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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Indicted Chicago cop shines light on corruption

Reuters - May 30, 2008 

A former Chicago police officer charged with being part of a ring that falsely arrested and stole from drug dealers has detailed how the operation led to a plot to kill two colleagues, according to interview excerpts released on Friday. The scandal in the elite Special Operations Section helped lead to a change in the Chicago police department with the appointment of a new superintendent, former FBI agent Jody Weis.

In what was described as his first interview on the matter, FBI informant Keith Herrera told CBS' "60 Minutes" that pressure to get drug dealers and their guns off the streets led first to cutting corners and then to crime. "Creative writing was a certain term that bosses used to make sure that the job got done," Herrera, referring to fabrications on police reports, said in a program to be aired on Sunday. "I didn't just pick up a pen and just learn how to (lie). Bosses, guys that I work with who were older than I was ... It's taught to you." CBS released portions of the program in advance. As an example, Herrera said, a drug suspect might be listed in a report as refusing to surrender his gun even if he had dropped the weapon. "Do you want that guy ... that just shot somebody to not go to jail because he threw the gun? Or do you want him to go to jail because he never let the gun out of his hand?" Herrera said. "I know what I've got to do." He said some officers obey the rules but "this isn't Podunk, Iowa. This is the city of Chicago ... You've got to do a job." Herrera and six other former members of the Special Operations Section were charged in 2006 with robbery, kidnapping and other crimes. All have pleaded not guilty.

Herrera said he began stealing from people he arrested but decided to go to the FBI after the group's leader proposed killing two colleagues who were threatening to testify against him. He said the ring leader, who has been charged with plotting a murder for hire, told him in a conversation he recorded for the FBI that there would be a "paint job" and if it was done right "we'd never have to paint again." Weis, also interviewed on the program, said there was probably an atmosphere of breaking the law so the elite unit could cite progress and accomplishment. "They lost their way and it saddens me," he said. "This is horrific in my eyes." CBS said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged in an interview to be aired on Sunday's program that the scandal tainted the department but most officers were not involved. (Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Andrew Stern and John O'Callaghan)

New York City cop arrested on robbery charge

The Journal News by Will David - May 30, 2008

MOUNT VERNON - A 43-year-old New York City police officer was arrested early yesterday, accused of stealing his ex-girlfriend's keys during a violent domestic dispute with her in a municipal parking lot, police said. Curtis Peterson was charged with third-degree robbery, a felony. He was arraigned yesterday in City Court and released without bail. Several New York City police officials attended the arraignment. The woman, 35, told police the off-duty officer rammed his 350 Nissan Z into the side of her Ford Fusion during the 12:30 a.m. dispute in the parking lot at 33 N. Third Ave., said Mount Vernon police Commissioner David Chong. The Mount Vernon woman said Peterson then punched her in the face and took her car keys before driving away, but returned and threw the keys at her, police said. The woman called police. Chong said Peterson identified himself as police when officers arrived. Police said they took his 9mm gun and badge before notifying the NYPD. NYPD has launched an Internal Affairs investigation and Peterson was suspended, Chong said. Peterson is due June 30 in City Court.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ex-cop to be sentenced today for Marlo delivery shootings

Washington, D.C. Radio WTPO - May 27, 2008

Keith Washington faces up to a 70 year sentence.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- A former Prince George's County police officer and homeland security official who shot two furniture deliveryman in his home will be sentenced today. Former police Cpl. Keith Allen Washington was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and two counts of using a handgun in a crime of violence and assault. He faces up to a 70 year sentence, with a minimum of 10 years for his gun convictions. Washington was deputy director of the county's homeland security department when he shot two unarmed furniture delivery men in his Accokeek home on Jan. 24, 2007. One of the delivery men, 22-year-old Brandon Clark, died of his wounds nine days later. His co-worker, Robert White, was seriously injured. Washington, 46, said he fired in self-defense. During the trial, Washington testified that the two men were savagely beating him and that he fired blindly to get them off. White told the jury that the shootings were unprovoked. Washington's attorneys had tried to delay the sentencing until after his case is appealed. He is being kept apart from the rest of the prison population, as is often done when a police officer is behind bars. Corrections officials allegedly found a handcuff key in Washington's shirt while he was being transported from the county detention center to a jail in Calvert County.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Westchester cops in sex tape scandal

The New York Daily News by LEO STANDORA - May 28, 2008

Three Westchester County cops allegedly forced a 15-year-old girl to watch a raunchy sex video she was in while they cracked jokes, threatened her and manhandled her, according to documents posted on a Web site. Now the cops are starring in a lawsuit brought by the teen, who is identified as Jane Doe. The federal suit, filed last week, says the video shows the girl engaging in sex, according to documents obtained by thesmokinggun.com. Cops found the video May 17, 2007, in the home of her boyfriend, Joseph Porto, who had been arrested earlier for possession and sale of pot. The girl was in the house when the Harrison cops came looking for more weed and a gun they thought Porto had hidden.

