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Tyler Police: Suspect’s ID Confirmed

robbery_suspect.1359567261TYLER — The Tyler Police Department says it has confirmed the identity of the suspect in the accompanying photograph. Police allege that credit cards stolen in a recent case have been used at several local businesses, and the person pictured is suspected of using them. Officials say his identity is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

The incident occurred shortly before 1:30 Sunday morning in the 1800 block of ESE Loop 323. The victim told officers she was walking home when she observed an older model white car pull up beside her. A black male got out of the car, pointed a small black pistol at her, and demanded her cell phone. The victim handed over her purse and phone. The suspect got back into the car and fled westbound on the Loop. The victim said that she observed four black males inside the car as it drove away. The suspect is described as approximately 5’09,” 180 lbs., and wearing a gray hat. The victim was unharmed during the incident.

Anyone with information about the suspects involved in this crime are urged to contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1000, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833). Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspects in this case or any felony case.

Illegal Alien Sentenced for Drug Trafficking in East Texas

Francisco Antonio SorianoTYLER – An El Salvadoran illegally living in Tyler has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison for drug trafficking violations. Francisco Antonio Soriano, 38, pleaded guilty last September to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced yesterday in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Soriano will be deported following the completion of his prison term.

According to federal prosecutors, beginning on December 14, 2011, Soriano conspired with others to acquire and distribute methamphetamine in the Eastern District of Texas. Soriano admitted he was responsible for the distribution of more than 500 grams of pure methamphetamine. Soriano, Jose Lopez, and Jorge Perez Sanchez were indicted by a federal grand jury in January of last year and charged with drug trafficking violations. Last October, Lopez was sentenced to 168 months in federal prison and Sanchez was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

Smith County Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking in East Texas

Bonifacio Nunez-RomeroTYLER – A 41-year-old Tyler man was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales Wednesday. Bonifacio Nunez-Romero was found guilty by a jury on Aug. 15, 2012, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. He was sentenced in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider.

According to information presented in court, up until September 2011, Nunez-Romero conspired with another person to acquire and distribute methamphetamine in the Tyler area. Evidence presented at trial showed Nunez-Romero was distributing methamphetamine manufactured in Mexico and also selling heroin. He was also found in possession of firearms, a military flak jacket and body armor. Nunez-Romero was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 1, 2012 and charged with drug trafficking violations.

Police: Local Retailers Sell Alcohol to Teens during Recent Sting

thumb_police-longview2LONGVIEW — Some more retailers have been caught selling alcohol to minors, according to Longview police. The Longview Police Department conducted a series of stings Saturday, in partnership with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and supported by Longview Partners in Prevention. A total of 64 locations were checked. Police say 12 sold alcohol to minors:

1. 1470 W. Marshall Avenue – Gateway Fly Thru Beer
2. 3620 Estes Parkway – Rudy’s # 15
3. 4208 Loop 281 West – Longview Bingo Center
4. 1001 Young Street – Cowboy’s Stop
5. 511 E. Marshall Avenue – Walgreen’s # 07611
6. 100 S. Access Road – Food Fast # 1007

7. 1101 McCann Road – Food Fast # 1022
8. 880 E. Loop 281 – Big Papa’s
9. 128 W. Marshall Avenue – Rudy’s # 16
10. 1917 Judson Road – Road Runner Superette # 2
11. 3305 S. Eastman Road – Food Fast # 1077
12. 700 Gilmer Road – E-Z Mart Store # 260

Man Reportedly Shot During Drug Deal

NACOGDOCHES — Nacogdoches police are investigating reports of a shooting at the River Park Apartments located at 315 Ellington street. According to KETK, the call came in a just before 11:00 Monday night. The victim, a white male, told police he was shot once in the buttocks during a drug deal. Police are still looking for the gunman.

Nacogdoches Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking

Justice Department logoBEAUMONT — A Nacogdoches man has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations. Cedrick Fowler, 30, pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of crack cocaine. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 245 months in federal prison. On June 20, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment charging 10 defendants, including Fowler, with drug trafficking violations.

Oil Storage Tank Explodes in Van Zandt County; Two Injured

explosion_picVAN (AP/Staff) – An explosion and fire in an oil storage tank just north of Van has injured two, one critically, and we now know their names: Brandy Wolfe and H.R. Price, both 24. The two were allegedly trespassing at the time of the incident. Van Zandt County Emergency Management Coordinator Chuck Allen says firefighters began battling the blaze around 3:00 Tuesday morning. Allen says Wolfe and Price were smoking on top of a storage tank when one of the tanks blew up. Both victims were sent to the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Allen says Wolfe is on life support.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Railroad Commission remained on the scene to ensure cleanup. Allen says the fire ended up completely destroying three 400-barrel storage vessels, while three other 400-barrel storage vessels were damaged.

