Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fake veteran jailed and fined for fake 911 calls

A 19-year-old Indiana man was found guilty in mid-January of repeatedly prank calling 911 in September, claiming at one point to be a heavily armed Iraq War veteran with a hostage. As punishment, Christopher Scheibe has spent 123 days in jail and must pay $2,500 to help cover costs of response to a false crisis.

Scheibe entered an "Alford" plea to one count of making a false statement regarding a destructive device. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped four other related charges.

Judge Harris sentenced Scheibe to five years in prison, suspending all but the 123 days already served. He placed him on five years probation and ordered him to pay restitution.

Schiebe's prank phone calls led police to close several roads Sept. 8, call in a hostage negotiator and SWAT teams and even raid an innocent person's home.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathy Evans said Scheibe called 911 at about 9:15 p.m. Sept. 8. He told dispatchers his name was Marine Sgt. Joseph Anthony Ramirez, a 27-year-old who had served in Iraq for three tours of duty. He told police he was holding a girl hostage, that he had already shot her in the leg, and had applied a tourniquet.

Schiebe demanded flak jackets for all troops in Iraq and to speak with the president. When asked to let the hostage go, "Sgt. Ramirez" told a negotiator how his wife cheated on him while he was in Iraq and had left with their children. The man told police he had nothing to live for and was ready to die. Schiebe taunted police, telling them to move road blocks and fuel tankers or he would start killing people and blowing things up.

Evans said Schiebe made another prank 911 call Sept. 5, reporting a shooting. She also recounted a separate incident Sept. 10, where he called a school and claimed he had put a bomb in a locker. Evans said an officer involved in the locker search noticed the caller's voice sounded like "Sgt. Ramirez." Police eventually used phone records to track down an acquaintance of Scheibe's. That man led police to Scheibe, who eventually confessed to making the calls about the hostage crisis.

"I don't know what motivated you. It just seems bizarre," Judge Harris said, believing Scheibe suffers from either psychological or alcohol or drug abuse problems. "I've got real concerns about his whole thought process." (info from Hometown Annnapolis)

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