Noe Valley Voice September 1999

Con Man Busted for Drugs

By Officer Lois Perillo

The 44-year-old man suspected of conning dozens of residents throughout the Mission, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, and Ingleside districts (and burglarizing two others) was arrested for felony drug possession on Tuesday, July 20, at 5:17 p.m., after officers saw him buy heroin.

Officers Brian Philpott and Jacob Fegan were an hour into their shift as they drove their marked patrol car on South Van Ness and 24th Street and spotted Joseph Lawrence (a.k.a. Jim the Con Man) hand money to Oscar Ramos, who in turn gave him a small black object. When Lawrence and Ramos saw the patrol car, they split up and walked away. But the two men did not get far.

While Officer Philpott detained Ramos, Officer Fegan hailed Lawrence and saw him drop the black object to the ground. When Officer Fegan checked the object, he saw that it was a black substance wrapped in plastic which looked suspiciously like heroin. The substance was later tested and proved to be the drug.

Both men were taken into custody. Ramos was charged with selling illegal drugs, and Lawrence was booked on drug possession. Both charges are felonies. Upon conviction, the first carries a sentence of three to five years. The second may result in a fine or community service if probation is granted, or if not, up to a year in county or state prison.

Guns Used in Robberies

In a very disturbing incident on Friday, June 4, at 11:15 p.m., two men in their 30s were targeted by a man in his early 20s who robbed them at gunpoint after following them into the entrance of an apartment building before the lobby door could close and lock. The suspect, who was wearing a black ski cap and bandanna over his mouth, ordered the men to turn over their wallets. He then ordered them to the ground before fleeing from the 400 block of Fair Oaks Street.

On Thursday, June 15, at 3:44 a.m., a store on the 3800 block of 24th Street was robbed by a man in his 40s who brandished what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun. The suspect demanded cash from the 31-year-old store worker before he fled in a white Chevrolet Astro van with red lettering. Although Officer Martha Juarez determined that the suspect left his fingerprints behind when he touched the counter, the workers said they were unable to secure the area while awaiting the crime lab people, so no evidence was collected.

Homeless Man Ripped Off

In the only reported robbery in July, a 46-year-old homeless man who frequents the 21st and Chattanooga Street Muni bus shelter reported that he was robbed by two panhandlers who normally hang out on 24th Street. The man said he was sleeping within the shelter on Sunday, July 4, at 7:50 a.m., when he was awakened by the suspects.

The 39-year-old suspect (the shorter of the two) directed his 34-year-old brother to grab the man's grocery bag. When the sleeper sat up, the shorter suspect said he was an "L.A. cop and bounty hunter," and threatened to "slice up" the homeless man, who attempted to retrieve his groceries but was pushed away by the shorter suspect. The two suspects then fled.

Meanwhile, Officer Raphael Labutan detained the suspects at 22nd and Church streets. The homeless man identified them, and they were taken into custody and booked. However, before the victim arrived at the inspector's bureau to give his statement, the suspects had been released. Evidently, the district attorney declined to file on the case at this time.

As a footnote to this incident, on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at about 8:20 p.m., I arrested the 39-year-old, on the 3900 block of 24th Street, for an outstanding parole violation warrant.

2 x 13 = 26 Unlucky Car Owners

There were six burglaries in Noe Valley during June, matching May's count. They involved three apartments, two homes, and one store.

The tally rose to eight in July, with five houses, two apartments, one garage, and one store reporting break-ins.

There were also 13 auto boosts within my area of Noe Valley in June and another 13 in July, with one arrest in each month.

On Thursday, July 15, at 1:30 a.m., a 44-year-old man made a citizen's arrest on a 36-year-old who had broken into his truck on the 3500 block of 23rd Street. While awaiting the police, the truck owner restrained the suspect, who pleaded to be released, saying, "Come on, man. They're going to give me 25 years for this. Let me go."

The truck owner held the man until officers Paul Yamamoto and Mark Stull arrived and took custody of him. The officers found that the suspect was on parole, and he was booked on felony auto burglary, with a "parole hold." The D.A. dismissed the local charge, but the suspect was sent to San Quentin, pending a parole violation hearing.

A Simple Fender-Bender at Bell?

In one of her last acts as a patrol officer within the Mission District before receiving her promotion to inspector, Officer Stephanie White went to Bell Market on 24th Street on Saturday, June 19, at 1:30 p.m., to tend to a minor auto accident. What should have been a straightforward job of assisting the drivers turned into much more when Officer White found that one of the drivers had no driver's license, his vehicle wasn't registered, and the license plate on his car had a number registered to another vehicle.

Officer White seized the plate, cited the driver, towed his car, and made sure both drivers exchanged the proper information. Just shows there are no simple fender-benders.

Congratulations to Inspector White, who not only said goodbye to Mission Station but to the day shift as well. She is now assigned to Night Investigations.

Also, congratulations to Kevin Cashman, who left Mission Station as one of our day-watch lieutenants when he was promoted to captain and transferred to Narcotics.

My Case Again

In June I was subpoenaed to appear in Alameda County Superior Court, where I testified at my restitution hearing. The woman who seriously injured me and my dog with her car last year and pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon is now contesting my restitution claim.

Initially, her defense attorney apologized that it was necessary for me to testify to this traumatic event, indicating she would only seek a "brief summary" of the incident. But she had some facts confused, and I was on the stand for over 30 minutes -- a far cry from "brief."

The judge did not rule; he continued the case with the possibility that my doctor may be subpoenaed to appear in court later. And so it goes. Believe me, I really want this case to end.

Until next month, let's continue to watch out for one another, and I'll see you on patrol.

San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo covers her Noe Valley beat-- from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez -- on foot and on bicycle. If you would like to discuss a crime or safety problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Station.