Two charged in child abuse case

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Wednesday, May 9, 2013

Capps

Capps

PORT CHARLOTTE — A mother and her live- in boyfriend were arrested Wednesday and charged with abusing the woman’s two children , a boy, 13, and a girl, 9, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff’s report.

Linda Mae Capps, 34, of the 2300 block of Gimlet Street, Port Charlotte; and Manuel Vincente Antuna, 37, who the CCSO lists as having a North Fort Myers address, although he reportedly lives with Capps, both face two counts of child abuse without great harm, after they allegedly beat the children with a belt on several occasions and punished them by making them hold cans with their arms raised for several hours at a time.

The children lived with their mother and Antuna during the week and traveled to Riverview, Fla., on the weekends to stay with their father. On April 7, they were taken to South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center, Fla., after their father found bruises on their buttocks and legs, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Bowe.

Antuna

Antuna

A doctor believed the injuries were the result of child abuse , and contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, according to the report. The children were placed into their father’s custody.

During a forensic interview with CCSO detectives on April 11, the two children said Antuna often hit them with a black leather belt with metal-rimmed holes, a report states. They reportedly said their mother allowed the abuse to occur.

The boy sustained the most significant bruises, according to the report. He reportedly told authorities he was hit on a daily basis, and said sometimes Antuna made him change into basketball shorts so it would hurt more.

The boy told authorities Antuna hit him with the belt April 2 for not holding up a can of beans, the report shows. The victim reportedly said Antuna would make him hold bean cans while standing and facing the wall with his arms raised for four to five hours at a time. He said Antuna last beat him April 5 for ’emptying an oil pan too slowly,’ the report states.

Antuna reportedly had specific cans for the children to hold: green beans for the boy, tomato sauce and tomato soup for the girl. If they moved their arms or lowered the cans, they were hit with the belt, the report quotes the children as telling authorities. This happened on an almost daily basis in March, according to the report.

The girl told authorities she sustained bruises when she was beaten twice on April 1, once for moving her arms while holding the cans and another time for ‘cleaning the house too slowly,’ the report states. When the girl told her mother about the abrasions, she said Capps told her not to tell her father because ‘he would be upset,’ according to the report.

The boy also reportedly said that on at least one occasion, both Capps and Antuna wrote, ‘I lie to my mom all the time,’ on his arms in permanent marker and made him attend school that way. He said if he washed it off, he was told he would be hit with the belt, the report shows.

Both children said the abuse started shortly after their mother became involved in a relationship with Antuna. The 9-year-old told officials she thought Antuna began living at the residence on Gimlet Street in September or October 2012.

In interviews with detectives, Capps and Antuna reportedly admitted to hitting the children with the belt and making them hold cans as punishment. Capps even said she tried holding the bean cans herself but her arms hurt after 30 to 45 minutes, according to the report.

Both Capps and Antuna were arrested Wednesday and taken to Charlotte County Jail, where they remain without bond.

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

‘Carp’ says farewell after a decade

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Friday, March 29, 2013

Author: MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE and DREW WINCHESTER ; Staff Writers
PUNTA GORDA — Dozens of photographs used to line Bob Carpenter ‘s office. The Great Wall of China, Russia, Alaska and Rome were just some of the locales documented by Carpenter , or ‘Carp,’ as he prefers to be called, during the times he traveled the world throughout the years.Of all the signposts of Carp’s life displayed in his office, he often pointed to a photo of himself at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, taken in April 1965 while he was working in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency.But he’d absolutely beam when pointing to the photo next to it, taken in April 2010, at the same fountain with his wife Kaye by his side, 45 years later.

The two pictures represent a circle for Carp, now 69, connecting the past with the present. He is retiring as public information officer after 10 years with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Today is his last day on the job.

And just as the department is moving on to a new chapter with a new sheriff at the helm, Carp will be moving to the next phase of his life, visiting once again the many locales he so proudly displayed around his office walls, this time with his wife.

‘It was an important part of his life,’ Kaye said. ‘He has wanted to share those places with me for a long time.’

Carp received a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Kent State University in March 1971. Before that, while with the Air Force and the NSA, he served in Crete and Greece, and he volunteered to go to Vietnam — twice.

He funded his university tuition through the G.I. Bill, working in broadcasting while attending school.