The suit alleges Capt. Anthony Marraccini, Sgt. Edward Lucas and Detective Richard Light watched the tape in front of the girl "while laughing" and "mockingly" asking her questions about it, thesmokinggun.com revealed. Marraccini said he and his two co-defendants deny all of the girl's "outlandish claims." But the girl alleges Light told her, "I should beat your a- for this. I hope your parents beat your a-." During the ordeal, she claims that the detective felt her legs to within "inches of her groin," rubbed her buttocks and "massaged" her breasts. The suit contends the cops later "played the video for other members of the department to watch for their amusement, sexual gratification and to further degrade plaintiff." It was unclear why the teen waited nearly a year to file her suit. Her lawyer,Jonathan Lovett, didn't return a call for comment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cop flashed, fondled me, says alleged ex

The New York Daily News by KAMELIA ANGELOVA, ALISON GENDAR AND ETHAN ROUEN- May 28th 2008

A veteran transit cop was busted Tuesday for allegedly exposing himself to and trying to fondle a former male lover while he was on duty, police sources said. A 20-year-old man accused Capt. Jeffrey Klimas of committing the lewd acts while riding the subway about 8:30 a.m., sources said. The 20-year-old told investigators that he and Klimas, who is married and has 20 years on the job, have had a romantic relationship. Klimas, 51, was charged with two counts of public lewdness and was suspended from duty, sources said. He has denied the charges and is cooperating with an investigation by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, sources said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Indictment in Police Corruption Inquiry

The New York Times by BRUCE LAMBERT - May 16, 2008

In late 2006, a New York City detective was suspected of being involved with illegal drugs, and an Internal Affairs Bureau sergeant was bluntly advising him on how to avoid investigators, according to new court filings in a continuing federal probe of police corruption. Their profanity-laced conversation was quoted in an indictment issued on Wednesday by a grand jury in Brooklyn. The new charges in the case accused the sergeant, Sgt. William Valerio, of false statements, bank fraud and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he was the seventh person — and third police officer — indicted in the investigation since 2006.

The bank fraud charges stemmed from accusation that Sergeant Valerio was involved with Detective Luis M. Batista in producing a false termite inspection certificate required for a mortgage for a $412,000 house sale in Elmont, Long Island. The indictment also accused Mr. Batista of altering a receipt for the inspection, raising the cost to $1,000 from $100. The wiretap excerpts, with obscenities deleted, attributed to Sergeant Valerio the comments cautioning Detective Batista. “Be very careful when you’re coming and going, because the [expletive] will follow you,” Sergeant Valerio was quoted as saying. “Look over your [expletive] shoulder 100 million times.” The grand jury said that Detective Batista already knew he was under suspicion because he had been tipped off by another sergeant in the Internal Affairs Bureau, Henry Conde. The bureau is supposed to be the police department’s watchdog.

Eventually the grand jury indicted Detective Batista on charges of drug trafficking conspiracy and Sergeant Conde on charges of false statements, and both of them on charges of obstruction of justice. Both Detective Batista and Sergeant Conde pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled for January. The office of the United States attorney for the Eastern District, Benton J. Campbell, said that Sergeant Valerio was to be arraigned on Monday in United States District Court in Brooklyn. Calls to his office late Thursday were not returned. The Police Department said Mr. Valerio, who joined the force in 1992, had been transferred from Internal Affairs to the warrants division and suspended from that job on Wednesday.

Monday, May 26, 2008

NYPD disciplines white officer who stopped black commander

NEW YORK (AP) -- A white police officer was disciplined for acting "in a discourteous manner" when he confronted a black motorist who turned out to be one of the highest-ranking commanders in the New York City Police Department, an agency spokesman said Saturday. Chief Douglas Zeigler, the head of the NYPD's Community Affairs Bureau and the highest uniformed black officer on the force, was off duty and sitting in his department-issued sport utility vehicle on a street in the borough of Queens on May 2 when two white police officers approached. The encounter turned testy, and one of the officers tried to wrest open Zeigler's door, even after the three-star chief had identified himself, police spokesman Paul Browne said. "He dealt with the chief in a discourteous manner, which is unacceptable," Browne said.

He did not provide details of why the officers decided to question Zeigler. The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Zeigler was parked near a fire hydrant and that one of the plainclothed officers spotted Zeigler's service weapon inside the vehicle. Browne said he could not confirm whether the officers saw a gun. He did not specify what discipline was taken by the department. The News said the officer was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty Friday. The incident was reported as police are being criticized for stopping and frisking record numbers of pedestrians - about 145,000 in the first quarter of this year. The majority were black or Hispanic. Zeigler has headed the Community Affairs Bureau since January 2006. His wife, Neldra Zeigler, is the NYPD's deputy commissioner for equal employment opportunity. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been leading demonstrations in the city to protest the acquittal of three police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man as he left his bachelor party, took note of the Zeigler incident while speaking at his weekly rally in Harlem.

