Rhode Island credit card fraud suspects arrested after chase, crash
Police said a wider investigation could be opened after a credit card fraud incident led to a multi-state police chase Tuesday. According to Seekonk police, detectives were monitoring two men in the Commerce Way plaza on Route 6 who appeared to be going store-to-store and using fraudulent credit cards to buy large amounts of gift cards. When the suspects returned to their vehicle they were approached by a detective, who ordered them to stay in place. Police said the suspects ignored the detective’s order, entered the vehicle and took off. Police gave chase and at one point on Commerce Way, the suspect vehicle purposely drove at a Seekonk police cruiser, forcing the officer to swerve to avoid a crash, according to police. The pursuit continued westbound on Route 6 and shortly after crossing the state line into East Providence, the suspect lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a plaza sign at the Highland Commons, hitting a Seekonk cruiser in the process. Police said the suspects briefly tried to get away on foot before they were apprehended. The two men, identified as Brandan Howell and Christopher Williams, were taken into East Providence police custody as fugitives from justice. [Source: WPRI12 News]
Philadelphia woman pleads guilty in Toys R Us theft
A Philadelphia woman charged with being part of a ring of women who stole from stores and returned the merchandise to other stores for refunds received a time-served sentence Monday in Washington County Circuit Court. Naima Renee Scott, 40, pleaded guilty to theft of $1,000 to $10,000. Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. Dwyer followed the state’s recommendation in sentencing her to 18 months in the county detention center, with all suspended except for the 46 days she has served. Her sentence includes restitution to Toys R Us of $1,671.87. But Scott still faces charges in two other states. Defense attorney Andrea Cheeatow told Dwyer that Scott, the mother of seven, has detainers from New Jersey, where she has a six-month sentence to serve, and Virginia, where she faces charges connected to the 2015 Washington County case. [Source: Herald-Mail Media]
Toronto officer buys shirt, tie for shoplifter
A Toronto police officer who purchased a shirt and tie for a shoplifter who needed an outfit for a job interview said he wanted to give the young man a second chance to get his life on track. Constable Niran Jeyanesan said Monday that he and his partner were called to a Walmart on Jane Street for a reported theft on Sunday night. When they arrived, he said the loss prevention associate at the store had apprehended an 18-year-old man for stealing a dress shirt, tie and socks. After speaking to the shoplifter, Jeyanesan said he discovered that the young man needed the outfit for an upcoming job interview. “This young person has been facing his own difficulties in life and he was looking to straighten out all that by providing for his family and trying to get a job,” Jeyanesan said. After releasing the shoplifter without charge, Jeyanesan purchased the shirt and tie and gave the clothing to the man. “This individual didn’t have any resources,” Jeyanesan said.
“He wanted to go get that job. That was in his mind. I think he truly made a mistake.” By purchasing the clothing, the 31 Division officer said he saw an opportunity to help the man. “Police officers do this every day and they don’t get recognized for it. We don’t look for any recognition,” he said.
