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Thursday, July 24, 2014

US Attorney's Editorial on the Last Place Case (from Duluth News Trib)

U.S. attorney's view: No Last Place headache for Duluth

         
I am writing to clarify some issues related to the prosecution of Jim Carlson and the proceedings concerning his shop, Last Place on Earth. This paper’s June 19 editorial, headlined “Head shop headaches will linger for years,” may have left a false impression of how our recent prosecution and forfeiture proceedings will affect the citizens of Duluth. Then I became United States attorney in February, I received a thorough briefing on this case. It was an impressive undertaking.
On Dec. 10, 2012, prosecutors in my office obtained a federal indictment charging Carlson with drug distribution and related charges. The indictment represented one of the most significant synthetic drug prosecutions in the country.


After a long trial, on Oct. 7, 2013, a federal jury in Duluth found Carlson guilty on 51 charges, including the distribution of synthetic drugs. By all accounts, Carlson’s shop on Superior Street was a danger to the community and a negative presence for local business owners and residents. Our office coordinated the prosecution of this case and the forfeiture of the Last Place on Earth shop with local law enforcement, the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office and the Duluth City Attorney’s Office.
The shop, which was shut down by an order from St. Louis County Judge Shaun Floerke in July 2013, was seized by the federal government after the jury verdict. At the time, our combined efforts were applauded by local elected officials and community leaders. In fact, an Oct. 4, 2013, piece in this paper cited the closing of Last Place on Earth as a “turning point” in making downtown Duluth “clean, safe and friendly.” Since Carlson’s conviction, hospital officials, community leaders and law enforcement all have noted a substantial decrease in synthetic drug-related admissions to local emergency rooms.


In short, the prosecution of this case and the closing of Carlson’s shop did what local and federal authorities hoped: They removed a dangerous criminal enterprise from downtown Duluth and prevented further synthetic drug injuries.


But there is more work to be done. As the June 19 editorial noted, the store remains shut down under the interim care of the United States Marshal’s Office, and something must be done with it. But the paper’s conclusion that taxpayers will inherit the costs of this process was unwarranted.
Let me explain. Not only was Carlson convicted of serious federal charges, but the federal government also was able to seize more than $4 million in currency and other assets related to his crimes. The money and assets are in federal custody. In considering the impact of this case on Duluth, the editorial inexplicably failed to inform readers of the process for distributing this money. When large federal forfeitures such as this are conducted, federal law provides that local law enforcement agencies involved in the underlying case receive a portion of the money through a process called “equitable sharing.” Although the plans for this equitable sharing will be finalized after Carlson’s appeal is decided, we expect to distribute about $1 million to the Duluth Police Department based on the extraordinary role of its officers in bringing Carlson to justice. That money will, of course, benefit the citizens of Duluth.


In addition, under standard procedures, the building that formerly housed the Last Place on Earth will be sold by the U.S. Marshals. The editorial opined no one would buy the building because of its “sorry state,” that the building probably would revert to Duluth, and that the city would have to pay to fix it up to use as a rehab center or for a similar purpose.


The editorial continued: “Eventual and expensive demolition seems a quite-likely result, with us taxpayers picking up the sizable tab.” That is simply not the case. To be clear, while the federal government can turn the building over to the city, it does not have to do so. Typically, the federal government sells the building, and that is what is likely to occur here. Moreover, there is no provision in the law that would require the taxpayers of Duluth to bear any of the federal government’s costs in selling this property. The U.S. Marshals have retained real estate experts to assist in selling the building and do not intend for it to be turned over to the city. While the building is in disarray (that is how Carlson kept it), the marshals will attempt to sell it as quickly as possible at no cost to the taxpayers.


One neighbor of the Last Place on Earth compared Carlson to someone “who pours toxic pollution into a river.” Not anymore. Duluth’s skilled law enforcement officers and local officials, federal agents and our dedicated prosecutors worked to end this unfortunate chapter in Duluth’s history. Contrary to any suggestion otherwise in the June 19 editorial, the hard work paid off and will continue to pay off for the citizens of Duluth. As we prepare for Carlson’s sentencing and appeal, the money seized from his operations awaits the distribution process. Once the appeal is concluded, Duluth will see its portion of the “equitable sharing” agreement, as it should.


No amount of money can offset the damage from Carlson’s operation. But this paper owes it to its readers to provide all the facts about how this case will affect the city.


I am proud of the work of our office did on this case and I am glad that, working with local officials, we made a positive impact on Duluth.


