McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 21, 2012

Man arrested after offering to tattoo a Mcalester police officer

By Jeanne LeFlore
Photo Editor

McALESTER — A McAlester man was recently charged after offering to tattoo a McAlester police officer.

Joshua Lee Ross, 27, of McAlester was charged Tuesday in Pittsburg County Court with two misdemeanors after he allegedly offered to tattoo an undercover McAlester Police Officer Max Clark and for allegedly possessing tattoo equipment without a license.
This type of arrest is not common in McAlester, according to McAlester Det. Capt. Gary Wansick. 
“It’s relatively rare,” Wansick said.
Ross was arrested Monday after two McAlester police officers, Max Clark and Shawn Delana, went to Ross’s home.
Officer Clark described Ross as “a thin white male with tattoos all over him,” according to court records.
“Ross held the door open and told us to come in,” Clark said. 
Ross then walked around into the open dining room area and on the dining room table was all of his tattoo equipment, the records state.
Clark showed Ross a copy of the tattoo he wanted and Ross offered to do the tattoo for $250. 
Officer Clark then asked Ross about some of the equipment.
“Ross showed me the tattoo guns there on the table,” Clark said. 
That’s when court records state that Clark showed Ross his badge and placed him under arrest for illegal tattooing and all of his tattoo equipment was photographed and collected for evidence.
Ross with arrested and release after posting a $1,500 bond.
He is charged with one court of unlawful tattooing or offering and one count of purchasing or possessing tattoo equiment with out a license. 
If convicted, Ross faces up to 90 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 11 at 9 a.m.
In September the Oklahoma State Health Department fined a man $5,000 for operating an illegal tattoo parlor in Kiowa.
That man has not yet been charged, according to Tony Runyon Kiowa chief of police.
Meanwhile Travis Brown Public Health Supervisor with the Oklahoma State Health Department said illegal tattoo parlors are dangerous for several reasons. 
“The parlors are not inspected which means customers may suffer from a variety of serious consequences, such as infections, HIV and bloodborne illnesses,” Brown said.
A warning in an August 30, press release by the Federal Food and Drug Administration said the FDA is particularly concerned about a family of bacteria called nontuberculous Mycobacteria  that has been found in a recent outbreak of illnesses linked to contaminated tattoo inks.
“If a tattoo parlor is unlicensed Brown said, the artists will most like not be notified of warnings such as with the latest on the contaminated tattoo ink. The results could be life threatening.”
He said M. chelonae, one of several disease-causing NTM species, can cause lung disease, joint infection, eye problems and other organ infections.
According to the FDA, these infections can be difficult to diagnose and can require treatment lasting six months or more.
Some of the contaminated inks have caused serious infections in at least four states in late 2011 and early 2012. 
FDA also warns that tattoo inks, and the pigments used to color them, can become contaminated by other bacteria, mold and fungi.
According to the FDA even tattoo artists who diligently follow hygienic practices, may not know that an ink itself may be contaminated. “Contamination is not always visible in the inks,” said Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.
Meanwhile, Mike Echelly of the Pittsburg County Department of Health said  the Kiowa Police Departments issuance of the warrant was a successful collaboration of the Kiowa Police Department, District 18 District Attorney’s office and the Oklahoma Department of Health.“All three worked together to stop this illegal activity.”
Meanwhile Chief Runyon said “Although the investigation is not  yet complete, charges are pending.”

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Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.