"You can't make this stuff up!" he said. "The problem isn't that they didn't recognize him. It is that they don't recognize our rights!" Also, a New York man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he was taunted and falsely arrested by police officers after they learned that he had the same name as a West African immigrant shot to death by other officers in 1999. Amadou Diallo said a group of officers confronted him over a broken headlight in February, then searched his vehicle for weapons. Once the officers learned his name, it became "a source of much amusement, laughing and inappropriate joking amongst the officers, with crude and disgusting comments," Diallo's lawyer said in the suit. Amadou Diallo was also the name of an unarmed immigrant killed in 1999 when four plainclothed officers, apparently mistakenly thinking he was reaching for a gun, fired 41 rounds in the doorway of a Bronx apartment building. The officers in that case were also acquitted of criminal charges.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ex-state cop big kept badge & gun

Ex-state cop big kept badge & gun
The New York Daily News by KENNETH LOVETT - May 25th 2008

ALBANY - A former top state police official linked to a probe of a possible dirty tricks unit kept his ties to the agency - and his gun and badge - through an unusual special appointment. When former Col. Daniel Wiese retired in 2003, then-state police Superintendent James McMahon appointed him to be an unpaid "special assistant," according to an April 24, 2003, letter obtained by the Daily News. "Pursuant to the authority vested in me ... I hereby appoint you, effective this date, as a sworn member of the New York State Police to serve, at the pleasure of the superintendent, and without compensation, in the position of special assistant to the superintendent," McMahon wrote. Current and former members of the agency said they were unaware of the arrangement. "That's a new one to me," said former state police Superintendent Wayne Bennett, who succeeded McMahon in September 2003. Bennett said he had heard of superintendents hiring special assistants for pay, but never formally naming someone upon retirement as an unpaid assistant. McMahon did not return a call seeking comment.

One source said the appointment, and the reference to Wiese being a "sworn member of the New York State Police," was done so Wiese could continue to carry his gun and shield, after retiring. He gave them up last May. Another source said the fact that Wiese could keep his gun and shield sent a strong message that he still had political power. Wiese, who is close to former Govs. George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer, headed up Pataki's security until retiring and taking a job as inspector general at the New York Power Authority. In a recent e-mail to the authority board, Wiese said he was an unpaid security adviser after he retired to become NYPA's inspector general. "I have not been a member of the state police since 2003 ... I have not even visited the state police headquarters since 2004," he wrote. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office is investigating whether the Pataki and Spitzer administrations misused state police to compile information on political enemies. Wiese is a key figure in the probe. He was fired from his $182,000-a-year authority job on Friday. Pataki has denied the existence of a rogue unit in the state police. klovett@nydailynews.com

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Woman Abandoned in Courthouse Cell for Four Days Won't Be Prosecuted

Woman Abandoned in Courthouse Cell for Four Days Won't Be Prosecuted
New York Lawyer - May 20, 2008

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A woman mistakenly incarcerated for four days without food or water will not be prosecuted on the charge that originally landed her in the system, a prosecutor says. Adriana Torres-Flores, 38, of Springdale mistakenly spent a March weekend in a holding cell in the Washington County Courthouse after a hearing on a felony charge that she sold pirated CDs. She was found March 10 when court resumed for the work week. Deputy Prosecutor Mark Booher said Torres-Flores will not go to trial Wednesday as previously scheduled because the prosecution was able to verify her alibi that she was watching a booth for someone else when police raided a flea market and seized pirated CDs and digital video discs.

Booher said the decision not to prosecute Torres-Flores was not related to a lawsuit she may file over a sheriff deputy's mistake in forgetting to have her transferred to the county jail. Torres-Flores' attorney, Nathan Lewis, said Tuesday his client and her family were pleased with the decision. "The family was of course thrilled about it," Lewis said. "She doesn't want to be in that courtroom again." A Mexican national, Torres-Flores faced a charge of unauthorized copying or sale of recordings. She pleaded not guilty March 6 and Circuit Judge William Storey ordered her held in jail because she was considered an illegal immigrant, deputies said at the time.

