Maysville bank robber nabbed through solid police work

Joshua Michael Beckstead (photo courtesy of mugshots.com)

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes credits good old-fashioned police work – with a little help from some high tech tools – for the arrest of the man wanted for the robbery of the First American Bank in Maysville.

“His arrest came after law enforcement officers from several states were able to share information on him,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes was notified on July 4 that Joshua M. Beckstead, 32, AKA Ben Wolters, had been arrested by the Bismarck, North Dakota police and was being held by the Bismarck PD until he could be turned over to the FBI.

 

First Break

The first break in the case was when the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office received two tips about a man who resembled the suspect in the First American bank robbery on June 9.

Lt. David Lansdale of the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office had gone to the Economy Inn in Pauls Valley to check up on one tip.

Lansdale stated in his report that he made contact with a Lindsey Phillips at the motel who stated the man in the surveillance photos matched the description of a man named “Ben Wolters” who had approached her that Saturday morning and asked if she would give him a ride to Maysville for a job interview.

Beckstead offered to pay her $10 for her trouble.

Phillips told Lt. Lansdale she agreed to take him to Maysville and once they had arrived in Maysville she stopped at the Dollar General Store shortly before 11 a.m., allowing Beckstead to leave on foot while she shopped in the store.

Phillips said Beckstead returned to the store around 11:10 a.m. that morning, purchased a bottle of water and began requesting that Phillips leave with him on multiple occasions while she was finishing her shopping.

In addition to Phillips’ information, a bus driver from Delta Community Action contacted the Sheriff’s Office around the same time and told investigators he had given Beckstead several bus rides in and around Pauls Valley days prior to the bank robbery.

“The bus driver told us that (Beckstead) had been asking him about different banks in the area,” Rhodes said.

Investigators also learned that Beckstead had boarded a bus around 3 p.m. on the day of the bank robbery and took a Greyhound bus to Norman.

At Norman he then purchased a bus ticket to Dallas and from Dallas he traveled by bus to Missoula, Montana.

“Ironically, he traveled back through Pauls Valley on the day of the robbery on his way to Dallas,” Rhodes said.

Lansdale confirmed that Beckstead had arrived in Missoula on the following Sunday, June 10.

Rhodes said his office’s investigation also revealed that Beckstead had several tattoos on his arms, including one of a large catfish.

“According to those we interviewed he liked to fish a lot and in fact went fishing on Rush Creek in Pauls Valley prior to the bank robbery,” Rhodes said.

 

The Utah Connection

A few days after the bank robbery, Lansdale posted a description of Beckstead on an information sharing web site used by law enforcement officials across the nation.

“After he had posted the information, we received a call from a detective in Ogden, Utah, who informed us that Beckstead fit the description a man who had been arrested several years ago for some burglaries in the Ogden area,” Rhodes said.

The Ogden Police sent a mug shot of Beckstead to Lansdale. Using the clear mug shot of Beckstead, a photo lineup was presented to the First American Bank teller who waited on him during the robbery.

The teller, Rhodes said, immediately picked him out of the line up.

“That’s when we learned his real name,” Rhodes said.

Lansdale then entered the new information, including Beckstead’s real name and the warrant for his arrest, into the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC)

By then Beckstead was also wanted for a number of bank robberies in the Northwest United States, including one bank robbery in Wyoming, which occurred after the Maysville bank robbery.

The suspect in that bank robbery fit the description of Beckstead and basically robbed the Wyoming bank in the same method as the Maysville bank.

 

‘A Good Fish’

Beckstead managed to elude the law until the Bismarck, North Dakota police began investigating a string of burglaries that occurred near the first of July.

According to Bismarck Detective Paul Olson, several businesses in the area had been hit in the Bismarck area and the investigations division of the Bismarck PD had a description of a possible suspect in the burglaries.

Olson said the suspect had had previous run-ins with the law and his office already had a mug shot of the suspect, who bore a resemblance to Beckstead.

“I was going from motel to motel with the mug shot of the suspect we thought was responsible for the burglaries,” Olson told the News Star.

