True Crime, Nov. 14, 2007 

Losers Get Stuff Back

A baby-faced Boise man ended up in the pokey last Tuesday after police mistook him for a teenage delinquent. Brandon M. Fargo, 21, of Star, and an unidentified 17-year-old were smoking cigarettes at the coolest place for a 21-year-old to smoke cigarettes, South Junior High, when officers stopped the pair for—presumably—looking so cool they made the rest of us losers feel bad. After questioning the two, officers discovered that Fargo had a warrant out for his arrest and took him into custody. While doing so, they found a bunch of cool stuff—including several iPods, an iPod charger, multiple credit cards, cell phones and a wad of Hamiltons—inside his jacket, as well as a decidedly lame calculator that he was probably just using to add up the value of his cool stuff, which therefore makes it cool. 'Twas decidedly uncool, on the other hand, when the cops found four vehicles that had been burglarized in the area and proceeded to return all the cool stuff to the losers who had lost it. They arrested Fargo for burglary and cited the minor for tobacco possession before releasing the latter to his parents. He may be cited in connection with the burglaries at a later time.

On the other hand ...

Not every felon on a crime spree is interesting enough to deserve a nickname. 21-year-old Victor Wolf is the main suspect in four different robberies in both Lewiston and the Treasure Valley, including a failed stick-up at a Maverik on Chinden in Garden City and a successful one at Jackson's on Cherry Lane in Meridian that occurred within two hours of one another on November 3. However, Wolf's reported methods in the recent incidents—no mask, waving a handgun, driving away in his own car and robbing a Maverik two blocks from a police station—scream, "I don't really want notoriety. I just want to eat cafeteria food for a while. Please catch me." And catch him they did, when officers followed up on a hot tip and spotted Wolf walking near the intersection of 27th Street and Fairview Ave. on the following Sunday night. He has been charged with eight felony counts so far, though more may be on the way.

Wake Me Post-Post-9/11

Police in Sandpoint got an impromptu lesson in post-9/11 paranoia November 5, when they received a warning that an incoming train might packed with explosives. According to a story in the Bonner County Daily Bee, a male passenger on an Amtrak train disembarked in Libby, Mont., and told police he smelled explosives in one of the cars. In response, the Libby PD reportedly called ahead to Sandpoint at 11:22 p.m.—just 10 minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive—leaving city police with the unenviable task of searching a train for a mysterious smell. Luckily, Sandpoint Police Chief Mark Lockwood relayed to the Bee that the offending odor was from a deodorizer that masks the smell of the train's septic system (cue trumpet making wah-wah sound).

This Is Your Map On Drugs

If Jesus Avalos-Cervantes had driven 190 miles northeast of his hometown of Caldwell last Thursday, he would have had a much better day. Indeed, since such a three-hour tour would have led the 19-year-old right into downtown Hailey, which two days earlier had voted to make enforcing marijuana laws the lowest police priority, he may have had a parade thrown in his honor. Alas, Avalos-Cervantes spent Thursday evening driving 190 miles northwest of Caldwell, placing him near Pendleton, Ore., where carrying 19 pounds of pot in a pickup cab is still frowned upon. Oregon State Police troopers pulled over Avalos-Cervantes' Dodge truck for a routine traffic violation just after 11 p.m., according to an OSP release, and a police dog pointed officers toward a suitcase and a clothing bag packed with big green Ziplocks. The officers arrested both Jesus and his 23-year-old cousin, Carlos Avalos-Cervantes, from Los Angeles, on suspicion of unlawfully possessing and distributing illicit smokeables.

Sticking Up For the Sticker-Uppers

Next summer, while you're navigating through the cloud of pot smoke once known as the Wood River Valley, consider using a few of those billions of dollars we'll supposedly have saved from decriminalizing marijuana to address another glaring problem in our legal system. America's pot laws may be an expensive anachronism, but the unimaginative names we inflict upon today's robbers are an insult to our Western American heritage. Case in point: Over the last week, police in states other than Idaho have captured the Grandpa Bandit, the Ninja Bandit, the Waddling Bandit, the Time Bandit, the Duct Tape Bandit and the Power Bar Bandit. In Idaho, we've been linked in the headlines to the Nomad Bandit—named thusly because he robbed one bank in Couer d'Alene and one in Tigard, Oregon, in addition to 15 in Washington—and the Safari Hat Robber.

The Nomad, aka Jeremy Stewart, 28, deserves special attention, since he is that rarest of felons who robs out of righteous moral outrage. OK, "righteous" might be a stretch. "Harboring a grudge against the entire banking industry over a finance charge he received a few years ago" is more accurate, according to the FBI agents who finally snagged Stewart in Spokane in October 2006. In any case, the chance to immortalize this thug passed last Thursday, when a judge in Spokane sentenced Stewart to serve nine years in federal prison.

Thankfully, there's still time to reach the Safari Hat Robber, a prolific thief who has knocked over banks, fast-food joints and pharmacies aplenty over the last two months. While originally christened the I-40 Robber due to his fondness for picking targets along that interstate in California, Arizona and New Mexico, the suspect has recently wandered northward to Wyoming, Utah and, finally, Idaho, where cops are sweet on him for two crimes: a robbery at a Wells Fargo in Meridian on October 22 and another at an Idaho Falls Rite Aid on November 3. The suspect's new handle reflects his usual choice of headwear, but ignores far more interesting characteristics—particularly the way he allegedly demands large bills during robberies, but makes a point of rejecting $2 bills.
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