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Police Get Dressing Down After Turkey Sting Runs Afoul With PM-Thanksgiving Rdp Bjt

November 28, 1985

KETTERING, Ohio (AP) _ Lora Sellers was happy about getting a free Thanksgiving turkey, but says being arrested in a police sting when she picked it up was for the birds.

Police in this Dayton suburb gave Ms. Sellers the turkey to make up for her mistaken arrest Tuesday night as part of Operation Turkey, a sting designed to lure people with outstanding warrants.

Her name was on a criminal trespass warrant, but she told police someone else had used her name and identification when they were arrested for being at a park after closing hours.

Police Chief James M. O’Dell said police checked her story, found it to be true, and gave her one of several turkeys kept in reserve in case of foul-ups.

″We offered to come over to her house and cook it for her,″ O’Dell said.

Ms. Sellers said she felt better about the incident after receiving the bird.

″I got a turkey, that’s what I went for,″ she said, adding she wasn’t really mollified. ″It was mean. It was wrong to do people like that.″

Ms. Sellers was one of 11 people lured by a letter from Kemper’s Poultry Supply. To get her turkey, she had to come to a storefront and fill out a marketing survey, the letter said.

But Kemper’s was a police front, and the turkey was a ruse to lure 103 people with outstanding warrants, O’Dell said.

″We thought it would be a way of saving some money by instead of going to the customer, letting the customer come to us,″ he said.

But Ms. Sellers complained to televison station WDTN that it also cost her $100 to get out of jail. She said her father had to post the bond; she didn’t have even enough money to buy a turkey for her and her two children.

O’Dell said police likely would try a similar sting again.

″Maybe Thanksgiving isn’t a good time, but ... we are not just going out and arresting people. They have outstanding warrants,″ he said.

It costs police about $50 to serve a warrant, while it only cost about $140 to run the sting, he said.

Six people facing misdemeanor charges were arrested Monday and Tuesday, and five others, who sent friends or relatives, are likely to be located, including the woman who used Ms. Sellers’ name, he said.

″If there really was a turkey in this situation,″ he said, ″it was the so-called friend who used her identification.″

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