Cpl. Jarrod Hankins, a courthouse bailiff, locked Torres-Flores in the cinderblock cell but forgot to call other deputies to drive her to the county jail. Court was canceled the next day because of stormy weather and the courthouse was closed for the weekend. Torres-Flores had no food, water, or access to a bathroom during that time. When court resumed March 10, Hankins discovered Torres-Flores in the cell. She was treated and released from a hospital. Hankins was suspended for 30 days without pay. Torres-Flores, originally from the Mexican state of Zacatecas, has lived in the United States for at least 15 years and has three children who are U.S. citizens, according to the Mexican consulate in Little Rock Roy Petty of Rogers, an immigration lawyer for Torres-Flores, was not available for comment Tuesday, his office said

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reinstated D.C. cops may be fired again

Radio WTOP - by Mark Segraves - May 23, 2008

WASHINGTON - The 20 fired D.C. Police officers who were reinstated because of a technicality may be fired again -- this time permanently. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has begun administrative action against the reinstated officers who were originally dismissed for misconduct. She is relying on an opinion from D.C.'s Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles who says the District's personnel laws and rules would allow for the firing of the officers. "We're talking about serious offenses," says Lanier. "These cases raise profound issues of public safety in the District. We can't have officers testifying in court when their credibility can't be trusted." Lanier says she had no choice but to rehire the officers earlier this week. The firings were overruled by court judges and arbitrators because the internal affairs unit missed the 55-day deadlines for the final decisions on sanctions.

Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Committee, says the Mayor and Chief signed off on the deal to reinstate these officers, and have now gone back on their word. The union is considering filing an unfair labor practice suit. Lanier says the errors occurred before she took over the department in December 2006. According to court and arbitration records, the officers had been dismissed for such violations as falsifying documents and lying about their working hours. One officer accessed private information about journalist, posted it on the Internet and suggested other officers investigate that person.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

TWO TOP COPS RAPPED

The New York Post by PHILIP MESSING and SAMUEL GOLDSMITH

May 16, 2008 -- Two high-ranking NYPD commanders were disciplined this week in separate instances of misconduct. Inspector Michael Phipps, a 26-year NYPD veteran who commands the housing unit in Manhattan, forfeited 30 days' pay after using an NYPD vehicle for "personal business" while off-duty. He also abused a city E-ZPass and department gas card to drive an unauthorized person, police sources said. Separately, Deputy Inspector Joseph Hoch, a 22-year veteran, was docked eight days' pay for failing to properly investigate an incident at his Bronx station house. Hoch was the commanding officer of the 52nd Precinct when cops there scrawled the word "rat" on the locker of a sergeant who encouraged a suspect roughed up by cops to file a complaint. Instead of reporting the incident, Hoch had the cops involved clean the graffiti. Roy Richter, head of the Captain's Endowment Association, said Phipps was a highly regarded commander and said that Hoch's precinct had just been honored for outstanding performance. "Precinct commanders are held to very high levels of accountability and with that level of accountability, a hazard of the job is that you receive discipline," he said. philip.messing@nypost.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cop arrested at casino

Yonkers cop arrested at casino
The Journal News by Ernie Garcia

An off-duty Yonkers police officer was arrested at the Mohegan Sun casino Sunday morning, accused of vandalizing the resort's property, police said. Connecticut State Police charged Anthony Sica, 25, of Yonkers with second-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. The incident occurred at 2:43 a.m. Police were summoned to the casino in Uncasville, Conn., after parking lot equipment was broken. "The respondent admitted he broke a traffic control arm," Trooper William Tate said, reading from an arrest report. Traffic control arms are typically mounted at the entrances or exits to parking lots to prevent patrons from entering or leaving until they pay. No vehicle was involved in the incident, Tate said. Yonkers police spokeswoman Lt. Diane Hessler confirmed that Sica is a Yonkers police officer. Hessler said her department was aware of the arrest and that the Internal Affairs Division has started an investigation. Sica couldn't be reached yesterday. The police's Internal Affairs Division typically conducts investigations of alleged misconduct by officers. Sica was released on a $500 nonsurety bail bond, which means that he will not have to pay the bail unless he does not appear at his May 29 court date in Norwich, Conn.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

'Sergeant Love' hit with harassment rap

The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI - May 20, 2008
Calling Sergeant Love.

He calls himself "Larry Love" because he thinks he's God's gift to the women of the 42nd Precinct, but Sgt. Larry Lopez is about to learn that love hurts - especially if it's unwanted. Lopez is facing disciplinary action for sexually harassing Officer Kervelin Compres, a married mother of two, then retaliating against her after she rebuffed his aggressive advances. Compres says the harassment began in 2006 after Lopez, 44, selected her to be his driver in the schools unit at the South Bronx precinct. "He thinks he's a lover boy that can get any girl," Compres, 29, told the Daily News. "He said [to me], 'I know you want some of 'Larry Love.'" She said Lopez repeatedly invited her to his apartment for sex while mentioning that he had the power to approve or veto her requests for time off. He allegedly pinched her arm and buttocks so hard, he left black-and-blue bruises, which she said she photographed and turned over to investigators. Compres said the most sickening allegation is the time he took a sip from a water fountain in the precinct, then spit in her face, likening it to a sex act he wanted to perform. "I felt humiliated," Compres said. "I was ashamed. It was a lot of emotions." Compres' husband is also a cop so she was concerned about his career being affected by fallout from the randy sergeant.

