A Wal-Mart customer's wrist "jewelry" gives away his true identity; a hitchhiker comes back to haunt one driver more than 20 years later; and a man is fined for going to church. Here is this week's edition of the Crime Blotter.
M A G N O L I A, Ark. — Wal-Mart employees thought James Cotton was just a typical customer looking for bolt cutters — until they noticed his handcuffs.
Police said Cotton entered a Wal-Mart in Magnolia at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. He didn't attract much attention, until he was ready to pay for the bolt cutters he was buying. The cashier at the checkout counter noticed that Cotton was handcuffed and grew suspicious.
The cashier called police after accepting Cotton's check for $14.97 and seeing him go to a restroom with the bolt cutters. Police arrived as Cotton emerged from the bathroom — handcuff-free. A brief chase ensued but Cotton was apprehended behind the woods of the store, police said. Officers said the handcuffs were found in Cotton's pocket.
Authorities said Cotton had been arrested the previous night in Haynesville, La., on charges of battery and narcotics possession, but fled after kicking out the window of a police car. He faces additional charges of resisting arrest and property destruction for his visit to the Magnolia Wal-Mart.
Taken for a 20-Year Ride
E R I E, Pa. — There's another reason why drivers should never pick up hitchhikers — ultimately, they make take you for a ride.
That's what happened to Kenneth Michael Green. More than 20 years ago, Green, a Vietnam War veteran and former shipyard worker, gave a lift to Leonard Shough after he saw him standing on the side of the road in Florida. Green said he let Shough sleep on the floor of his motel room, only to wake up and find his belongings — and Shough — gone.
Now, Green finds that he is a victim of identity theft. A federal grand jury has indicted Shough, 61, on charges that he used Green's name and Social Security number since at least 1994 to get $63,644 loans and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Federal officials said there is evidence Shough used Green's identity as far back as 1981 but there will be no criminal charges filed in that alleged incident because of the statute of limitations expired and it occurred before passage of the 1998 federal identity theft statute.
If convicted, Shough faces up to 85 years in prison and $3.25 million in fines.
A Fine of Worship
T O W N S H I P 15 R A N G E 15, Maine — A Maine resident has been asked to make a heavy donation for going to church — in the form of a $10,000 fine.
Richard Albert, 52, lives 30 yards on the Maine side of the Quebec border, beside the U.S. Customs office, and he says he has been going to church services on the Canadian side of the border for years. But recently, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection notified him that he faces two $5,000 fines for crossing from Quebec into Maine when the local border crossing station was closed.
Albert, a U.S. citizen, said he has been crossing the U.S.-Canada border at will for more than 40 years and that it had never been an issue. However, border security has been tightened since last May when the Bureau of Customs eliminated its Form 1 program, which allowed approved residents to cross the border when certain border stations were closed.