Tag Archives: student

Did U.S. Marshals Really Arrest a Houston Man for Unpaid Student Loans?

On February 15, Paul Aker appeared on Fox 26 Houston detailing his arrest at the hands of seven U.S. Marshals armed with automatic firearms. Aker told Fox 26 that he was arrested for not paying a $1,500 student loan he received in 1987 from Prairie View A&M University.

The arrest took place on February 18 at Aker’s home in Houston. “They grabbed me, they threw me down,” Aker told the NY Daily News. “Local PD is just standing there.”

Aker was arrested and taken to a federal court in downtown Houston where he said he was faced with a judge, a prosecutor, and a county clerk. Aker told Fox 26 that the prosecutor ended up being a debt collection lawyer.

Aker said he received a “lecture” from the judge about “stealing from the U.S. government.” When Aker asked why the Marshals came in combat gear with weapons drawn, he said he was told it was because he owns firearms.

“It was because they knew I was a registered gun owner. It’s out of control. Out of control. What if they had seen a gun on me? They would have shot me for $1,500 bucks.”

[RELATED: U.S. Students Participate in ‘Million Student March’ Over Debt, Free College]

The Daily News reported that Aker was ordered to pay $5,700 for the loan, including interest. He was also ordered to pay nearly $1,300 to cover the cost of his own arrest. Aker has until March 1, he said, or he would be arrested again.

Isiah Carey of Fox 26 also stated that the U.S. Marshals are planning to serve up to 1,500 warrants to Houstonians who have not repaid their loans.

Aker’s arrest became a viral story on Tuesday afternoon and left many people wondering why the federal government was using armed raids to collect on student debt. Although Aker told the NY Daily News and Fox 26 that he was not contacted once in 29 years about the loan, Yahoo Finance has discovered some discrepancies in his story. 

According to documents obtained by Yahoo, Aker was sued in November 2007 by the federal government for failing to pay more than $2,600 in unpaid federal student loan debt. Records from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas show that Aker, listed as Winford P. Aker in the complaint, failed to appear in court, leading the judge to rule against him and order him to pay the entire balance by April 17, 2007.

Yahoo reported that a statement from the U.S. Marshals Service claims that Aker repeatedly refused to show up in court after being contacted several times. Aker reportedly told the Marshals he would not appear in court. A few months later, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest and the U.S. Marshals carried it out.

Yahoo wrote, “So, yes, Aker was arrested, but not just because he owed a little student loan debt. He was arrested for disobeying a court order.”

If the Marshals did attempt to contact Aker, they may have been unable to do so because the court record shows a different address than the listing for a “Winford P. Aker” that Yahoo Finance found in the Houston area. The U.S. Marshals Service told Yahoo they made every effort to track him down, “including searching at numerous known addresses.”

Ultimately, the arrest was not made specifically for the failure to pay the student loan but for the failure to appear in court. Still, it seems troubling that a $1,500 debt could lead to an armed raid on one’s home. It’s highly troubling that the U.S. Marshals chose to come with guns simply because Aker was a registered gun owner.

What are your thoughts? At what point does a debt warrant an arrest? Is owning a firearm reason enough to bring armed federal agents to collect a debt?

Officer in Student Assault Investigation Accused of Pepper Spraying Vet in 2005

The South Carolina deputy who is under investigation after videos circulated online showing him assaulting a female student in a classroom has a history of violence, according to a man who said he was assaulted by the officer in 2005.

Carlos Martin, a 36-year-old Army veteran, told New York Daily News that he filed a lawsuit against Ben Fields, the officer identified in the videos, after he was allegedly assaulted by Fields on Oct. 24, 2005.

Martin said that he had recently moved to Columbia, South Carolina, and was working at the Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson.

Fields, who had been responding to a separate complaint at the apartment complex Martin resided in, reportedly confronted Martin about playing loud music in his car.

Martin told the New York Daily News that an argument ensued, and Fields “snapped” after Martin called him “dude,” and slammed Martin on the ground.

Martin said Fields went on to use pepper spray on him and ended up using the entire can, which Martin said he was able to resist because of his military training. “He became even more violent because I didn’t react like most people would,” Martin explained.