"It wasn't my intention to take it further, but then I just couldn't take it anymore," she said. "He was always on my case. I wanted to quit the job. I was very depressed. My kids saw me crying a lot." An investigation by the NYPD's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity substantiated the allegations, but Lopez remains on full duty. "I have no comment at this time," Lopez said. Compres, a six-year veteran, has hired a lawyer to protect her rights as the probe proceeds to the next level. "Is Lopez [someone] the Police Department wants out there patrolling?" said Eric Sanders of the law firm of Jeffrey Goldberg in Lake Success. "If she was a civilian and reported being touched in a sexually offensive manner, he would have been arrested." A police source said NYPD prosecutors are drafting formal charges against Lopez. The former commanding officer of the 42nd Precinct was forced to retire last year after he was accused by another woman cop of pulling down his pants and fondling himself in his office. jmarzulli@nydailynews.com

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bust sgt. in 5-year boy-sex affair rap

The New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR - May 16, 2008

An NYPD sergeant was busted Thursday for having sex with a boy as young as 12 or 13, police sources said. The victim, who is now 18, recently came forward and said he met Sgt. Jaime Katz, 33, in a mentoring program and had been having sex with him for the past five or six years, the sources said. Katz, who was president of the Gay Officers Action League in 2005, is an instructor at the Police Academy in Manhattan. The sex occurred when the cop was off-duty, sources said. Katz was arrested on his way to work yesterday and charged with criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child. He has been suspended from the department, sources said.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spring Valley cop accused of corruption

The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - May 14, 2008

Spring Valley Police Officer David Lebron was indicted yesterday on charges that accuse him of allowing drug deals, protecting illegal activities in bars, receiving oral sex while on duty and filing false reports, prosecutors said. Lebron, 38, who has been suspended without pay, must appear in court May 22 for arraignment on the six-count grand jury indictment.The charges come four months after an earlier indictment was dismissed on technical issues and evidentiary concerns. "The overall allegations are that he violated his oath as a police officer and the allegations are he is a corrupt cop," District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said yesterday.

Lebron denied any misconduct or wrongdoing when he testified before the grand jury, his lawyer, Richard Murray, has said. Murray declined to comment yesterday because he has not seen the indictment. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bartlett in New City unsealed the indictment yesterday at the request of prosecutor Gary Lee Heavner, marking the second set of grand jury charges filed against Lebron since November. The first indictment accused him of sexually abusing a woman while on duty, filing false reports and taking personal information from records for his pending civil rights lawsuit against the village. Bartlett dismissed that indictment in January. Based on a police evidence and an investigation by District Attorney's Office detectives, prosecutors re-presented the case to a grand jury.

Lebron, an officer for 15 years, was charged yesterday with single counts of first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, both felonies. He also was charged with two counts each of official misconduct and sixth-degree conspiracy, both misdemeanors. The indictment charges cover several criminal acts, Zugibe said. Lebron had an unnamed civilian file a false police complaint in Sept. 4, 2007, to cover up for Lebron, Zugibe said. Lebron also is accused of misconduct between June 1, 2003, and Feb. 27, 2007, Zugibe said. During those 3 1/2 years, Lebron is accused of providing protection for bars, Zugibe said. The officer is accused of warning certain bars about upcoming police raids and filing false reports, Zugibe said. Spring Valley police have targeted certain bars for allowing drug sales, prostitution and underage drinking, closing a handful of them last year.

Lebron also is accusing of drinking alcohol and receiving oral sex while on duty, Zugibe said. The grand jury charges also accused Lebron of allowing drug deals to take place in his presence, essentially protecting those dealers from arrest, the district attorney said. Lebron also is accused of allowing an unnamed civilian with a criminal record to patrol with him, Zugibe said. Lebron is accused allowing that civilian to display a police badge and watched him point what appeared to be a gun at another person's head, Zugibe said. "He took the attitude he's the law, and if he wanted to, he would allow crimes and illegal narcotics to be sold in his presence without taking any action," Zugibe said. Zugibe said the officer faces a maximum of 1 1/3 to four years in prison on the top felony counts. Murray will ask for a judge to review the grand jury minutes again - a move that led to Bartlett finding what she felt were flaws and grounds to toss out the first indictment. Lebron has been suspended without pay pending a village disciplinary hearing. Police officials are looking to have him fired.

