Telephone Scam

Recently, some Moultrie County residents have received phone calls originating from Canada. The caller(s) are contacting female residents with a grandson(s). The caller will identify himself by the grandson’s name. The caller then usually states something like the following:

“Hi Grandma. This is John and I’m in Canada on a fishing trip and my driver’s license was expired. I got arrested and I need $2,800.00 to get out of jail. Please send the money and don’t tell Mom and Dad.”

This story may vary as to the reason for the call (car accident, ran out of money, wanted to buy family member nice gift, etc.) and the dollar amount requested. The caller then requests that the money be sent via Western Union or a similar carrier to a location in Canada.

According to Western Union, this scam is occurring frequently.

Apparently, the caller(s) of this scam obtain some basic information before they call. However, they may not know the middle name or mother’s maiden name of the person they are professing to be. Regardless of the information they give, if you receive a similar phone call, please contact other family members to verify the whereabouts of your grandson/family member.

There are numerous telephone, mail and other fraudulent scams circulating.

Please contact your local law enforcement agency or the Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office for more information or to report any fraudulent activity.

Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office
Chief Deputy Chris Sims


Jail recouping the monetary rewards of housing federal prisoners
by Krista Lewin
Since January, the Moultrie County Jail has generated more than $60,000 by housing federal prisoners.
The additional money is a source of income which will help pay for the new jail, said Sheriff Jeff Thomas. It also generates money for utilities, additional staff, food costs and the business of operating a jail.
"It definitely offsets expenses," said Thomas.
To date, the actual amount billed to the U.S. Department of Justice is $62,267.37. The program pays for housing and transportation of the prisoners to and from court dates. The amount is $60 per inmate per day. Officers assigned to the federal prisoners are paid $20.19 per hour and two officers are required to accompany the prisoners whenever they are taken to court or driven to an airport to be transferred to a federal prison.
Mileage is also reimbursed. When gas was around $4 per gallon, the program paid 58.5 cents per mile. That has since dropped to 50.5 cents per mile, Thomas said.
The number of prisoners housed at the jail has fluctuated between five and 18.
Although the term housing is used, the federal prisoners have only a temporary stay at the jail while they await court dates or to be transferred to an airport and then transferred by U.S. marshals to a federal prison. Sometimes they are brought to Moultrie County because they are witnesses in other trials.
"Predominantly, they would like to use us for those who have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing," said Thomas.
Because of the amount of cases and wait time with the federal system, some of the prisoners could be housed up to two years, Thomas said.
The federal prisoners are from all different parts of the country and are charged with a variety of crimes. Some of those include drug charges, bank robbery, fraud, weapons and conspiracy.
Thomas said if a person facing drug charges is also a drug user, by the time they reach the Moultrie County Jail, they have already been through detox. Because Moultrie County has no nurse at the jail, the feds try to be cognizant about not sending anyone with health problems. If it happens, the Moultrie County Jail is reimbursed for the medical costs.
Jail Administrator Sheri Wahner, who works closely with the prisoners, said she is pleasantly surprised at the behavior of the federal prisoners. Unlike some of the local residents spending time in jail, the federal prisoners are well-behaved, she said.
Prior to having the federal prisoners sent to Moultrie County, Wahner admits there was some anticipation as to how they would act.
"We didn't know what kind of people we would be getting," said Wahner. "We had previously housed prisoners from other counties, and we didn't have a good experience."
Part of the problem was the prisoners wanted to be housed in their own hometown counties so their families could visit them, she said.
But with the federal prisoners, they are coming from all across the United States so they aren't used to having visitors, Wahner said.
"They follow the rules, and they don't give us a problem," added Thomas. "They know they are going to be incarcerated for a long time. They also like our jail. It is clean, and it is new. Some of the jails they are coming from are overcrowded, and they don't get to bathe everyday."
However, Wahner said even though they have exhibited good behavior, she and the staff are watchful because some of them have been in the prison system, and they have learned new tricks including ways to try to escape.

The Moultrie County Sheriff’s Dept. took delivery of a Polaris Ranger 6x6 utility vehicle from the US Smokeless Tobacco Co.’s 2008 Operation Ranger program.

In a letter to Chief Deputy Chris T. Sims, who applied for the grant, a company spokesman wrote that his company receives thousands of applications, “and yours stood out and clearly demonstrated that the Moultrie County Sheriff’s office can benefit greatly from a Ranger donation.

“At U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., we value the opportunity to give something back to the communities where we live and do business. In its sixth year, the Operation Ranger program exits both to recognize the service of our nation’s first responders and to provide a versatile vehicle that will enhance emergency response at the community level. As an Operation Ranger recipient, you join an illustrious group that includes more than 340 emergency service organizations from coast to coast.”

Boating Safty Information
Travel responsibly on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.

• Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.
• Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
• Always operate your boat at a safe speed.
• Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects, and swimmers.
• Never jump a wake.
• If crossing a wake, cross at lower speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towables.
• Comply with all signs and barriers. This includes speed limits, no-wake zones, and underwater obstructions, etc.
• Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.
• Make certain your trailer is in proper working order and that your lights work and your boat is secure on the trailer before you travel to your destination.  When trailering your boat, balance your load including items stowed inside your boat
Respect the rights of others including anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and others to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.
• Show consideration to all recreationists on and around the waters.
• Be courteous to other boaters while in boat ramp areas. Launch and retrieve your boat as quickly as possible.
• Keep the noise down—especially around shore.
• If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).

Educate yourself by learning rules and regulations, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes, and knowing how to use and operate your equipment safely. 
• Obtain charts of your destination and determine which areas are open to your type of boat. Make a realistic plan, and stick to it.
• Always tell someone of your travel plans and file a float plan. Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements.
• Check the weather forecast for your destination. Plan clothing, equipment, and supplies accordingly.
• Make sure you have enough fuel and oil for the entire trip.
• Make sure your owner’s manual and registration is on board in waterproof containers.
• Always carry a Coast Guard approved working fire extinguisher.
• Know your limitations. Apply sunscreen, drink lots of water, and watch your energy level.
• Prepare for the unexpected by packing necessary emergency items.
• Know distress signals and warning symbols.
• Take a boater education course to learn more about navigating waterways and safe and enjoyable boating.
• Make sure your boat is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies, and a spill kit.
Avoid sensitive areas and operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.
• Always launch at a designated boat ramp.
• Backing a vehicle on a riverbank or lakeshore can damage the area and leads to erosion.
• Always travel slowly in shallow waters and avoid boating in water less than 2 feet deep.  High speeds near shorelines leads to large wakes which cause shoreline erosion.
• Sensitive areas to avoid include seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
• Avoid disturbing historical, archeological, and paleontological sites.
• Avoid “spooking” wildlife you encounter and keep your distance.
• Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated Wilderness.

Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of fuel, oil and waste, avoiding the spread of invasive species, restoring degraded areas, and joining a local enthusiast organization.
• Pack out what you pack in.
• Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.
• When fueling your boat take every precaution not to spill into the water.
• Be prepared, carry a spill kit which includes absorbent pads, socks, and booms.
• Use a fuel collar or bib when fueling to catch drips and overflow and prevent backsplash.
• Observe proper sanitary waste disposal or pack your waste out.
• Following a trip wash your gear, watercraft, and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species. Make sure to remove all plant material from watercraft, motor, trailer, and other gear and dispose on dry land in a garbage container and drain live wells, bilge water, and transom wells at the boat launch prior to leaving.
• Don’t mix driving with alcohol or drugs.


Watch out for Deer!

Cars and deer can be a lethal combination. As the weather turns cooler, more deer will be seen crossing roads and highways. Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings so that they can avoid deer collisions.
During deer season, there are dramatic movements in the deer population
causing a significant number of deer to dart onto highways and into suburban
neighborhoods. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur in this period
than at any other time of year. According to the National Safety Council,
there are more than 530,000 crashes involving deer each year and these
collisions result in about 150 deaths and 10,000 injuries.
"Once the first frost arrives, deer activity increases and we see more auto
and deer collisions," says Sam Whiteman, Claims Field Director for Allstate's
Midwest Region. "Drivers need to be extra cautious when driving to make sure
that they do not hit deer running across the road. Not only can the deer be
harmed, but it is also a dangerous situation for the passengers in the vehicle,
not to mention the potential damage to an automobile."
The average cost per insurance claim for collision damage is $2,800, with
costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage.
When you factor in auto claims involving bodily injury, the average rises to
$10,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:
1;  Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours
shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-
vehicle collisions.
2;  Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas
known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide
agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer,
others may be nearby.
2;  When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no
oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or
near the roadway.
4;  Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your
lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit
another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
5;  Don't rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to
deter deer. They have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
6;  Always wear your seat belt. Deer-vehicle collisions can result in serious
injuries, and even death.
In the event your vehicle does strike a deer, try to avoid going near or
touching the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further
injure itself. If the deer is blocking the roadway and poses a danger to other
motorists, you should call the police immediately.

Watch for this gypsy scam

These guys are coming from the Chicago area and traveling to the rural areas of Central Illinois. We have been informed that they are posing as Lot surveying crews, City workers, Tree trimmers and they have been known to use water and electric companies as covers.
They are cruising around residential neighborhoods looking for signs of the elderly. They look for the elderly working in the yard or wheel chair ramps. Once they find the house of interest they will determine whether it is viable. By viable they mean is it more than two turns from a major thoroughfare. They will never do a "job" that is more than 2 turns away.
They will take two or three guys to each job. The first male will make contact with the resident. He will ask them to show him the lot line thus getting them out of the house. The second and third will enter the house shortly there after. If a second resident is in the house the second gypsy will interact with him/her. The third male will slip in behind the second and check areas they have learned through experience have money or important documents in.
In this case it was the bedroom. We believe that in other similar cases in the area that they have gone as far as the basement of the home. They are not violent in nature when confronting the victims to our knowledge. The total time that they take is between 5-7 minutes. They are proficient in what the do and are quick in and out. Since the spring is upon us we believe that these types of events are going to start rising.