“One motel manager looked at the photo and said the guy in the photo looked a lot like one of his tenants,” Olson added.

The tenant, which turned out to be Beckstead, had given the motel manager two different names and had always paid cash for his room, Olson said.

Based on the information provided by the motel manager, Olson and the Bismarck PD conducted a surveillance of Beckstead.

Believing Beckstead to be the person responsible for the burglaries, police located him outside a convenience store in Mandan, North Dakota and apprehended him after making a routine traffic stop on him.

It was during that traffic stop that Beckstead’s name popped up on the NCIC bulletin, which by then also included a warrant for his arrest in connection with the Wyoming bank robbery.

Bismarck Police were able to positively identify Beckstead due to the tattoos on his arms, especially the large catfish tattoo, Rhodes added.

Beckstead was placed into custody without incident and taken to the Bismarck Police Department for questioning concerning the recent rash of burglaries.

“We wanted to question him about the burglaries,” Olson said. “We didn’t mention the bank robberies. He had no idea we knew about the bank robberies.”

Olson said Beckstead fervently sought to clear himself of the burglaries, not knowing the police also knew about the alleged bank robberies.

“As it turned out he wasn’t our suspect in the burglaries,” Olson said. “He wasn’t the fish we were after, but he was a good fish.”

After Beckstead was questioned about the burglaries he was transported to the Burleigh County Detention Center to be turned over to the FBI in connection with a string of bank robberies across the nation.

Rhodes said Beckstead’s arrest was the culmination of several law enforcement agencies working together.

“In cooperation with the FBI, Ogden Police Department and Maysville Police Chief (Adam) McMillen, investigators conducted several interviews and followed up on tips called into the sheriff’s office that led to the identification of Beckstead as the person seen on (bank) surveillance video,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes also commended Lieutenant David Lansdale, Captain Travis Crawford and Deputy Bryon Gordon for their work in the investigation.

“They continued to work on this case even though we were most certain the suspect had left the Garvin County area. Their persistence in following-up on all possible leads in the case gave federal authorities the information they needed to connect Beckstead to the robberies in the Northwestern States.”

“Additionally, I want to thank the citizens in the Pauls Valley area for their cooperation in this investigation.  Several persons had contact with Beckstead in the week prior to the Maysville robbery and came forward with information.”

One killed in Tuesday morning crash

By Susan Stone

News Star Reporter

 

A 22-year old Holdenville, Okla., man was the victim of a head on collision early Tuesday, morning.

The crash occurred three miles west of Stratford on Highway 19.

According to investigating OHP Trooper Tracy Laxton, the driver of a small vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene after hitting a semi-truck head on.

“For unknown reasons the driver of the car drifted over the center line hitting the semi head on. Unfortunately the driver of the car was killed instantly upon impact. The driver of the semi did swerve in an attempt to miss the car,” Laxton said.

The driver of the vehicle has been identified as DaShane Lawson Ray Lowe, the Holdenville News reported.

As of press time Tuesday details of the accident were not made public by the OHP.

Budget shortfall plagues Elmore City

By Lindsey Temple 

News Star Reporter 

 

Elmore City recently fell victim to the struggles of so many area small towns with a recent lay off and additional cut backs to come.

According to City Treasurer, Lisa Rollings, the town’s Public Works Authority has been steadily losing money; the town had a net loss of over $37,000 last year in PWA.

In the upcoming year, the town’s officials will be closely monitoring the garbage collection revenue as a possible reason for the money loss, said Rollings.

“With the new water plant starting construction, we need every penny to stay in PWA for the matching amount that the city has to come up with to go with the money from the Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce to get our water plant up and running.

“Once that happens, we should start showing a net income instead of a net loss, but that might take up to 2 or 3 years to turn it around,” explained Rollings.

EC officials already have had to lay off one city employee due to the budget shortfall.

They considered paying the employee out of their general fund account, but it too has suffered a loss of $25,000 in last year alone.

