Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`PrimeTime Live' Focuses on Local Sting Operation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`PrimeTime Live' Focuses on Local Sting Operation

Article excerpt

Operation Cell mate, a successful "reverse sting" operation

that took place in Jacksonville this summer, will be featured

on a segment of ABC's PrimeTime Live, which airs at 10 p.m.


Organized by the Jacksonville State Attorney's Office, the

U.S. Secret Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative

Service and financed partially by AT&T, the sting was designed

to create a "chilling effect" on the growing use of stolen

cellular phones and stolen cell phone numbers in criminal

activities, said Rick Beseler, chief investigator for the State

Attorney's Office.

Operating out of a store front on Blanding Boulevard,

undercover officers put out the word that they were cloning

equipment and selling stolen phones and phone numbers.

Launched June 12 and terminated Aug. 1, the operation resulted

in 92 warrants and 73 arrests (19 fugitives remain at large).

Because a large part of the purpose of such an operation is to

create a deterrent effect, publicity is important Beseler said.

"The prevailing attitude is that nobody in law enforcement is

doing anything about phones," he said. "An operation like this

makes people aware that isn't necessarily true."

Thus PrimeTime Live was invited to track the operation. Diane

Sawyer came to Jacksonville as chief correspondent on the story.

This will be the fourth Jacksonville sting operation featured

on a PrimeTime Live segment in the last two years.

New reporter hired: WJXT TV-4 has hired a familiar face to fill

the consumer reporting position left open when Pamela

Rittenhouse recently resigned.

The new TV-4 consumer watchdog will be Jim Piggott, who has

spent the last 11 years at WJKS TV-17.

More TV news: The decision by WAWS TV-30 to get into the

television news business means that, eventually, there are going

to be four local television news operations in Jacksonville. …

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