News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida on August 31, 1991 · Page 57
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News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida · Page 57

Fort Myers, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, August 31, 1991
Page 57
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E Bill of Rights Minister draws up some humane "rules" 2F Crime Scene ...2F Datebook ................3F F REGIONAL EDITOR: HEIDI KNAPP RINELLA 1-800-468-0350 Mon -Fri 9-30 6 BUREAU CHIEF: KATHY BECKER 992-1796. Mon.FrL 9-5 ' 9 3 6 NEWS-PRESS SATURDAY, AUGUST 31,1991 i a if x-Naples fraud syspecd Is airirestted Dim Dallas' By TIM ENGSTROM News-Press Staff Writer A former Naples resident accused of bank fraud was captured this week in Dallas, after an anonymous caller saw a featured profile on the NBC television series "Unsolved Mysteries." Agents from the FBI arrested John J. Irwin Jr., 39, Wednesday after an anonymous telephone call indicated he was staying In a Motel 6 in Dallas, spokesman Don Ramsey said. The caller had apparently viewed a pro-file of Irwin on a July 3 repeat broadcast of "Unsolved Mysteries." The program, originally broadcast in Jan- i I mi a 1.1 iiluL uary, was again aired on July 3. Federal indictments allege Irwin bilked banks in several states of several hundred thousand dollars by writing checks to other banks on accounts that had been closed elsewhere, reports state. The State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville has also filed four grand theft charges against Irwin for allegedly defrauding the Dean Witter Reynolds investment firm of more than $250,000. Irwin has a long history of writing bad checks and a lengthy prison record, reports state. He came to Naples in 1983 after he was released from a Michigan prison. He became a co-signee on his grandmother's account and depleted her account of several hundred thousand dollars before her death in 1984, reports state. The woman's name was not available Thursday, Ramsey said. Irwin's path to Naples began at age 16 when he was arrested in the Bahamas after writing $5,000 in bad checks on his family's account, reports state. His father later dropped the charges. Four years later, Irwin was arrested for embezzlement in Ohio and sent to the Lima State Hospital for evaluation. He promptly escaped, was recaptured and was sentenced to the Lebanon Correctional Facility before he escaped three months later. While at large, Irwin traveled worldwide, including the southwestern United States, Central and South America, North Africa and Europe. Irwin would often call the Ohio warden to say he was doing well, reports state. In 1975 in Yuma, Ariz., he turned himself in while holding passports valid in the United States, Sweden and Costa Rica. He was paroled in 1979, but soon purchased a $95,000 motor home with a worthless $3, 100 check. He was later arrested in Tijuana, Mexico. After serving time in Michigan, Irwin came to Naples. Irwin had not been seen since 1986, reports state. The arrest is the first time the Dallas office of the FBI has benefited from televised criminal searches, Ramsey said. "Nationally, we have had a great deal of success with this sort of program," Ramsey said. "In fact, (a show official) told me (Irwin) was the only guy profiled this year that hadn't been captured yet." "Unsolved Mysteries" can be seen locally on WBBH-TV, Channel 20, 8 p.m. Wednesdays. When he was arrested, Irwin was in the company of a 17-year-old girl and 3-year-old child, who were taken into protective custody and returned to their family in North Carolina. Irwin was released from a Dallas jail Thursday and taken into FBI custody. li I '( I I p I - TyE BJG RED BOAT DftAWINO k 1 HTW"" lit aHMPPi ' H fAv. A, r iA 'A v il I GARTH FRANCISNews-Press Gina Caputo, 12, poses Friday with her drawing, framed with a blue ribbon she won in a national competition sponsored by Travel Agents International, a St. Petersburg travel agency franchiser. About 150,000 entries were received In the "Big Red Boat" contest. She wins a cruise and a trip to Walt Disney World. Voojurogj surttosi woods erase, ttrip By LINDA KESLER News-Press Staff Writer Gina Caputo is one happy 12-year-old Bonitan as well she should be. It isn't every day a 12-year-old seventh-grader wins a combination cruise to the Bahamastrip to Disney World. In a contest that draws 150,000 entries from the United States and Canada. And Gina accomplished almost every 12-year-old's dream: She one-upped her younger brother, David, a 10-year-old Spring Creek Elementary pupil who also entered. When Gina picked up her crayons to draw and color a picture of a big red boat, she had no idea she would win the contest, sponsored by Travel Agents International, a St. Petersburg firm that has franchised 350 travel firms across the country, Including one in Bonita in Servus Plaza. A red boat is the logo of Premier Cruise Lines, the official cruise line of Disney World. Gina's job was to capture the boat on