Operation Clean Sweep: Suspects rounded up
March 30, 2006
The Nevada County Sheriff’s “Operation Clean Sweep” warrant arrest campaign produced 29 arrests and 80 tips to the sheriff’s hotline Wednesday, with several more arrests expected today.
“It’s been a successful program,” Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said Wednesday night. “We appreciate the assistance of the media and the response from the community in regard to the tips called in to the hotline.”
The public response to a list of 613 wanted Nevada County fugitives published in Wednesday’s The Union newspaper and the sheriff’s Web site had law enforcement officers from around the county busy responding to tips and making arrests all day.
A total of 28 armed officers from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada County Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Grass Valley Police Department and the Nevada City Police Department headed out at 8 a.m. to find fugitives throughout the county.
First on their list was Nevada County resident Jimmy Swindle, 47, who had evaded deputies for several months.
Every time they thought they had him cornered, Swindle ran, but deputies were successful Wednesday.
A shirtless and pale Swindle, wanted for three no-bail warrants for burglary and stolen property arrests, sat handcuffed in his mother’s home on Sharminden Way with a fresh bandage on the back of his head, covering a deep gash he sustained last week when someone attacked him with a claw hammer.
Wheezing from the physical strain of being arrested, he rubbed his swollen feet, a side effect of an enlarged heart he said he got from “doing too much dope.”
“My head hurts,” he said as a dozen law enforcement officers milled about the property searching for stolen goods.
“Thanks for cooperating and not acting like you have in the past,” said Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Casci, bending over at the waist and peering into Swindle’s bleary eyes.
Swindle wouldn’t tell officers who tried to kill him with the hammer but bragged about evading law enforcement at the hospital where he was treated.
Swindle’s brother Glen promised officers that he had not taken meth for a long time, but probation officers tested his urine anyway. Random drug testing is a condition of his probation.
Swindle’s mother Darlene, sitting in her kitchen surrounded by country kitsch arts and crafts, joked with officers about her son’s repeated bad behavior as Jimmy’s brother, Glen Swindle, fixed himself a heavily sweetened cup of coffee to prepare for the drug test.
“Hey, Glen, you want some coffee with that sugar?” said deputy Ray Kress as officers waited for CHP officers to run the license plated on a Honda full of suspected stolen property parked on the back lawn of Swindle’s home.
Glen Swindle sat on the couch next to his tattooed brother, lit up a Seneca cigarette and petted the family’s miniature dachshund.
The registration tag on the Honda’s plate came back as stolen, and several power tools in the car matched the description of tools recently stolen from a construction site.
Jimmy Swindle was arrested, checked by a doctor, booked into jail and arraigned in Nevada County Superior Court.
Ten minutes after leaving the Swindle property, officers raided a trailer in the Alta Sierra area looking for Robert Shuffield, who had been arrested on March 17 and was released on conditional bail, which allowed officers to randomly search his home.
“I knew you guys were coming,” Shuffield said, sitting handcuffed in his cramped and cluttered living quarters, the floor covered in dog feces.
His pit-bull mix dog barked in a constant high pitch as deputies stepped over debris, rusty car parts, beer cans and old children’s toys.
Officers searched the property and found drug paraphernalia, a small scale, a glass pipe and plastic baggies.
They also found a stolen registration tag on a license plate belonging to Schuffield. Deputies did not arrest Shuffield but filed a complaint with the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office, which may issue a warrant for Schuffield’s arrest.
Officers piled into their SUVs and headed up to the town of Washington looking for Rye Lapierre, 33, who was issued a warrant after failing to appear in court on a drunken driving charge.
Deputies parked in front of the Washington Hotel bar and began knocking on doors and questioning business owners regarding Lapierre’s whereabouts.
In the town of less than 300, nobody seemed to know where the fugitive was.
A woman playing pool with several men at the Washington Hotel bar said nobody in the town would snitch.
A clerk at the general store said Lapierre bought his breakfast there three hours prior but had not been seen since.
After questioning several residents and avoiding several barking dogs that roamed free in the town, deputies narrowed the search to a mobile home kitty-corner from the bar.
Det. Alicia Milhous asked a man at the door if their fugitive was there. The man said no, and deputies continued to ask around, armed with a mugshot of Lapierre and mace for the dogs.
Milhous returned to the home and told the man she was almost certain Lapierre was inside. She convinced him it would be in everyone’s best interest to allow the deputies to search.
Two minutes after entering the house, Lapierre was found down some stairs behind a hanging blanket in a dark basement room. Deputies arrested him without incident.
Lapierre said he learned of his warrant only hours earlier.
“I did this morning when I read the paper,” he said.
Sheriff Royal said he hopes to coordinate another countywide public arrest sweep with the help of local media.
“It’s something we would like to do in the future,” he said. “We had a very positive response.”