By Caleb Hutton
A Herald reader snapped a couple photos of Whatcom County firefighters doing a practice run of a house fire this weekend off of Goodwin Road.
Photos courtesy of M. Sue Sefton.
Update at 3:35 p.m. Robert Spinner, assistant chief of the Lynden Fire Department, gives the following details.
On Saturday February 23, 2013, the City of Lynden Fire Department, in conjunction with North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, conducted a Live Fire Training Exercise at 6794 Goodwin Rd. in Everson. This training was conducted to teach Firefighters Fire Behavior, Hose handling and Ventilation techniques. Whatcom County Fire District 1 Fire Chief Mel Blankers, working with the owners of this property were gracious enough to donate this acquired structure to us, for this realistic training event.
A total of 20 personnel from The City of Lynden Fire Department and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue participated in this training event, utilizing Two Engines and two Water Tenders.
The training was conducted at 6794 Goodwin Road. Spinner provided the following photos. They were taken by Tammy Spinner.
By Caleb Hutton
NOOKSACK — A driver accused of causing a three-car crash with injuries on East Badger Road was booked into jail Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 6, on suspicion of vehicular assault.
State troopers don’t believe Norberto Bravo-Vasquez, 56, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his 2000 Chevy Blazer barreled through a stop sign and collided with an Acura RDX, injuring three people, including himself, earlier this week at the intersection of East Badger and Van Buren roads, north of Nooksack. (Here’s a link to the full story.)
But detectives allege he showed “disregard for the safety of others” when he ran the stop sign, said Trooper Mark Francis. The speed he was travelling and many other details about the crash have yet to come out.
Two Chilliwack, B.C., women — aged 57 and 58 — were treated at St. Joseph hospital for serious injuries after the Monday morning crash.
Bravo-Vasquez wasn’t wearing and seatbelt. He was ejected from the SUV and rushed to the hospital, where he’s been since then. A trooper drove him to jail Wednesday afternoon.
By Caleb Hutton
Here are latest Nooksack River flood-watch charts from the National Weather Service.
The locals know “North Cedarville” as the Nugents Corner area.
So the odds are looking pretty good we won’t see serious flooding in the next 24 hours. But don’t expect to break out your swimming trunks anytime soon.
By Caleb Hutton
Two American Indian tribes in Whatcom County were awarded about $1.5 million in grants to combat drug abuse this week.
Lummi Nation was given $998,500 by the Department of Justice to build low-security housing as an alternative to jail time. Residents are monitored by a GPS system. Some of the money will go toward mental heatlh therapy and job training.
The Nooksack Tribe’s grant of $465,700 will go toward curbing alcohol and drug abuse by tribal youth aged 10 to 17 in the Deming area, according to the DOJ. That money will pay for the hiring of a drug prevention worker, canoe journey curriculum and after-school programs.
Both grants were bundled into an announcement of $101 million for tribes around the country Thursday, Sept. 28.
Spokespeople for both local tribes did not return calls seeking comment.
By Caleb Hutton
DEMING — A woman who helped cheat tribal casinos — including the Nooksack River Casino in Deming — out of millions of dollars was sentenced Friday, Sept. 28, to three years in prison.
Media release from the Department of Justice:
WASHINGTON – Van Thu Tran was sentenced today in San Diego to 36 months in prison for her role in a scheme to cheat casinos across the country out of millions of dollars, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy for the Southern District of California.
In addition to her prison sentence, Van Thu Tran, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Houston in the Southern District of California to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $5,753,416 in restitution, payable to several casinos. The court ordered the forfeiture of her interests in various assets, including jewelry and bank accounts.
Van Thu Tran entered her guilty plea in San Diego on Jan. 14, 2011.
In her plea agreement, Van Thu Tran admitted that in approximately August 2002, she, along with co-conspirators Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran and others, created a criminal enterprise defined as the Tran Organization, based in San Diego and elsewhere, for the purpose of participating in gambling cheats at casinos across the United States. In her plea agreement, Van Thu Tran also admitted that she and her co-conspirators unlawfully obtained up to $7 million during card cheats.
The investigation of the Tran Organization led to the filing of three separate indictments in 2007, 2008 and 2009. A three-count indictment was returned in San Diego on May 22, 2007, and unsealed on May 24, 2007, which charged Van Thu Tran and 13 others each with one count of conspiracy to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise; one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment also charged five separate individuals each with one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, the defendants and others executed a “false shuffle” cheating scheme at casinos in the United States and Canada during blackjack and mini-baccarat games. Court documents also show that members of the criminal organization bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles during card games, thereby creating “slugs” or groups of unshuffled cards.Court documents also show that, after tracking the order of cards dealt in a card game, a member of the organization would signal to the card dealer to perform a “false shuffle,” and members of the group would then bet on the known order of cards when the slug appeared on the table. By doing so, members of the conspiracy repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card games, including winning several hundred thousand dollars on one occasion.
