Category Archives: Criminal Conduct

Domestic Assault

Ramsey County Domestic Violence Sweep Huge Success

Ramsey County police took part in the 12th annual domestic violence crackdown on Wednesday, and officers say the sweep was a huge success.

Armed with 128 arrest warrants, 52 of Ramsey’s finest hit the streets before the sun came up to serve warrants to those in the area wanted on domestic violence charges. One of the first to be arrested was Kong Meng Yang, who jumped from a second story window and fled down an alley when cops came knocking at his door at 7 a.m. He was eventually apprehended with the assistance of a police K9.

Yang was one of 23 arrests made during the annual sweep, nearly double the arrests from last year when 92 warrants were served and 12 were arrested.

Sgt. Jesse Mollner said even though only about 20 percent of the suspects were apprehended, police made numerous contacts with friends and family members of suspects. They hope family members can get in contact with the individual and convince them to surrender. Mollner also said it helps the victims know they don’t take these cases lightly.

“The number of contacts we made today is actually just as important as taking people to jail,” Mollner said. “The families we talked to, the friends, the associates … they get the word out that the police are out in full force, that we’re taking care of victims and taking these crimes seriously.”

Part of Larger Sweep

The 12th annual domestic violence sweep was held in conjunction with the National Family Violence Apprehension Detail, an annual event aimed at bringing awareness to domestic violence and getting perpetrators off the streets. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country participated in localized domestic violence sweeps.

Mollner added that the effects of the sweep are usually felt for weeks.

“We expect a flood of phone calls,” he said. “We usually end up taking twice as many people in during the weeks that follow the sweep than we do during the sweep itself,” he said.

The Ramsey County sherriff’s office, St. Paul police, Roseville police, the Dakota County sherriff’s officer, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigation and Customs Enforcement all assisted in the area-wide sweep.

Avery Appelman Comments

These sweeps are great. Not only to they get suspects off the street, but in the long run, they also help both the victims and the suspects. If a suspect goes into hiding for a few months, the victim is left without resolution, and sometimes they continue to live in fear of their attacker.

That said, as a defense attorney, these sweeps are also beneficial for suspects. Like an unpaid credit card bill, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; In fact, it usually only makes it worse. Same goes with a legal case. If you have an active warrant, it’s not just going to go away on its own. Facing the consequences and moving on with your life is much preferred to hiding and always living in fear that today is the day you’ll be arrested. The longer you wait, the more the problem will snowball. Take responsibility, move forward with your life, and everyone will be better off. If you want to talk to an attorney before making any decisions, don’t hesitate to call us.

Related source: Pioneer Press

Green Line

So Far, So Good: Green Line Hasn’t Increased Crime

Despite concerns the new Green Line light rail may bring more crime to the area, University officials and Metro police say that hasn’t been the case in the five months since the transit system opened.

Metro Transit police Capt. Jim Franklin said crime rates have remained steady on campus and in the area along the Green Line.

“I don’t see an uptick in crime on the University campus that directly correlates with the light rail,” said Franklin.

Franklin noted that while many along the Green Line were excited about its mid-June opening, some feared the rail would attract a few seedy characters. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota did little to quell their concern, as a survey of community members near the Blue Line found that they too associated the light rail with an uptick in crime, even if the data doesn’t support their sentiment.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner did note a particular instance in late August in which two suspects used the light rail to flee after a robbery, but surveillance equipment near the station and on the rail helped identify the perpetrators. They were identified and arrested shortly thereafter.

Campus Opinion

Ross Allanson, director of the University’s Parking and Transportation Services said the overall sentiment among students hasn’t changed much with the opening of the Green Line.

“My feeling is that there’s been not a net negative or a net positive regarding crime on campus,” said Allanson.

Franklin added that transit use numbers around the campus area show that students are comfortable riding the light rail, offering a speedy option without the need to walk alone at night.

“I think what you’re finding is that students are embracing the light rail rather than fearing it,” Franklin said, “and we’re seeing that in our ridership numbers.”

Avery Appelman comments

The Green Line appears to be off to a great start in its first five months, and I haven’t heard any major stories about riders being victimized or assaulted. It seems like drivers or pedestrians crossing the light rail have had the most to fear since its inception.

The one thing I will caution riders about – and this goes for anyone in a downtown metropolis or on public transportation – is to mind your belongings, particularly your phone and purse. They can be easy targets for a thief who wants to grab and dash.

