Bank Robbery Insiders Bragged on Facebook; Busted

(Original story at KHOU.com here.)

If you were involved in an insider bank robbery, would you not keep quiet about it to avoid drawing attention to yourself? Because, you know, one of the first things that investigators ask is whether or not insiders are involved? Why would you brag about being inexplicably rich right after your bank has been robbed and your bank is all over the news?

Investigators say Facebook posts led them to bank robbery suspects

by khou.com staff

khou.com

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 5:49 PM

 HOUSTON – Four bank robbery suspects were in federal custody Thursday after investigators say they found incriminating posts about the heist on Facebook.

The robbery occurred on March 23, 2011, at the International Bank of Commerce in the 1500 block of Eldridge Parkway.

Police said two masked suspects, armed with what appeared to be semi-automatic pistols, barged into the bank and demanded money from the tellers.

During the robbery, one of the suspects took cash from the teller drawers while the other directed the tellers to the vault room, where he told them to stay.

The suspects got away with over $62,000 in cash, but they left one of their guns at the scene, police said.

Investigators later determined the gun was fake.

On March 30, investigators got a Crime Stoppers tip that bank employee Stephanie Martinez and her boyfriend, Ricky Gonzalez, were involved in the robbery. The tip directed investigators to check their Facebook pages.

Investigators said they found multiple posts on Martinez and Gonzalez’s pages that appeared to reference the robbery.

On March 21, Martinez’s page had a post that read “GET $$$(,.”

On March 24, the day after the robbery, Gonzalez’s Facebook post read “WOKE UP DIS MORNING! BUST DOWN A SWISHA!!! LOOK IN THE MIRROR LIKE I’M ONE RICH … WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDREDS WIPE MY *** WITH DIS 50s :$:$:$:$:$:$.”

On March 25, investigators said Martinez had posted “IM RICH *****” on Gonzalez’s page.

The day before, investigators said Gonzalez posted “U HAVE TO PAST THE LINE SOMETIMES!! TO GET DIS MONEY!!” on Martinez’s page.

When investigators brought Martinez in for questioning, they said she admitted that she was involved in the robbery.

According to court documents, Martinez identified the other suspects as Gonzalez, her coworker, Anna Rivera, and Rivera’s brother, Arturo Salano.

Martinez told police the whole thing was initially Rivera’s idea, because Rivera had been a victim in a previous robbery at the bank and thought it would be easy to stage one, as previous crime had never been solved.

Martinez said she agreed to participate, and the women recruited Gonzalez and Salano.

Martinez said after the heist, they all split the profits evenly at Rivera’s apartment.

Investigators said the other suspects verified Martinez’s story, and all four were arrested.

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Student Threatens Friends on Facebook; Arrested

(Original story at the SFGate here.)

I wrote about the online trail one leaves on Facebook in the story about the Facebook rapist. Looks like someone did not get the memo.

Anyway, this story is just weird. Why would anyone get on Facebook, make friends and then threaten them? It does not seem like money was involved. The boy probably is in dire need of psychiatric help.

Student arrested for alleged Facebook threats

 Thursday, April 21, 2011

(04-21) 21:48 PDT Long Beach, Calif. (AP) —

A 17-year-old high school student in Long Beach has been arrested for allegedly threatening classmates on Facebook.

Long Beach police say the boy was taken into custody Thursday morning. He was booked on charges of making criminal threats and obstruction of justice and later released to his parents.

Police say an investigation determined the boy had befriended a group of fellow Millikan High School students on Facebook a week before the threats to harm the students began. The students reported the threats to police.

The boy was identified only as a 17-year-old student at Millikan High School.

Police also confiscated a computer and other devices from the boy’s home.

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Pictures in Vegan Lifestyle Magazine Really Contained Meat; Exposed by Blogger

(Original story at the Diner’s Journal here.)

This story serves to remind us about the influence and reach of bloggers and social media. The magazine will definitely suffer from the backlash of not following the principles of the vegan lifestyle which it promotes and for not being straightforward about its source of photos for its recipes.

April 14, 2011, 6:00 PM

Meat Discovered in Meatless Magazine

By STEVEN STERN

Vegans and vegetarians are known to be clever about food substitutions: baking with applesauce in place of eggs, turning tempeh into sausages. But it seems that VegNews, a San Francisco-based vegetarian lifestyle magazine, has been doing things the other way around: using photographs of meat and dairy to stand in for the stand-ins.

“The pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT!” thundered the author of the vegan blog Quarrygirl.com, who broke the story in a post last night.

Tipped off by a reader, the blog’s author, who would not give her name, discovered that the 11-year-old magazine has been getting many of its photographs from the royalty-free service iStockphoto. And, according to the original captions, those photos are anything but vegan.

That picture of a “burger”? It’s really a burger. Running with a recipe for “veganized Brunswick stew” is a shot of a decidedly un-veganized “chicken breast soup.” A creamy-looking macaroni and cheese photo depicts, the blog noted with horror, a dish made from actual cow’s milk cheese, “infused with antibiotics, pain and anguish.”

As one commenter pointed out, a photo meant to illustrate “Vegan Spare Ribs” was apparently made more convincingly meatless by removing the bones via Photoshop.

Many commenters agree with Quarrygirl that this constitutes a pretty major scandal. But not everyone has turned against VegNews. The blog Babe in Soyland came to the magazine’s defense, citing the financial realities of producing a professional-looking niche magazine. “In the end,” the author wrote, “these stock images are illustrations.” With a picture of a vegan hot dog, it’s “the ideaof the hot dog that is important,” not what it’s made from.

That is essentially the line taken by the magazine earlier this afternoon, in an official response on its Web site. “The entire VegNews family,” it began, “is deeply saddened with the dialogue that has transpired over the last 12 hours.” The letter admitted that “from time to time, after exhausting all options, we have resorted to using stock photography that may or may not be vegan,” but claimed that using custom-shot images “is simply not financially feasible” at the moment. “We would love nothing more than to use only vegan photography shot by vegan photographers, and we hope to be there soon.”

This is unlikely to mollify Quarrygirl, who insisted that “the laziness and outright lack of respect from Veg News toward animals and vegans undermines everything we stand for.” The blogger announced that she is cancelling her subscription, and returning the award that the magazine gave her – a 2009 “Scandal Breaker of the Year Award” for a stealth investigation into deceptive practices in Los Angeles vegan restaurants.

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