Faked Brain Cancer Will Bring Fraud Charges

faked brain cancer will bring fraud charges

Photo: Marvin 101/Wikimedia Commons

In a move that surprised friends, family, and coworkers, a woman in Logan faked brain cancer in order to raise over $17,000. Police say she will be charged with fraud.

Fraud Often Preys on the Sympathetic

According to a report from KSL News, in early November 2014, Lesley Jensen claimed that she suffered from advanced stage glioblastoma, the same form of cancer that afflicted Brittany Maynard, the woman who moved to Oregon because of their right to die laws.

As part of her perpetrated fraud, Jensen altered medical records and other documents to support the story. Even relatives of Jensen believed the lie. As the Logan community rallied around Jensen, her former employer, Café Sabor, held a fundraiser where her fellow employees worked for free, and approximately $17,000 was raised on her behalf.

When the news came to light that this was a fraud, Café Sabor owner Justin Hamilton said he was very surprised but that it shouldn’t change people’s behaviors when it comes to others in need.

“[W]e can’t let this deter us from helping and giving back to people,” Hamilton said.

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, family of Jensen reported that she was missing. She was found in her car in a remote location at the south end of Cache Valley and is currently in a psychiatric ward. No details about her medical condition have been released.

Logan police are asking anyone with information on the case or who may have given money to her to contact them at fraud@loganutah.org.

Fraud Charges Depend on Amount

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-10-1801, what Jensen has done will most likely be considered “communications fraud.” Per this section of the code, a person of guilty of this form of fraud if they “devised any scheme or artifice to defraud another or to obtain from another money, property, or anything of value by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or material omissions, and who communicates directly or indirectly with any person by any means for the purpose of executing or concealing the scheme or artifice.”

In this case, fraud ranges from a class B misdemeanor when the value of the property or money obtained was less than $500, up to a second degree felony when the property exceeds $5,000. In the case of Jensen, it would be a third degree felony for amounts between $1,500 to $5,000. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure you are getting the best defense.

Multiple Cases of False Arrest Cost Denver over $500,000

false arrest cases cost Denver thousands

Photo: Andrew Bardwell/Wikimedia Commons

One of the understood purposes of incarceration is to hopefully reduce the rate of recidivism, or repeat offending by criminals. The idea is that a little time spent behind bars should be a deterrent to someone wanting to commit crime again. Jail isn’t a place most people want to be, and hopefully being put there will affect people’s future behavior. However, what about the case of a false arrest? The implications of this can be devastating on innocent victims. The city of Denver has had to face this reality in false arrest civil rights lawsuits to the tune of over $500,000. The question is, will these settlements bring about a change?

A Pattern of False Arrest

According to a report from the Denver Post, the motion filed by the Denver ACLU in the federal civil rights lawsuit stated that an examination of a recent seven year period revealed at least 500 people who were victims of false arrest. Denver isn’t alone in these egregious errors. It has been reported that Los Angeles County’s numbers are even higher, with almost 1,500 cases of false arrest over the span of five years. However, the lawsuit against Denver has brought their particular problems to light. Many of these cases involved the arrest of people who didn’t even match the race or gender of the actual suspect.

A previous settlement saw the City of Denver paying almost $230,000, and the current settlement on Monday, Dec. 1, resulted in an addition $337,250 to three false arrest victims.

Jose Ernesto Ibarra will receive $52,000 of the settlement for his part in the case. In 2007, Ibarra spent nine days in a Denver jail for failing to appear for a traffic violation. After he paid his fines, he should have been released. However, he was held for an additional 25 days because deputies believed he was Jose Caytano Ibarra Almeida, a man with several other criminal violations. Deputies refused to compare crucial information of the two men in question which would have freed Ibarra, such as birthdates, mug shots, or fingerprints. They simply insisted Ibarra was lying about his identity. Ibarra lost his job and missed his son’s first birthday as a result of the incarceration.

