Ambushed by SLO law and order

April 9, 2009

By KAREN VELIE

A Morro Bay man wrongly accused of two robberies now attributed to the notorious and just-captured “Sleeves Bandit” remains in county jail as San Luis Obispo police and district attorney’s officials seek a graceful exit from a potentially embarrassing case of mistaken identity.

Despite a clear resemblance between the two men, a preponderance of evidence has been presented in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court strongly suggesting that 49-year-old Freddy Haworth was not responsible for two November 8 armed robberies, one at Starbucks on South Higuera, and another at San Luis Floral and Gifts on Marsh Street.

Sources reported Michael Anthony Koselka, 54, the so-called “Sleeves Bandit,” snagged in Marysville Wednesday, confessed to the armed robberies of which Haworth is accused. But none of this has kept San Luis Obispo Police Capt. Ian Parkinson and Det. Erik Vitale from questioning a judge’s decision to dismiss Allen case.

Some striking similarities exist between the bank robberies committed by the “Sleeves Bandit” and those attributed to Haworth. Asked why investigators did not connect the robberies to the “Sleeves Bandit,” Parkinson said, “We did look into it. We had concerns. I can’t discuss an open case.”

Parkinson is the only declared candidate for sheriff in the wake of Sheriff Pat Hedges’ announced departure at the end of his current term in 2010.

At a Thursday preliminary hearing, prosecutors asked that the hearing be delayed until Friday.

Following the robberies, KSBY-TV aired a tape of the Starbucks holdup showing an older man wearing a hat, large sunglasses, and what appeared to be tattoo sleeves. Very little of his face can be seen. Haworth’s estranged sister saw the news that night and called police to say that she suspected the robber to be her brother.

Police arrested Haworth in Oregon a few days after the robbery. Throughout a lengthy interrogation, Haworth professed his innocence, insisting that he was out of town when the crimes were committed. Three witnesses would later confirm that Haworth was, indeed, in a different part of the state at the time. Haworth asked for, and received, a polygraph examination. He passed. And phone records soon demonstrated that at least Haworth’s cell phone was out of town on November 8.

Employees from both establishments pointed to Haworth as the armed robber in photo lineups. However, two employees of Starbuck’s told police the robber had colorful tattoos extending from his wrists to his upper arms. (Haworth has one lone black and dark blue tattoo of a cross on his forearm.) The employees also described the pain they endured when the robber assaulted them with pepper spray.

During the January 22 preliminary hearing, Starbuck’s employee Kathryn Neely said she couldn’t see Haworth’s arms from the witness stand, but she could clearly see his face, and that she made mental notes of the robber during the criminal act.

“As I recall, there was a mole that I remember was distinctive,” Neely said at the hearing. “It just kind of stuck in my mind. The shape, I guess.”

Another Starbuck’s employee, Sarah Bertino, who had previously told police during the initial investigation that the robber had “colorful” tattoos on his arms, was brought into the courtroom for questioning. During her testimony, Haworths bare arms were clearly visible from the witness stand.

Deputy District Attorney Cheryll Manley asked Bertino if she had seen any tattoos on the robber, and if she could to describe them.

“They were black,” Bertino said. “I don’t remember exactly what they were, because they were faded.” Manley then reminded Bertino that she had described the tattoos differently during her interviews with police.

“Yes, there was some color in them, but the color had faded,” Bertino responded.

Shortly after the hearing, Haworth’s attorney, Jay Peterson, asked Manley to request a dismissal of the case. The prosecutor agreed, and Peterson pushed to free his client quickly.

At a subsequent hearing, Manley said she would not move to dismiss on that particular day, claiming to need time for researching additional evidence. According to court records, the only evidence prompting the delay was a review by Scott Odom of the polygraph done by Larry Hobson, which Haworth passed “with flying colors.”

At a hearing later that month, charges were dismissed.

Haworth was then released from San Luis Obispo County Jail, but under a cloud of suspicion. Media reports from the district attorney’s office claimed “insufficient evidence” prompted the release, neglecting to mention that evidence weighed heavily in support of Haworth’s claim of innocence.