That’s not saying you shouldn’t check your phone or pound out a few Candy Crush levels while you’re waiting for your stop, but be cognizant of your surroundings. If someone is hovering a little too close to your personal space, secure your belongings and move to another location if possible. Stay near other passengers and if transit police board your car, it doesn’t hurt to mention the suspicious behavior.

Related source: MN Daily

We Willy

Wet Willy Lands Minnesota Man in Jail

An innocent prank resulted in felony assault charges after an Air Force member gave a Mankato cop a wet willy.

For those of you unfamiliar with a wet willy, it involves licking your pointer finger and sticking it playfully in the ear of an unsuspecting victim. It’s a move you’ve probably pulled off to a friend in elementary school, and while most people laugh it off, a Mankato cop took serious offense to the action and arrested the perpetrator on charges of felony assault of an officer.

The whole ordeal began early Saturday morning as patrons boarded a bus shuttle from the downtown bars, often referred to as the drunk bus. Being the prankster that he is, Riley Swearingen thought it would be funny to give the supervising police officer the dreaded double wet willy. It may be somewhat disgusting and technically a case of unwanted touching, but the officer said the act caused “pressure and discomfort,” and he swiftly arrested Swearinger.

Odds are the cop’s ego, not his eardrums, was most affected by the wet willy, and he decided to teach the 24-year-old a lesson. Instead of charging him with a misdemeanor, the officer pushed for felony assault charges.

Thankfully the embarrassed cop wasn’t in charge of sentencing, and the presiding judge quickly offered to dismiss the felony charge if Swearingen would plead guilty to a lesser charge of disruptive intoxication, a charge that would not impact his Air Force duties. Swearingen accepted the deal and offered the court an apology.

“I thought it would be incredibly funny to give a police officer a wet Willy, to which I was sorely mistaken,” Swearingen explained. “I’m incredibly sorry for what I did.”

Odds are the $77 fine and misdemeanor charge are the least of his concerns. Swearingen went on to explain to the judge that he was in town to stand up in a friend’s wedding. He had gone out with the wedding party the night before and received a wet willy from a friend earlier in the night. He thought it would be funny to try to move on a policeman, but the officer’s decision to seek felony charges meant Swearinger would remain in jail until he could face a judge on Monday. He was held over the weekend and missed his friend’s wedding.

Obviously Swearinger made a poor decision, but when did a wet willy become felony assault? Under the Minnesota statue in regards to assaulting an officer, a perp could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fines up to $20,000. No judge in their right mind would ever sentence a wet willy bandit to 20 years in prison, but were felony charges really necessary? This sounds more like an ego-issue than an actual issue.

Related source: Pioneer Press

OHTYS 2014

ALF Participating in Our Hearts To Your Soles 2014

We are excited to announce that Appelman Law Firm will once again participate in the annual Our Hearts to Your Soles event to benefit homeless and financially burdened individuals in the Twin Cities.

Each year Our Hearts To Your Soles provides individuals with socks, shoes and foot examinations to help them prepare for the cold months ahead. Oftentimes these individuals are homeless, so the new clothes help protect against frostbite during the cold Minnesota winter.

Another aspect of the Our Hearts To Your Soles event is the legal advice session. Local attorneys are on hand to provide attendees with free legal advice on a wide range of subjects. Many times these people are having financial problems do to a current or past legal situation, and sitting down with a lawyer to discuss solutions can be a life changing.

We’ve attended Our Hearts To Your Soles event for a three years in a row, and it’s truly a rewarding experience. The event is always around Thanksgiving, and it’s nice to be able to give back to the community and it helps put what really matters in perspective.

Event Details

If you know anyone who is down on their luck and in need of legal advice, please let them know about the event. Check out the event details below.

  • What: Our Hearts To Your Soles 2014
  • Where: Dorothy Day Center, 183 Old 6th Street in Saint Paul
  • When: Tuesday, November 25th from 5:30pm to 7:45pm
  • Why: Help those in need by providing them with footwear and legal advice

The event is financed by my friend and colleague Dr. Lance Silverman. I know he is still looking for volunteers to help with set up, clean up, shoe unboxing and general assistance throughout the night. If you would like to get volunteer, send him an email at info@anklefootmd.com for more information.

If you would like to help the cause but cannot make it to the event, you can donate to the program through their website. A donation of $15 provides one person with a new pair of shoes, socks and a free foot consultation.