Lebron has claimed the police investigation came in retaliation for his civil rights lawsuit in February 2007. He has accused the department of bypassing him for promotion because he's Hispanic after he placed first on the Civil Service exam for sergeant. The civil rights lawsuit also has been on hold pending the criminal case. He started the legal action in September 2006 with a federal employment complaint. In court papers, the village officials contend they promoted the officers with more experience, stronger leadership qualities and better service records. The two officers promoted finished among the top three scorers on the Civil Service exam. A department is allowed to choose among the top three. Police Chief Paul Modica called Lebron's accusations of discrimination "ludicrous." Modica said yesterday's indictment again justifies his department's internal investigation into Lebron's activities.- Accused of allowing drug deals, protecting illegal activities, receiving oral sex on duty and filing false reports

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ex-Ramapo cop indicted on federal charges

The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - May 14, 2008

A recently fired Ramapo police officer was indicted yesterday on federal domestic violence-related charges. James Curley, 43, who spent nearly 18 years getting paid tax free while on disability, was arrested Monday by the FBI and Ramapo police on a federal warrant. He was waiting outside Suffern Village Court for an appearance on a local charge when he was arrested. Curley was arraigned yesterday on the three-count indictment by Magistrate Judge George Yantis in U.S. District Court in White Plains. Curley pleaded not guilty after the indictment was unsealed, said John Edwards, a Rockland lawyer who watched the proceedings. He represents Curley on domestic-related charges in Airmont and Suffern. Yantis ordered Curley held in federal custody until a bail hearing Friday, Edwards said.

The indictment resulted partially from charges filed against Curley in New Jersey. The federal charges accuse Curley of crossing state lines from New York into New Jersey to commit crimes. The indictment charges Curley with two counts of crossing state lines with the intent to either kill, injure or harass another person and stalk that person and place that person under surveillance. Curley is charged in Emerson, N.J., with stalking and violating an order of protection to stay clear of his estranged wife. He is accused of placing a computerized global positioning system on the victim's car for surveillance - an accusation he also faced in Emerson. All of this is alleged to have happened between August and October 2006.

The indictment also charges Curley with engaging in conduct on Oct. 9, 2006, that violated an order of protection for him to stay away from his wife, who worked in New Jersey for a doctor. Curley is charged in New Milford, N.J., with threatening a local doctor and slashing the tires on the doctor's car, police said. As a result of warrants issued for his arrest after failing to show up in court on those charges, Curley was arrested in January in Ramsey, N.J. As a result of that arrest, Curley was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, receiving stolen property and hindering apprehension or prosecution. Michael Curley said yesterday that his brother was falsely accused of molestation and other charges - some of which were never brought to court. "My brother's fighting for his life since this whole nightmare started by his wife," Michael Curley said. "The Ramapo police are using whatever means possible to bring him down."

Ramapo police and officials have denied those accusations. The Ramapo Town Board fired Curley in April for violating departmental rules. Curley had been collecting a tax-free paycheck and receiving health benefits since 1990. Curley stopped working as a police officer in 1990. He hurt his ankle when he fell 8 inches off a plank being used as a temporary walkway from the parking lot to the police station. He said he later developed circulatory problems from the injury. Curley worked briefly in 1993 and 1994, then went back on disability leave. On Monday, Curley filed a court action challenging his dismissal as improper.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ex-cop pleads guilty to stealing, selling guns

Newsday by LUIS PEREZ - May 12, 2008

A former New York City police officer has pleaded guilty to stealing handguns from a Queens police evidence room and selling them on Long Island, Nassau prosecutors said.He also admitted buying a powerful painkiller illegally. Hubertus Vannes, 31, of Roslyn Heights, pleaded guilty on Friday to fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of criminal sale of a firearm before Nassau County Court Judge Edward Maron.

Arrested last fall after an investigation into a prescription drug ring, Vannes agreed to a promised 5-year prison sentence after admitting he obtained painkillers from an East Meadow pharmacy, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said Vannes also admitted to selling three illegally obtained handguns to Anthony Vitta, one of the men who sold Vannes the drug. He also sold two handguns to investigators posing as customers, prosecutors said.When arrested, Vannes had 76 tablets, or just over two ounces, of Vicodin in his possession, prosecutors said.

"Hopefully, Mr. Vannes will use the next five years contemplating how to earn back the public's trust," said District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement. Vannes, who has been suspended from the police force, is to be sentenced in July. His attorney, Eric Bernstein of Manhattan, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Vitta, 45, of East Meadow, is scheduled to return to court in June. A third man, pharmacy owner Howard Brass, 48, of North Bellmore, has pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and grand larceny and was sentenced to 8 months in jail, prosecutors said.  luis.perez@newsday.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Officer Indicted on Fraud Charges

NEWS RELEASE - GREGORY G. LOCKHART
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY - SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2008 - CONTACT: Fred Alverson 614 469-5715

CINCINNATI POLICE OFFICER INDICTED ON FRAUD CHARGES

CINCINNATI -- A federal grand jury here indicted Adrian D. Mitchell, age 35, charging him with mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with a real estate related business he operated. Mitchell became a sworn Cincinnati Police officer in 2004. Gregory G. Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Gerald A. O’Farrell, Assistant Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service; Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Keith L. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati Field Division, Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas H. Streicher, Jr., and Springfield Township Police Chief David J. Heimpold announced the indictment returned yesterday and unsealed today.