The only other possible department to pay salary out of was the Emergency Medical Services and according to Rollings, but that revenue is earmarked for EMS only and would not be an ethical way of paying a salary.

Rollings offered no possible reason was given for the loss in general fund.

“The economic recession is finally catching up to us. City officials were aware of budget cuts that were going to have to be made during the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. We just put it off as long as we could. It is unfortunate but necessary to ensure that the needed projects for our town’s water supply are completed,” explained Rollings.

Rollings alluded to a project in the works that could help turn the town’s loss of revenue around and assist Elmore City’s EMS, but did not say what the project was only that the city is closely watching all expenses and does expect to make further cutbacks as needed.

“The reality of the economic recession has finally entered our city limits and since we recently extended those limits, it got here quicker than we anticipated. Like with any obstacle, you just deal with it and make the best of it, that is the attitude of the City of Elmore City,” said Rollings.

When asked for comment, EC Mayor, Larry Cleveland, said he had “nothing to say on the matter.”

 

Wilson asks council to reconsider funding decision

By Lindsey Temple 

News Star Reporter 

 

Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce President Della Wilson addressed the Pauls Valley City Council on Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting in an effort to ask for reconsideration of a council decision to pull funding from the Chamber of Commerce.

In a City Council budget meeting on Monday, June 25, the Pauls Valley City Council made the decision to pull funding from both Main Street Pauls Valley and the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce in order to hire a Tourism Director.

Following this decision, Wilson, along with the support of Chamber Board members and local business owners asked the council to reconsider the action taken on June 25, as an effort to sustain the economic development services that have been offered by the Chamber.

Wilson carried with her and read aloud seven statements from Chamber members, executive officers and local business owners.

All were detailed requests of reconsideration from the Council.

Including one from Jay Boyles, Pauls Valley’s leading employer and member of the Chamber Board of Directors. According to Boyles, he was disappointed in the decision made by the Council.

Boyles, who is the manager of the Walmart Distribution Center in Pauls Valley, questioned the tourism director’s ability to handle both economic development and tourism and urged the Council to reconsider funding the Chamber.

“Growing Pauls Valley has always been the cornerstone of what the Chamber does,” said Boyles.

In closing, Wilson once again asked for the council reconsider their earlier decision.

Pauls Valley Mayor Tim Gamble informed Wilson that her requests and those of the Chamber Board would be taken under advisement.

A quick check by the News Star revealed no Tourism Director has been hired as of Tuesday, July 10.

 

One arrest made in area vandalism outbreak

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

Garvin County authorities have made their first arrest in connection with an outbreak of vandalisms that have occurred over the past month.

Kurt D. Montgomery, 21, of Foster, was arrested Monday after being questioned by the Sheriff’s Office concerning his involvement in the vandalism of a Garvin County corn farmers field.

Joe Thompson has been the recent victim of someone driving a truck through his cornfield, causing thousands of dollars in damages to his corn crop.

According to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes, Montgomery was charged Monday with one felony count of malicious injury to property.

“Due to the high dollar amount of damage to Mr. Thompson’s corn crop, the charge became a felony count,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said Monday his office has been investigating a number of vandalisms – all unrelated to each other – over the past few weeks and his office is taking the incidents seriously.

The most recent incident was the break in and vandalism of the old Walker School.

The Assistant Fire Chief of the Walker Volunteer Fire Department reported Monday morning, July 9, the school building had been broken into over the past Fourth of July holiday.

The back door leading into the gym was forced open and the suspects painted on classroom walls and used a basketball to cause severe damage to the gymnasium wall.

“We’re taking these incidents very seriously,” Rhodes said. “Not only do they cause a large amount of damage to personal property, but these vandalisms are taxing our officers who should be out investigating more severe crimes.”

Rhodes said he wants to nip the outbreak of vandalisms quickly before more than property is injured.

“Over the past week or so we’ve been looking into around 18 or 20 incidents where mailboxes have been exploded and destroyed,” he said.

Rhodes said vandals are using fireworks to construct a small explosive device to destroy the mailboxes.