Thanks,

Avery Appelman

Minnesota Vikings Tom Johnson

Another Minnesota Vikings Player Arrested

The Minnesota Vikings extended their lead as the NFL team with the most arrests since 2004 after defensive lineman Tom Johnson was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing at a popular Minneapolis nightspot over the weekend.

Having played Thursday against the Packers, the Vikings had a few days off during the long break. According to the police report, Johnson was out at Seven Steakhouse on Saturday night and early into Sunday morning. He was apparently having such a good time that he didn’t want to leave the establishment after closing time. Police say Johnson was told to leave after closing time “repeatedly by security and officers and [he] refused.”

Police decided to subdue Johnson and forcibly take him out of the restaurant, as the police report notes that Johnson “was sprayed with department-issue chemical irritants and forced outside.”

Needless to say, Johnson wasn’t pleased that he had been pepper sprayed, and he reportedly became combative with officers once outside the restaurant. The police report states that authorities eventually had to use a Taser on the 288-pound defensive lineman.

He was eventually booked at Hennepin County jail and released later that day after posting $78 bail. His initial appearance is schedule for October 17.

Johnson Offers Different Take

Johnson said he plans to fight the charges in court. He wants to tell his said of the story, as he said the information in the police report simply isn’t true.

“I don’t know if any of that [police account] is accurate,” he said Monday.

Johnson’s agent reiterated the lineman’s stance, saying he believes the charges against his client will be dropped.

“After speaking with Tom Johnson and gathering facts, we are confident the charges are baseless and he will be exonerated,” said agent Bardia Ghahremani. “Upon clearing Mr. Johnson’s name, we will move forward with the appropriate legal action.”

Johnson is the third Vikings player in this young season to run into legal trouble, as we’ve already documented the trials and tribulations of Adrian Peterson and Jerome Simpson.

Related source: Star Tribune

DUI Football players

DUI is the Most Common Crime Committed by NFL Players

A comprehensive look at the crimes committed by NFL players since 2000 reveals that drunk driving is the most commonly committed crime.

Last week we touched on the fact that your very own Minnesota Vikings have been the most arrested team since 2004, but now we’re taking a look at which crimes are most commonly committed. According to USA Today, more than a quarter of all NFL player arrests are for driving under the influence. 202 of the 713 reported arrests since 2000 have been for drunk driving.

Here are some more statistics from the USA Today database:

  • The second most common crime is assault and battery. 88 of the 713 arrests – 12.3 percent – have been for assault or battery.
  • Domestic violence crimes are the third most popular crime. 85 of the 713 arrests – 11.9 percent – were for situations of domestic violence.
  • Despite recent events, on average, only 1 in 40 players are arrested in a given year.
  • The arrest rate for NFL players is far lower than the national arrest rate for 25-29-year-old males.
  • 38 players have been arrested so far this year. 57 players were arrested in 2013.
  • 67 players were arrested in 2006, the most in a given year.

Vikings players hold the dubious distinction of being arrested the most since 2004. 44 players have been arrested since then, which is double the league average of 22 arrests since 2000.

Related source: NY Daily News, USA Today

NFL Arrests

Vikings Most Arrested Team in NFL

The Minnesota Vikings have been in the news lately, and for all the wrong reasons. First there was the controversy surrounding Adrian Peterson, and just yesterday we posted a blog about the most recent arrest of now-former Viking Jerome Simpson. So it should probably come as no surprise that an analysis of NFL arrests over the last 10 years revealed that the Minnesota Vikings are the most arrested team in the league.

The data compiled by the Dayton Business Journal found that the Vikings are tied with the Denver Broncos for the most arrests over the last 10 years, but it’s certainly possible that the list didn’t include Simpson’s arrest which came to light on Friday.

NFL Teams With The Most Arrests

Here’s the list of the 10 franchises that have had the most players arrested over the last decade.

1. Minnesota Vikings (32 arrests)

1. Denver Broncos (32 arrests)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (31 arrests)

4. Tennesse Titans (30 arrests)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26 arrests)

6. Jacksonville Jaguars (25 arrests)

7.  Chicago Bears (20 arrests)

7. Miami Dolphins (20 arrests)

9. Cleveland Browns (19 arrests)

9.  Indianapolis Colts (19 arrests)

9. San Diego Chargers (19 arrests)

9.  Seattle Seahawks (19 arrests)

According to the website, the worst year for the Vikings came in 2011 when seven players were arrested on a litany of charges. Over the past decade, Vikings players have been arrested for a slew of crimes, including child abuse, domestic abuse, driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct.