The indictment alleges that Mitchell operated a real estate related business known as R.I.C.H. Properties and/or R.I.C.H. Investments. Through this business, Mitchell solicited customers who were in financial distress from defaulted residential real estate loans and offered his services to help them with their financial difficulties.The indictment charges that Mitchell employed a scheme that defrauded the widow of one of his clients out of $188,327.38 in benefits of a life insurance policy held by that client after he died. The indictment also accuses Mitchell of creating false and fraudulent documents in attempts to secure loans on at least four other pieces of property.

The indictment charges Mitchell with 10 counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, each punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, and one count of bank fraud punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment. United States Chief District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith will preside over the case. Mitchell has a detention hearing set for Friday, May 9 at 11 a.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Black. An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants should be presumed innocent until and unless the government proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Customs Officer Arrested for Taking Bribes

U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office - Western District of Texas - Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 5, 2008
Shana Jones, Special Assistant - Daryl Fields, Public Information Officer - (210) 384-700---CBP OFFICER ARRESTED FOR ACCEPTING BRIBES FOR TRAVEL PERMITS


(LAREDO, Texas)– A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been arrested and charged for accepting bribes for fraudulently making and delivering an official travel document, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today. Ramiro Villarreal Jr., 27, a Customs and Border Protection Officer, was arrested May 1, 2008, and accused of accepting bribes to fraudulently make I-94s. A criminal complaint was filed in federal court this morning. Villarreal appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana SaldaƱa and has been ordered released upon posting a $100,000 cash or surety bond. The court has scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 15, 2008.

The criminal complaint alleges that on April 30, 2008, a Mexican national leaving the United States was found in possession of a fraudulently made Department of Homeland Security CBP I-94 Arrival-Departure Record form, a permit which evidences an authorized stay in the United States, bearing CBP officer Villarreal’s stamp. Further investigation lead to the arrest of Villarreal on Thursday, May 1, 2008, for ha ving allegedly solicited and demanded a bribe for the permit. I-94 permits are utilized by foreign nationals in conjunction with an entry document, such as a passport or a B1/B2 visa (commonly known as border crossing cards or laser visas), to travel beyond the border area into the interior of the United States. An applicant for an I-94 permit applies in person and presents his/her passport or a border crossing card at a Port of Entry. A CBP officer then reviews the travel permit application and takes photographs and fingerprints of the applicant. If granted the permit, the CBP officer will issue the authorized permit under the officer’s stamp.

On April 30, 2008, Villarreal was on duty as a CBP officer at the International Port of Entry No. 2, Lincoln-Juarez Bridge, in Laredo, Texas. The complaint alleges Villarreal fraudulently made and delivered the I-94 permit to the
Mexican citizen, without the foreign national presenting the requisite passport or crossing card or being inspected, in exchange for a bribe. At the time of his arrest on May 1, 2008, the complaint alleges Villarreal was found to be in possession of two additional fraudulently made I-94 permits.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by Special Agents of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security - Office of the Inspector General, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song is prosecuting the case. A criminal complaint is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Monday, May 12, 2008

DRUG COP IS A 'LIAR' - ARRESTS COULD BE BUSTS

The New York Post by LARRY CELONA and ALEX GINSBERG

May 12, 2008 -- A Brooklyn narcotics cop with scores of arrests has prosecutors poring over those cases after he was charged with lying on an application for federal housing vouchers, The Post has learned. Antoine Mole, 38, was arrested last month and charged with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing and scheming to defraud - prompting the Brooklyn DA's Office to reopen dozens of drug cases in which Mole was an undercover buyer to make sure they will stand up. "Don't bother me," Mole snapped when he was approached at his Linden Boulevard apartment. Prosecutors in Brooklyn were forced last year to toss out some 200 pending cases following revelations that officers in Brooklyn South Narcotics low-balled amounts of drug seizures and used the extras to "pay" informants. They are also looking into about 20 pending gun cases after a federal judge last month called the methods of the arresting officer, Kaz Daughtry, unconstitutional "guesswork." Daughtry is still on patrol but was switched to a unit where he will make fewer arrests after the DA's Office asked the NYPD to reassign him.

