Protect yourself against tax identity theft by filing early

Tax season has arrived —  and identity thieves are already scheming to get your refund.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone files a fake tax return using your social security number. It can also occur when someone uses your social security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on their tax return.

Tax identity theft is the number one form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

One thing you can do to avoid being a victim is to file early — if you can — to get your refund before identity thieves do.

Make sure you use a secure Internet connection if you file electronically or “snail mail” from the post office to make it more difficult for thieves to get their hands on your personal information.

The tax identity theft scam is not going away. The FTC got 109,063 complaints about the scam in 2014. That’s almost 110,000 people across the U.S. who had some kind of identity theft scam associated with their taxes.

If you do find yourself the victim of tax identify theft, fill out IRS Form 14039 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf) and contact your local law enforcement agency.

Another important thing to remember is that no Internal Revenue Service official will ever call you about unpaid taxes or penalties. That communication comes through the mail.

So if someone calls you and says they are from the IRS and demands immediate payment or you will be arrested, hang up. This is a scam.

It’s not just people pretending to be from the IRS, either. Sometimes the scammers say they are from law enforcement or a utility company.

The scammers tell their victims to go to a store, get a pre-paid credit card (like a Green Dot), load it up with money, and then call a phone number with the card information.

Never do that. Once that money is sent out, it’s gone for good.

If you get one of these calls from someone pretending to be from the IRS, hang up and then call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration office at 1 (800) 366-4484.

For more information on how to avoid being a victim of tax identity theft, visit the FTC’s website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/3-ways-use-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week-help-people-your-life

Boise brothers busted for selling pot at their Bench home

A pair of Boise brothers who sold pot to undercover detectives twice since December are charged with trafficking in marijuana.

John E. Orelus, 19 and Alfred Orelus, 26, are also charged with two felony counts of delivery of marijuana. Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the pair Thursday right after the brothers arranged to sell a pound of pot to officers.

Deputies found 783 grams (about 1 ½ pounds) of marijuana in the brother’s home in the 1100 block of Curtis Road after serving a search warrant there Thursday morning.

A roommate, 25-year-old Jordan A. Esters, is charged with felony possession of marijuana. All three men are currently being held in the Ada County Jail.

Detectives began their investigation late last fall after getting a tip the Orelus brothers were selling marijuana out of their home.

Detectives bought one ounce and later a quarter-pound of marijuana from the brothers prior to Thursday’s arrest.

All three men are set to make their initial court appearances Friday afternoon.

The crimes of delivery of marijuana and trafficking marijuana are punishable by up to five and 15 years in prison.

58-year-old Kuna woman is charged with felony assault for firing at deputies during standoff

Robin Ann Miller is charged with a felony count of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer in connection with a standoff involving the Ada Metro SWAT team Wednesday morning.

Miller fired at least one shot in the direction of SWAT team members who were outside her home in the 1300 block of S. Cholla Drive.

The 6-hour-standoff with the SWAT team was ended when Ada County Sheriff’s deputies were able to get into Miller’s home and get her out without any more shots being fired.

The 58-year-old Miller is being held in the Ada County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

The incident began just after 3 a.m. Wednesday when Ada County dispatchers got a 911 call from a neighbor, who said they heard the sound of gunshots — and someone yelling for help — from Miller’s home.

Kuna Police arrived moments later and found a broken window. They then made contact with Miller by talking through the  window. Officers also saw a gun through the window. Miller would not explain what was going on or agree to come out to talk to officers.

Officers called for the Ada Metro SWAT team a short time later out of concern for public safety. Deputies continued to try to talk to Miller — through the window, using a megaphone, and also using a cell phone tossed into the home — but Miller would not cooperate.

Members of the SWAT team began arriving shortly after 5 a.m. and began to set up around the home.

At 8:12 a.m. Miller fired a shot from inside the home to near where SWAT team members had been standing a few moments before.

That’s when SWAT members asked to use the REVA armored personnel carrier. They continued to try to talk to Miller and convince her to come out while they waited for the REVA.

A phone alert was sent to the 12 homes nearest to Miller’s house telling people what was going on and that deputies would come to their homes to escort them out to ensure their safety.

For the homes directly across from Miller’s house, deputies parked the REVA between them to provide cover before they helped evacuate people inside those houses.

Deputies then used the REVA to knock down some tree branches and then part of the front door so they could get a better look on what was going on inside.

Once that was done they sent in a robot which broadcasts a video feed back to SWAT members. Deputies then sent the robot up the steps of the home to the bedroom where Miller was. They used the robot to talk with her and get video from inside.

Just before 11 a.m. SWAT members threw in some flash devices (which generate loud noise and blinding light), went into Miller’s room, and got her into custody.

