Crime & Public Safety

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pima County Hires New Jail Population Coordinator

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 11:58 AM

Last week Mike Steber became the newest addition to the Pima County Sheriff Department's correctional staff as a jail population coordinator.

His job is to continuously review the jail's roster and case management system to identify individuals currently in jail for non-violent offenses who correctional officials believe, once released, would be unlikely to miss scheduled court appearances, according to a county press release.

Sheriff Mark Napier explained the necessity of the new hire in the release.

"My job is to not only make Pima County a safer place but to also ensure that we are spending taxpayer funds appropriately," said Napier. "Part of achieving both is ensuring that the right people are incarcerated in our jail for the right reasons. This will reduce costs and keep our county safer."

By consulting with the other agencies such as the county's Attorney's Office and public defenders, they can work with inmates who are willing to seek substance abuse or mental illness treatment, or get involved in housing assistance or social services programs. It's all about keeping the jail population as low as possible while still ensuring public safety.

Steber will also keep an eye out for other programs that can serve as a better alternative to being kept in custody.

"We don't want repeat business," PCSD Chief Deputy Byron Gwaltney said in the release. "In my experience, many people do better and are less likely to re-offend if they remain connected to the community and the social services available on the outside."

Steber's hire comes as the latest move by the county to address issues with incarceration. In April 2016, Pima County received a $1.5 million Safety and Justice Challenge Grant, provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to identify ways to reduce the jail population where necessary. Their goal is to reduce the population by 26 percent from 2014 to this year.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Oro Valley Murder Suspect Held on $10 Million Cash Bond

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 12:29 PM

Thirty seven-year-old Trevor Draegeth was arrested and charged with first-degree-murder after his wife, Laurie, was found dead in their Oro Valley home the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 12. - PHOTO COURTESY ORO VALLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Oro Valley Police Department
  • Thirty seven-year-old Trevor Draegeth was arrested and charged with first-degree-murder after his wife, Laurie, was found dead in their Oro Valley home the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Court records show that Trevor and Laurie Draegeth were involved in an argument the night before the latter was found dead in their Oro Valley home.

When Oro Valley Police Department Officers arrived at the Draegeth home on East Brearley Drive the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 12, Laurie was found face up in her bed with a gunshot wound to her left eye. An officer also observed two bullet holes in a nearby wall.

Laurie, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the medical examiner's report, Laurie was killed by a "perforating gunshot wound to the head." The death was ruled a homicide by Eric D. Peters, MD from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.

According to the interim complaint filed with the Pima County Justice Court, Trevor, 37, told officers he and his wife had been arguing about finances the night before. He said he was later awoken by his wife, who allegedly wanted to continue the discussion.

Trevor told the officer he left the bedroom and entered the kitchen, though the argument allegedly continued, drawing him back into the bedroom. The man then told officers his wife “brandished a handgun and shot at him twice.”

The husband told officers his wife then shot herself while he embraced her “in a side hug.”

After the woman died, Trevor told officers he laid with her for roughly ten minutes, and tried to make her look “pretty.”

  • Facebook, verified by OVPD
  • Laurie Draegeth
Trevor then told officers he removed the blanket from their bed and his shirt and attempted to wash them in the bathtub. He also cleaned the handgun with a bar of soap and the blanket.

After cleaning the weapon, the man told officer he placed it by the front door, and called the police. The entire ordeal took about an hour.

Over the course of the investigation, an officer noted that Laurie planned to leave her husband, and was “kicked out” of the house days before the incident. Investigators did not discover any signs of a suicide, and noted in the statement of probable cause that Laurie was “excited” about a trip with her daughters.

The two children have been in the custody of Trevor’s parents, and an officer indicated in court records that investigators fear the man may be a flight risk and could take his children with him.

An officer was later told during an interview by Trevor that “he had [$1 million] and owns a successful law firm.”

Trevor was later arrested for first-degree-murder by the Oro Valley Police Department and booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Center with a $10 million cash only bond.

