Each week The River City News talks with Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders about his weekly e-newsletter that highlights who was sent to prison or got probation in the previous week. At the bottom of this post you can find a link to that newsletter. Here are this week's questions and answers:
RCN: Troy & Michael Garza both pleaded guilty to charges on March 25 but it looks like only one of these (brothers?) is going to prison. Troy pleaded guilty to bail jumping, tampering with a prisoner monitoring device, and first degree criminal mischief, while Michael only pleaded to the same criminal mischief charge. Troy faces several years in prison while Michael is looking at probation. What's their story?
SANDERS: Judging by their last names and mugshots, I'm guessing the Garzas are related. Their cases, however, are not. Michael Garza was arrested after Covington Police responded to an alarm on CSX railroad property near 5th & Johnson Streets. Officer Kyle Warner spotted three people tampering with the railroad tracks. When Warner identified himself as police, the trio took of running. I suppose Michael Garza was the slowest because he was the first one Warner caught. The other two got away and Michael Garza refused to identify them. Warner returned to where he original saw the men and discovered they had been ripping copper wire from the tracks. Warner found a briefcase full of copper that also contained photos and certificates belonging to Michael Garza. CSX employees responded and said the wires transmit warnings to train engineers if there is a problem with the train's load before it crosses the bridge over the river. As in most copper thefts, the value of the copper was rather minimal; only $125 in this case. The cost of the repairs, however, was over $2,000. All trains were also halted until the wiring could be repaired. Fortunately, this occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday so the number of delayed trains was far less than what normally would occur. Michael Garza has no prior felony convictions so he was allowed to enter the felony diversion program on the condition he repay CSX for $2,322.92 in losses.
Troy Garza is much more of a train wreck, pun intended, which is why we're recommending 5 years in prison for his three cases. On the 4th of July, Covington Police responded to a burglar alarm at the shuttered Waterfront restaurant. Officers Tony Hill, Mike Petri, and David Griswold could see people inside through windows so they called for Officer Mark Richardson and his K9 partner, Cohen to respond. Cohen was sent in first and the other officers moved in cautiously. Shortly thereafter the officers found Troy Garza and Jack Deakins stranded on top of a refrigerating cooler where they had climbed to avoid being apprehended by Cohen who was waiting on the floor for the men to come down.
I'm a big fan of police K9s in general but am especially fond of Cohen because he was purchased for Covington Police by my office when budget crunching would have prevented replacement of Richardson's prior K9 who died unexpectedly. The money used to purchase Cohen had been seized from convicted drug dealers which also makes his apprehensions amusingly ironic.
Anyhow, Deakins and Troy Garza caused over $1,000 in damage to several pieces of restaurant equipment that were locked. Apparently the two were trying to break into coolers to steal beer. Deakins pled guilty months ago. Troy Garza's case took longer to resolve because on July 28, 2012 he cut off his electronic ankle monitor and skipped out of his house arrest, resulting in the Tampering With A Prison Monitoring Device indictment. After being picked up on that warrant, Troy Garza was again allowed out of jail on bond. Don't ask me why. He pled guilty to Criminal Mischief and Tampering With A Prison Monitoring Device but then failed to appear for sentencing on January 8, 2013, resulting in his indictment for Bailjumping. Troy Garza was picked up again in March, 2013. He pled guilty to Bailjumping and now faces a 5 year recommended sentence which is considerably higher than the 1 1/2 years he would have originally faced. Amazingly, Troy Garza had never previously been charged with a felony. Breaking into a business would have earned him a prison recommendation from our office but a judge may have probated him. His inability to behave while he had a case pending certainly indicates to me probation would be a waste of time and resources. I'm confident Troy Garza will go to prison when sentenced on May 14th.
RCN: Raymond Russell faces four years in prison when he's sentenced next month for failing to register as a sex offender. Richard Foster got three years in prison for the same thing. Why didn't these guys register? Seems like a simple way to stay out of prison.
SANDERS: Both Russell and Foster simply did not update their addresses when they changed residences. Russell's recommended sentence is higher because he has a prior conviction for the same offense.
It certainly is not hard to comply with Sex Offender Registration. All they have to do is fill out a card at the Probation & Parole office. They are supposed to do so within three days of moving but we usually give them a few days grace period just to account for someone who may have had transportation issues or something along those lines. We're seeing more and more of these cases now that Covington Police detectives have taken a proactive approach to checking up on sex offenders to make sure they are living where they are registered. The programs has been extremely successful, not just in catching violators, but in compelling compliance, that my office is seeking to implement the same program with other departments throughout the county.
When an offender violates a law that is easy to comply with, knowing a violation will almost surely lead to another conviction and prison sentence, it certainly raises red flags. Why on earth would someone risk certain prison if they aren't up to no good?!
RCN: Jeffrey Dixon got two years in prison for theft of identity. What did he do?
SANDERS: Dixon was a passenger in a car stopped on 12th Street for having a headlight out. When Covington Police Officer Jim Miskanin asked Dixon for identification, Dixon claimed he had none as did another passenger. Miskanin asked them both for their names, social security numbers and dates of birth. Miskanin warned both subjects that providing false information is a criminal offense for which they can be arrested. Dixon claimed to be "Rudy R. Ruppee" and provided a social security number and date of birth. The identifying numbers did indeed come back to Rudy R. Ruppee but unfortunately for Dixon, the photo matched the real Rudy Ruppee, not Dixon. The second passenger's information and photo all matched. After being placed under arrest, Dixon admitted his true identity and said he was trying to avoid being arrested for a parole violation warrant. When Miskanin ran Dixon's actual information, Dixon did, in fact, have a warrant out of Campbell County for parole violation. His original conviction was for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance Within 1000 feet of a School. Dixon was sentenced to serve two years in prison for Theft of Identity in addition to whatever he has left on his drug dealing sentence.
See the full list and mugshots of those who were convicted of felonies in Kenton County Circuit Court in addition to a full explanation of the Cline case at the link: This Week in Kenton County Circuit Court
Photo: Troy Garza/Kenton Co. Detention Center