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False report or 911 call compounds trouble most people are already in

The man didn't say where he was.

"I've been shot," he told a 911 dispatcher on Feb. 10. Then he gasped as though it was his last breath and said no more.

Authorities tried to zero in on his cellphone. About 20 deputies, a fire truck and an ambulance sped to the area, sirens wailing. Deputies went door to door in Holiday until they knocked on the right one. They found the man sleeping next to his cellphone in a room full of pills and knives. They woke him.

"I called but it was not that important," slurred Walter McAllister, 53, one of nearly 40 people arrested in 2011 on charges of filing false police reports in Pasco.

McAllister, who appeared intoxicated, claimed he had been robbed by two boys, ages 8 and 10, and a "fat woman" while walking home from the bar, authorities said.

His story varied: First he said the 8-year-old stabbed him. Then he said the "fat woman" did it because she was after his wallet and prescription pills, a Pasco Sheriff's Office report stated.

He had not been robbed.

He had not been shot.

He had not been stabbed, though he had a few scratches on his hip. These could have been caused by a throwing knife he had in his pocket, which had a bit of blood on it, the report says. The case took five hours of law enforcement time.

"That's your (expletive) job. You should care about me and do your job and find me if I claim to be hurt," McAllister said. "You should do all you can to find me whether I've been stabbed or not. I mean, if I call 911 it's an emergency."

McAllister was convicted in June and, like most others found guilty of filing false reports, was credited with time served and ordered to pay fines. McAllister spent 36 days in jail and was told to pay more than $2,000, according to Pasco court records.

Cases like McAllister's waste law enforcement's time.

"It's a strain on resources and manpower that could affect our response to citizens who actually are in need of law enforcement services," said Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

What causes a person to call 911 and claim to be the victim of a crime? Fear, according to dozens of reports from 2011. Several people lied about their cars, tools and money being stolen so their significant others wouldn't find out what they had been up to.

Such was the case of Randy Vanhorn.

At 5 a.m. on Dec. 5, he called 911 and said a homeless person stole $2,250 from his car. Vanhorn, 51, said he left the money in an envelope on the passenger's seat with the doors unlocked while he went inside a 7-Eleven store in New Port Richey to use the restroom.

But when a Pasco deputy reviewed video surveillance of the parking lot, it showed no theft. "I informed Randy of this fact and Randy admitted, 'I lost the money at the dog track,' " a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states. "Randy said he did not want to tell his fiancee because she would be upset with him."

Robert Vincent Clark called the Sheriff's Office on Oct. 6 and said a stranger broke into his Angus Valley house and stole his 18-year-old daughter's keepsake box, which had $100 inside. Canine units and a helicopter searched for the thief. But later, Clark admitted he snatched the cash and tossed the box out his van's window while he was driving, authorities said.

Clark, 41, "made up the burglary so his daughter wouldn't find out," a report stated.

For others, their fear of getting in trouble with the law landed them behind bars. At least three people crashed their cars, fled the scene and claimed their cars had been stolen. Others lent their cars to acquaintances and used the Sheriff's Office as leverage when they had trouble getting their vehicles back.

Most of the reports were because of drugs and prescription pills. Many called the Sheriff's Office in revenge, after drug dealers took their money and never delivered the goods.

"Give me my money back or give me more pills," Donald Hughes, 45, screamed at the woman he felt had wronged him on Aug. 20 in Port Richey, authorities said. Hughes bought $5 worth of Xanax and forgot a $10 bill in the woman's house, according to a report. When he returned to get it, the money was gone — so Hughes called the law. And he ended up being arrested.

Some people filed reports because they wanted more pills to feed their addictions. Rebecca Roselle, 51, said two masked men broke into her home and robbed her at gunpoint. When her story didn't hold up, she admitted she had taken all her OxyContin and "thought if they called the police her doctors might give her more pills," a report stated.

James McDonough already had enough intoxicants when he flagged a deputy at Hudson Beach on Aug. 17. McDonough, 41, said "punk kids broke his driver's rear window," authorities said. But the manager of a nearby bar said he'd seen McDonough, a regular patron, smash it himself.

The truth was this:

McDonough was fed up with the kids who loiter at the park and argued with them. He was drunk and locked his keys in his truck. So he grabbed a pipe and shattered the window. He wanted to blame the kids, he said.

Daniel Richards just needed a ride.

He found himself more than 12 miles from home on June 14; no car, no one willing to give him a lift. So, authorities said, Richards, 46, called 911 and said he had been robbed and thrown from a moving car in Zephyrhills. He was hurt badly, he said. Richards' plan was to be taken to the hospital and leave as soon as the ambulance dropped him off. Florida Hospital Zephyrhills is 3 miles from Richards' house. He figured he could walk that far, a report stated. A fire truck, an ambulance and three deputies responded to Richards' call. When asked about his apparent lack of injuries, Richards "put his head down and said he lied."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

False report or 911 call compounds trouble most people are already in 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 3:31am]
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