Martin also said that his wife at the time, Tashiana Rogers, witnessed the assault, and came to the scene to take pictures with her cellphone. Martin claimed Fields told his partner to “get her black ass,” and the officer responded by taking Rogers’ phone and deleting the pictures.

Martin said that although he filed a lawsuit against Fields, and criminal charges against Martin and Rogers were ultimately dropped, it took four years for Martin’s case to go to trial. During that time, he was labeled as a criminal in the military. The lawsuit was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence of excessive force.

[RELATED: Investigation Requested After Video Shows Resource Officer Assaulting Student]

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Monday that he requested the FBI launch an independent investigation into Fields’ actions at Spring Valley High School. Federal authorities confirmed on Tuesday that both the FBI and the DoJ have opened a civil rights probe into the arrest to determine if federal law was broken.

Investigation Requested after Video Shows Resource Officer Assaulting Student

Officials in South Carolina are calling for a federal investigation after cell phone video showed a police officer throwing a Spring Valley High School student out of her desk and dragging her across the classroom.

Multiple videos were taken by other students in the classroom of the encounter between the white male officer and a black female student. The videos begin by showing the officer walking up to the girl and telling her to get up and leave the classroom. Shortly after speaking to the girl, the officer is seen putting her in a chokehold and flipping her desk over while she is still sitting in it as he attempts to remove her from it.

Leon Lott, the Richland County sheriff, said that the officer, a deputy with the sheriff’s department, was responding to a disruptive student refusing to leave the classroom.

“The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”

Lott said he was “as upset as anybody and I’m very disturbed by what I saw,” and he has contacted the FBI to request an independent investigation into the incident.

“Appropriate action is going to be taken,” Lott said. “We’re going to do it as quick as possible. This isn’t something that’s going to linger on for weeks, or months or even days. It’s going to be done very swiftly.”

[UPDATE: Officer in Student Assault Investigation Accused of Pepper Spraying Vet in 2005]

The New York Times reported that Spring Valley High School is “a campus of about 2,000 students that is about 52 percent black and 30 percent white,” and that while officials have not released the names of either of the officer or the student, multiple students identified the officer as Ben Fields, a deputy who is assigned to the school.

One student who filmed the altercation, 18-year-old Niya Kenny, said she was also arrested for “disturbing schools” due to her reaction to the officer’s confrontation with the student.

“I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” Kenny said. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”

Kenny said the student was asked by the teacher to leave the classroom for not participating. Kenny said when the student refused, an administrator was called in followed by the resource officer. Regarding the use of force by the officer, Kenny said she had never seen anything like it before.

“I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kenny said. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like ‘no way, no way.’ You can’t do nothing like that to a little girl. I’m talking about she’s like 5’6″.”

A shorter video, seen below, shows the physical confrontation from a more direct angle following the verbal interaction.


A California police officer has been fired for not using violence

A California State University Monterey Bay police officer has been fired from the force after he chose not to use his Taser on a student threatening suicide in February.

The officer, a 20 year veteran of the force who has not been named, was reportedly the first officer on the scene when a CSUMB student was threatening to kill himself in a dorm room.  The student in question was holding a knife, hammer, and was threatening to light himself on fire, according to the Free Thought Project.

Rather then using his Taser on the student, the officer began to talk to the student which resulted in a deescalation of the situation.  The officer then went to get the student a glass of water when officers from the local Marina Police Department showed up and began to use their Tasers on the suicidal student.

Marina Police Chief Edmundo Rodriguez said, according to the Monetery Herald, when his officers arrived on the scene, they found blood in the student’s dorm, and the student’s sweater appeared to be singed. The knife and hammer were also in the room, but the weapons were not in the student’s hands.

Rodriguez then said, the student “was clearly a danger to himself and he was in crisis… We were trying to keep him from accessing the weapons or leave, to get him medical attention.”

After the incident, Rodriguez’s department issued a “failure to act” complaint against the campus police officer because he did not engage in the situation as the other officers had done.  “He just stood there,” said Rodriguez.

The president of the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA), Jeff Solomon, said according to the Raw Story, “Our officer said and felt that there was no need for the level of force that was applied.”

Solomon then said, “The other officers started yelling and screaming to get down, Tased him multiple times, and from what we understand (told the university officer) to Tase him again.”