SWAT members did not fire any rounds during the standoff. No one else was inside Miller’s home. No one was injured during the standoff.

Investigators later found at least two handguns and evidence that several shots were fired inside.

It is unclear why Miller fired shots inside her house and yelled for help at 3 a.m. or why she fired at SWAT team members later.

Deputies booked Miller into the Ada County Jail Wednesday afternoon after she was released from the hospital.

The crime of felony assault and battery on law officers (Idaho Code 18 – 915) is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

33-year-old man who led deputies on short pursuit on I-84 charged with DUI 

A 33-year-old Meridian man is charged with a felony DUI after refusing to pull over for an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy on Interstate 84 Friday afternoon — after he drove into a concrete barrier.

The incident occurred just before 2 p.m. Friday. An ACSO deputy was driving westbound on I-84 when he saw a white Chevy sedan hit the concrete barrier on the left side of the highway.

The deputy tried to pull over the sedan but the driver, later identified as Bryton R. Blunck, kept going, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph.

The white car slowed down a few moments later after hitting the concrete barrier for the second time. Blunck eventually stopped the car near the Meridian Road exit.

Deputies took Blunck into custody a short time later and booked him into to the Ada County Jail. Blunck will make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

Friday’s DUI arrest was Blunck’s third since 2009, making it a felony.

Westbound I-84 traffic near the Meridian Road exit ramp was backed up for a short time following the traffic stop.

Update: Task force has finished investigation into suicide of 37-year-old man during Internet enticement arrest

A multi-agency task  force has concluded their investigation of the Jan. 7 incident where a 37-year-old Meridian man killed himself during an Internet enticement operation.

Officials with the Ada County Coroner’s office determined Kirk Wilkinson committed suicide when he shot himself in the head on Jan. 7 — a conclusion supported by investigators with the multi-agency critical incident task force, led by Boise Police.

At the time of his death, Wilkinson had arranged to meet who he believed to be a 13-year-old girl for sex in an east Boise parking lot. He shot himself when he saw Ada County Sheriff’s deputies were there instead.

While the task force investigation is done, detectives are still checking into Wilkinson’s activities prior to his death.

Ada County Sheriff’s detectives began their investigation in November after answering an ad on Craigslist where a man was soliciting sex from teenage girls.

ACSO detectives communicated with the man, later identified as Wilkinson, over email and then by text message before arranging to meet Jan. 7.

When he arrived at the parking lot, Wilkinson saw deputies in the parking lot and attempted to drive away.

Deputies were able to box the car in so he could not leave. At that point, several deputies got out of their cars, began walking towards the Wilkinson’s car, and yelled for him to get out.

Deputies then saw Wilkinson searching for something in his car. That’s when deputies saw him pull out a handgun, point it at his head, and fire.

Some deputies drew their handguns after they saw Wilkinson with his handgun — but none of the deputies fired.

The crime of enticement of children over the internet is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and requires anyone convicted to have to register as a sex offender.

The Ada County Sheriff¹s detective in charge of the case works with the Idaho Crimes Against Children Task Force, a statewide coalition of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies focused on apprehending and prosecuting people who use the internet to criminally exploit children.

45-year-old Portland man charged with felony malicious harassment

A 45-year-old Portland man who threatened to kill a 6-year-old boy on a Greyhound Bus because of the boy’s Hispanic heritage is charged with felony malicious harassment.

James E. Brennan is also charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, battery, and disorderly conduct during the same bus trip.

Witnesses say Brennan threatened to kill three different adult passengers — using a shotgun, pistol, or ax — and then shoved the bus driver after the driver stopped the bus to get Brennan off.

Deputies did not find any weapons on Brennan or in his belonging but did find eight empty beer cans.

Deputies began their investigation just after 7:15 p.m. Thursday when they were called to the Stage Stop truck stop on Interstate 84.

Witnesses say Brennan got on the bus in Twin Falls earlier that day and began drinking beer as the bus went west down I-84.

That was when witnesses say Brennan began yelling racially-biased epithets and threats of violence towards several passengers — including the boy.

The bus driver became so concerned for the safety of the passengers that he pulled the bus over at the I-84 Stage Stop exit ramp to get Brennan off the bus. Witnesses say that’s when Brennan threatened the bus driver with violence before shoving him.

It was around that time when an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy and Idaho State Police officer arrived at the scene. Brennan then grabbed a few of his personal items and got off the bus. Brennan was taken into custody and eventually arrested after deputies interviewed several passengers on the bus.

Brennan is set to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon.

