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Sheriff Warning People About ‘Spoofed’ Scam Calls

October 7, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

If you get a phone call supposedly coming from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office — think twice before giving out your financial information.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said someone is targeting would be victims with spoofed phone calls which means even though the caller ID may show otherwise, the calls are not coming from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s a scam intended to coerce or threaten would be victims into sending money .

“I have received calls about someone spoofing the jail’s phone number making it appear the call is coming from here but it is not. One person said the caller warned that there was a warrant against him in another state and that if he didn’t send money someone from the sheriff’s department would have him picked up. He wound up sending money. That is a scam and if you fall for it the scammers will keep on taking your money until you stop sending it. They will call again and say they found another warrant, that there are taxes on the warrant, or something,” warned Sheriff Ray.

“We have also had a complaint of someone spoofing the jail’s number and using it as some type of security from Apple. I just want to let the public know that we are not making these calls. If you receive a call at your home that shows it is from the sheriff’s department, hang up and call me and I will check it out for you. Most of the time these scammers will ask you to put money on an Apple, Visa or GreenDot card and if you do that and give them the card number it gives them access to the cash. Remember, if a caller says you have an arrest warrant against you or that you need a security code for some reason and must send money give us a call. Keep in mind the sheriff’s department will never solicit money for any reason by phone,” said Sheriff Ray.

Chapman Gets 3 Years Probation for Evading Arrest and Auto Burglary

October 7, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

A Woodbury man who led authorities on a pursuit in a stolen car in August before crashing on County House Road was in criminal court for sentencing Tuesday, October 6.

33 year old Cory Allen Chapman entered a plea to evading arrest with a vehicle and received a 2 year sentence all suspended to supervised probation except for 180 days to serve. Chapman pleaded guilty to a separate offense of auto burglary for a crime committed in May and received a 1 year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run consecutively for a total of 3 years. Chapman was given jail credit from May 27 to July 15 and from August 23 to October 6.

A passenger in the car with Chapman, 24 year old Katie Leigh Mooneyham of Foster Road, Smithville had two warrants against her for failure to appear.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on August 23 a detective spotted Chapman driving a 1995 Toyota Avalon and activated the emergency equipment on his patrol car signaling him to stop. Instead of pulling over, Chapman sped up traveling down Short Mountain Highway and onto Jacobs Pillar Road where he ran over a road sign and went into a yard. Chapman then got back on Jacobs Pillar Road as the pursuit continued onto Turner Road , the Old Blue Springs Road, and then to County House Road where Chapman crashed at the new highway construction. The car then went into a field and stopped. Both Chapman and Mooneyham were taken into custody.

Chapman’s license were suspended for failure to show proof of insurance on January 7, 2019 in Warren County. The car Chapman was driving was reported stolen in DeKalb County on August 1. It is valued at $500.

No one was injured in the crash.

Meanwhile in the auto burglary case, Sheriff Ray said that on May 24 Chapman broke into and stole a 2004 Saturn Ion located on Holmes Creek Road. The car was valued at $1,300. The case was investigated by a detective of the sheriff’s department.

37 year old Jennie Michelle McDaniel entered a plea to aggravated burglary and received a 3 year sentence on supervised probation.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 14, 2019 McDaniel forced her way into a residence on Oak Drive and assaulted her husband and another woman. McDaniel struck the woman in the face causing swelling and a bruise under her left eye. McDaniel also tried to choke her husband, struck him in the face, and tried to stab him with a screwdriver and box cutter. He suffered scratches to his neck, red marks on his neck and face, and a small cut on his left palm.

39 year old Geri Lynn Brown entered a plea to burglary and received a 4 year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. She is requesting judicial diversion. Brown was given jail credit of 54 days.

Sheriff Ray said that on August 1 Brown broke into and stole items from a residence and garage on Chapman Hollow Road taking two shotguns, two handguns, a leather western gun belt, several power tools, and other miscellaneous items. The value of the stolen items comes to $3,790. Brown also broke into and stole a 1993 Toyota Corolla valued at $2,500.

54 year old Jeffrey Alan Puckett entered a plea to reckless endangerment and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation.

55 year old David Close entered a plea to a 4th offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 2 years all suspended to probation except for 150 days to serve.. He was fined $3,000 and will lose his driver license for 8 years. Close was given jail credit of 138 days.

Smithville Police were notified by an off-duty officer that Close had been observed drinking in the Wal-Mart parking lot and that he didn’t have a driver’s license. Upon arrival the investigating officer saw Close driving a silver SUV and followed him out of the parking lot. After stopping the vehicle, the officer spoke with Close but he couldn’t produce a driver’s license or proof of insurance. Close had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he couldn’t perform field sobriety tasks due to medical issues. Police obtained a search warrant for a blood sample after Close refused to submit to implied consent. One opened beer can and five empty cans were found in the vehicle .