Haworth’s freedom was short-lived. Less than a month later, Parkinson and Vitale met with Assistant District Attorneys Dan Hilford and Manley to question why Manley had agreed to dismiss charges against Haworth.

“It is my understanding that Vitale and Parkinson both went to meet with Hilford to personally force the re-filing,” Peterson said.

The district attorney’s office agreed to re-file charges and added an additional count of burglary to Haworth’s list of alleged crimes. (Haworth admits he broke into a vacant house owned by his uncle to pilfer a stack of family photos in October.)

Nevertheless, if the theft of photos had been the only charge filed against Haworth, he would have likely gotten out of jail on his own recognizance or on an affordable bail amount. At the time of his second arrest, Haworth had recently started a new job.

Parkinson asserts that he questioned the decision to dismiss after complaints from the robberies’ victims that the man they identified, though much of his face was covered, had been released.

On February 15, SLO police officers escorted Haworth back to jail where he remains today in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Cunningham took the reins from Manley, who apparently was demoted to “kiddie court” shortly after she agreed to dismiss the charges against Haworth.

At another hearing in late March, Cunningham tried to block results of the polygraph from the impending trial through a motion to dismiss. Superior Court Judge Roger Randall denied the request.

On Tuesday, investigators informed police that the “Sleeves Bandit” had confessed to the robberies Haworth is accused of, Parkinson added. The department sent a detective to interview the suspect.

Haworth’s preliminary hearing is slated for 8:30 a.m. Friday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.


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6 Comments

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: johnson on 5/29/09
    Slonick, great to hear there are people ready to run for office.

    The DA has some issues with the follow-through and quite frankly, the truth. Re relying on the accused sister without corrab. evidence is typical–"Get the conviction–ethics be damned!"

    The DA should be secure knowing there are plenty of real crimes and criminals; no need to manufacture criminals to make oneself look Competent…

    By the way, why not require yearly polygraphs for DAs with the results to be published?

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  2. ccn_debate says:

    By: slonick on 5/24/09
    I hope the deputy sheriff's asso takes their time to pick a canidate. there is still plenty of time for one of these guys to mess up. it seems the slo captain already has, so much so that it is still radiating at the DA's office. for that ADA to let slo pd push to have this guy arrigned is absolutly wrong.Just because his sister thought it was him. no other coroborating evidence. Don't tell me the witnesses didn't change their story once the police gave them a guy to accuse.more detecting should have been done, like comfirming an alibi that was done later. They new who the guy was time was on their side, obviously this guy didn't know the cops were looking for him so there no no reason to run.SLO needs a sheriff's canidate that is not in with the local law enforcement cronies. I heard there is a female out there that is a former deputy sheriff from LA that wants in the race.she served on the school board a few years back and is a business owner in the county. Anyone know what her story is? Is she going to run?
    By: johnson on 5/23/09
    The DA's office seems a lot like a group of key stone cops. This is a sucker case that got lots of political heat; heat the DA is ill-equipped to tolerate.

    SLO needs an ethical, strong and winning DA…who will step up his/her game and run against Shea? "Step up your gaaame!"
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 4/21/09
    Anybody who doesn't exercise his right to remain silent is an idiot! Don't talk to cops. Part 1. Mr. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former defense attorney, tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.



    Don't talk to cops. Part 2. An experienced police officer tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.



    By: ThomasPaine on 4/15/09
    Lets not violate anyone's rights.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/15/09
    Yes, Thomas. Let us not violate the criminal's rights!
    By: ThomasPaine on 4/15/09
    Maybe this guy should be put away, sounds like it. But there is a right way and a wrong way.
    By: Webelieve on 4/15/09
    Haworth has a history, and his family knows it best, as do law enforcement. The guy's a slime, and his history will reflect on him. It was not a matter of just taking family photos, it was stealing, burglary, vandalism. It is not any less a crime when it is against family. And this is not the first such incident, as police and family well know. Haworth has had deep problems for many, many years, and he needs to be stopped, put away, so his victims can finally rest and have some peace.
    By: soca on 4/15/09
    First, being assigned to Juvi court is not a demotion, it's a rotation. Something scheduled well in advance. Second, no captain would put his or her career on the line to press the DA for prosecution if they knew it was a loser. Clean cops press for prosecution if they feel the DA is getting squishy and political.