“A core part of policing is helping people and I think we do that every day.” Speaking to reporters Monday, 31 Division Staff Sergeant Paul Bois commended the officer for his decision. “I think the officer did a fantastic job. He exercised his discretion, definitely showed some humanity in dealing with this particular individual. Every circumstance is different and in this particular case the individual had undergone some personal difficulties and the officer wanted to help him out with that and I think collectively that’s why we are all here doing this job,” Bois said. “We need to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I think he did.” [Source: CP24 News]
Supermarket employee stole thousands from store
A 47-year-old Souderton, Pennsylvania, woman is facing three felony criminal counts for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from a Hilltown supermarket throughout a period of several months, according to police. Jennifer Ann Castellana, of the 100 block of Franklin Street, charged with third-degree felony counts of theft, theft by deception and receiving stolen property. Police said that in May, officers went to the Giant supermarket at 760 Route 113 for a reported theft of cash and determined through an ensuing investigation that Castellana, a Giant employee, had stolen roughly $4,000 in cash from both a register in the supermarket and the Giant gas station over the past five to six months. Castellana admitted to the thefts during questioning, police said. An arrest warrant for Castellana was issued on July 27; court records indicated Monday that she has yet to be taken into custody and arraigned. [Source: KATU2 News]
Woman charged in nearly $1M theft from employer
The human resources director of a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, firm has been charged with stealing nearly $1 million from the company by depositing a significant number of checks into her personal checking account, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said Monday. Christine Marie Cushman, 31, of Douglassville, faces multiple offenses related to allegations that she stole $919,301 from HighPoint Solutions LLC in East Norriton by making 45 illegal transactions, according to a news release authorities issued on Monday. She had worked for the company briefly in 2007, and returned there in 2014. HighPoint, a technology consultant in the medical and life sciences fields, was alerted when a bank officer for its payroll company noticed multiple suspicious and significant amounts of funds being deposited into Cushman’s bank account, authorities reported. HighPoint’s chief financial officer met with East Norriton Police Detective Anthony Caso in July, prompting the investigation that revealed fraudulent payroll checks were written to subcontractors who no longer did business with the company. Previously, the companies used the same bank that Cushman used for direct deposit for her paychecks, according to police. When the fake deposits were made, detectives found that Cushman quickly transferred the money to another account, or used the money to pay personal expenses. Cushman’s responsibilities included preparing and reviewing payroll payments. Authorities allege the thefts took place from May 5 to June 15. [Source: The Inquirer Daily News]
America’s total eclipse floods market with fake sunglasses
When millions of Americans turn their faces skyward to witness the nation’s first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in a century, many will reach for specially designed sunglasses, but experts caution the public to stay clear of unsafe counterfeits. Even as makers of certified, safety-tested solar eye ware rushed to meet surging demand before the August 21 eclipse, they have joined astronomers and optometrists in warning of defective knockoffs flooding the US market. “It’s a bunch of unscrupulous people cashing in on the eclipse and putting public safety at risk,” said Richard Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Staring at the sun without proper filtration, even when it is partially obscured by the moon during an eclipse, can damage or destroy photo-receptor cells of the eye’s retina, leaving blind spots in a person’s field of vision, experts said. Special eyeglasses made with proper solar filters allow viewers to safely gaze at the sun any time for unlimited duration, the AAS said. Although the advent of solar-safe sunglasses dates back more than three decades, they have never been so widely available to the public as for the 2017 event, which Fienberg said may rank as the most watched total solar eclipse in human history. That is largely because this year’s spectacle will be the first in 99 years to span the entire continental United States – the world’s third most populous nation – across a 70-mile-wide path over 14 states, from the Pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic shore of South Carolina. It will also be the first total solar eclipse visible from any of the Lower 48 states since 1979.
While no data exists for how many made-for-eclipse eyeglasses are in circulation overall, shady distributors of purportedly solar-safe shades abound on the Internet, Fienberg said. The lenses of some obvious fakes allow the penetration of light from such relatively faint sources as fluorescent lamps, while the only thing one should see through authentic solar-safe filters when looking at objects fainter than the sun is pitch blackness. Other bogus glasses have come stamped with forged logos of reputable manufacturers or with phony safety labels. Peru State College in Nebraska, which lies in the path of the eclipse, ordered 7,500 pairs for students but discovered the shipment from a Chinese distributor was defective and came with safety certificates for ordinary sunglasses. The AAS and NASA have posted a list of reputable solar filter brands, retail distributors and online dealers, which can be seen by clicking here. Prices range from as little as 99 cents for a pair of paper-frame glasses to $20 or $30 for a more stylish plastic set. Made from an extremely opaque black polymer film containing fine carbon powder, true solar-safe lenses are designed to screen out 250,000 times more visible light than would otherwise reach the naked eye, said B. Ralph Chou, a Canadian optometrist who led development of global standards for solar optics. Any filter less opaque than that may cause severe eye damage that would not become evident until hours later, Chou warned. The legitimate glasses, which offer no views outside the eclipse, carry their own hazards, however. “When you put the glasses on, you can look at the sun, but don’t try to walk around,” Chou said. [Source: US News]