Judge Jonathan Young Reprimanded for Sending Sexual Messages to Women Through Social Media

October 6, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Young of Putnam County, a Republican who serves DeKalb and six other counties in the 13th Judicial District has received a public reprimand from the State Board of Judicial Conduct for inappropriate messages he sent to women on various social media platforms from 2015 to 2020.

Recipients of the messages include, among other persons, a legal professional employed by a law firm that conducts business in Judge Young’s court and a litigant who formerly had a child custody matter before him. The messages include content ranging from flirtatious to overtly sexual. Most of these communications depict Young in his judicial robe.

An investigative panel of the Board authorized a full investigation into this matter on August 6. The following day, August 7 Judge Young was given a notice of the panel’s decision to authorize the investigation as required by state law.

In a written response dated August 31, Judge Young acknowledged that he sent the inappropriate messages and that doing so was beneath the dignity of judicial office. According to the Chairman of the Board, Dee David Gay, Judge Young took full responsibility for his actions.

In a letter to Judge Young on October 5, Gay wrote “Judges are expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and dignity of judicial office at all times. Thus the Code of Judicial Conduct applies to both the professional and personal conduct of a judge. There is no exception to this principle for the use of social media”.

“Your social media activities described above run afoul of a number of ethical standards designed to maintain public trust and confidence in the judiciary. First, judges are prohibited from engaging in personal activities that would appear to a reasonable person to be coercive, particularly when the recipients of those communications include former litigants and persons whose job responsibilities intersect with the court system.”

“Second, judges are prohibited from engaging in personal activities that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s integrity and impartiality. Here, your inappropriate use of social media has created ethical dilemmas for attorneys who litigate before you, especially in domestic relation matters. Some of these attorneys have had to seek advice from the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding their own ethical obligations to disclose to clients what they know about your activities. Also, in at least one instance, a party used this knowledge to their strategic advantage in a case. Thus, although you may have thought your social media communications were private, your activities have adversely affected the administration of justice”.

Third, a participant in a legal proceeding, especially in a domestic relations matter, who learns that the judge sent inappropriate messages to women on social media may reasonably perceive that the judge is biased or prejudiced, regardless of whether bias or prejudice actually exists. While there is nothing to suggest that you were biased or prejudiced in any case, such litigants may reasonably question whether they received impartial and unbiased treatment. It is imperative that judges conduct themselves on social media in a way that ensures litigants have no reason to believe their case was not fairly judged”.

“Fourth, judges are prohibited from engaging in personal activities that interfere with the proper performance of their duties. Sending inappropriate messages on social media may well interfere with a judge’s ability to preside over future litigation. These circumstances are a prime example, as you have had to recuse yourself in a case after a party learned of your social media activities and asked you to step aside. As this situation illustrates, it is essential that judges interact with others in a way that will not interfere with their work as judges. While judges may utilize social media, they must at all times remain conscious of the solemn duties they may later be called upon to perform”.

“Fifth, judges are required to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Inappropriate messages sent by a sitting judge to anyone, much less to those who have ties to the court system like former litigants and legal professionals, do not inspire such confidence. To the contrary, such ethical lapses erode the confidence we ask the public to place in our judges. Indeed, every time a judicial officer engages in misconduct, he or she spends the goodwill of the judiciary as a whole”.

“The investigative panel has decided to impose a public reprimand, which you have accepted. In imposing the particular sanction, the panel considered mitigation that you acknowledged the problems created by your actions, that you fully cooperated with the Disciplinary Counsel, and that you have no prior record of discipline since becoming a judge”.

“Finally, as part of this public reprimand, you have agreed to the following: (1) a suspension of thirty days, which will be held in abeyance provided there are no meritorious complaints involving prospective ethical misconduct of any type for the remainder of your current term; (2) you will refrain from using a picture of yourself in your judicial robe as a profile picture on any social media platform unless conducting court business; (3) you will complete at your own expense, either in person or online, a judicial ethics program addressing ethical issues in the context of social media on or before December 31,2020, and provide Disciplinary Counsel with a certificate of completion; (4) you will recuse yourself as a matter of course from all cases involving attorneys who will be identified separately from this letter; and (5) you will refrain from engaging in any similar misconduct while a judge”.

“In short, as you have acknowledged , your use of social media has reflected poorly on you as a jurist. The sanctions imposed today are among the most severe that can be imposed short of removal from office, and the Board trusts that it will be unnecessary to revisit these issues in the future,” wrote Gay.

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