Once such device failed to explode, prompting Rhodes to call in the OHP’s Bomb Squad to recover the device.

“The bomb squad said they are seeing a number of these devices recently. These devices can sever a hand or arm if they explode too close to the person using them,” he said.

Currently the Sheriff’s Office has four suspects in the mailbox vandalisms, Rhodes said.

“We have interviewed four people – two juveniles and two adults – in connection with these incidents. No arrests have been made yet,” Rhodes said.

If anyone has information concerning the Walker School break in or the mailbox vandalisms, they are encouraged to call the Garvin County Crimestoppers at 1-855-211-STOP.

BREAKING NEWS: Kelly enters guilty plea

David Bryan Kelly entered a guilty plea today for the murders of Shawn Ott and his mother Karen Ott. Sentencing for Kelly will be in October.

BREAKING NEWS: Suspect in Maysville bank robbery in custody

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

Authorities in North Dakota notified Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes Wednesday, July 4, that the suspect in the bank robbery of the First American Bank in Maysville was in custody and was being held in connection with some other bank robberies in the Northwest U.S.

Bismark, North Dakota contacted the Sheriff’s Office on behalf of neighboring Mandan, North Dakota, confirming the arrest of Joshua Michael Beckstead, AKA Ben Wolters.

Beckstead was confirmed through tattoos, Rhodes said in a prepared statement.

Beckstead was stopped by police in Mandan and arrested on the outstanding warrant in Garvin County after an officer came into contact with Beckstead and checked his name on the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC).

“In cooperation with the FBI, Ogden (Utah) Police Department and Maysville Police Chief (Adam) McMillen, investigators conducted several interviews and followed up on tips called into the sheriff’s office that led to the identification of Beckstead as the person seen on (bank) surveillance video,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes also commended Lieutenant David Lansdale, Captain Travis Crawford and Deputy Bryon Gordon for their work in the investigation.

“They continued to work on this case even though we were most certain the suspect had left the Garvin County area. Their persistence in following-up on all possible leads in the case gave federal authorities the information they needed to connect Beckstead to the robberies in the Northwestern States.”

“Additionally, I want to thank the citizens in the Pauls Valley area for their cooperation in this investigation.  Several persons had contact with Beckstead in the week prior to the Maysville robbery and came forward with information.”

Spivey sworn into office

Newly elected Dist. 1 County Commissioner Stan Spivey, right, is given the oath of office from Judge Greg Dixon during a special swearing in ceremony on Monday, July 2, at the Garvin County Courthouse. Spivey overwhelmingly won his bid for the office during last week’s Primary Election, avoiding a runoff race between one of the other three candidates in the contest. News Star photo by Jeff Shultz

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

After a stunning victory during last week’s Primary Election, Stan Spivey took the oath of office for the Dist. 1 Garvin County Commissioner’s seat Monday morning, July 2.

A small crowd of supporters gathered in District Judge Greg Dixon’s courtroom as Dixon administered the oath to Spivey.

Spivey won the seat outright, drawing 64.83 percent of the ballots cast in the County Commissioner’s race last Tuesday, thus avoiding a runoff race and a general election contest in November, as there were no Republican candidates for the office.

Spivey will fulfill the two-year unexpired term of former Dist. 1 County Commissioner Kenneth Holden.

Holden retired from the office after 21-years of service to the county.

“I went to work for Kenneth several years ago and I wanted to keep the good work in this district that he’s done going,” Spivey said after the swearing in ceremony.

Spivey said he began as just a “hand” for Holden and later moved up to Road Foreman, a position he’s held for approximately four years.

Spivey said he’s banking on his years of experience in District 1 to continue the “good work” Holden had started.

“This is going to be a new experience for me,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m ready to go to work for the people of District 1.”

District 3 County Commissioner Johnny Mann said he believed Spivey will be a good fit for the county.

“He’s got a good attitude, the common sense and he’s business minded. He’ll do a good job,” Mann said.