Court documents also show that the members of the organization used sophisticated mechanisms for tracking the order of cards during games, including hidden transmitter devices and specially created software that would predict the order in which cards would reappear during blackjack games.
To date, 42 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the casino-cheating conspiracy: Van Thu Tran, Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran, Anh Phuong Tran, Phat Ngoc Tran, Martin Lee Aronson, Liem Thanh Lam, George Michael Lee, Tien Duc Vu, Son Hong Johnson, Barry Wellford, John Tran, Willy Tran, Tuan Mong Le, Duc Cong Nguyen, Han Truong Nguyen, Roderick Vang Thor, Sisouvanh Mounlasy, Navin Nith, Renee Cuc Quang, Ui Suk Weller, Phally Ly, Khunsela Prom, Hop Nguyen, Hogan Ho, Darrell Saicocie, Bryan Arce, Qua Le, Outtama Keovongsa, Leap Kong, Thang Viet Huynh, Don Man Duong, Dan Thich, Jimmy Ha, Eric Isbell, Brandon Pete Landry, James Root, Jesus Rodriguez, Jason Cavin, Nedra Fay Landry, Connie Holmes and Geraldo Montaz. These defendants admitted to targeting, with the aid of co-conspirators, a combined total of approximately 29 casinos in the United States and Canada during the course of the conspiracy:
1. Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss.;2. Casino Rama, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada;3. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.;4. Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Miss.;5. Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, La.;6. Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Miss.;7. Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake, La.;8. Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Ind.;9. Mohegan Sun Resort Casino in Uncasville, Conn.;10. Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas;11. Resorts East Chicago Hotel and Casino in East Chicago, Ind.;12. Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, Calif.13. Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino in Brooks, Calif.;14. Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.;15. Imperial Palace Casino in Biloxi;16. Argosy Casino in Baton Rouge, La.;17. Trump 29 Casino in Coachella, Calif.;18. Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City;19. Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif.;20. Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, Calif.;21. Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.;22. L’Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles, La.;23. Nooksack River Casino in Deming, Wash.;24. Barona Valley Ranch Casino and Resort in Lakeside, Calif.;25. Caesars Indiana Hotel and Casino in Elizabeth, Ind.;26. Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas;27. Harrah’s Casino in Lake Charles;28. Golden Moon Casino in Choctaw, Miss.; and29. Viejas Casino in Alpine, Calif.
Two other defendants, Ha Thuy Giang and Tammie Huynh, pleaded guilty to tax offenses stemming from the investigation, and Khai Hong Tran admitted to the offenses alleged in a 2007 U.S. indictment when he pleaded guilty to casino-cheating offenses in Canada.
By Caleb Hutton
The Department of Justice announced $101 million in grants to tribes around the country Thursday, Sept. 27.
Exactly $998,562 of that money goes to the Lummi Tribe for its Transitional Housing Project. The Nooksack Tribe also got $465,763 for its Tribal Youth Program. I’ve been running around all day doing other things, so look for a full story online sometime tomorrow.
For now, here’s the overview from the DOJ:
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced more than 200 grants to more than 110 American Indian and Alaska Native nations. The grants will provide more than $101 million to enhance law enforcement practices, and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts in 10 purpose areas including public safety and community policing; justice systems planning; alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; violence against women; elder abuse; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs.
“Over the last several years, we’ve consulted with tribes and participated in listening sessions that provided a clear message of a need for coordination and flexibility to access our grant resources,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West. “Our outreach and communication with tribal governments have been critical to our understanding of how to better serve and support our tribal partners. These awards represent our ongoing commitment to help put an end to the unacceptable and sobering crime rates witnessed in Indian Country.”
The awards are made through the department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), a single application for tribal-specific grant programs. The department developed CTAS through its Office of Community Oriented Policing, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence against Women, and administered the first round of consolidated grants in September 2010. It awarded 286 grants totaling $245 million in 2011 and 2012. Information about the consolidated solicitation is available atwww.justice.gov/tribal/. A fact sheet on CTAS is available at www.justice.gov/tribal/ctas2012/ctas-factsheet.pdf.
Next month, the Justice Department will hold its annual consultation on violence against native women on Oct. 2, 2012, in Tulsa, Okla. In addition, an Interdepartmental Tribal Justice, Safety and Wellness Session will be held in Tulsa, on Oct. 3-4, 2012. It will provide a Listening Session on the Tribal Law and Order Act Tribal Justice Plan Implementation Strategy and include valuable training and technical assistance.
Today’s announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.
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