It was in Ohio that he met Kaye and started a family. Then he moved to Maui, Hawaii, before coming to Charlotte County, and eventually running a newly built tourist attraction in Punta Gorda called Fishermen’s Village.

He was about to retire 10 years ago as director of the Punta Gorda Business Alliance when former sheriff Bill Clement thought that with all his background in intelligence and the media, Carp would make a good spokesman.

Carp has been at it ever since, sifting through paperwork to provide area journalists news stories — some serious, some not so serious — every day. And there is no shortage of wacky news in Charlotte.

‘I’ve had the time of my life. This is the most fun I’ve ever had at a job,’ he said during a recent interview. ‘But it’s time to move on.’

But looking at the same walls that hold photos of far-flung locales, it’s hard not to miss that his time spent at Kent State also would come to be a defining moment in his life, much like it was a defining moment for an entire generation.

Carp was there on May 4, 1970, when National Guardsmen opened fire on students who were protesting the Vietnam War, killing four and wounding nine. He tells of seeking shelter from tear gas canisters, and can recall clearly the crackle of gunfire as soldiers opened fire on civilians.

Carp also served not only as a witness to the massacre but also as a documentarian, traveling around and recording the hostilities both on and off campus in the days leading up to the shooting. He eventually compiled 55 reels of tape and 6,000 documents, which he says is the second-largest such collection of evidence tied to that dark moment in American history.

Carp plans to turn those memories into a book one day — one that isn’t ‘slanted’ like James Michener’s book, ‘Kent State: What Happened and Why,’ which Carp calls one of the ‘greatest pieces of fiction’ he’s ever read.

Tales like that have made Carp somewhat of a living legend among his CCSO counterparts.

Deputy Jill McBee, for instance, has been hearing the stories for a decade, and during a special send-off for Carp at CCSO headquarters Thursday, she said she would be looking forward to the book.

‘I’m waiting for him to write his book,’ McBee said. ‘I could listen to his stories for hours. I’ll definitely be the first in line to buy one.’

For Kaye , she’s hoping his long-overdue retirement finally will allow him to not only write that book, but also will allow him time to follow all his passions.

‘He is committed to everything he does … he’s always strived to be the best,’ she said.

The Carpenters will be traveling the world in the coming weeks, taking epic tours around Europe, and then Asia. And even with those adventures on the horizon, for Carp the decision to retire was a hard one — not only because of his love for the job, but because of the family and relationships he said he’ll be leaving behind as well.

‘This has been my home for many years,’ he said. ‘I remember the first time someone called me brother. I thought it was slang, but I found out it meant I was one of them.’

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

Email: dwinchester@sun-herald.com

Sunday Favorites: Caution and Prospect flow from Florida Springs

Published in the Bradenton Times Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:05 am
Chairs are provided for guests at the Warm Mineral Springs.

Chairs are provided for guests at the Warm Mineral Springs.

BRADENTON – In the midst of the 1980’s, City of Bradenton lawmakers decided to cover Manatee Mineral Springs with a concrete slab. It was a terrible end for what many considered one of the county’s true jewels, a natural treasure that served generations of people, including the original settlers and native peoples before them, who felt it held medicinal powers to heal and cure.History has a way of is repeating itself. In North Port, a local attraction known as Warm Mineral Springs is facing its own uncertain future. The popular destination, which is owned jointly by city and county government, touts a revitalizing reputation. The attraction currently brings thousands of visitors each year to Sarasota County, many of whom come to heal their ailments with the fabled restorative powers of the 87-degree water.

While it’s highly unlikely that Warm Mineral Springs will ever one day be a parking lot, the attraction is currently embroiled in a bitter if not confusing struggle between North Port and Sarasota County leaders, a battle that is sure to leave the springs up for grabs.

On a recent weekend visit there with my boyfriend, Drew, we saw hundreds of people utilizing the facility, soaking in the water, basking in the sun, getting pampered at Spa Donya, the onsite spa, and enjoying wine and lunch at the privately-owned restaurant Evergreen Café.

Lunch at Cafe Evergreen at Warm Mineral Springs is both healthy and delicious.

Lunch at Cafe Evergreen at Warm Mineral Springs is both healthy and delicious.

The place was packed with people from around the world, eastern Europeans floating alongside with Latin folks, all the dialects melding together like some foreign mélange that, should you close your eyes and just listen, became a melodic accompaniment to the relaxing harmonies coming over the sound system.

