Almanac

News - December 11, 2013

Menlo briefs: Man files lawsuit against Menlo Park police officers

by Sandy Brundage

Editorís Note: On December 20, 2013, in a plea agreement, Mr. Amanuel pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hit and run. A misdemeanor charge for driving under the influence causing injury was dismissed. Amanuel was sentenced to 10 days in county jail, fined $1,650 and placed on three years probation, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. A man has filed suit against three Menlo Park police officers, the department and the city.

The suit, filed in federal court on Nov. 12 by the attorneys for Hiruy Amanuel, alleges that officers Ed Soares, James Luevano and "Officer Jeffries" violated his rights during two traffic stops, one on Jan. 13 and another on Oct. 31.

The complaint alleges that the stops included illegal searches, racist comments and intimidation. Mr. Amanuel, a Menlo Park resident, is represented in the civil action by attorneys Greg Walston and Thomas O'Brien.

Officers Soares and Luevano recognized him from an earlier case and subjected Mr. Amanuel to harassment and threats that left him upset and scared, according to the lawsuit.

Menlo Park Police Cmdr. Dave Bertini said the first stop was recorded via a digital audio recorder, and the second recorded with both video and audio.

The Almanac's research indicates no "Officer Jeffries" works for the police department; Mr. Walston was not immediately available for comment as to whether his client wasn't sure about the name or it was erroneously included in the filing.

Mr. Amanuel currently faces criminal charges in San Mateo County Court in connection with a misdemeanor driving under the influence causing injury and a hit-and-run.

In 2010, he pleaded guilty in federal court to one felony count of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking, and was sentenced to 21 months in state prison and one year of supervised probation that ended in 2012, according to court records. Two related charges, of conspiracy to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, were dismissed.

IRS scam

A Menlo Park resident lost $14,000 in a recent scam that has the IRS warning people nationwide, according to police.

Claiming to be IRS employees, the callers tell their intended victims that they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid card or wire transfer, or face arrest, deportation or loss of a license.

The legitimate IRS will not accept payments through those forms of currency, according to police. The pre-paid cards the scammers request are extremely difficult to trace, as payments made are usually transferred to other reloadable cards that can be bought at almost any store.

Victims may also be given fake contact information. In one incident reported to Menlo Park police, the victim unknowingly accessed a phony IRS website. The police advise double-checking any contacts, as the IRS does not use a local phone number. The agency also generally contacts people first by mail, not telephone, and won't ask for personal or financial details via email, text or social media.

If contacted by email, forward any suspect messages to phishing@irs.gov. Avoid opening any attachments or clicking on links.

Never give out any personal information, such as a Social Security number, date of birth, home address or passwords, to anyone over the phone.

Police ask that you call 330-6300 if you think you've been targeted by this scam.

Singles dance

Menlo Hub will host a singles dance on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Sponsored by The Society of Single Professionals, the dress code is "festive holiday attire." Tickets are $20.

The restaurant is located at 1029 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

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