    While I know nothing about Parkinson, I agree with some that the only reason he is involved with this is because of the potential for publicity. But the risk he would be taking to be labeled a toadie if it turns out the evidence he has is poor or non-existant has got to be huge. Too huge for the risk. Oh…unless he's an idiot.
    By: ThomasPaine on 4/14/09
    "Judge Judy" That was rich…
    By: beachlady on 4/14/09
    TBK…You can't take what his family is saying as the gospel. You don't know what axes they have to grind with him. Maybe he is a low life, but as a perpetrator of the crimes mentioned, neither of us know for sure yet. Clearly he has been misidentified for the Bank Robberies.

    Family junk runs deep…haven't you ever watched Judge Judy!?!

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  3. ccn_debate says:

    By: ThomasPaine on 4/13/09
    Nothing was left out, I also listened to the show. Two separate issues and he is clearly being punished for the first one. I wouldn't want this guy as a neighbor, but deal with each crime in turn. Not punish for things he didn't do.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/13/09
    After listening to the "rest of the story" from Haworth's family on the Congleton show, it's obvious the reporter left out many pertinent facts. Gee, that's a surprise!

    Good job to SLO law enforcement for keeping that life-long criminal locked up. The streets are much safer now!
    By: beachlady on 4/13/09
    Sheesh…look at the picture of the sleeves bandit posted by this site on 3/27. You can clearly tell his tatoos are colorful, not faded black. Also there seems to be more than one tatoo on his forearm.

    Living in SLO seems pretty scary with the egos you have in law enforcement!
    By: Jan on 4/12/09
    See my previous comments below. Maybe Cortez is the way to break up the good old boy network of Parkinson, Lenthall, Hedges, Bryn, Bordonaro, Ronca, et al.
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 4/11/09
    Our local Guardians of Family Photos are making me sleep better at night already.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/11/09
    Cindy said: "Now they are holding this guy on 50K bail for admitting to taking some family photos."

    I believe he was charged with residential burglary of photos and money.
    By: Cindy on 4/11/09
    The Tribune wrote this article today but as usual they left out pertinent information, such as the fact that this case had been dismissed back in January and then refiled despite strong evidence of this mans innocence. It would also appear that if a person passes a polygraph the DA chalks it up to the fact that a polygraph isn't always accurate. I guess since a polygraph can only be used against a person of interest then no one should ever bother to take one. Like wise with cell phone pings, if they are all out of the area where a crime was committed then the person must have gave their cell phone to a friend who went out of town! How about the tattoo's that didn't match up? Talk about a stretch. There was no evidence except witness identification of a person wearing sunglasses, a hat pulled down low and spraying pepper spray. Eye witness testimony is known to be the least reliable of incriminating evidence. Now they are holding this guy on 50K bail for admitting to taking some family photos.
    By: ThomasPaine on 4/11/09
    Keeping a man in jail for taking family pictures is "protecting us from criminals." Right. Time for everyone involved to admit that they made a mistake and let this man out ASAP.
    By: Saveslocounty on 4/10/09
    I also heard good things about Mulhall. Too bad he let his guys cover up for the child porn enthusiast with a badge that struck FIVE cars. Word is he was on prescription meds and that is why they didn't smell booze and let him go home to his computer monitor.

    The lack of support for Strobridge is because he treats his own cops so poorly that they split the union to get away from him. You would have to be sleeping with him or sired by him to support that looney toons. Besides, that is a huge budget to manage with no experience. All sergeants can do is approve overtime and review reports. That falls far short of the resume I would want to protect my neighborhood or be the lead lawman for the county. Help us all.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/10/09
    Thanks for the additional info, Bluebird. I had only heard that Haworth had been exonerated of the bank charges. Since there are additional charges against the man, it only makes sense SLOPD would hold him. Sounds to me they are doing the job they are sworn to do – keep us safe from criminals.

    Thanks SLOPD!