Andrew M. Luger is the United States attorney for the District of Minnesota, based in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A crime of greed; not need

We all pay a lot more for goods because of shoplifting; from my observations and experience it is a crime of greed and not need. One of the larger shoplifting cases that I will never forget involved the wife of a doctor who stole thousands... of dollars in clothes for a trip to the Bahamas she was making the next day. I review shoplifting stats from time to time and noted last week we had 22 shoplifting arrests.
Photo: We all pay a lot more for goods because of shoplifting; from my observations and experience it is a crime of greed and not need.  One of the larger shoplifting cases that I will never forget involved the wife of a doctor who stole thousands of dollars in clothes for a trip to the Bahamas she was making the next day.  I review shoplifting stats from time to time and noted last week we had 22 shoplifting arrests. 

Here is some info from last week's arrests:

-Several arrests involved theft of energy drinks and cosmetics 
-2 packages of fishing line from Shopko (less than $15)
-Hot Pockets from Walgreens
-People filled baskets or carts with merchandise and just walked right out of the store
-Male pulled a knife on loss prevention personnel over a $35 watch
-Female loaded two grocery bags full at Cub and walked out with $145 in food.

Not to make light of a serious subject, but in one of the cases an officer told the thief the following:

I ALSO ADVISED HE WAS NOT GOOD AT SHOPLIFTING AND SHOULD STOP. HE AGREED.
Here is some info from last week's arrests:

-Several arrests involved theft of energy drinks and cosmetics
-2 packages of fishing line from Shopko (less than $15)
-Hot Pockets from Walgreens
-People filled baskets or carts with merchandise and just walked right out of the store
-Male pulled a knife on loss prevention personnel over a $35 watch
-Female loaded two grocery bags full at Cub and walked out with $145 in food.

Not to make light of a serious subject, but in one of the cases an officer told the thief the following:

I ALSO ADVISED HE WAS NOT GOOD AT SHOPLIFTING AND SHOULD STOP. HE AGREED.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Woman Officer Makes History at Duluth Police Dept. (Fox 21 News)

By:

Morgan Kolkmeyer
 
FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT

DULUTH - Being a woman in charge in a male-dominated field is nothing but normal to the Duluth Police Department's new deputy chief.

From a stereotypical female role as a stay at home mom, to a conventional male duty, the cliche gender roles are no match to Ann Clancey's history of hard work.

She started with the Duluth P.D. when she was 30 years old, and during that time, she was promoted to sergeant, lieutenant, and now to deputy chief.

"Each time that I would obtain a promotion or a new assignment, there's always a little scuddle about 'well, she's a female,'" Clancey said, "But each time I was able to prove that I was worthy of the job and I've been successful and moved on to the next thing. I'll do the same with this."

Clancey started with the Duluth Police Department 18 years ago, but 2014 was going to be a life changing year for her, and not in the way she had expected.

"I was on my way out the door to retirement when I was offered this position," Deputy Chief Clancey explained.

She was only four shifts away from retiring with her husband when she got the call, and says it was an opportunity that she couldn't turn down.

She would be the first ever female deputy chief, the highest rank a woman has ever held in the Duluth Police Department.

Deputy Chief Clancey says, "A chance to impact the community on a whole different level, a chance to influence the police department on a whole different level. I felt that I had more that I could add and offer, so I took the job."

So far, the feedback she's received has made her realize that taking the job was much more than to protect and serve.

Women have been approaching her and thanking her for showing that women can be in a role like hers.

Clancey says she's looked up to many women in the force who have helped pave the way to her success, and she hopes to do the same for the younger females coming on.

"If I were to give advice to another woman, I would say to continue to work hard, and to believe that you can achieve what you set your mind to and hope to achieve."

Monday, July 7, 2014

No Soup, I Mean Desk Duty for You!

I was tired of pushing papers today, so I went out and poked around the streets for a bit. I saw a guy walking around some parked cars in the Steam Plant lot in Canal Park and he gave me the vibe that he was up to something. I hid across ...the street and watched him saunter between about six cars and he seemed to be looking closely, but nonchalantly in each one; as if they were his cars parked on his property. After casing a couple of cars he would stop by a line of pine trees and look around, as if to see who was watching him and then return to looking in more cars.
 
        I was concerned he was going to see me watching him, so I asked our friends at KBJR if I could watch him out their third floor windows. They obliged and were very helpful, but unfortunately by the time I made it up to the third floor the guy had moved out of sight and was under the Lake Avenue viaduct. A bike officer drove by and spooked him, so we approached and identified him. Turns out this Superior resident is no stranger to illegal activity and has auto theft and burglary convictions. While he had nothing on him indicating he had yet committed any crime today, I believe he was either going to steal a car; or steal from a car based on his behavior.

Keep in mind that prevention is the best medicine. Don't leave valuables or your keys in your car. Watch for suspicious behavior and report it to 911.