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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 15, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels SATURDAY March 15, 2003 14 pages in 2 sections MMM mmm    jmmmmm    14    pages    in    2    seen*Herald-Zeitung Vol. 152, No. 105 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 centsMan allegedly bilked CL resident for thousands By Ron Maloney Staff Writer It would have been quite a story, if it had been true. The police were corrupt, could not be believed — and had to be stopped. They had framed an innocent man. The caller could derail them, but he would need money to fight the legal battle — lots of money. He allegedly got it by bilking an 88-year-old Canyon Lake resident of at least $62,000 in a series of telephone calls going back a year or more. Thursday night, Comal County sheriff’s detectives arrested a Waco man for the alleged theft of between Congressman Lamar Smith swiftly switches ties with Ramon Chapa Sr., chamber of commerce chair of the board, Friday morning. Smith, commenting on the appropriateness of Chapa’s tie for a swearing in ceremony for 80 new Americans later in the day, was quick to accept Chapa’s gift in exchange for a promised Congressional tie. K. JESSIE SLATEN/ HeraKj-Zeitung $20,000 and $100,000 — and booked him into Comal County Jail. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Susan Dvorak set bail on Carl Tbdd Peabody, 20, at $50,000. He remained in jail Friday night. Theft between $20,000 and $100,000 is a third-degree felony punishable by two to IO years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Comal County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Tommy Ward said Peabody’s arrest came at the conclusion of a weeks-long investigation into the alleged defrauding of a Canyon Lake resident the officer refused to identify to protect the victim. Ward also refused to say how the suspect targeted the victim. ‘What this case is, basically, is a theft by deception,” Ward said. “This suspect deceived an 88-year-old Canyon Lake resident over an extended period of time — about a year." Ward said it was early in the investigation, but he and Smith talks to businesses about war By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Congressman Lamar Smith was in New Braunfels to talk with local businessmen and women about issues important to them. Smith, who represents Comal County and New Braunfels, gave an update of activities in Washington and asked for questions regarding concerns. Smith said the congress has been “anxiously busy” because of the threat of war. “Every week we wonder if it’s going to be the last week we’re are able to conduct normal business,” he said. Once war begins the business of disarming Saddam Hussein will be the priority, he said. “We don’t know when it is that it’s going to happen. It keeps getting pushed back. I thought it was gonna be this week, now it looks like it’s going to be next week, if it occurs at all,” Smith said. He called the situation in Iraq sad but necessary. “It’s sad because any time you’re going to have fives lost it’s a tragedy. It’s not something to be gleeful about,” Smith said. “It s also sad that we have a dictator that is willing to sacrifice his own people, who is not willing to make peace and that has shown in the past he is willing to use weapops of mass destruction. He is against his own people and neighbors.” He said since Hussein has been unwilling to disarm, the U.S. might have no other choice but war. “It might be one of those situations where we sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” Smith said. Smith is a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security and the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. He said strengthening the country’s borders could help the United States protect itself from a terrorist attack. “We’re still in a dangerous environment,” Smith said. See SMITH/3A detective Rex Campbell had determined that the victim had lost at least $62,000. Ward said the investigation was made more difficult because his suspect convinced the victim over the course of the scam that police are corrupt and cannot be trusted. See THOUSANDS/3A Con man used hot checks for 8 carsWhen caught, he faked heart attack By Ron Maloney Staff Writer J.R. Ewing he was not — although the tycoon a former New Braunfels resident played to flimflam several San Antonio car dealers with hot checks was just as fictional as the ’80s television oilman. Wednesday, Lennie Christie, 61, reached the end of the road in a San Antonio district courtroom, pleading guilty to four counts of felony theft. The charges stemmed from the purchase of eight cars worth $200,000 from seven auto dealers — all with bad checks. Under terms of the plea bargain reached before District Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardner, Christie is scheduled to be sentenced April 16 to IO years in prison. With time off for good behavior, and if he pays more than $100,000 in restitution, he could be out on parole by 2006. Sandra K. Ruedrich, chiel of the hot checks division of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, said her agency would oppose any defense initiative for probation. Ruedrich said Christie scammed salesmen at a series of dealerships by impersonating an oil tycoon — and paying by check. “We got a call from one of our local car dealers in regard to this guy who came in wearing the big cowboy hat and the pressed jeans, picked out a car, wrote a check for it and drove off in it. The salesman, unfortunately, all he See CHECKS/3A Inside Abby.............................. SA Classifieds........................ TGR Comics.......................... ?R Crossword.................... SA Forum........................... 6A Movies.......................... 5A Obituaries...................... 3A Sports........................... 1 3B Today............................ 2A Key Code 76 a 56825 66001 Anthrax scare in SattlerLetter from Iraq forces business to evacuate By Dylan Jimenez and Ron Maloney Staff Writers SATTLER — A business here was evacuated Friday morning after an employee opened a letter containing a suspicious powdery substance. Local, state and federal officials remained at Car Ad, an eBay advertising company located at 2045 Farm-to-Market Road 2673, for more than eight-and-one-half hours investigating a letter from Iraq feared to contain deadly anthrax. The business letter was postmarked from Baghdad, Iraq. When a Car Ad employee opened the letter, “some alleged white powder fell out of the envelope,” Carol Edgett, Comal County emergency management coordinator, said. Sheriff’s officers were called to the scene at 9:18 a.m. “They immediately secured the building with the package inside,” Comal County Sherrif’s Detective Sgt. Tbmmy Ward said. FBI, U.S. Postal Service, Comal County Sheriff’s deputies, Criminal Investigation Division detectives and county emergency management officials convened on the scene, where ll Car Ad employees and one postal worker were decontaminated with soap and water. “We had individuals who said they did not feel well in the business, so the business was evacuated. We took precautionary measures and decontaminated K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Comal County Emergency Management Coordinator Carol Edgett, Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Tommy Ward and Criminal Investigations Division Commander Dennis Koepp (center, from front) watch and wait as an environmental services crew prepares to examine a suspicious letter found Friday morning at a business in Sattler. The letter was postmarked from Baghdad, but tests did not show any bio- or environmental hazards. the individuals,” Edgett said. Canyon Fire Chief Shawn Wherry said soap and water should have been sufficient since anthrax must be inhaled or come in contact an open wound. After being cleaned off, four ambulances transported the victims to San Antonio hospitals to test for illness and contamination. Ward said they showed “no immediate signs of illness.” A two-man crew from Eagle Construction and Environmental Services Inc. entered the building at 12:45 p.m. and took half an hour conducting tests for anthrax. The crew was not equipped to perform any other tests. Though the tests were negative, the letter was contained and transported to Austin to undergo further testing for other chemical or biological hazards. The truck and the building remained secured by officials until the results of the tests came back. Ward said investigators got names and addresses from the letter, which CID and FBI officials will trace. Wherry said these situations are rare. Though there were some anthrax scares in New Braunfels after Sept. ll, 2001, Canyon Lake Fire/EMS hadn’t dealt with any such scares until Friday. See SCARE/3A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zertung One postal worker and 11 employees at Car Ad in Sattler had to be decontaminated with soap and water and sent to area hospitals to be tested after a letter delivered to the business was thought to contain a suspicious powdery substance. ;