District 2 County Commissioner Shon Richardson said he was proud to have Spivey join him and Mann at the commissioner’s table.

“He’s ready to go to work and we’re excited for him,” Richardson said.

 

Questions raised about proposed TV show

By Lindsey Temple

News Star Reporter

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pauls Valley Tourism Board was to take up this item again during their meeting on Tuesday night, July 3. However, there were not enough Tourism Board members at the meeting to make a quorum. The item is listed on the PV City Council’s agenda for this Tuesday, July 10.

 

A nationally televised program featuring NFL icon Terry Bradshaw has been the recent focus of attention by the Pauls Valley Tourism Board and the Pauls Valley City Council.

The program titled “Today in America” is broadcast on various cable channels and the FOX Business Network and showcases businesses and communities across the nation.

Producers of the program have sought out Pauls Valley to be featured on the program.

However, an investigation by the News Star reveals the program is more than what it seems on the outside and has raised more than a few eyebrows in Pauls Valley as well as nationally.

The program, according to Tourism Board and PV City Council agendas, would come at a price tag of $19,800.

In their June 19, 2012, meeting the PV Tourism Board was scheduled to take up the proposed program and the expense involved with it.

However, due to the fact no Tourism Board members were present at the meeting, no recommendation could be made to the city council, who was to take up the agenda item later that evening in a special meeting.

Council members in attendance that night tabled any action on the agenda item until their next meeting, which is scheduled for July 10.

The show, the News Star has learned, is a paid program that claims to “successfully blend business news stories, lifestyle features and in-depth interviews with doctors, scientists, inventors, business owners, philanthropists and newsmakers from a variety of industries,” as taken from the show’s website.

The show also boasts large viewer numbers throughout America and Canada, with air times during the day that highlight businesses, people and places, in 5 to 7 minute increments during a 30 minute show, costing the businesses, people and places anywhere from $19,000 to $30,000.

The infomercial-type production does not have affiliations with any one network but rather pays to be on the air and is produced by “United States Media TV” and “Platinum Television Group,” out of Coral Springs, Florida.

Many business owners and city officials around the United States have not been so impressed with the company, the News Star’s investigation revealed.

Numerous blogs, articles and reviews litter the Internet with cautionary tales of the alleged “scam” that this company offers to small unsuspecting businesses and towns.

Many complaints can be found under United States Media TV and also Platinum Television Group, both claim to produce the show.

Trouble in Florida

In May of 2007 Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, announced a settlement agreement, which mandates that a media marketing and advertising group may no longer misrepresent their corporate associations.

The companies must accurately disclose to clients what they can expect in terms of media coverage and airing of their advertisements, this ruling came at a heavy cost to Platinum Television Group.

According to an official news release by the Florida Office of the Attorney General, Platinum Television Group, Inc., and New Line Media Solutions, Inc. produced infomercial-style television shows, which were aired on national and regional television networks.

“Creative directors,” who were actually salespeople that persuaded businesses to sign contracts with the companies, solicited potential clients nationwide.

For a licensing fee of approximately $20,000, the businesses were told that a short five-to-seven minute advertisement featuring the business would be produced and inserted into Platinum’s programming.

An investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division determined that the companies often misrepresented sponsorships by national companies such as Microsoft and Home Depot, claiming these sponsorships paid for the production and airing of the subject programs.

Platinum and New Line also falsely announced the participation of “Advisory Boards” consisting of members from institutions such as MIT and Harvard’s Business School.

The companies fraudulently implied that clients would be receiving multiple national airings of their spots when this was a highly inaccurate representation of the actual media coverage anticipated, according to the Florida AG’s news release
Under the agreement signed with the Attorney General’s Office, Platinum and New Line are prohibited from having their salespersons identify themselves as “creative directors” or imply that they are responsible for the creative content of any television show or production.

The companies cannot represent themselves as national news, cable or broadcast network nor claim they are associated with any such network.

Additionally, Platinum and New Line must refrain from announcing the existence of “Advisory Boards” unless the boards actually exist and provide input and advice on a continuing basis.

