May

19

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 19, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–The Kemp City Council learned of white-collar crime in their neighborhood during the regular meeting May 9.
Interim Police Chief James Cook updated the council that a local Valero gas station was targeted by a “skimming” scam, which allows thieves to steal credit and debit card information from customers.
According to Cook, the thieves’ technology is getting more sophisticated and difficult to identify. The thieves pose as gas pump repair men, Cook explained. They open up the pumps and rig it with a device no larger than a USB port that steals credit and debit card numbers, along with their corresponding PIN codes. The thieves don’t even need to be nearby; and can access all the information remotely.
Kemp resident Shane Hyde corroberated the chief’s report saying he was one whose credit card information had been compromised.
Hyde said he got a call from Life Lock (a banking security company) saying his account had suspicious activity April 21. Multiple money orders for $1,000 were created from his account information at a supermarket in Houston, he said.
He also got charged for $300 in gas from multiple Houston stations. Hyde has since been refunded and has pressed charges in the Houston area.
An independent auditor visited the council and delivered a report to council members. The city had $1,167,914 in total revenue in 2016 and 894,919 in expenses. The city of Kemp’s revenues exceeded its expenditures by $361,704.
Council members also canvassed the results of the May 6 special election, “determining whether a sale and use tax at the rate of one-fourth of one percent for the maintenance and repair of municipal streets should be authorized.” The results were:
Early voting: For, 34; Against, 6.
Election Day: For, 18; Against, 6.
The proposal gained overwhelming approval from voters: 52-12.
In other business, council members:
• approved a zoning variance at 109 North main street for residential and commercial use
• opened a specific city bank account for the water surcharge deposits for transparency’s sake.

May

17

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 17, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports a major drug arrest Tuesday.
During a routine traffic stop on Lake Arrowhead Drive near Payne Springs, sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Matthew Jistel discovered a stash underneath the passenger seat containing approximately 53 grams of suspect crystal meth.
Rebecca Brannon, 25 is charged with first-degree felony drug charge. Her backseat passenger, Christina Julian, 52, was also found to be in possession of suspected meth. She exited the car and appeared unstable according to a press release. Both women were taken to jail soon after the 2:45 a.m. traffic stop. Brannon is held on a $15,000 bond and Julian’s bond totals $8,500.
“These dealers can’t sneak around in the dark of night hoping to spread their poison,” Hillhouse stated. “Our deputies have been instructed to keep a keen eye out for anyone suspected of wrongdoing, no matter what time of day or night.”
The National Drug Intelligence Center states methamphetamine is a significant drug threat to Texas. High purity, low-cost methamphetamine is readily available, and the drug is widely abused, particularly in rural areas. Methamphetamine produced in Mexico is the predominant type available.
According to one online source, the price of meth in Texas is around $80 per gram, though smaller increments may cost more. At $80 to $100 per gram, the estimated value is between $4,240 and $5,300. The confiscated 53 grams equals a little less than two ounces, a sizeable amount in crystal meth.

May

17

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 17, 2017

Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports a late-night high-speed chase that ended in the Cherokee Shores subdivision May 9. Randy Blair, 57, of Dallas was arrested and his vehicle searched. Sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Matt Jistel located an assortment of men’s and women’s watches, a camera and rings and pendants associated with Little League, in addition to suspected meth.
“First, he broke the law when he was driving, then he did it again when he used a fake name and it just got worse when he was found with illegal drugs and likely stolen items,” Hillhouse said.
Sgt Jistel first took note of Blair when he broke a traffic rule. When the suspect stopped the vehicle by the side of the road to let out a female passenger, he took off at a high rate of speed with the deputy in pursuit.
Unable to navigate a turn, Blair drove his vehicle into a field. Asked to identify himself, he gave a false name, but a driver’s license identified him.
During a search of his vehicle, a small bag was discovered containing a crystal-like substance believed to be meth.
“Evading arrest, possession of illegal drugs, stolen property, giving a false name and a warrant for his arrest, he sits in our County jail,” Hillhouse said. Blair is held on bonds totaling $33,500.