paper, although the company will not be using her drawing as a logo. She found out about the contest when she and her mother, Doreen, went to TAI in Bonita Springs to book a flight to New York. Co-owner Alina Navarro gave her the information. "I was excited," Gina said. "I love to enter coloring contests." So Gina went right to work on her entry, which took about two hours to complete, she said. In the upper right side of her picture of the big red boat, Gina put a puffy cotton-ball cloud which could have helped her win. You see, the contest was not judged on artistic ability. Judges randomly drew entries from a big, colorful, canvas bag. And the person who did the drawing may have just felt Gina's cloud and perhaps couldn't resist an urge to find out what it was. At least, that's the theory held by Colleen LesSard, assistant vice president of marketing for TAI. "That's what did it," LesSard said. Gina's entry had to be picked first in a local drawing, then in the final drawing held in St. Petersburg. "This (Gina's winning) is special to us. We've only been open here 2'2 years. And to have a winner from Bonita," said Cheryl Powell, co-owner of TAI in Bonita Springs. "It's put Bonita on the map. Who'd have thought we'd have the grand prize winner right here in little old Bonita?" asked Navarro. Gina found out she won on July 23, which also happened to be the 14th wedding anniversary of David and Doreen Caputo. "I was so excited, I was going crazy all over the house," Gina said. "I love to travel," Gina continued. "I've been to New York, Boston, Atlanta and all around Florida." Rofobeir is fading SO-yeaor sennflemice By DENES HUSTY News-Press Staff Writer A Vero Beach man faces a 30-year state prison sentence after his conviction in Collier County Circuit Court for robbing a Good Samaritan who tried to help him start his car. The defendant, Gary Eugene Curley, 29, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 8 before Acting Circuit Judge Jay Rosman. Curley who also goes by the names Gary Eugene Suggs and Gene Simmons was convicted Thursday of robbing William H. Smith of $525. The defendant is being held in the Collier County Jail until he is sentenced. According to court records: The robbery happened in the parking lot of an East Naples convenience store Jan. 5. Curley approached Smith and asked Smith if Smith could help him start his car. While Smith was under the hood of Curl-ey's car, Curley took Smith's wallet and drove off. Smith gave chase and managed to knock out the windshield of Curley's car with a flashlight. Undaunted, Curley got away, drove to the River Park section of Naplesand proceeded to buy what he believed to be crack cocaine from an undercover officer for $70. However, the officer sold Curley a fake substance that looked like crack cocaine. Officers subsequently stopped Curley at a convenience store at Goodlette-Frank Road and Golden Gate Parkway. Curley faces the long sentence as a habitual offender: He has already been convicted of two nonviolent felonies, both for drug possession. They charged him with the attempted purchase of a controlled substance. They also charged him with possession of a controlled substance because officers found a piece of real crack cocaine inside Curley's car. Meanwhile, officers learned that Curley was also a suspect in the robbery . He was later charged with robbing Smith. Curley faces 30 years in prison as a habitual offender because he has been convicted of two non-violent felonies a possession of a controlled substance charge in 1989, for which he was sentenced in 1989 to 30 months in a state prison, and another possession of a controlled substance charge last year, for which he was sentenced to li2 years in prison followed by two years' probation said sheriff's Lt. Doug Nickel, who keeps track of career criminals for the local justice system. Meanwhile, Curley Is scheduled to go to trial next week on the drug charges for which he was arrested Jan. 5. However, even if Curley is convicted, the conviction will not enhance his possible 30-year sentence on the robbery charge, Nickel said. Funeral is next week for Collier deputy, 55 By DENES HUSTY News-Press Staff Writer Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday for Collier County sheriff's Deputy George Mandrick, 55, who died of cancer Thursday at his Lehigh Acres home. Viewing will be Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 10 p.m. at Anderson Funeral Home, 2701 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres. A memorial service will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Lehigh Acres, 60 Bell Blvd. A burial service will follow at 3 p.m. at the National Military Cemetery, just off Interstate 75 in Bushnell. Mandrick, who served as a jail deputy with the Collier County Sheriff's Office, was hired by the agency Feb. 1 , 1 989. He previously had worked as a corrections officer with the Lee County Sheriff's Department and the state Hendry Correctional Institution. He is survived by his wife, Linda Mandrick; a