The felony crime of malicious harassment is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Idaho code defines felony malicious harassment (18-7902) as:

“It shall be unlawful for any person, maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, to:

(a) Cause physical injury to another person; or

(b) Damage, destroy, or deface any real or personal property of another person; or

(c) Threaten, by word or act, to do the acts prohibited if there is reasonable cause to believe that any of the acts described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section will occur.

For purposes of this section, “deface” shall include, but not be limited to, cross-burnings or the placing of any word or symbol commonly associated with racial, religious or ethnic terrorism on the property of another person without his or her permission.

Charges pending against 23-year-old Star man in connection with high-speed crash at Idaho 16/44 intersection

A family of four had to get medical treatment after their car was hit and damaged by another car near the Highway 16/44 intersection Monday night.

Charges are pending against the driver of the other car, Dylan A. Simington, who is currently being held in the Ada County Jail on an unrelated probation violation.

The crash occurred just before 8:15 p.m. Monday. A family of two adults and two children (ages 3-years-old and 2-month-old) were in a black car that was turning left on to Highway 44 from Highway 16 when their car was hit by a car driven by Simington, who was going westbound on 44.

Initial evidence indicates Simington drove through a red light at the intersection just before crash, colliding with the other car at a high rate of speed.

The force of the impact was significant. Paramedics eventually took all four people from the black car and Simington to a local hospital for treatment.

All were treated and released.  Deputies arrested Simington on the probation violation after he was released from medical treatment. Both cars were a total loss.

Ada County prosecutors will determine charges against Simington after getting the results of toxicology tests.

27-year-old Boise man arrested on a lewd conduct charge

A 27-year-old Boise man who tried to have sex with teenage girl he met over the internet is charged with lewd conduct.

Ada County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Richard A. Harshman early Monday morning — hours after the girl ran away from his south Boise home and went to a nearby house to get away.

Deputies began their investigation just before 1:30 a.m. Monday after being called to a home in the Victory/Cole roads neighborhood.

Once they arrived, the girl told deputies she met and began communicating with a man on the Internet dating site OkCupid about two weeks ago.

There is evidence the online communication continued until late Sunday night, when the man made arrangements to pick up the girl at her house and take her to his house in South Boise.

It appears as if both Harshman, 27, and the girl, 15, posted fake ages for themselves on the online dating site.

The girl said once she got in the car she quickly figured out that the man, later identified as Harshman, was older than he said he was.

The girl said when they got to his home, the man grabbed her and tried to get her to have sexual contact. She resisted and eventually left the house and went to another home to use the phone.

Detectives arrested Harshman later Monday morning after doing interviews and collecting evidence.

Harshman is set to make his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon. The crime of lewd conduct is punishable by up to life in prison.

Deputies seek Hidden Springs car burglar

Ada County Sheriff’s detectives are looking for whoever stole a wallet out of an unlocked truck in Hidden Springs last week and attempted to use stolen credit cards at Wal Mart and Albertson’s.

Here is a surveillance photo taken from one of the stores of the man who attempted to use one of the stolen cards  around 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 11.

Theft2

The car burglary occurred sometime overnight on Dec. 10 from outside a home in the 12000 block of N. 12th Avenue in Hidden Springs.

The truck driven by the man in the photos appears to be a brown extended cab pickup, possibly a Chevy.

Theft3

Anyone with information should call Ada County Sheriff’s dispatch at 377-6790.

23-year-old Boise man arrested for stealing debit card and hunting supplies from unlocked garage

Joel M. Todd is being held in the Ada County Jail on felony grand theft and burglary charges for stealing a bunch of hunting supplies out of a garage in Hidden Springs where the door was mistakenly left open the night of Oct. 25.

The 23-year-old Todd also took a debit card and other items out of a truck at the same time.

While we like to remind people the best way to prevent being a victim of theft is to keep their cars and homes locked up at all times, we also understand that sometimes slip-ups happen.

So be aware it doesn’t take much time to be victimized by theft if you leave the garage or car doors open.

In this case, the victims, who live in the east portion of the Hidden Springs subdivision north of Boise, mistakenly left their garage door open.

By the next morning, items like a debit card, sunglasses and a phone charger were gone from an unlocked truck in the garage.

A pack full of hunting supplies (including binoculars, clothes, a GPS unit, and animal calls) and two iPods were taken out of the garage.

ACSO deputies began their investigation after the homeowners reported what happened the morning of Oct. 26. The victims were able to provide a detailed list of all the stolen items.

ACSO detectives were able to find and recover almost all of the items by mid-November — and identify Todd, who lived nearby, as the suspect.

Todd, who is being held in the jail on a $100,000 bond, is set to make his initial appearance Thursday afternoon.

The crimes of burglary and grand theft are punishable by up to 10 and 14 years in prison.