Trevor’s next court date is set for Monday, March 19.

According to Oro Valley Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Carmen Trevizo, the last homicide took place in Oro Valley in 2013.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Crime, Punishment, and Prisons in America

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM

The United States officially incarcerates more people than any other nation on earth.

Incarceration cost U.S. taxpayers more than $80 billion in 2016. Some states such as New York and Washington spend between $50,000 and $60,000 a year for each prisoner.

What does that cost buy?
What purposes does imprisonment serve?
What purpose should it serve?
Who should be imprisoned? For what? Why?
Who should operate prisons in the United States–government or for-profit corporations?

Pima County Public Library is inviting the community to explore these questions and share ideas at an upcoming FRANK Talk facilitated by Dr. T.J. Davis, Arizona Sate University, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

The event will take place Saturday, March 9 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. The event is free to attend and open to all. No advance registration required. 

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Man Dies In Custody at Pima County Jail

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 11:22 AM

On Thursday, Feb. 14, just after 2:00 p.m., a "use-of-force encounter" at the Pima County Adult Detention Complex resulted in the death of 53-year-old David Ray Maxwell. The corrections officer involved, Jason Hubert, was placed on administrative leave immediately following the encounter, as is standard protocol.
David Ray Maxwell
  • David Ray Maxwell

Hubert was was not injured during the encounter, and has been employed with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department since October 2007. The incident is currently being investigated by Pima County Sheriff’s Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is unable to release any further information at this time and the department is in the process of notifying the inmate’s next of kin.

According to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, "Detention Complex have limited Force Options available to them. Such Options are limited to Officer Presence, Verbal Communications, Soft Empty Hand Control techniques, Pain Compliance techniques, Oleoresin Capsicum spray, and Hard Empty Hand Control techniques. At this time the investigation is still ongoing."

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Pounds of Drugs Found After Pima County Sheriff Conduct Traffic Stop

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 9:26 AM

34-year-old Jesus Maria Lopez-Verduzco. - COURTESY PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy Pima County Sheriff's Department
  • 34-year-old Jesus Maria Lopez-Verduzco.
Pounds of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and 10,000 pills suspected to be fentanyl are off the streets of Tucson after the Pima County Sherriff’s Department arrested 34-year-old Jesus Maria Lopez-Verduzco Tuesday afternoon.

According to the sheriff’s department, which announced the news the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 18, Lopez-Verduzco was stopped near the 1000 block of N. Euclid Road around 5:45 p.m. after a “Title 28 violation.” Title 28 under the Arizona Revised Statutes covers transportation, and PCSD was unable to immediately provide a specific violation.

During the traffic investigation, $1,916 and “several individually packaged baggies” including cocaine, heroin, suspected fentanyl, and methamphetamine were found. Lopez-Verduzco was arrested and charged for possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug, transportation for sale, prohibited possessor and for possessing a firearm while transporting narcotics and booked into Pima County jail.

PCSD also announced that information obtained during the stop led to deputies investigating a residence in the 1900 block of North Wilmont Road. At the home, deputies found a stolen hand gun, 10,000 suspected fentanyl pills, 11.3 lbs. of heroin, 5.76 lbs. of cocaine, and 8.78 lbs. of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over $400,000 dollars.

According to jail records, Lopez-Verduzco is being held on $10,000 bond.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Game and Fish: Five Birds, Two Javelina, Illegally Shot in December by Pellet, BB Guns

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 10:21 AM

A radiograph shows a red-tailed hawk shot in three places. - COURTESY ARIZONA GAME AND FISH
  • Courtesy Arizona Game and Fish
  • A radiograph shows a red-tailed hawk shot in three places.

After seven cases involving the illegal shooting of wildlife last month, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking the public to be more aware of such incidents and report any suspicious activity.

The incidents, two in Sierra Vista and the rest in the greater Tucson area, involved wildlife being either dead on arrival for treatment, or euthanized. The animals included two Cooper’s hawks, two javelina, a great horned owl, a red-tailed hawk and a raven.