Moultrie County Jail
2007 Inspection Report

Criminal Justice Specialist Dianne Fritschle inspected the Moultrie County Jail on October 31. Entrance and exit interviews were conducted with Jail Administrator Ken Johnson and Sheriff Jeff Thomas.

Improvements since last inspection include a new 56-bed facility now in operation, visitation via video, the jail procedure manual updated the detainee orientation manual updated.

Non-compliances include security—backup personnel should be notified and available when cell doors to living quarters are opened. The recommendation is to ensure that enough staff is available on each shift to ensure backup is available. As the control room officer does not leave that post, then no less than two officers should be assigned to the jail floor.

Other recommendations include ensure that tools and equipment are logged upon entering and exiting the jail which will reduce the possibility of a contractor leaving a tool in an area accessible to detainees, and the Grand Jury or panel of citizens appointed by the chief judge should tour the jail, examine its condition, the treatment of detainees, and file a report of findings.

Aaron Thomas takes Top Gun honors

The marksmanship skills of Moultrie County Sheriff's deputy Aaron Thomas proved to be almost unbeatable during the Seventh Annual Police Training Institute Combat Challenge held at the Police Training Institute's Tactical Training Center Sept. 22.
Forty-eight participants arrived to work their way through six challenging courses of fire. The ranges consisted of The Gauntlet, Mow 'Em Down, Lean and Mean, Double Trouble, Scatter Gun Run and the Modified Dozier.
After the initial run through the ranges and hundreds of re-shoot rounds, a clear over-all winner emerged. Posting the best time on each of the ranges except Double Trouble, Aaron Thomas came out on top. John Krupa, of the Chicago Police Department, a multi-year, past champion bested Thomas on Double Trouble by .06 seconds.
The awards ceremony was held at the Soma UltraLounge in downtown Champaign. PTI Alumni Association President Doug Haig acted as the Master of Ceremonies. Awards were presented to first through third place winners of the individual ranges in three classes. John Krupa ceremoniously passed the torch by presenting Aaron Thomas with the Top Shooter award.
The awards breakdown is as follows: Top Gun, Aaron Thomas, total time in all events 32.74 seconds; Range 1, Gauntlet challenge, Thomas, first place, 4.38 seconds, John Krupa, second place, Chicago Police Department, 4.70 seconds, Vincent Jamison, third place, Chicago Police Department, 5.08 seconds. Range 2, Mow-em Down, Thomas, first place, 4.01 seconds, Krupa, second place, 4.43 seconds. Range 3E, Lean & Mean, Thomas, first place, 9.45 seconds, Krupa, second place, 9.82 seconds, Richard Lombard, third place, Chicago Police Department, 10.49 seconds.
Range 3W, Double Trouble, Krupa, first place, 7.54 seconds, Thomas, second place, 7.60 seconds, Roland Perez, third place, Chicago Police Department, 9.37 seconds. Range 4, Scatter Gun Run, Thomas, first place, 4.90 seconds, Mike Plavchav, second place, Warren Police Department, 4.95 seconds, Kevin Johnson, third place, East Moline Police Department, 5.30 seconds. Range 5, Modified Dozier Drill, Thomas, first place, 2.40 seconds, Charles Bergeron, second place, Sheridan Police Department, 2.48 seconds, Krupa, third place, 2.55 seconds.


1) This jail was built in the spring and summer of 1876 and served the county until the voters agreed that a new, larger and more sanitary jail was needed. It was located on the same site as the larger jail that replaced it in 1915.

2) Two squad cars, 1920s vintage, are parked beside the Moultrie County jail, which served the county from 1915 to 2007 when a new detention facility opened in the northwest part of Sullivan. The building will be sold at auction Dec. 8. The facility also served as a family residence for the sheriff until about 1965 when the residence portion was remodeled to service as the offices of the sheriff’s department.
Photos courtesy of Paul Lee Stone