I couldn’t help but think back to Manatee Mineral Spring and wonder if the experience wasn’t similar. With the array of people that used the spring, from aborigines to Seminole Indians and pioneers, I wondered if the sensation I felt while soaking in the warm water of the mineral springs, was the same feeling those forgotten residents felt as well. I wondered if they too sensed that they were somehow converging with history and nature.

Once upon a time, a lone pine rose above a canopy of live oaks and palms that shaded the thick brush along the Manatee River. That tall tree acted as a marker for the Manatee Mineral Spring. I looked out around Warm Mineral Springs and saw live oaks and palms lining the perimeter. Both bodies of water were utilized by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, both held the secrets of countless ages of residents who flocked to its waters.

But most importantly, men have struggled to control both bodies of water, with largely failed results.

050513_mineralsprings

People flock from all over to go to the Warm Mineral Springs in North Port.

For instance, in 1846, Dr. Franklin Branch purchased the portion of Gates’ acreage that included the spring. Branch was a Vermont-born businessman who moved to Manatee specifically to build a sanatorium and utilize the healing properties of the mineral spring to treat patients. However, before the sanatorium could be completed, the buildings he constructed were instead fortified with sable palm trunks for protection against the Seminoles as the Third Seminole War raged around those harbored inside. Instead of the relaxing rehabilitation center Branch envisioned, the walls became a prison where disease and death plagued those within.

The efforts of Branch are not unlike the hopes of his modern equivalent, a Brooklyn, N.Y. based doctor by the name of Gigory Pogrebinsky, who envisions sinking $60 million into the Warm Mineral Springs to build his own wellness center with the natural attraction as the center piece.

Pogrebinsky pictures the springs as being the jewel of not only the county’s premier destination, but like the physicians before him, the ultimate healing tool, one that can aid countless individuals in overcoming their ailments.

A hotel, conference center and wellness center are just a few of the pieces of Pogrebinsky’s overall plan, something he feels would be an economic driver for the city of North Port.

376068_4818282937178_1255897452_nYet, whether or not Pogrebinsky will even be able to officially pitch his idea to North Port leaders will hinge on both the county and the city coming to a solution before July 1, a deadline that will spell the end of an interlocal agreement between the two boards who currently act as co-owners of the 83-acre property.

If that agreement expires and no plan or management company is in place, the springs will shut down, maintenance will cease, and its future will be undecided.

While the threat of shutdown plagues North Port’s spring, a new hope for Manatee Mineral Spring could emerge.

After Branch departed Bradenton for Tampa to practice medicine, the spring changed hands several times before it was annexed into a park in 1904. However, playgrounds and picnic tables were the focus of the park, and in later years and the area that surrounded the spring went up for sale. In the 1980s, it was an eyesore, an unwanted burden for the city to keep up. Its healing properties were completely forgotten and its history obscured by the new development surrounding it.

The City of Bradenton said it was polluted and insisted it was a safety hazard, so they covered it up. However, the tenacious spring has still pumped its mineral-infused water for all these years; it has just done so cloaked by cement, from beneath the concrete slab. In 1998, a small group of history enthusiasts called Reflections of Manatee purchased the spring and has owned it ever since.

But, according to Trudy Williams, executive director of Reflections Manatee, plans could call for one day reopening Manatee Mineral Spring, a move that would undoubtedly delight residents and restore one of the region’s historical treasures.

I can only hope that Sarasota leaders don’t have to face similar struggles, to one day have to correct the course of their decisions that, a generation from now, could have Warm Mineral Springs trying to rebuild something that was never broken to begin with.

There is still hope for Warm Mineral Springs, if leaders are able to lean on the lessons of the past. Williams said that, if they do re-open Manatee Springs, visitors won’t be able to soak in its fabled healing waters and the spring would instead be a mere focal point for a historical park, a museum piece not to be touched or enjoyed, merely looked at.

Right now, Warm Mineral Springs is open and available, ready to accept all guests. If the wrong decisions are made, then Warm Mineral Springs could suffer a fate not far removed from that of Manatee Spring, a tragedy that might not be felt, or realized, for generations.

Report: Suspect snoozed during theft

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Author: MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE ; Staff Writer
 
PUNTA GORDA — When Roy Collins walked out his front door to get a cup of coffee Sunday morning, he saw a pair of legs sticking out the driver’s side door of his black Chevy Blazer.
Churchill

Churchill

‘He was ostriched out,’ Collins said of the man he found slumped in the vehicle. ‘He was face-planted on the console with his feet sticking straight out.’