Later, the father of the suicidal student told reporters, “It defies logic and is extremely disappointing that, at a time when law enforcement is under fire for using more force than necessary, an officer is being terminated for attempting to use civilized methods to resolve a situation,”

University officials did not comment on the details of the case, but they did say the situation “is much more complex than was conveyed.”

Student Jailed After Writing Story About Killing Dinosaur with Gun

According to Live 5 News, a Summerville, South Carolina student was suspended from Summerville High School and arrested by police after he wrote a fictional story about killing a dinosaur with a gun for a class writing assignment. Last Tuesday, 16-year-old Alex Stone was asked by his teacher to write a paragraph describing himself, followed by another sentence in the style of a Facebook status. Stone attempted to take a comedic approach to the assignment.

Describing the first-person fictional account that he penned for the school project, the teen told Live 5 News, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business.” What happened next shocked Stone’s mother, as the boy was taken from class, suspended from school, detained for disturbing schools, and then arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. Authorities searched his locker and backpack and did not find a weapon. According to police, Stone maintained that his story about killing a dinosaur was intended to be interpreted as a joke.

Stone’s mother, Karen Gray, is upset that she was not contacted prior to the point at which school officials had her son arrested. Said Gray, “If the school would have called me and told me about the paper and asked me to come down and discussed everything and, at least, get his point-of-view on the way he meant it. I never heard from the school, never. They never called me.” Karen Gray also pointed out the fact that dinosaurs no longer exist, implying school officials should have been able to tell that Stone’s story was not a threat against the school.

According to The Washington Post, police claim Stone was arrested following an angry outburst that happened while police searched his locker. Dorchester District 2 officials appeared to mischaracterize Stone’s fictional story to the media by telling ABC News 4 Charleston that he was suspended for writing about bringing a weapon to school.

David Aylor, Stone’s lawyer, was quoted by ABC News 4 Charleston as saying, “This is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense. The arrest and suspension of my client is completely absurd and further erodes the confidence parents and taxpayers have in our teachers and administrators who are tasked with educating our children and preparing them for higher education or entering the work force.” Aylor is fighting the disorderly conduct charge and is attempting to appeal Stone’s week-long suspension from school.

The teenager told Live 5 News that he didn’t want to go back to Summerville High School. He said, “I regret it because they put it on my record, but I don’t see the harm in it.” Looking back on how he worded the story, Stone did feel that “there might have been a better way of putting it.” Tuesday’s arrest and suspension happened on Stone’s second day of class for the year, which happens to be his freshman year and first impression of high school.

According to The National Geographic, scientists estimate that dinosaurs have been extinct for approximately 65 million years.

“Mr. President, I’m Leaving The Medical Field”: Hanging Up The White Coat: A Letter To President Obama

Barack Hussein Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President,

I was born at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. My mother would later take a job delivering babies in that same operating room only a couple of years later. My parents got a divorce when I was young. There were many times during the summers when she would be forced to take my sister and me to work with her. I vividly remember the child version of myself walking the halls of the same floor I was born on in fascination as the years passed. The anesthesiologists used to bring us candy and watch movies with us.

I'm Hanging Up The White Coat Because Of Obamacare To Pursue My Doctorate In Economics And Head To Wall Street
I’m Hanging Up The White Coat Because Of Obamacare To Pursue My Doctorate In Economics And Head To Wall Street

When the holidays came, a nurse by the name of Patty Vaughn (we called her Granny), would have bags of presents for my sister and me. Donna Smith, a surgical first assistant who came to America from Canada to work in a free-market healthcare system, used to babysit us.

Donna’s two-story townhome became a 3rd home (2nd was the hospital). We spent countless nights at her house. Patty passed away when I was ten. I still remember the last box of moon pies she gave me for Halloween that year. To this day, every time I see a moon pie I think of her. Donna helped me through my undergrad at Belmont University. With tuition at $30k/year, money was tight. Donna never let me go without a meal.

You see, Mr. President, the smell of sterile operating rooms, horrible coffee, crisp white coats, and cold metal was my destiny. The first time someone ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I responded, “Anesthesiologist.” I had no idea what they even did, but it was the first big word I learned to pronounce as a 6-year-old. The hospital is my family. It’s all I’ve ever known.

