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Tag: Utah

Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Shooting at U.S. Marshals in Salt Lake City

By Steve Neavling

A 46-year-old Utah man has pleaded guilty to shooting at U.S. Marshals while they tried to arrest him in Salt Lake City in May 2021. 

Epifanio Welch pleaded guilty last week to felony counts of assaulting a federal officer and shooting a firearm during a crime of violence, the Justice Department said. 

The incident occurred while U.S. Marshals were attempting to apprehend Welch and another suspect who were wanted on multiple arrest warrants. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the marshals were warned that Welch and Humphrey may engage in “suicide by cop.”

As they tried to execute the search warrants, marshals came under fire multiple times. 

After arresting the suspects, authorities recovered four firearms during a search of the home.  

Welch later acknowledge firing multiple shots at law enforcement officers. 

None of the officers were injured. 

Utah Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison After Shooting at FBI Agent, Sheriff’s Deputy And Fleeing Jail

Cecil Vijil. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

A Utah man who fired a gun at an FBI agent and sheriff’s deputy and later escaped from jail was sentenced to nine years in prison. 

Cecil Vijil, 39, of Aneth, fired several rounds at an FBI special agent and San Juan County Sheriff’s deputy when they went to his home as part of a separate investigation on April 30, 2020. No one was injured. 

Vijil was convicted of assault on a federal officer and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. 

He also was convicted of escaping from federal custody after scaling two fences at Cache County Jail and running into a field in March 2021. Police quickly captured him.

FBI, ICE Scan Driver’s License Databases to Conduct Facial-Recognition Searches

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been given access to driver’s license photos to conduct facial-recognition scans without motorists’ consent.

ICE officials were authorized by three states to use the repositories of license photos to scan through facial-recognition technology in search of undocumented immigrants, according to documents obtained by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and first reported by The Washington Post.

The searches involved databases from Utah and Vermont, which complied with ICE’s request to access the photos. In Washington, agents also were given permission to scan license photos, but it wasn’t immediately clear if those searches were carried out.

The discovery comes as Congress considers a moratorium on facial-recognition technology because of serious concerns over privacy rights and the inaccuracy of the systems. Researchers said the technology is racially biased and prone to errors, which could lead to false arrests.

“Law enforcement’s access of state databases,” particularly driver’s license databases, is “often done in the shadows with no consent,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md. said in a statement to The Post.

San Francisco became the first city to ban the technology. In Detroit and Chicago, police departments have software that enables them to conduct facial-recognition searches in real-time.

Off-Duty FBI Agent Shoots, Kills Veterinarian in Albuquerque Brewery

Cody Wrathall, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty FBI agent shot and killed a gun-wielding Utah man inside an Albuquerque brewery Saturday night, witnesses told police.

When the shooting happened, police were en route to the bar after a woman had alerted 911 that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her and was at Nexus Brewery.

“The female’s ex-boyfriend or ex-husband showed up and brandished a firearm inside the bar,” officer Simon Drobik told the Albuquerque Journal. “The agent saw that and stopped his actions basically by shooting. The individual was transported to the hospital and is deceased.”

The FBI agent was not detained, and police are still investigating. The FBI’s Inspection division is assisting.

Police identified the alleged gunman as Cody Guy Wrathall, 43, a veterinarian for large animals in northern Utah.

Although Wrathall doesn’t have a criminal history in New Mexico, he was disciplined by Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for overdosing on Valium and Ketamine that he took from a veterinary clinic.

“Respondent had attempted to treat himself for depression and anxiety with the Ketamine and Valium,” according to the disciplinary documents. “While Respondent has been diagnosed and treated for depression and anxiety, Respondent did not possess a valid prescription for the Ketamine or Valium. Respondent obtained the Ketamine and Valium from a former veterinary practice that was dissolved in 2017.”

New Mexico allows law enforcement to have guns inside a bar as long as they are following their department or agency’s rules. FBI rules allow agents to be in possession of a weapon inside a bar.

Homeland Security Leader Accidentally Gave Out Sex Hotline Number

cell-phone-app-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security leader who was warming the public about dangers of sexual predators passed out business cards for his desk, but there was only one problem: The phone number directed people to a 24-hour sex talk line.

The Desert News reports that Steve Cagen, the new head of the investigative arm of Homeland Security’s Utah division, disseminated his business cards, which contained the wrong phone number.

When reporters called the number, they were greeted with a woman’s voice who said, “Hi, sexy” with sultry music in the background. The woman told callers that they had reached the “hottest fantasy line in North America” while offering “private erotic conversations.”

An ICE spokeswoman later acknowledged that the numbers on Cagen’s business card were wrong.

Other Stories of Interest

Utah Man Arrested for Soliciting Sex After Reporting Craigslist ‘Scam’

Nicholas Deelstra

Nicholas Deelstra

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A state worker ended up in jail after reporting to the FBI that he was soliciting sex from a purported teen who never showed up at his house.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Nicholas Deelstra, 54, called the FBI in late August about an alleged Craigslist scam. 

An employee with the Office of Rehabilitation in the state Department of Workforce Services, Deelstra said someone claiming to be the teen’s father messaged him, “demanding he send money to cover car repairs because” the family’s vehicle was damaged while the boy was trying to meet with the man.

Logan City Police took up the case and arrested Deelstra last week for alleged sex crimes.

The Tribune wrote:

Deelstra told a Logan officer that he agreed to meet with the teen for sex, despite knowing he was underage, court records state. Police also found sexually explicit messages between Deelstra and the purported teen on the man’s phone.

Deelstra was charged Monday in 1st District Court with third-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and dealing inmaterials harmful to a minor, as well as two counts of class Amisdemeanor soliciting a minor by internet or text.

Other Stories of Interest

Prosecutors Call on FBI to Help Investigate Violent Arrest of Nurse in Utah

Arrest of nurse Alex Wobbels caught on video.

Arrest of nurse Alex Wobbels caught on video.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has been asked to join a criminal investigation into the violent arrest of a local nurse who was trying to protect the constitutional rights of a patient in Utah.

District Attorney Sim Gill in Salt Lake City wants the FBI to help determine whether the arresting officer or anyone else on the police force violated the civil rights of the nurse, Alex Wobbels, whose July 26 arrest went viral, according to a letter made public Thursday

“We request an investigation in addition to any other criminal or other investigation of the matter,” Gill wrote in the letter. “In order to be thorough, and given the gravity of the rights potentially implicated, all issues must be completely examined to restore the public trust currently compromised by the actions depicted in the publicly released video recordings of the incident. It is essential that all individuals and institutions associated with this incident should be investigated to document the roles they played in the incident to prevent such a thing from happening again. Our community and its citizens deserve nothing less.”

The arrest was caught on a police body camera, prompting widespread outrage at Detective Jeff Payne’s handling of the nurse. The hospital also barred police from having contact with nurses.

FBI Arrests Suspect in Cruise Ship Death of 39-Year-Old Utah Woman

Emerald Princess, via Wikipedia.

Emerald Princess, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has arrested a suspect in the cruise ship death of a 39-year-old Utah woman.

Time reports the suspect was taken into custody late Wednesday and is expected to be charged today in what federal authorities are calling a domestic dispute that led to the Tuesday night death of a woman aboard the Emerald Princess in U.S. waters off Alaska. 

At the time, the ship was carrying 3,400 passengers and 1,100 crew members during a weeklong trip that departed Seattle on Sunday.

Details of the death remain a mystery.

The FBI gets involved in deaths that occur in international or U.S. waters.