Related source: Dayton Business Journal

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon Pleads Guilty to DWI

Troubled Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday. Gordon was originally arrested for driving while intoxicated over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Gordon will avoid jail as long as he follows through with the conditions put forth in his plea agreement, which include:

• 12 months of unsupervised probation

• $100 fine

• $290 in court costs

• Driver’s license suspension

Gordon also received a 60-day suspended sentence, meaning he’ll be forced to spend two months in jail if he violates his probation.

Further NFL Punishment?

The NFL has already suspended Gordon for the first 10 games of the season for a second failed drug test, and it’s possible that the league could impose an additional suspension. Gordon was originally suspended for the entire season, but he had his suspension reduced after the league and the NFL Players Association came to terms on a new drug policy that, without getting too into the details, lessens penalties for recreational or “party” drugs while taking a stronger stance on violent behavior and Human Growth Hormone testing.

The new policy would tack on an additional two games to Gordon’s suspension, but the deal has yet to be officially finalized, so it’s possible that his suspension will remain unchanged.

An NFL spokesperson declined to discuss further punishments for Gordon, saying, “We’ll decline to comment as we work through the revisions to the drug policy.”

Attorney Geoff Saltzstein, a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, said he doesn’t believe Gordon will receive an additional suspension for his DWI.

“I think the league took into account all of Gordon’s off field issues when they reduced his suspension to 10 games,” Saltzstein said. “Some believed Gordon would have his suspension cut in half to eight games, so the reduction to 10 likely means the NFL took note of Gordon’s recent off field antics. I think his suspension will remain at 10 games.”

Related source: ESPN

Police Body Cameras

Minneapolis Approves Police Body Camera Program 

Minneapolis officials have taken the next step in equipping the city’s police force with body cameras after they approved a $170,000 pilot program to set 36 officers up with the surveillance equipment.

The Minneapolis City Council Committee approved the plan on Monday, and the council is set to finalize the pilot program’s plans by the end of the week. The council plans to evaluate the success of the program at six- and nine-month intervals to determine if the city should continue with the program or make strategic changes.

The city believes the program will be a success, and they have already begun taking measures to budget for additional body cameras. Minneapolis will provide an additional $1.1 million to the program in the fall of 2015.

The city will equip officers with two types of cameras to determine which capture the best picture and are less of a hindrance to the officer. One type of camera will attach to the front of an officer’s uniform, while the other camera will be clipped onto eyeglasses. The city will test out both methods during the pilot program.

Officers in Duluth and Burnsville are already using body cameras, and although statistics aren’t yet available, if it’s going anything like the program in Rialto, California, citizen complaints are likely down.

Avery Appelman comments

This is a step in the right direction for justice. Cameras mean that both officers and citizens will be held accountable for their actions by an unbiased third party. These cameras will clear up any question as to what events transpired.

I have little doubt that the pilot program will be successful in reducing complaints against officers and excessive force suits, as both parties will be on their best behavior. 10 years from now I think police body cameras will be the norm.

Related source: Pioneer Press

 

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson Reinstated After Child Abuse Charges

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is expected to be back on the field Sunday when Minnesota takes on New Orleans after being reinstated by the team. Peterson was held out of this week’s game after he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The decision to reinstate Peterson is making waves among the talking heads at ESPN and other sports media outlets, and the Vikings owners made it clear that they understand the severity of the charges but they also want to let due process run its course.

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue,” owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action.”

Child Abuse Charges

The public first learned of the child abuse charges Friday afternoon, and the Vikings quickly made the decision to deactivate Peterson for the Sunday’s home opener. According to a statement from his attorney Rusty Hardin, the charges stem from an incident where Peterson used “a switch to spank his son.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a switch is basically a small twig or tree branch.

“Parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Hardin said about the incident. According to the grand jury, Peterson’s actions exceeded a reasonable standard.

Peterson will make his first appearance on Wednesday, where he is expected to enter a plea. Peterson will appear in court over the next several weeks, but many involved in the case believe it will be a few months before the case goes to trial.

Child Abuse Penalties

Peterson was officially charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. He could also be placed on probation and be forced to attend counseling.

In addition to penalties levied by the state of Texas, Peterson could face additional discipline from the NFL. The league recently announced a new domestic violence policy that includes any physical harm, so it’s certainly possible that Peterson would be subject to penalties. Under the new policy, a first time offender would receive a six game suspension and a second violation would result in a lifetime ban.

Related source: ESPN