Twenty-one years after my birth, in the same hospital, I listened to a fetal heartbeat through my very own stethoscope as a student. You know, it’s quite magical. As the cool, metallic bell lies upon the tight skin of a young mother’s stomach, anxiety, fear and joy are all present in her face. A week before my birthday, I stood at the side of the laboring mother. There’s no other way to explain childbirth than witnessing the face of God. The emotion is enveloping. You can only try (unsuccessfully) to hold the tears back. I knew at that moment what a gift God had given me. To be allowed the involvement in such a beautiful, pure moment was not to be unappreciated.

When I started college, I knew where I was going. You had just won the election. I remember the cameras focusing in on Oprah Winfrey’s face. Tears streamed down. At the time, I knew nothing about politics. My biggest concern was a girl in my Anatomy & Physiology class I had a crush on. I paid little attention to Washington, DC.

I worked hard. Multiple all-nighters, falling asleep behind the wheel of my car countless times, thousands of shots of espresso (I actually took a job at Starbucks to support the habit) and 15k note-cards later I had graduated in the top 5% of the country. However, during those last few years, something changed.

We studied medical legislation for an entire semester. It’s no secret that the federal government has overburdened the healthcare market, which has manifested astronomical costs to consumers. However, in 2010, Democrats forced through the partisan Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was later funded by both Democrats and Republicans.

Since the passage of Obamacare, everything has changed. When I started college I never intended to work for the government. I never thought I’d have a government bureaucrat dictate what I was worth to the market, and I certainly never imagined those same bureaucrats (who have absolutely no medical training) telling me how to treat my patients.

I remember the day Obamacare became law. I was sitting in the hospital working in the anesthesia department part-time to cover the costs of tuition. Dr. Alfery, a mentor of mine, looked over at me and said, “Run – it’s not too late to change majors.”

Your legislation has caused countless doctors to go into retirement early, opt for cash-only practices, and has discouraged bright, young minds from entering the field.

With student loans reaching $300k, incalculable opportunity costs and 8 years lost to school, students seeking medical degrees give their lives to the practice. Starting our careers at 30 while dictating to us how much money we can make is nothing short of destroying all incentive to enter the field.

Since that day, I’ve yet to find a doctor who recommends the field. People respond to my complaints, “It’s still going to be a good job.” I don’t want a “good job.” I have not fought for a government entitlement of a “good job.” I want an incredible career. That’s what I have fought tirelessly for.

I have been on a path to enter the Air Force and continue my education in medicine. I have been dreaming of specializing in pediatric neurosurgery for half of a decade.

After quite literally losing my hair from the internal conflict, considering the sunk costs and evaluating different avenues, I have decided.

I have decided that I believe in the principles of a truly free-market, and I trust the free-market. Because of this deep, internal value system I cannot, with clear conscience, continue on this path. My life has value. Such value cannot be calculated by Washington bureaucrats. I won’t allow it. Only a true free-market can accurately assess the value I am capable of.

Mr. President, I’m leaving the medical field. I’m hanging up the white coat. However, let me be clear. You have not won. Unless something “changes,” you’ve lost and will continue to lose. You will fail because you lack principle. Meanwhile, we will succeed because we are born of principle.


Michael Gordon Lotfi


Student Faces Possible Year-Long Suspension From School For Playing With Toy Guns At Home

Image Credit: WAVY-TV
Image Credit: WAVY-TV

Kahlid Caraballo is a 12-year-old, seventh-grade student living in Virginia Beach, VA. Kahlid and his friend, Aidan, were both playing with an airsoft gun in his yard while they waited for the school bus to arrive.

The two boys “shot” two other friends, and the school is now charging the two boys with “possession, use and handling of a firearm”.

The two young boys have been suspended from school since the incident occurred. Later this afternoon their parents are supposed to be informed whether or not they will remain suspended until next school year.

Kahlid tells reporters at Wavy-TV that he and his friends were not even at they bus-stop. “We were in our yard. This had nothing to do with school,” says Kahlid.

Tim Cook, Aidan’s father, told reporters that the toy never left private property and that what happened to his son lacks common sense.

Are toy guns firearms? Is it the school’s responsibility to probe into what children do in their own home?  Let us know below-