“These cases involving birds are violations of state and federal law, and the javelina case is against state law,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson, in a release. “BB and pellet guns are not legal means of hazing away nuisance wildlife. In addition, youngsters need to be taught that wildlife is not to be used for target practice.”

According AZGFD, the maximum penalty for a felony violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a $250,000 fine and two years in prison.

To report suspicious activity or suspected violations to Operation Game Thief, call 800-352-0700.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Lyft Working to Reduce Drunk Driving This NYE

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 2:20 PM

  • BigStock
New Year's Eve is supposed to be an evening of fun and festivities, but becomes dangerous when people get behind the wheel after drinking. The number of accidents due to drunk driving as well as DUI arrests skyrockets on Dec. 31 each year.

The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force is teaming up with Lyft this New Year's Eve to keep Tucson drivers and passengers safe.

"This holiday season, we are proud to work with the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force to remind passengers to plan ahead for a reliable and affordable ride option with Lyft," said Drena Kusari, Lyft Southwest region General Manager.

Through Jan. 2 Lyft is committing $20,000 as part of its Ride Smart campaign.

New users can get $5 off four rides with the code PIMASAFE and continuing users can get 10 percent off two rides with the code PIMASAFE18.

So, if you are heading out to celebrate tonight make sure to arrange a safe ride home and leave your keys out of reach. 

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Man to Serve Five Years After Defrauding Marana Stockyards

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 11:32 AM

  • BigStock

Seth Nichols, who pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud in U.S. District Court after he was caught last year stealing from his employer, will serve a maximum sentence of five years in prison and must pay $3 million in restitution fees. He was sentenced on Tuesday, Dec. 18 by Judge Cindy Jorgenson.

From 2013 to 2017 Nichols was the office manager of the family-owned Marana Stockyards and Livestock Market, located at 14901 W. Kirby Hughes Road. The business is a livestock auction that specializes in selling Arizona-raised cattle.

Nichols was hired by the owner and a personal friend, Clay Parsons, to manage the business’ financial operations. Nichols used this opportunity to fake bank records in an attempt to make it seem like the stockyard had good financial standings. But behind-the-scenes, he was buying the cattle under his own personal company name and reselling it to other buyers without reimbursing his employer, pocketing the money for nearly four years.

The Arizona Daily Star reported the Parsons family discovered the fraud in August 2017 when their accounts were missing $1.3 million. Their business’ line of credit was down nearly $2 million, putting the family in financial crisis.

Nichols’ father, Donald, was indicted that same month in connection with the fraud of over $1 million in cattle sales at the Parsons’ auctions. His federal trial will begin in February 2019.

On their company website, the Parsons family gave a statement to concerned community members who have seen the news. They wrote:

“Although it has been difficult at times for our family we have kept our focus on the business as well as each other. Through the struggle, we have timely honored each and every obligation to our buyers, sellers, employees, vendors and all other parties… Here at Marana Stockyards we embrace the spirit of the Arizona rancher ‘When the desert gets dry you keep working and pray for rain.’”

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Staff Pick

Menopause the Musical!

The cast of four fabulous women shop for laundry at a Bloomingdale’s sale, sing 25 songs about… More

@ The Gaslight Music Hall Tue., March 19, 6-8 p.m., Wed., March 20, 6-8 p.m., Thu., March 21, 6-8 p.m., Fri., March 22, 6-8 p.m., Sun., March 24, 2-4 & 6-8 p.m., Mon., March 25, 6-8 p.m., Tue., March 26, 6-8 p.m., Wed., March 27, 6-8 p.m., Thu., March 28, 6-8 p.m., Fri., March 29, 6-8 p.m., Sun., March 31, 2-4 & 6-8 p.m., Mon., April 1, 6-8 p.m., Tue., April 2, 6-8 p.m., Wed., April 3, 6-8 p.m. and Thu., April 4, 6-8 p.m. 13005 N Oracle Rd

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