Collins and his brother, Clifford, just figured the guy had had a rough night.

‘We woke him up and sent him on his way,’ said Roy. ‘The guy picked up his bicycle, which was lying in the driveway behind my Blazer, and took off.’

But then Roy and Clifford began noticing that things were missing from their vehicles. The speakers in Roy’s trunk were gone, and someone had taken the keys from the ignition of Clifford’s Ford F-250. Both vehicles had been left unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

‘That’s the funny thing,’ Roy said. ‘Why wouldn’t he just steal the whole car?’

The mystery man on the bicycle was Jack Dale Churchill, 27, 11200 block of First Avenue in Punta Gorda, authorities said.

Churchill had only pedaled a few hundred yards when Roy began following him in his Blazer, while Clifford chased him on foot. The two were able to get Churchill to stop and wait while they called the police, according to the report. Clifford told deputies that Churchill kept trying to leave the scene and began physically threatening Roy, so Clifford punched him in the head right before deputies arrived, the report states.

Churchill was screaming obscenities at the Collinses when the patrol car pulled up, the report states.

Deputies removed a knife from Churchill’s pocket, then began removing other miscellaneous items from his pockets while the Collinses identified several of those items as their own, the report states.

At one point Clifford shouted, ‘That’s my Neosporin and my condom!’ according to the report.

Churchill also had a Ziploc bag of marijuana and a pipe in his pocket, the report states.

Churchill told deputies that he had been drinking the night before and his wife had kicked him out of the house after an argument.

He said he was walking down the road when a male acquaintance and an unknown female picked him up, bought him a few more beers and told them they knew of a ‘lick,’ or an easy theft. When the deputy pressed him further, Churchill reportedly said he ‘just woke up’ and ‘it’s all still coming back to me.’ Churchill said the missing items were probably with the couple who had given him a ride.

Churchill was arrested on charges of armed burglary (due to stealing a knife from a vehicle), grand theft, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was taken to Charlotte County Jail, where he posted a $34,500 bond and was released the same day.

Churchill could not be reached for comment.

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

Scanner keeps officers safe

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Sunday, May 5, 2013

SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE Deputy First Class Ryan White verifies that the numbers and the driver match the information in the Veri-Plate database. The system can scan license plates even at speeds of 75 mph.

SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE Deputy First Class Ryan White verifies that the numbers and the driver match the information in the Veri-Plate database. The system can scan license plates even at speeds of 75 mph.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Ryan White has a ‘honey hole’ he likes to frequent because conditions are always perfect for a good catch. On most days he gets a bite even before he has time to get situated, but sometimes he can wait for hours without even a nibble.Despite his good luck, White has yet to bag his monster catch, even though he daydreams about it on a regular basis.’One day I’ll get my stolen car,’ White said. ‘It just hasn’t happened yet; cars don’t get stolen that often in Charlotte County.’

White is a deputy first class with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office -traffic unit. Every day, he fishes for people driving with suspended licenses, expired or stolen tags, and his most sought-after catch — a stolen vehicle. His ‘honey hole’ is located at the intersection of Cochran and Pellam boulevards, where he posts up on the median and waits for someone with an outstanding charge to cross his path.

Using a Veri-Plate system installed on his vehicle, White scans oncoming license plates of vehicles traveling from any direction; the system instantaneously reports on any related criminal activity. It consists of four cameras that can read license plates on approaching vehicles moving at speeds up to 75 mph.

‘The system works the best when there is a high volume of traffic,’ White explains. ‘The conditions at this intersection are the perfect setup.’

After the Veri-Plate camera focuses on a license plate, it wirelessly transmits the letter-number combination, notifying White of any cars that are linked to some other criminal matter, such as an outstanding arrest warrant.

But the system isn’t perfect — the cameras have a hard time with motorcycle tags, people visiting from out of state, and sometimes addresses on mailboxes.

‘I have a mailbox on my street that shows up as a stolen car,’ White joked. ‘When I’m coming home late at night I always get startled when the alarm goes off. It never fails.’

A warning doesn’t necessarily lead to an immediate stop. White has a matter of seconds to verify that the numbers and the driver match the information in a database on a laptop computer inside his patrol car before the vehicle in question disappears down a side street.

