along city streets, but no significant damage was done to area roadways, Smith said.
The tractor-trailer rolled to a stop just after Lopez exited the vehicle while going east on East Flora Street, police said. Officers established a perimeter and apprehended Lopez after a brief foot pursuit, officials said.
Lopez was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, evading police with wanton disregard for public safety and other related crimes, authorities said. He is being held in lieu of $208,375 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Monday, according to jail records.
Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him atwww.recordnet.com/crimeblog and on Twitter @Stockton911.
By ROXANA HEGEMAN Associated Press
WICHITA, Kansas — A California man who tried to steal a truckload of beef from a southwest Kansas slaughterhouse was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison.
Oganes Nagapetian was sentenced to the prison term, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit interstate shipment fraud. His brother, Tigran Nagapetian, received a probationary one-year sentence for the less-serious crime of hiding a felony for lying to authorities and concealing his brother's actions. Both men are from North Hollywood, California
In an unusual twist for a federal case in Kansas, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot allowed Oganes Nagapetian while on supervision in California to continue to use marijuana for a medical purpose, noting such use was legal in that state. Unlawful use of other controlled substances would remain a probation violation, the judge said.
The brothers are accused of trying to steal nearly $88,000 worth of beef from Tyson Fresh Meats in Holcomb by posing as legitimate freight haulers.
Prosecutors have said the case exemplifies a relatively new form of identity theft in which the perpetrators steal the identity of a legitimate trucking company — usually a smaller independent hauler — to obtain freight hauling contracts. The government initially accused the men of stealing the identity of a Pennsylvania freight hauler to get the contract to pick up the meat from the Kansas slaughterhouse, but reached a plea deal in November on the lesser charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson told the judge at the sentencing hearing that the government has not fully gotten to the bottom of what it contends is a sophisticated cargo theft scheme, but agreed that Oganes Nagapetian was not "the brains behind" the operation.
Court documents say the Kansas plan was foiled after a suspicious Ohio freight broker — who had been victimized by a similar scheme a few months earlier — noticed discrepancies in the trucking firm's insurance and called the FBI. At the FBI's request, the broker awarded the hauling bid to the impostors. Law enforcement had them under surveillance when they dropped off a refrigerated truck at the Kansas slaughterhouse for loading.
INDIANAPOLIS - Police are investigating the theft of a semitrailer that the owner said was filled with $70,000 worth of Gatorade.
The trailer was parked in an unsecured lot in the 2300 block of West Lambert Street on Tuesday, officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said.
The theft was reported by the victim who told police he had several new Great Dane Trailers, Inc. trailers parked in the lot.
He told authorities he noticed one was missing, so he reviewed the security video.
He said the video showed at 3 p.m., a white semi backed up to the trailer. That driver circled the trailer and then waited 23 minutes before taking off with the trailer.
"A lot of the cargo thefts is kinda bigger than what people think. We see that quite often and they can end up -- we've seen them end up in Florida, we've seen them end up in Chicago, Illinois, all the surrounding states. A lot of times we just end up recovering just an empty trailer, so as where the product ends up, that's another black market issue,” IMPD Southwest District Detective Larry Craciunoiu said.
Craciunoiu said at this point, it is still unclear if the suspect knew what was in the trailer at the time it was stolen.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at crimetips.org or by texting "INDYCS" plus tip information to 274627.
Several Kansas City area men accused of stealing nearly $1 million in trucks, trailers and cargo over more than a decade will begin trial Feb. 18.
The last of 10 arrest warrants was returned this month to Missouri’s Western District federal court. Although arrests began soon after a federal grand jury indicted the men Dec. 12, 2012, the indictments remained sealed until all accused were in custody, given bail or arrested.
They are charged with conspiring to steal five trucks and 17 trailers 2005-2011. The cargo stolen ranged from appliances to dog food.
Kenneth Ray Borders, 42, Christopher Dwight Turner, 44, Reginald Shawn Tidwell, 43, Harold Robertson, 55, Verdie Carr, Jr., 53, Ryonell Eugene Fredrick, 45, Michael O’Neal Foster, 54, and Myron Piggie, 51, all of Kansas City, Jon Dirk Dickerson, 55, of Raytown, Mo., Kyle Wayne Dickerson, 30, of Holden, Mo., were charged in the 25-count indictment.
Authorities believe Borders, Tidwell, Turner and Foster stole the equipment and their contents, while John and Kyle Dickerson disguised and altered identifying characteristics of the vehicles. Frederick, Robertson and Piggie, owners of Kansas City’s MP Convenience Store, supposedly received the stolen cargo.
Last October, Foster and Piggie entered pleas, while indictments were dismissed against Robertson and Frederick in August.
Sixty-five witnesses are expected to testify at the trial, which is anticipated to run three to four weeks.
U.S. Attorney’s Office
January 07, 2014
Western District of Wisconsin
MADISON, WI—John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Leotis Lewis, 40, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to five years in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year period of supervised release, for transporting stolen merchandise in interstate commerce. Lewis pleaded guilty to this charge on October 22, 2013.
Lewis and co-defendant Christopher Davis stole a trailer of merchandise from a Walgreens Distribution Center in DeForest, Wisconsin, on June 18, 2012. Several months earlier, they had stolen a semi-truck cab from a local trucking company, which they used to steal the trailer of merchandise.
On June 19, 2012, they transported more than $220,000 worth of the stolen merchandise to Chicago and left $198,000 worth of merchandise behind in Madison. They solicited heroin addicts to rent U-Hauls in Madison, which Lewis and Davis used to transport the stolen merchandise to Chicago.
Judge Conley chose a five-year sentence because Lewis has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions for attempted homicide, distributing cocaine, theft, and weapons offenses. Lewis’ sentence will be served consecutively to a sentence he is currently serving in state prison.
Davis pleaded guilty to participating in this crime and was sentenced on November 15, 2013, to four years in federal prison. Lewis and Davis were also sentenced to pay $418,000 in restitution.
The charges against Lewis were the result of an investigation conducted by the DeForest Police Department, Town of Madison Police Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita M. Rumbelow.
In Brazil, Sao Paulo’s state assembly has passed a new bill (885/2009) aimed at combating cargo theft in the state. The bill, currently pending the governor’s signature, will introduce penalties for the sale or purchase of stolen goods as well as fines up to twice the amount of the stolen goods. The bill is designed to make it harder for thieves to find individuals willing to fence stolen merchandise.
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