Criminal Justice + Policing

Federal prosecutors file seditious conspiracy charges against Oath Keepers in Jan. 6 attack

BY: - January 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers, was charged with seditious conspiracy in organizing an attack on the U.S. Capitol and disrupting the Electoral College certification of the president, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix is charged along with Rhodes in connection with events leading up to […]


The metaverse offers a future full of potential – for terrorists and extremists, too

BY: - January 9, 2022

By Joel S. Elson, Austin C. Doctor and Sam Hunter The metaverse is coming. Like all technological innovation, it brings new opportunities and new risks. The metaverse is an immersive virtual reality version of the internet where people can interact with digital objects and digital representations of themselves and others, and can move more or […]

Iowa senators want to legalize marijuana in state constitution

BY: - December 21, 2021

Three Democratic state senators said Tuesday they plan to propose a constitutional amendment that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in Iowa for people ages 21 and older. “Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “It’s ending across America because it has caused far more harm than good.” […]

Courthouse custodian accused of sheriff’s investigation leak

BY: - December 20, 2021

A longtime custodian of the Sac County courthouse resigned last month after he was caught snooping in the sheriff’s office and admitted he had relayed information about an investigation to an acquaintance who was a “person of interest” in that investigation, according to the county attorney. Mark Von Ahn, 60, who was a custodian for […]


Rittenhouse was a ‘wannabe,’ not a hero

BY: - December 12, 2021

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial and verdict is a bit like those ink blot tests psychologists sometimes have patients examine. A half-dozen folks can look at the same thing and see something different. I’ve heard Rittenhouse described as a “hero” by right wingers and as a “criminal” by those on the left. But when I look […]


School shootings are at a record high this year – but they can be prevented

BY: - December 5, 2021

By James Densley and Jillian Peterson Whenever a school shooting takes place like the one at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit on Nov. 30, 2021, it is typically followed by a familiar chorus of questions. How could such a thing happen? Why doesn’t the government do more to stop these shootings from occurring? Those […]

Iowa tests thousands of backlogged sexual assault evidence kits

BY: - November 30, 2021

Iowa has cleared a backlog of thousands of sexual assault evidence kits, the Attorney General’s Office reported Tuesday, resulting in nearly 300 DNA matches and four criminal cases. The Iowa Sexual Assault Kit Initiative began in 2015 with the goal of testing a backlog of sexual assault evidence kits in the state. A survey conducted […]

Des Moines man identified as ‘Co-Conspirator No. 1’ in SBA fraud case

BY: - November 19, 2021

The Iowa finance executive who allegedly conspired with others to defraud the Small Business Administration has been identified in court records as Michael Barry Slater of Des Moines. Slater is the founder and president of Vital Financial Services, a lending service provider based in Clive. He pleaded guilty this week to a charge of conspiracy […]

nterior of an empty courtroom with gavel and sounding block on the desk.

Des Moines man gets life sentence on sex-trafficking charges

BY: - November 18, 2021

A Des Moines man has been sentenced to life in prison on charges on charges of sex trafficking. Marlin Santana Thomas, 46, was sentenced this week to life in prison for trafficking six people by force, fraud and coercion, for the purpose of having them engage in commercial sex acts. In May, Thomas pleaded guilty […]

Davenport banker accused of fraud in million-dollar scheme targeting the SBA

BY: - November 10, 2021

An Iowa banking executive, accused of attempting to defraud the Small Business Administration through a scheme involving millions of dollars, has pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud. Larry Charles Henson of Davenport, the former president and chairman of the now-shuttered Valley Bank in Moline, Illinois, is expected to be sentenced March 8. He […]

Financial penalties for animal neglect are small, rare and may go unpaid

BY: - October 17, 2021

In October 2019, Chris Swigart, a special agent with the Iowa Division Criminal Investigation, drove down Timber Road in the rural Wayne County town of Russell and slowed his vehicle. Swigart was there to check out a reported unlicensed dog-breeding operation called Elite Basset Hounds, run by Michael Johnson and his husband, Juan Johnson. Although […]