They must also specifically disclose to potential clients the exact number of national airings the client’s feature advertisement will receive, the approximate time the spots will be aired, and the networks which will carry the shows.

In addition to altering their business practices, Platinum and New Line must pay $100,000 in restitution to current clients with existing complaints and must make an additional $75,000 available to resolve consumer complaints filed within 30 days of the agreement date.

The companies will also reimburse the state’s cost of the investigation.

Moneywatch not impressed

On July 1, 2010, Allan Roth, a columnist and contributor for CBS Moneywatch and the founder of Wealth Logic, called the program, “a financial infomercial cleverly disguised as news.”

Roth was approached by one of the show’s producers, Bill Bunn, to be a guest on the program.

During the conversation Roth recalls Bunn speaking of “trust and concern, a lack of transparency and financial incentives of the industry.”

Bunn then offered Roth a phone interview with the show’s executive producer but did not offer his name.

According to Roth, before going further, Bunn wanted to make Roth aware of a small “scheduling fee” of $19,800.

For said fee, the show would run at least 20 times including one national TV airing on FOX Business.

Roth then asked Bunn whether the segment would mention the “scheduling fee” that had been paid by the expert, to be the expert on the show; Bunn replied that no such disclosure would be made.

Roth asked, since the two men’s discussion had centered around “trust” and “disclosure,” why wouldn’t Bunn want to inform the viewers that this was a paid slot.

Bunn admitted Roth had a good point but declined to give his phone number or e-mail to Roth and shortly thereafter pulled the offer.

A few days later, Roth was told by Bunn’s assistant the offer was pulled from the table after Roth had inquired about the program in question.

When calling the company’s headquarters to inquire about current businesses practices and the interest in Pauls Valley, the News Star was greeted by a boisterous recording of Terry Bradshaw then automatically transferred to a call center where a young girl told the News Star the name of the production company and quickly hung up.

City Manager James Frizell was unavailable for comment on the proposed infomercial as he was on vacation.

Maysville bank robber suspect in other heists

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

 

A suspect matching the description of the man who robbed the First American Bank in Maysville on June 9 is wanted for a string of bank robberies in the Northwest portion of the nation.

According to the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office, the man believed to be Ben Wolters, a former resident of North Dakota, is the suspect in a string of bank robberies in Montana and Wisconsin as well as other states in that region of the U.S.

“We can’t say if it is him or not. No positive ID has been made on him. But this guy is using the same MO (method of operation) as the suspect in Maysville,” said Undersheriff Jim Mullett.

It was just about one month ago when a man walked into the First American Bank in Maysville, presented a note demanding money from the teller and left the bank on foot with a little over $3,000.

A Garvin County Crimestoppers tip led Garvin County authorities to the identity of an alleged bank robber.

According to Lt. David Lansdale of the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office, the tip was made to the Garvin County Crimestoppers program a day after the robbery.

The tip came from an individual staying at the Economy Inn in Pauls Valley.

Lansdale stated in his report that he made contact with a Lindsey Phillips at the motel who stated the man in the surveillance photos matched the description of a man named “Ben” who had approached her that Saturday morning and asked if she would give him a ride to Maysville for a job interview.

“Ben” offered to pay her $10 for her trouble.

Phillips told Lt. Lansdale she agreed to take him to Maysville and once they had arrived in Maysville she stopped at the Dollar General Store shortly before 11 a.m., allowing “Ben” to leave on foot while she shopped in the store.

Phillips said “Ben” returned to the store around 11:10 a.m. that morning, purchased a bottle of water and began requesting that Phillips leave with him on multiple occasions while she was finishing her shopping.

Around 3 p.m. that Saturday, June 9, Wolters allegedly had purchased a bus ticket to Missoula, Montana in the amount of $241.00.

Lansdale checked with Greyhound and verified that Wolters had arrived in Missoula, Montana around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 11, and that he did not purchase any other bus tickets once in Missoula.

The FBI is investigating the case with the assistance of the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office and the Maysville Police Department.

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