According to Allen, there was a breach in the tank dike which resulted in a small amount of salt water and raw crude oil making its way into a small creek. Allen reports, “The creek has been boomed and the effects are extremely limited as a result of quick thinking and response by fire department.” He says the operator of the storage facility is Three Folks Operating Company, LLC, of Flatonia.

Gusty Winds, Small Hail Hit North, East Texas

lightningDALLAS (AP) — Thunderstorms swept across North and East Texas, bringing scattered reports of small hail and tree damage but no severe structural damage. Concerns about severe storms and tornadoes for the regions didn’t pan out Tuesday afternoon. However, the storms were heralded by a gust front that blew briefly up to 50 mph in some areas.

In Hughes Springs, Mayor Reba Simpson said a couple of mobile homes were reportedly toppled. She had no report of injuries. The roof was damaged on a Walmart warehouse at Palestine.

Carrollton Man Sentenced for Counterfeit Cell Phone Accessories

TYLER – A 54-year-old Carrollton man has been sentenced to federal prison for a counterfeiting. Shiraz Sherali Odhwani pleaded guilty on September 9, 2011, to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. He was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Michael H. Schneider during a proceeding in Tyler. Odhwani was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $950,000.

According to U.S. prosecutors, Odhwani owns and operates a company known as Turtle Wireless, a wholesale outlet and retail point of sale for cellular telephones and wireless device accessories located in Dallas. In or about 2008, Turtle Wireless began selling counterfeit cellular telephone accessories purchased from suppliers in China. Through Turtle Wireless, Odhwani then sold the counterfeit products to retailers within the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere. In connection with this case, law enforcement officials seized more than 130,000 counterfeit items from Odhwani’s store and leased storage space. The infringement amount of that counterfeit merchandise was estimated at between $2.5 million and $7 million. Odhwani and three others were indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2011.

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Dealing Meth in East Texas

Kinte Varness GarnerTYLER – A 35-year-old Zwolle, Louisiana man has received a hefty federal prison for drug trafficking. Kinte Varness Garner pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. He was sentenced in Tyler to 262 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Garner was also ordered to submit to forfeiture of $5,000.

According to information presented in court, up until September 2011, Garner conspired with another person to acquire and distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine throughout the Tyler area. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on October 5, 2011, charging Garner with federal violations. Garner’s co-defendant, Camera Neal Holden, Jr., was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison on September 11, 2012.

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Purchasing Cold Pills in East Texas

TYLER – A 48-year-old Shreveport man has been sentenced for federal drug trafficking violations. Jay S. Gaines pleaded guilty September 4 to possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. He was sentenced in Tyler yesterday to 57 months in federal prison in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Federal prosecutors say on April 4, 2011, Gaines purchased cold pills containing pseudoephedrine at a Walmart store in Longview with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Within an hour, Gaines also made two other purchases of cold pills at another Walmart store and a Walgreens store in Longview.

Gaines’ co-defendants have all been sentenced. Jimmie Langston, Jr., was sentenced October 4 to 120 months in federal prison. Donnie Regis was sentenced to 75 months last June 21. Christopher Conley received a sentence of 100 months on January 17, 2012. Connie Parker was sentenced to 70 months on February 8, 2012. Stacy Campbell was sentenced to 75 months last June 1. Keith Kates received a 70-month sentence on June 21 of last year. Penny Mooney was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison on February 8, 2012.

Gregg County Man Sentenced for Identity Theft Scheme

Benjamin RojasTYLER – A 39-year-old Longview man has been sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to commit identity theft. Benjamin Rojas pleaded guilty October 9. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison Tuesday in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Rojas was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $20,293.93.

According to information presented in court, from January to May 2012, Rojas conspired with others to possess and use false identification documents and means of identification of others unlawfully. The scheme involved stealing mail from mailboxes in East Texas and using the information from the stolen mail to produce false Texas driver licenses, which appeared to be actual Texas temporary driver licenses. The fictitious driver licenses were used for identification when passing stolen checks, as well as counterfeit and forged checks, at various businesses in East Texas. Co-defendant Robin Watkins is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7.

Hensarling Discusses Economy during Tyler Stop

Jeb Hensarling2TYLER — The chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Representative Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, was in Tyler this week. According to KETK, Hensarling spoke on actions he says he’s taken in Congress to cut wasteful spending in Washington. He also talked about improving the health of our economy. He says what it all comes down to is being fiscally responsible. Hensarling remarked, “The core principle is fiscal responsibility that insures that we aren’t the first generation in history to leave the next generation with a lower standard of living and less freedom.” Hensarling is also hosting a series of town halls. He wants to hear from people about the issues they say are important to East Texas, part of which he represents.

