Thursday, February 21, 2008

Megahed, SEWE, the bubblegum machine bandit, another scam alert

Posted by Chris Haire on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 11:44 AM

The Post and Courier reports on the latest development in the case of two Florida students, Ahmed Mohamed and Youssef Megahed, who were charged with illegally transporting explosives. Evidently the cops in question liked to crack wise and make off-color jokes on the job.

Taylor testified in federal court in Tampa, Fla., that the jokes are one way deputies deal with the stress and danger of their job.

"We can be crass and rude," he said. "I believe that's part of the job."

Damn, I missed my true calling. I should have been a cop.

ABC News 4 uses the incident to discuss the pros and cons of racial profiling during the war on terror.

Danny Gibson is no stranger to suspicion. He works for Threat Management, a private security firm in North Charleston, but spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan as an investigator and U.S. Marine Scout Sniper.

"Profiling in general is a very effective tool. I don't think it should be based solely on race but there's all sorts of other factors," said Gibson.

The factors two Berkeley County deputies faced back in August, when they pulled over Megahed and Mohamed, Gibson says were fair game for further investigation.

"I'd rather look back and question whether or not I was justified in pulling someone over, rather than be worried about racial profiling and not continue to investigate and then have something catastrophic happen," said Gibson.

You know, I kind of liked it better back during the Cold War days when we had to worry about real bombs — you know the city leveling ones — not overblown firecrackers set off by members of Project Mayhem. Just saying.

In the days leading up to SEWE, the local media ran reports indicating that the expo would a good indicator of whether or not the tourist season would be a strong one. Well, was SEWE a succcess? ABC News 4 reports:

"With all the talk of an economic slowdown, we were holding our collective breath, waiting to see if attendees would show up in big numbers, and they certainly did," said Jimmy Huggins, president and CEO of SEWE, LLC. "Sales of day tickets are up by a whopping 34 percent over last year, and we estimate our total attendance was back up over the 40,000 mark."

SEWE's VIP program completely sold out for the third year in a row, with many packages purchased by visitors from out of town who came in as early as Tuesday to enjoy all that the Expo had to offer. Attendees filled area hotels, browsed and bought in retail stores, and packed restaurants and bars across the peninsula and beyond.

Organizers of the Southeastern Wildlife Expo were extremely pleased with the outcome of the show, and hope that this positive showing may serve as indicator for tourism in the Lowcountry for the rest of the year.

The architectural purists of Charleston are none to happy about a proposed hotel at 404 King, according to this P&C report.

But the changes didn't satisfy everyone. Winslow Hastie with the Historic Charleston Foundation particularly questioned a series of obelisks that would perch on a second floor terrace overlooking the square. "It's sort of a mortuary architectural motif," he said.

The P&C has an update on Hanahan Councilman and alleged basketbrawler Kevin Cox:

Hanahan City Councilman Kevin Cox's actions during a street-side basketball game last year might not have been appropriate, but no charges will be filed in the case, authorities said...

The teens complained to police that Cox appeared to be intoxicated, that he used racial slurs and that he put a 14-year-old boy in a choke hold and pushed him to the ground, a police report said. Hanahan Police Chief Don Wilcox asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate.

Lofton has said that Cox did not make racial comments and that he had part of a drink but was not intoxicated. Cox said at the time that the game was rough but that he did not choke the boy or push him. Cox could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

"Part of a drink"? Interesting. Last night, I fix myself a gin and tonic, and I only had part of it. And I won't tell you which part. Maybe it was the gin. Maybe it was the tonic. It is a mystery. Even to me. The hours of 8 p.m. to  8 a.m. are blank.

You know if there's one thing that gets my boxers all in a bunch, it's when some particularly horrendous crime takes place in a tranquil little town and some news report quotes a resident who's just dumbfounded that, you know, bad stuff can happen even in their little piece of heaven. Which brings us this Live 5 report on a crime wave that has hit the town of Holly Hill. The horror. The horror.

At the Country Corner Store, the owners say they've been struck twice too. They say the thieves stole money from the register, a gumball machine, and even a soda.

Police Chief Bob Wunderlich says the burglaries are related.

"The little gumball machines have been taken. They all have very similar things going one that we feel just the way they've been broken into has been very similar," said Chief Wunderlich.

However, business owners like Small say they are ready for a break in these cases.

Business owners who had gumball machines stolen say the machines cost up to $1,200 a year to rent and maintain. The also say the burglaries have cost them thousands of dollars.

Look, it's not good karma to rip off an old lady. And it's probably not a good karma to make fun ofa little old lady who got scammed either, so I won't. But dammit, it I'm not awfully tempted. WCBD-TV 2 reports:

After growing up working in the fields, Caroline Stevens knows nothing comes easy or without work. She said, "I always tell people I don't know how people scam people. I'll never let 'em scam me. I always said that."

Now, the 67 Year-Old changed her tune. She said, "They sure scammed me."

A woman walked up to her in the Reid's parking lot in St. George. Stevens said of the woman, "She says, 'Can you tell me somewhere I can live? Rent is so high and I can hardly afford it.'" Shortly afterwards, another woman approached as if she didn't know the first woman.

The second woman had a bag with what she said was $30,000. The woman said she found the money, but nobody claimed it. The two women talked with Stevens about the money and more. Stevens said of the women, "They said I've been to your church. I'm saved too." News 2's Jenny Fisher asked, "Did that make you feel better about them?" Stevens said, "Yeah, you trust people who say they go."

That trust cost stevens $2,700. One of the women said she worked at CVS, in the same shopping center. She said her manager would split the cash if Stevens put up some money. Stevens said, "I really don't know what happened. They had me so cluttered, I didn't know nothing about what I was doing."


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