Former Arizona beauty queen accused of kidnapping, torturing ex-boyfriend in jewelry disputeHere's another strange story about man being his own worst enemy.
ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
Associated Press Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. — A law school student and former beauty queen who has posed for a racy calendar while brandishing a weapon has been accused of kidnapping, biting and threatening a former boyfriend with a handgun.
Kumari Fulbright, 25, who is midway through her second year in law school, faces a long prison term if convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated assault.
Fulbright, who competed for the Miss Arizona title in 2005 and 2006, recently completed a semester-long unpaid stint clerking for a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins, his office said. She also poses wearing a shiny black bikini in a 2008 calendar that features women holding guns.
In the Dec. 18 indictment, Fulbright is accused of holding and torturing her 24-year-old ex-boyfriend in early December with the help of three other men, including another man she had previously dated.
Authorities think the dispute began because the ex-boyfriend was believed to have stolen jewlery given to Fulbright by the former beau suspected of helping in the attack.
Fulbright invited the man to her apartment, then excused herself to shower, said police spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco. Then two men showed up and bound him with plastic ties and duct tape, accused him of taking the jewelry, and threatened to shoot him with pistols, Pacheco said.
When Fulbright finished her shower, she allegedly bit the man on his forearm, right hand and ear, held a butcher knife to his head, and told him she was going to kill him.
Authorities said the man was taken to another home, where the assault continued, then took him back to Fulbright's house, where she guarded him with a gun.
The man finally managed to free a hand and grabbed the gun, which discharged but hit no one, authorities said. As their struggle spilled outside, the man screamed for help, then ran to a home down the block, while Fulbright returned to her apartment, Pacheo said.
"He has some bite marks on him, evident and consistent with his account, and his hands were red and swollen, consistent with someone who had been tied up," Pacheco said.
A police complaint said the suspects stole the victim's wallet, money clip with $500 to $600, and his cell phone and briefcase.
Fulbright's phone is out of service and her apartment was unoccupied Wednesday, without any furniture. Efforts also were made to contact her through MySpace.com.
Tucson police also are seeking to serve her former boyfriend, Robert Ergonis, 44, and his brother, Michael Ergonis, 46, with arrest warrants charging them with kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault, but believe they may have fled the country. Telephone numbers for the brothers were not listed.
Another man who was indicted with Fulbright remains jailed under $50,000 bond, but Fulbright was freed after arranging to have a similar bond posted.
Calls to Fulbright's attorney, Thomas Hartzell, and to the Miss Pima County pageant, which Fulbright won in 2005, were not returned. She also was selected Miss Desert Sun in 2006.
A spokeswoman for the University of Arizona, where Fulbright attends, said it was premature to talk about what could occur in terms of discipline. She and other faculty members declined further comment, citing student privacy.
'Graphic fantasies' audiotape forces Tennessee judge to resign in embarrassment
Associated Press Writer
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A Tennessee judge resigned last month after making a recording of fantasies so lurid that when the tape fell into the hands of the police and FBI, they thought they were listening to a torture session and believed it might be linked to a murder case.
Ultimately, investigators brought no charges against Circuit Judge John B. Hagler, and police said Wednesday he is not a suspect in any investigation.
But the sensational case has led to allegations of professional retaliation, interdepartmental intrigue and strategic news leaks.
The recording was investigated by authorities more than two years ago, but its existence did not come to light publicly until just a few weeks ago, and details on the contents are only now coming out, at a hearing that began Wednesday on whether police must release the tape.
During those two years, the judge remained on the bench, hearing mostly family court cases like divorces and child custody.
Among the mysteries: Why did he make such a recording? Why is it coming to light just now? And what, exactly, is on the tape?
The tape was briefly examined by Chattanooga police and the FBI in late 2005 after a secretary who had just been fired by Hagler turned it over, authorities said. She told them she found the recording of the judge's voice on a tape that also contained legal dictation.
"It sounded like someone being tortured," Chattanooga police Sgt. Alan Franks testified Wednesday, offering the first details of what is on the tape.
Franks said the recording was investigated in relation to a still-unsolved 1997 murder. He gave no other details on the murder case.
"The content was so shocking. I have been a police officer for 24 years," Franks said before his testimony was cut off by an objection.
Investigators ultimately concluded the recording consisted only of fantasies.
Two years later, the tape made its way to the prosecutor in Hagler's Tennessee district, District Attorney Steve Bebb. Then, last month, the Chattanooga Times Free Press learned about the recording from an unidentified source, and Hagler confirmed it and resigned.
Hagler said that he had done nothing wrong but that the recording had caused great embarrassment to friends, family and the courts. Hagler, who is 65 and married, has been a circuit judge in Cleveland, Tenn., since 1990 and served three terms as president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association.
"The description of it as containing 'graphic fantasies' ... is an accurate and sufficient description and all any decent person would want to hear of it," the judge said in a statement.
Bebb, the district attorney, said he, too, concluded the recording was not connected to any crime, but what he heard led him to persuade Hagler, whom he describes as a longtime friend, to resign.
"This would disturb any human being who heard it," Bebb said.
The judge strongly suggested the leak was committed by someone with a grudge against him, perhaps someone he ruled against.
"In my opinion, the real story here, so strongly expressed by an alert and outraged public, is not about me or my sins, but about whether one of our essential public institutions, the judiciary, has been the victim of a retaliatory attack," Hagler said in his statement. He did not elaborate but alluded to a dispute within the local bar association.
The district attorney has disputed speculation the leak was related to the judge's recent ruling against a local sheriff's department's request for more funding.
Bebb said in December that he sent a copy of the tape to the state Court of the Judiciary, which handles complaints against judges. A court spokeswman said the panel would not act because the judge has resigned and it no longer has jurisdiction.
Members of the local bar have asked federal prosecutors to investigate how the existence of the tape became public. Police said FBI agents are asking them questions about the leak.
The judge is fighting a request by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Associated Press and other news organizations that the tape be released. The hearing resumes on Thursday.
Hagler was relaxed and smiling at times during Wednesday's hearing. He said during a break that he had not heard the tape in the hands of police and could not be sure it was the one he recorded. "I hope it's my voice," he said.