son, James R. Mandrick; and a daughter, Judith A. Mandrick. Swindle victims to meet, discuss recouping losses By DENES HUSTY News-Press Staff Writer Investors allegedly swindled in a Collier County real estate and securities case are invited to meet Wednesday in Naples to discuss how to recoup some of their losses. The case involves the principals of Ashley Financial Corp., who are accused of swindling 250 or more investors many of them retirees out of about $7 million. Defendants James John Huff, 58, and his son, James Joseph Huff, 35, both of Naples and Edward L. Hor-ton, 46, formerly of Collier County and now a resident of Cape Cod are each charged with more than 150 felony counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, running an organized scheme to defraud, sale of unregistered securities and sale of securities without a license. All three defendants are scheduled to go to trial on the charges at the same time in November. The trial involving the complex criminal case is scheduled to last the entire month in Collier Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton's court. In terms of money involved in : "If satisfactions I from all are received, I would . anticipate a 1 distribution of I approximately 12 cents on the dollar could be made before year end." Gerard A. McHale Jr., court administrator ' local fraud schemes, the case is sec-rond only to the Elliott securities fraud scandal, which also originated in Naples, according to authorities. In that case, a federal Jury in Fort Myers in March 1990 convicted financiers Phillip Elliott and William Melhorn on charges accusing them of defrauding more than 940 investors who claimed they were owed $61 million. In the Ashley case, according to Assistant State Attorney Dwight Brock, court-appointed administrator Gerard A. McHale Jr. and Collier sheriff's Sgt. Paul Caltabiano: The firm was founded by the son, James Joseph Huff, and run by his father, James John Huff. Horton was the main salesman. Beginning in 1982, the three persuaded people to invest In the construction of multifamily housing In '.' Golden Gate. The investors were promised a return of up to 22 percent on their Investments. v As security, the investors were sold parts of mortgages on property that they were told was worth more than what they had invested. They were told that the amount of the mortgages recorded on the property would never exceed 80 percent of appraised value. The biggest lure to hook the investors was making them believe their investments were secured by improved property. Victims were shown apartments the company had built. In reality, most of the Investments were backed by unimproved See SWINDLE, page 2F 2 fires flare Electrical blaze empties substation News-Press staff Collier County Sheriff's offi-M cers were forced from the Marco Island Substation Friday after an electrical fire left the building without power and charred the building's roof. l. The damage cut all telephone communication from the office, but calls to the 9-1-1 emergency line were not disrupted, sheriff's spokesman Lt. Doug Caperton said. All Marco Island, Goodland and Isles of Capri residents are asked to direct administrative calls the main Sheriff's Office at 774-4434. Emergency calls should be directed to the 9-1-1 line as usual. Deputies in the office, at 990 Barfield Drive, called the Marco Island Fire Department at about 1 :20 p.m. Friday after they smelled smoke and spotted the fire in the building's main power box. The deputies battled the fire with extinguishers until the fire department could arrive, Marco Island Fire Chief Charles McDonald said. However, the building was "pretty well smoked up" by the time the fire department arrived, McDonald said. An electrical malfunction apparently caused the fire, although it may be several days before investigators know what caused the malfunction, Caperton said. The 18 deputies, one district supervisor and one secretary will be forced to relocate on the Island for several weeks until the electrical system is repaired, he said. The building suffered no structural damage. No one was injured in the blaze. 2-year-old with lighter ignites apartment News-Press staff A 2-year-old child playing with a lighter Friday morning ignited a fire that destroyed a Golden Gate apartment, according to a report from the Collier County Sheriff's Office. Firefighters gave the following account: The fire started in the child's bedroom and quickly spread throughout the apartment. Apartment 2205 at the Waverly Place Apartments on Hemingway Lane was fully engulfed in flames when Golden Gate firefighters arrived, but they were able to quickly extinguish the 8:05 a.m. blaze, con fining it to the one apartment. But neighboring apartments did suffer minor smoke and water damage. Tammy McKenze, who occupied the apartment with her husband, Michael, and her 2-year-old and 10-month old children, was treated for a minor burn on her hand, but no other injuries were reported.

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