Speculation on the future of the old county jail should come to a close Dec. 8 when it goes up for auction.
The present structure was opened in 1915, but it had been the site of a jail for many years prior to that date, according to the 1881 “Combined History of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois.”
The first jail on the site was built in the spring and summer of 1876 at a cost of $6,972, the lowest of 15 bids received. The brick, two-story structure was 32 by 52 feet. The lower story was conveniently arranged “for domestic purposes of the sheriff.”
The second story was divided into two halls, “besides the prisoners’ room.” The first hall was entered from the stairway and was completely cut off by iron grating from the second hall. The second hall was next to the prison proper and was effectually barred from the cell room. The latest patent locks and appurtenances were used in these halls. There were eight ironclad cells — four on each side of the cells — in which the prisoners recreate.
When the history of the building was written for the book, there were only four prisoners confined in the jail — two for larceny, one for rape and one four murder.
Even though a new well had been dug and a new boiler had been installed in the early teens, two separate grand juries recommended a new jail be built.
The grand jury sitting in March found “the sanitary conditions to be as good as the construction of the building permitted, but “We recommend that a new jail be built at once, in conformity with the law for such buildings.”
Members of that grant jury were Albert A. Brown, foreman, O.F. Cochran, A.J. Little, James Galbreath, R.B. Wheeler, C.A. Smith, L.C. Horn, J.A. Lumsden, F.M. Pearce, Seth McCabe, James B. Craig Jr., Albert Landers, Mike Ducey, C.G. Foster, Henry Murphy, G.H. Moore, J.S. Monson, W.O. Watts, J.B. Graves, F.O. Word, C.F. Hunt, S. Armstrong and J.C. Black.
The second grand jury reported that “after careful inspection of the Moultrie County jail, we find: first, There is at this time in the said jail three male prisoners only, who say they are well-cared for; second, That the said jail is in a sanitary condition so farm as we are able to see, and as is possible to make it; and third, We recommend the building of a new jail as the present is unsafe and not sufficient to keep prisoners from breaking out. The ventilation is poor, there are no apartments for women prisoners separate from the apartments for men and that it would cost too much money to make additions thereto t make the present building modern and sanitary.
Sitting on this jury were J.Y. Bailey, Charley Davison, Opha Leeds, H.M. Duvall, D.G. Warren, John Emel Jr., John W. Watkins, E.L. Ball, R.J. Luttrell, CC. Collins, .O. Glasscock, Ray N. Bupp, John Robert, B.C. Hamm, Lloyd Winchester, Sylvanus P. Drake, John W. Graven, Fred Cotner, A. Mayfield, L.J. Myers, S.C. Smith, Henry Jenne and Charles H. Monroe.
As a result of these recommendations, Supervisor R.C. Parks moved at a special Board of Supervisors meeting April 27 that “the proposition to build a new county jail as recommended in the grand jury report be submitted to a vote of the electors of the county with the general judicial election to be held Monday, 7th day of June A.D., 1915. His motion carried, and Park then moved that the chairman appoint a committee of three to make the necessary arrangements to submit the proposition of building a new county jail. The chairman appointed Park, supervisor of Sullivan Township, J.W. Hoskins, supervisor of East Nelson Township and W.O. Neff, supervisor of Lovington Township.
The subsequent vote was 1,357 in favor to 836 against of the 2,193 votes cast.
At the June 16 meeting, Parks introduced a resolution that “ a new jail be built for (Moultrie County) be built on the North half of Block six in the original town (now city) of Sullivan, the cost of said building not to exceed the sum of $25,000.
The resolution also called for the board of supervisors to meet on the 28th day of June to consider and adopt preliminary plans and specifications “for the construction of said building; and that as soon thereafter as may be found expedient the said board shall proceed to receive bids and enter into a contract for the construction of said jail.”
Five architectural firms presented their sketches of proposed plans. Joseph W. Royer of Urbana received the majority vote of the board to prepare the plans and specifications. At the Friday, July 2 meeting, board members suggested some minor changes in the plans, and ordered Royer to proceed, adopting a resolution to execute a contract with Royer signed by him and the board chairman J.B. Martin.
Nine general contract bids, two heating and plumbing bids and three cell work bids were received and opened at the Aug. 10 board meeting.
The general contract for the erection of the jail and sheriff’s residence was awarded to Hagerman and Harshman of Sullivan, who submitted the low bid of $11,406. L.T. Hagerman & Co. of Sullivan was the low bidder for heating and plumbing at $4,200.
The contract for cell work went to the Pauly Jail Building Co. of St. Louis, Mo., the low bidder at $6,395.
After the supervisors examined samples of bricks from several brick manufacturing companies, they decided to specify the brick known as Hy-tex, mingled colors, submitted by the Hyraulic Press Brick Co. in Brazil, Ind.
Construction was begun, and at the Jan. 18, 1916 meeting, Parks moved that although the building was not entirely completed, “it would be advisable for the county to accept the building conditionally at this time in order that the sheriff may occupy said residence and that the prisoners now in his custody may be confined in said jail.”
Royer accompanied the supervisors on an inspection of the building, after which it was accepted conditionally with $500 being withheld on the Hagerman & Harshman contract until final completion.
W.O. Funston was the first sheriff to live in the jail built in 1915.