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  4. ccn_debate says:

    By: Bluebird on 4/10/09
    To Truthbeknown
    Try real, real hard to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth by giving all the facts and not just those that fit into your amoral value system. Right, Freddy Haworth was exonerated on the bank charges but he was then charged (KPRL news) with a residential robbery and bail reduced to $50,000 and he's still in jail! No job, no bail money.
    Fortunately Deputy DA Manley really believes in justice and she sounds like she is smart, unfortunately neither is an asset with the local DA.
    Over and over eye witness identification of suspects has proven to be wrong.
    Candidate Parkinson is already out hustling for endorsements from different groups. I hope they read this article.
    Thanks Karen. This story would never have been told if you hadn't gone the extra mile.
    By: Vagabond on 4/10/09
    Barney Fife, meet Officer Obie.
    SLO law enforcement

    Seems the comparable wages has a fatal flaw.
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 4/10/09
    Its much easier for incompetent prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to frame the innocent than to convict the guilty. Speaking of the gross incompetence, chronyism, and nepotism evident in local govt, when is the SLOPD going to explain its home-invasion back-shooting of an innocent 64 year old in his own bedroom? Did this trigger-happy, home-invasion murder of an innocent 64 year old make a reduction in the illegal drug trade? Did the trigger-happy killers of the SLOPD beat their wives before their home-invasion murder of a 64 year old? Does the SLOPD have innocent blood on its hands?
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/10/09
    Update: Freddy Haworth has been exonerated. End of conspiracy theory.
    By: Nameless on 4/10/09
    His estranged sister called the cops on him. Does it tell you anything. When you get into a p…ng match with your wife or relatives, they can get back to you by calling the cops on you. If proven false, his sister could go to jail. I think the DA is wrong in here big time. They should drop it and move on.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/10/09
    You said it! Once again, mucho conspiracy theories, little fact.
    By: surfdawg on 4/10/09
    I enjoyed reading the twists and turns of the article…what about tossing in some facts?

    – Mr. Haworth's family told police he was the bad guy.

    – Witnesses at each location positively identified Mr. Haworth as the bad guy.

    I guess you have to say we are all guilty of being human. I don't see what rules/laws were violated, it is unfortunate that Mr. Haworth had to go through this, but with his own family and victims identifying him as the bad guy, how can you blame SLOPD? Was this article really written to slam Ian Parkinson in his bid to run for office? That seems strange and irresponsible…doesn't it?
    By: OtisCampbell on 4/10/09
    Interesting how the inept decisions by SLOPD in this situation has segued into finding a virtuous Sheriff candidate. Unfortunately, far too many of the administrative level prospects in local law enforcement have brown-nosed themselves to position so often and so deeply, they lack the integrity and ability the public hopes for in a 'chief' or 'sheriff'. Look to the outside? You mean like O.C.'s Corona?

    Better to look to the rank and file, perhaps at sergeant level. Though the whiney cranks go after Strobridge, that's because he's a hardcore 'union' rep. Perhaps he's had less of the admin cool-aide.

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  5. ccn_debate says:

    By: mccdave on 4/10/09
    Truthbeknown says "Jim Mulhall (current Atascadero Police Chief) would make a good candidate. He is familiar with Sheriff operations"

    Ooh, yeah. Mulhall played ball on that minor Sheriff's deputy fender bender a few months ago. When I'm elected Sheriff, the whole Atascadero PD will be arrested and charged with impersonating police officers.
    By: Truthbeknown on 4/10/09
    I think those calling for Parkinson's head are over reacting, but that's not uncommon on this site.

    I personally think Jim Mulhall (current Atascadero Police Chief) would make a good candidate. He is familiar with Sheriff operations and certainly has the experience.