Another Earthquake Near Timpson

seismographTIMPSON — There was another earthquake Tuesday morning in the Timpson area, in deep East Texas. KETK reports that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, a magnitude 2.8 quake struck just south of Timpson around 6:30. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department says there have been no reports of any damage or injuries. A magnitude 4.1 earthquake that could be felt in Tyler shook Timpson last Friday.

East Texan Co-Authors Open Carry Bill

Chris PaddieAUSTIN — Marshall State Representative Chris Paddie has co-authored a House bill that would drastically change gun law in Texas. If the bill passes, licensed concealed handgun owners would no longer be required to conceal their firearms. Paddie says, “Many other states allow their citizens some form of open carry, and in my opinion, Texas should be leading the charge to protect our Second Amendment rights and supporting gun rights.” House bill 700 does not change the licensing or background check requirements for acquiring a handgun or concealed handgun license.

Whitehouse Man Guilty in Slaying, Gets 42 Years

Larry Joe SmithTYLER — A Whitehouse man accused of the shooting death of his girlfriend has been found guilty of murder. Found guilty of killing former girl friend Sandra Greenshaw on the front porch of his home was Larry Joe Smith, 68. Smith told deputies someone tried breaking in, so he fired a shotgun through a window. Smith was sentenced to 42 years in prison. He’ll be eligible for parole in 21 years.

Bond Reduction Hearing Set for Former Commissioner, Son

crabtreeGILMER — State District Judge Lauren Parish has set a Thursday bond reduction hearing for a former Upshur County commissioner and his son who were arrested Friday. According to KETK, Lloyd Crabtree, 51, (pictured) and Todd Crabtree, 28, were indicted this past week on charges arising from a confrontation with a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden last October. Each man has bonds totaling $1.5 million, more than some capital murder suspects in Upshur County have faced.

The indictments accuse the men of disarming the game warden at gunpoint when he came on their land south of Big Sandy looking for hunting violations. Game Warden Shane Bailey summoned help on his cell phone and was joined by law enforcement officers from several agencies who arrested the Crabtrees. Each is charged with aggravated assault on a public servant, taking a weapon from an officer, and unlawful restraint of a public servant.

Marijuana Found During Nacogdoches County Traffic Stop

23_lbs_marijuanaNACOGDOCHES COUNTY — A traffic stop ended in the arrest of three people and the confiscation of 23 pounds of marijuana. According to Nacogdoches County Sheriff officials, on Saturday morning, deputies stopped two vehicles that were following each other heading northbound on Highway 59. During the traffic stop, deputies noticed that the people in the vehicles were very nervous and gave conflicting statements. According to KETK, deputies were given consent to search both vehicles and found 23 lbs of marijuana in the trunk of one of the vehicles.

Three people were arrested and booked into the Nacogdoches County jail. Chinika Pittman, 27, Elva Mayweather, 34, and Conrado Hinds, 42, are charged with possession of marijuana and criminal conspiracy. They are all from Lawrenceville, GA. The estimated street value of the drugs is $23,000.

Trailers Stolen from Tyler-Area Business

thumb_police-9TYLER — Two trailers have been stolen from a Tyler-area business. One of the owners of Coffee City USA tells KETK the trailers were stolen from their business, at 13195 Highway 155 South, just outside Loop 323. An employee of the coffee roasting plant reportedly drove by the business around 5:00 Sunday afternoon, and the trailers were still at the property. However, at 7:15 Monday morning, the gates to the business had been opened and the trailers stolen. The business owners say the trailers were full of items, mostly of personal and sentimental value.

The enclosed trailers have the “Coffee City USA” logo on the side and the words “It’s Showtime!” on the back. Smith County Sheriff officials anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s office at 903-566-6600 and ask for Lt. Goecking.

Traffic Stop Leads to Cavity Search, Drug Charges

cassie_thompsonKILGORE — A routine traffic stop led to the arrest and cavity search of a Kilgore woman. According to the Kilgore Police Department, Cassie Faye Thompson, 21, of Kilgore was pulled over Sunday and found to have two outstanding traffic warrants. KETK reports she was arrested and taken to the Kilgore Municipal Jail.

According to officers, while being booked in, Thompson made several nervous movements, which led officers to believe she was concealing something in her underwear. She was taken to a local emergency room, where authorities say a small baggie of methamphetamine was removed from her body cavity. She was given additional charges of possession of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence. Both charges are felonies.

Upshur County Hit and Run Fatality Still Being Investigated

DPS badgeGILMER — Officials are looking for the driver of an older model white pickup believed to be involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Upshur County. According to KETK, the Texas Department of Public Safety said Maxwell Kyle Hardin, 35, of Hallsville died in the incident, which occurred soon after 7:00 Sunday night on Farm Road 726.