On April 26, White pulled over a white pickup that was owned by a man with a suspended license, but when he got up to the window, a woman’s face appeared as the dark-tinted window rolled down in front of him.

It’s these kinds of stops that can cause problems for the system legally, according to David Haenel, chairman for the Florida Bar Traffic Court Rules, a committee designed to monitor and interpret new rules of procedure and changes to existing traffic laws.

‘They have to cut the person loose immediately if it’s not the right driver,’ Haenel said, ‘Otherwise it would be considered an illegal stop.’

Haenel said interpretations of the law can get cloudy. For instance, if an officer approaches the vehicle and smells marijuana, then the deputy would establish a reasonable suspicion and a driver could be charged with a crime, even though he never violated any traffic laws.

But the controversy hasn’t stopped courts across the state from upholding utilization of the Veri-Plate systems when tickets have been called into question. According to Haenel, a traffic attorney out of Sarasota, most legal challenges against the systems have been unsuccessful.

Haenel said law enforcement agencies are pushing to get the Veri-Plate systems to agencies across the state, because the systems make it safer for law enforcement officers making traffic stops and help to diminish the presence of suspended drivers on the roads.

‘The Veri-Plate system has proven to be an invaluable tool, not just with identifying unlicensed drivers to keep our roadways safe, but in identifying criminals and wanted subjects traveling around our county,’ CCSO Sheriff Bill Prummell said, ‘By using technology with our intelligence-led policing, we are able to be a proactive agency to better serve and protect our citizens and visitors.’

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

‘Contact’ case law blurry for clerk

Originally published in the Charlotte Sun Herald March 21, 2012

PUNTA GORDA — It was business as usual at Tom’s Discount convenience storeTuesday afternoon until the store clerk got arrested by a state official for allegedly selling contact lenses to his customers.

‘Of all the items in the store, I get arrested for contact lenses?’ Nadi Jabari, 33, said of his arrest.

The shop, located at 618 Cooper St., is known to locals as the ‘Punta Gorda Walmart’; it’s part beauty-supply store, part head shop and part convenience. Customers can purchase anything from a hair weave to brass knuckles to bongs.

Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, a woman identified herself as state policewoman Sandy Hillard of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and told Jabari, of the 800 block of Burland Street, Punta Gorda, that he was under arrest for practicing as an optician without a valid license and dispensing optical devices without a prescription.

The bust was part of an undercover sting by the FDABT. About 20 minutes earlier, Hillard reportedly entered Tom’s Discount posed as an undercover customer. She browsed items in the store and approached the counter where she and Jabari engaged in casual conversation, a report states.

She asked Jabari if he had contact lenses for sale, and Jabari allegedly pointed to a display case on the counter containing Hollywood Brand contacts .

Hillard told Jabari that she was glad he had them for sale because the location that she used to purchase contact lenses recently had gotten ‘popped.’ She told Jabari that getting a doctor’s prescription and purchasing contacts from the doctor is ‘too expensive,’ the report states.

After Jabari was arrested, Punta Gorda police officer Bonnie Sills transported him to the Charlotte County Jail. He was released after posting $3,000 bond.

Sills told the Sun in a phone conversation that the FDABT requested the assistance of local law enforcement to transport Jabari for ‘safety reasons,’ because their state-issued vehicle has no partition separating the prisoner from the law officers.

Jabari told the Sun he had no idea selling contacts was illegal, and that he was only doing his job. Jabari was back at work behind the counter at Tom’s Discount on Wednesday.

Both Jabari and the store’s owner, Taher ‘Tom’ Shriteh, said they have been selling the colored contacts for years. Shriteh said he has ordered them from a wholesaler in Texas since 2000.

A report from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said the contacts were clearly marked with an Rx on the top of the box, meaning they require a prescription, but Shriteh maintains the lenses were only cosmetic.

‘These are not smuggled in from another county,’ Shriteh said. ‘Ladies buy them to make themselves look beautiful, just like they buy extensions.’

Shriteh said he was upset that the state had arrested his employee, instead of first consulting him. He said Jabari has a clean record and currently was pursuing a career in trucking.

‘He is a good man who has never been in trouble,’ Shriteh said. ‘He is very upset by this.’

Shriteh said if he’d known the lenses were illegal, he wouldn’t have set up the display where everyone in the store could see them. Shriteh, a former CBS and New York Times journalist, said he is only trying to make a living to support his wife and four kids. He said he never would sell anything he knew was illegal. Shriteh currently faces no charges.