    Even Booty Juice could support Mulhall.
    By: Saveslocounty on 4/10/09
    Very good comments people. I wouldn't be so quick to stomp on Lenthall, he may be the best candidate in what will certainly be a large pool of candidates. Parkinson can't win and is unqualified to manage an investigation much less a $50 million budget. Who is Joe Cortez? He has been the chief of little Pismo for a number of years and has been totally out of the public's eye. A sheriff that hides in his office is the last thing we need. Besides, the cops have told me what a waste of time and money the accredidation process was, which is Cortez' greatest accomplishment. He takes a theoretical acedemic approach which has little to do with helping the cops on the street or making us safer. Experiments are cool, but not at taxpayers expense. And then of course, Dale (the Thug) Stobridge is looming out there to step up to and feed off of our tax dollars. He is actually the only person Worse than Pat Hedges, and that is saying alot. I too hope a hero with a white hat rides into the picture to save us from ourselves. But until then, I am leaning toward Lenthall and will follow the election process closely. We must elect the best qualified candidate to repair the destruction of Hedges, Bolts and the the rest of the nuts in his cabinet. Hopefully, the deputies on the street can hang in there a little longer and keep up the good work.
    By: Booty_Juice on 4/10/09
    Can Lenthall be "convinced" to run? Give me a break. Lenthall would kneecap his own mother to run for Dog Catcher if the position was open. Fortunately, it appears most people realize that he is little more than a LA, squared away, badge heavy Boyscout in need of more training to be qualified as a Wal Mart greeter.
    By: Cindy on 4/10/09
    Dexter & StarReader,
    I couldn't have said it better myself. Parkinson and his DA crony need to go sit in jail. I hope Mr. Allen has some legal recourse for this travesty of justice and makes an example out these idiots.
    By: StarReader on 4/10/09
    Parkinson just lost my vote! There should be an investigation into why Deputy DA Manley was demoted and the person responsible for that decision should be fired!
    By: hotdog on 4/10/09
    I think the county has had plenty of Lenthall as evidenced by his landslide loss against a dark horse. I don't think he would be any better than the loser we have now or the sad candidate in the race. Aren't there any real people out there with respect for the public who want this position?
    By: Newsome on 4/10/09
    For sheriff, Lenthall's your man. I hope he can be convinced to run.
    By: Nameless on 4/10/09
    Well???? All those at the Sheriff's department? This is your opportunity. Would like to see 20 or more to run and than there would be a run off. So please help your county, State and Country!!!!!!!

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  6. ccn_debate says:

    By: George on 4/9/09
    (Here are the lost comments)

    OtisCampbell posted an opinion in Cal Coast News

    Common sense is not guaranteed by position.

    Jan posted an opinion in Cal Coast News

    Parkinson is seeming like another good old boy. I sure hope others get in the sheriff's race so we are not stuck with a bunch of republican cronies who are or were controlled by Bordonaro, Bryn, Ronca, and Co. This county has had enough of these crooked folks and it was no accident that Lenthall, Ovitt, and Paul Brown all got tossed out on their fat asses during the same year. We are sick of the good old boys. Parkinson, listen up.
    By: scoopone on 4/9/09
    By: Scoop
    A close friend of mine who knows many in the Sheriff's Department said that Parkinson is going to be no bargain if he replaces that idiot Hedges. Isn't there someone more qualified to shake up this department…we need a new face from somewhere else and not another screwup. Under Hedges, the county has laid out plenty of dough for his mistakes…enough already!!
    By: OtisCampbell on 4/9/09
    At the very least, common sense is sadly lacking in two local police officials. At the worst, they are trying to save face at the expense of civil rights.
    By: Saveslocounty on 4/9/09
    Oh please don't tell me there is some one else in this county as dumb as Sheriff Hedges. And he wants to be the next Sheriff, pleeeeease tell me it isn't so. The only reason a CAPTAIN gets involved in a line level arrest is for the publicity. Someone better check into his qualifications for his current job before considering him for Sheriff. Oh, that's right, Parkinson worked out a deal with chief Deb to get promoted without meeting the job specs. The community loses once again.
    By: Dexter on 4/9/09
    They say that incompetance combined with political ambition spells disaster.

    It sounds like Parkinson in his hope to be the "law and order" candidate for Sheriff forgot about the concept of justice.

    For persecuting an innocent man in the face of the evidence, Parkinson should have to spend time in the same jail he hopes to supervise as Sheriff.

    God help us one and all if the likes of him is elected to lead our Sheriff Office.

    Kudos to the attorney who continues to press for justice.

    I would also like to read a followup article about the justification to rearrest Mr. Allen from DA Hilford and Deputy DA Manley. It sounds like Manely was trying to do the right thing and was then leaned on by the higher ups who were trying to appease Parkinson.
    By: DanBlackburn on 4/9/09
    The first three comments were accidentally deleted because of a technical problem. Please re-post, folks. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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