DPS spokeswoman Jean Dark said Trooper Brandon Love was called to investigate a crash involving a motorcycle about a mile South of Finch Road. The motorcycle lost control after trying to avoid a deer in the roadway. The driver and passenger were thrown from the motorcycle; neither was wearing a helmet. The driver was lying in the roadway when an unidentified vehicle ran over him and continued south on FM 726.

Hardin was pronounced dead at East Texas Medical Center in Gilmer. The passenger on the motorcycle was Donna Rene Miller, 36, of Hallsville. She was transported to ETMC – Gilmer in serious condition. Investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying the driver of the pickup truck that failed to stop and render aid after running over Hardin.

One Suspect Arrested After Christmas Eve Burglary

340488256706TYLER — Tyler police have arrested one person and are looking for two more on burglary charges. A warrant had been issued for Xavier Shaquele Roberson, 22, Houston. On Monday of last week, local officials were notified by Humble Police that Roberson had been arrested. He was extradited back to Tyler and is currently being held under a $300,000.00 bond.

On Christmas Eve, Tyler Police responded to a residential burglary alarm at 6808 Hollytree Circle. Dispatch received a call from a citizen who gave a suspect vehicle description. Another officer located that vehicle and attempted to stop the occupants. Police say they then threw stolen jewelry from the vehicle. The jewelry was recovered, and the value has yet to be determined. No one was injured, no weapons were observed.

Anyone with information about the suspects involved in this crime is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1000, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833). Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

One Arrested Following Incident at Smith County Club

Ricky BrunoTYLER — One person has been arrested after he was accused of trying to run down a Smith County law officer. Taken into custody was Ricky Bruno, 20, of Tyler. Sheriff Larry Smith tells KETK that an off duty deputy from the Smith County Precinct 1 Constable’s office was working security at Outlaw’s club on Highway 110 between Tyler and Whitehouse late Saturday night. The deputy was apparently trying to escort Bruno out of the club when he is said to have gotten into his vehicle and tried to run over the officer. The officer is said to have fired at the vehicle, which crashed into a ditch. Bruno, who was not injured, was booked into the Smith County Jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading an officer.

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT signTYLER — Here’s a quick look at work planned in the Tyler District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews Monday performed minor pavement repairs and resurfacing work on the State Highway 110 intersection with County Road 2121, which is located between Shiloh Road and Grande Boulevard south of Tyler. Crews will then move to SSE Loop 323 just east of the “Troup-and-the-Loop” intersection to make approximately one day of pavement repairs on the approaches to the railroad tracks in that location. Once the work near the railroad tracks is complete, crews will move to Loop 323 in front of T.K. Gorman to make similar repairs. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zones.

HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue pavement-repair operations on State Highway 31 in Brownsboro between Farm Road 607 and Farm Road 314. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone.

GREGG COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on State Highway 42 between Farm Road 2206 south of White Oak and Interstate Highway 20. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone.

RUSK COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 782 northeast of Henderson between Farm Road 1716 in Oak Hill and State Highway 149 near the Gregg County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

WOOD COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform ditch cleaning operations on Farm Road 2869 between U.S. Highway 80 and Lake Hawkins. Elsewhere in Wood County, TxDOT contractors are at work making base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 1804 (Hoard Road) between US 80 and the Smith County Line. The work is being done in preparation for a seal coat application next summer. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue fog seal operations on U.S. Highway 80 between Wills Point and Edgewood, then on Interstate Highway 20 frontage roads between the Oakland-Colfax and Farm Road 773 ramps. Additionally, crews are tentatively scheduled on Wednesday to make pavement repairs on State Highway 19 near Farm Road 858 south of Canton. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 343 east of U.S. Highway 69 in Rusk, and continue edge work on Farm Road 855 near Mount Selman. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make edge and shoulder repairs on Farm Road 323 southeast of Palestine. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

Columbia Pilot’s Parents Recall Crash 10 Years Ago

Columbia DisasterLUBBOCK (AP/Staff) – One morning nearly 10 years ago, Barry McCool remembers watching his son’s space shuttle fly more than 40 miles above his Las Vegas home. He went inside to watch a live computer feed from Houston, home of NASA’s Mission Control. But Columbia never landed in Florida on February 1, 2003. The shuttle piloted by his son William McCool, who attended high school in Lubbock, disintegrated high over East Texas during its descent back to Earth. All seven crew members died. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that Barry McCool knew something was wrong when he heard Houston officials say they’d lost infrared radar contact with Columbia. McCool says he got a sickening feeling in his stomach when he saw the flight director’s expression. McCool then told his wife, “Willie’s gone.”

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