News » True Crime

Sept. 15-21 2004

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SIEGE OF KUNA OVER

Two weeks after a pair of bomb threats were remotely called in to the unlikely terrorist target of Hubbard Elementary in Kuna, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have finally apprehended a suspect. Kirk Gregory Denino, 28, was arrested on September 10 in Lynchburg, VA and charged with using a telephone to make a threat, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine in Idaho--even if no actual bomb is ever located.

The threats in question took place on August 27 and 30, when Denino told officials at the 615-student school that bombs placed would "go off" in thirty minutes and an hour, respectively. Students and faculty were evacuated on both occasions, prompting parents to keep almost a third of the student body at home on August 31.

Local officials said after the arrest that Denino's calls stemmed from a soured Internet relationship with a school employee and did not pose a legitimate threat to students or faculty. School officials added that the case appears to be closed, and should no longer impede naptime.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO SHOPPING

Travis L. Vansickle, 36, of Boise was ordered to pay $963.13 in restitution after ordering an equivalent amount of bicycle parts on the Internet with a stolen credit card number. Vansickle obtained the number, as well as eight others, while working as a retail clerk in a local business whose name has not been announced. When arrested on April 22, 2003, Vansickle had all nine numbers in his possession and had little choice but to plead guilty to his single count of grand theft. He also received a 10-year dose of probation for good measure.

"This case is an example that identity theft is happening in Idaho and we must be diligent in our efforts to guard about it, explained Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. "I encourage all Idahoans to use precautions against identity theft." Wasden's guidelines include regularly reviewing credit card statements and credit reports, and shredding them afterward.

Investigators have yet to announce what variety of dissociative brain condition would lead Vansickle to believe he could order a thousand dollars of bike gear on a stranger's credit card and not be caught.

GETTING CRANKY IN CALDWELL

Kathy Rodriguez, 35, of Caldwell was sentenced on September 10 to a 138-month stint (11 and a half years) in federal prison. Rodriguez's doom, handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, brought the curtain down on her burgeoning career as a methamphetamine vendor on the streets of Caldwell.

Idaho State Police detectives utilized investigators from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Customs Enforcement in their setup of Rodriguez, who delivered vials of the maligned nose-tonic to confidential informants on several occasions throughout 2003. When she was arrested on October 2, Rodriguez was in possession not only of her narcotic wares, but also two loaded barrels of small business insurance. U.S. Attorney Thomas Moss noted at the sentencing that Rodriquez's rods caused her sentence to be substantially larger than it would otherwise have been. The case was part of Idaho's Project Safe Neighborhood Program, a legal network meant specifically to target gun crime.

THE MATCH GAME

Portions of several state capitals were evacuated last week when letters containing matches, rigged to ignite upon opening, were sent to the offices of 15 different governors. All letters were return addressed to one of two prisoners in a maximum-security wing of the Ely State Prison in Nevada, although no reports of threats, writing or any foreign substances have been reported.

As of Thursday, September 9, five letters, including one to Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, had been received. Two, in Idaho and Nebraska, ignited before being intercepted by security or FBI officials. After a nationwide alert was distributed to state governments, most of the remaining 10 envelopes were intercepted without ignition. Several states, including Utah, utilized bomb squads to handle the seemingly harmless device.

Glen Whorton, assistant director for the Nevada Corrections Department, announced on September 9 that both inmates named on the envelopes were being questioned, but would not say if the inmates were responsible, or if someone had merely utilized their names.

No injuries have been reported from these incidents, and the exact charges that a perpetrator would face have also not been announced.

STRAW-HEADS GET BURNED

Gem county patsies Tomi and Tyrone Padgett were hit with heavy penalties on September 9 for their complicity in the "straw purchase" of a firearm. The exact charge, "making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm," stemmed from an incident in which Tyrone goaded Tomi into procuring a piece at First National Pawn in Boise for their friend Jeff Whitlock. The title "straw" arises from Whitlock's own inability to legally buy the gun, as a convicted felon and drug user.

When, on July 1, 2003, federal agents and local police in Star raided Whitlock's home, the illicit item was found in his possession and quickly tracked to his Padgett pawns. Whitlock is now serving a 5-year federal prison sentence and is presumed to be laughing at the Padgetts. Tomi received 5 years probation and six months home detention for purchasing the gun. Tyrone was sentenced to four months in federal prison, a $500 fine, and three years of "supervised release" (basically probation on steroids) for coercing his wife into the purchase.

Tell BW your crime stories: Call Cynthia Sewell at 344-2055 or e-mail cynthia@boiseweekly.com