Sandi Copes Poreda, spokeswoman for the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the FDABT, said through an emailWednesday that there currently is an investigation into the source of the contactlenses. She noted there have been more than a dozen related arrests across Florida since Jan. 1, 2012, and the ‘primary concern is consumer safety.’

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com

An option for young offenders

Originally published in the Charlotte Sun Herald, April 13, 2013

PUNTA GORDA — Donald Witherall was hurt. He was disappointed that someone he considered a friend would ransack his home on Hilnick Drive in Punta Gorda, going through his drawers, flipping over his mattress, and stealing a multitude of items, including coins, rings, electronic equipment and tools.

But those things, Witherall said, were replaceable. The priceless items that were stolen were letters his uncle wrote to him from Germany while serving in World War II, and his medal, which he gave Witherall, when he was 9. Those items never were returned.

In a hearing late last month at the Charlotte County Human Services building in Port Charlotte, in front of a Neighborhood Accountability Board, Witherall said he did not want monetary restitution for the items taken. Instead, he wanted an apology from the offender .

Witherall’s home was one of four in the Washington Loop Road area east of Punta Gorda that allegedly were burglarized by two teens in August 2012, while the homeowners were away.

One of the boys, George Stuck, 17, of the 4000 block of Michigan Drive, Punta Gorda, faces multiple armed and unarmed burglary and grand theft charges. However the younger boy allegedly involved, an 11-year-old, will serve 60 community service hours, will pledge to do better in school, will pay $20 in restitution to two of the victims, and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

His sentence was determined at the NAB hearing, a community-based decision-making process that serves as an alternative to incarceration for minors.

The NAB receives its referrals from the Department of Juvenile Justice, with the State Attorney’s Office approving the recommendation. The bureau also runs a civil citation program. Under that program, referrals come directly from law enforcement officials who issue citations in lieu of an arrest for first-time offenders who commit a misdemeanor offense. Instead of going to jail, offenders are referred to the NAB for a sentencing case plan.

‘Each case is looked at independently,’ said Betzy Toro, NAB coordinator. ‘Every case plan is unique.’

After Toro meets with those offenders individually and goes over the crime in detail, a board of volunteers conducts a trial-like conference, during which board members and victims can ask about the crime. They come up with a plan that an offender must complete, or he will be reintroduced into the system.

‘It’s not really that innovative,’ said Emily Lewis, Family Services Division manager with county Human Services. ‘They have been using this process for over 20 years in other states, but in Florida, it’s something new.’

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said referring youths to the NAB program not only speeds up an otherwise lengthy process (all sanctions of the case plan must be completed by the offender within 90 days), but also saves money.

‘When you think about all the hearings, the judges, bailiffs, attorneys and others that have to be present in that courtroom, you can get an idea of how expensive a trial is,’ Prummell said. ‘The NAB board is made up of volunteers, so it’s much, much cheaper.’

The program has been in place for over a year, and so far it has had a 100 percent success rate, meaning no one who completed the program has committed another crime, according to the sheriff.

Multiple facets of a case are addressed during the hearings. In the Washington Loop case, the youth’s parents were questioned about allowing their son, then 10, to spend the night with a 17-year-old. The board also requested that both parents get a psychiatric evaluation.

The board listed Witherall — a neighbor the boy had known all his life — as the contact who will make sure the juvenile completes his community service hours. Part of the case plan says the boy must spend at least 10 hours working on each of the homes he broke into.

But coming to a decision was difficult for the board members on the NAB because the youth first said he was forced by his friend to burglarize the four homes.

However, board members said they would put him back through the system if he didn’t first admit to breaking into the homes and stealing a multitude of items, including a Maytag washing machine, several motors, pocketknives, a riding mower, tools, a guitar and six harmonicas.

At one point, the boys also allegedly helped themselves to Eggo waffles and syrup, leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen sink of one of the houses.

‘We know you weren’t forced,’ Witherall said. ‘You sat down and ate beans and waffles.’

Tears streamed down the face of the 11-year-old boy as he apologized to Witherall.

‘I’m sorry I disappointed you,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry that I violated your home and took those items.’

Toro said Wednesday that the boy has raised the restitution, and he and his family are undergoing mental health evaluations.

Email: mfavorite@sun-herald.com