Muse Jama, who was innocent of any crimes when he was a victim of false arrest, will receive $50,000. Jama was a student at the time when Denver officers arrived at his apartment and arrested him for crimes committed by a man named Ahmed Alia, another Somalian who had apparently used Jama’s relatively common Somalian name as one of his aliases. Even after offering his driver’s license, Social Security card, and student ID, Jama was still arrested, booked, and held in jail for seven nights. After a prosecutor compared a mug shot of Alia with Jama, the charges were lifted, and he was released with a only simple apology from the judge.

Dennis Michael Smith was the third litigant in the case and will receive $5,000 for the false arrest which led to his incarceration for just under five hours. The Colorado ACLU will receive $230,000 for legal fees.

An Attempt to Find a Remedy

False arrest can lead to not only mental trauma in the case of the victim but also other severe consequences. According to a statement from ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein, “Beyond the time spent in jail away from work and family, people who are arrested can lose their jobs and be labeled as criminals in their community.”

Silverstein went on to state that “Since the filing of this suit more than five years ago, the ACLU of Colorado has been working with the City of Denver to develop improved law enforcement policies that will reduce the frequency of mistaken ID arrests, and, when mistakes do happen, that will detect them promptly and remedy them quickly.”

Early on in the process, City Safety Manager Al LaCabe stated that one of the problems is the tendency of people who are arrested to lie about their identities.

“The identification process is often difficult,” LaCabe said, “and sheriffs make every effort to ensure they are correctly identifying suspects.”

Another problem identified by Denver’s chief performance officer Dave Edinger is the process used by law enforcement, specifically the separation between the Denver Police Department identification bureau and the Denver Sheriff Department where the booking occurs.

“[W]e have been booking first and then identifying,” Edinger said. “We want to identify first and then book them.”

Denver officials are also looking at the successful Jefferson County operations to see how they might incorporate some of their practices. One such practice is to place someone who has complained of false arrest because of mistaken identity into a special holding cell while authorities check with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. According to a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, they are usually able to resolve these issues within a matter of minutes as opposed to a matter of days.

Drug Possession, not Choking, Real Cause of Fleeing Police

drug possession involved in high speed chase

Photo: Justin Herald

On Saturday, Nov. 29, a high-speed chase ended at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. The driver claimed his passenger was choking, but the police weren’t buying it. He was charged with failing to stop for an officer, drug possession, and other related charges.

Everybody has a Story

Police must grow weary of all the stories people try to concoct when they are apprehended. In the case of William Harry Doutis Jr., 53, when he finally pulled over at the hospital after a high-speed chase on I-15 that exceeded speeds of 97 m.p.h., he told officers that he was going that fast because his passenger was choking.

According to a report from KSL News, after the passenger filled out a voluntary statement for police saying that he was never choking and that Doutis had just told him to lie to the police, Doutis admitted to smoking marijuana. However, he said he couldn’t perform the field sobriety test because of “numerous problems that prevented him from taking the tests.”

Other physical symptoms led police to run other tests on Doutis which came back positive for methamphetamines. He was booked into the Utah County Jail for failure to stop for an officer, obstruction of justice, drug possession, driving under the influence, and driving on a suspended license.

Drug Possession Just One of His Worries

Given Doutis’ lengthy criminal history, including two incarcerations at the Utah State Prison, it’s not looking good for his defense. Of his numerous charges, drug possession is one of the more common charges Utahns may encounter and carries a wide range of potential penalties.

According to the Utah Controlled Substances Act, Section (2) “Prohibited acts – B,” it is unlawful for any person to possess or use a controlled substance, “unless it was obtained under a valid prescription or order.” If Doutis was charged for the marijuana, that particular drug possession charge ranges from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony based on the amount in the suspect’s possession. The class B misdemeanor is for less than an ounce, then the charges jump from one ounce to one pound, one pound to one hundred pounds, and over one hundred pounds, the second degree felony.

The class B misdemeanor marijuana possession, where most casual users fall, carries a potential jail sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Remember the key is “up to.” Don’t leave your fate in the hands of a public defender. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, contact an experienced criminal justice attorney who is looking out for your best interests.