"This is starting to get pretty embarrassing," said a law-enforcement source. "The department has to start looking a lot harder at who they're hiring and how they're training them . . . They're wasting everyone's time." Sources said Mole, a five-year veteran, provided false information on applications for federal Section 8 housing aid, claiming to make less than he did in order to qualify for the funds. "He denies the allegations, and he looks forward to his day in court," said Mole's lawyer, Bruce Wenger. Because Mole has some 50 arrests to his credit during his time as an undercover officer with Brooklyn North Narcotics, prosecutors are now looking at those cases - especially those not yet taken to trial. "When a police officer is arrested and charged with something, we routinely examine his cases to see if there is anything that would affect prosecution of the case that he's involved in," said DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer.  larry.celona@nypost.com

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cops did not follow procedure in DWI case

The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON, Staff writer - Monday, May 5, 2008

SCHENECTADY -- The man, who accused police of using excessive force against him during his arrest last year, has been allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor second-degree unlicensed operation because prosecutors said officers failed to follow proper procedure before arresting him on felony DWI charges. Donald Randolph, 37, of Pattersonville admitted in City Court Friday that he was driving with a revoked license when police stopped him Dec. 7 outside the drive-through window at the McDonald's on Union Street. He had originally faced felony driving while intoxicated and second degree harassment, a violation, both of which were dropped. Randolph was credited with time served and fined $700.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said Patrolman Andrew Karaskiewicz didn't do a field sobriety tests or a roadside Breathalyzer. As a result, his office was unable to pursue the more serious charges against Randolph. "We had an unprosecutable DWI case because he didn't follow the proper procedures that every officer is supposed to follow,'' Carney said, adding that Karaskiewicz had told his office early on in the investigation that this was his first drunken driving arrest. Police say Randolph threatened Karaskiewicz after being taken into custody, and as a result of the encounter, Karaskiewicz and four other city cops remain suspended with pay pending the outcome of an ongoing state Attorney General's probe into allegations they used excessive force against him. The other officers on paid leave are Darryl Mallard, Gregory Hafensteiner, Kevin Derkowski and Eric Reyell.

After making the arrest, authorities say Karaskiewicz stopped his patrol car near the intersection of Union and McClellan streets to transfer Randolph to the department prisoner transport wagon. The four other officers in two patrol cars met up with Karaskiewicz and allegedly used the excessive force against Randolph. Mallard was behind the wheel of the transport van. Randolph was represented by attorney George LaMarche III. He said Sunday that it's hard to believe that Karaskiewicz didn't do a field sobriety tests or a roadside Breathalyzer. "He didn't follow any of the generally accepted procedures prior to his (Randolph's) arrest, '' added LaMarche. Paul Nelson can be reached at 454-5347 or by e-mail at pnelson@timesunion.com.

High-ranking cop investigated for abuse of power

WTOP - May 5, 2008

WASHINGTON - A high-ranking D.C. police officer is under investigation for abusing his powers, according to a police source. WTOP has learned Capt. Melvin Gresham from the Third District Police station in Northwest was involved in an accident with a Metro bus while driving his department vehicle. Gresham told a subordinate officer, who responded to the accident, to change a police report to indicate the Metro bus driver was at fault. D.C. Police Spokesperson Traci Hughes will not comment on the specifics, but confirms an internal investigation is underway. Hughes says Gresham has been placed on non-contact status, which means he was required to turn in his badge and gun and will have no contact with the public until the investigation is completed. Gresham will continue to get paid. Several sources familiar with department protocol tell WTOP the administrative move indicates the department may be seeking to fire Gresham. Gresham did not return requests for comment.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

15 Philly officers taken off street after videotaped beating

The Associated Press by Patrick Walters - May 7, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Fifteen police officers were taken off the street as authorities investigate a video showing three suspects being kicked, punched and beaten after they were pulled out of a car during a traffic stop. "At a glance it does appear to be a bit beyond the pale," Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, said Wednesday. "Officers are not allowed to operate outside of the law."

The police department identified the 15 officers who were involved in Monday night's arrests in the city's Hunting Park section, where police had been investigating a triple shooting, Oliver said. The three suspects were charged with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, according to court officials. The video, shot by a WTXF-TV helicopter, shows three police cars stopping a car on the side of a road. About a dozen officers gather around the vehicle and pull three men out. About a half-dozen officers hold two of the men on the ground on the driver's side. Both are kicked repeatedly, while one is seen being punched; one also appears to be struck with a baton.

On the other side of the car, another group of officers can be seen kicking a third man who ends up on the ground. Oliver said that, while the use of force appeared excessive, the public should withhold judgment until all the facts are known. "We are not going to prejudge the situation based on the video," he said. "We all saw the video, but none of us was there." The beating happened two days after the fatal shooting of a Philadelphiapoliceman, the third city officer slain on duty in two years. Officer Stephen Liczbinski was shot with an assault rifle after a robbery in the city's Port Richmond section on Saturday. One man was fatally shot by police after the shooting, another was arrested Sunday and a third remains on the lam.

Friday, May 9, 2008

FORMER LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA, POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED FOR CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

The United States Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MONDAY, MAY 5, 2008 - WWW.USDOJ.GOV

WASHINGTON—Former Long Beach police officer Joseph Ferguson was sentenced today in federal court in Los Angeles, Calif., for his role in a series of home invasion robberies over a two-year period, the Justice Department announced today. Ferguson was sentenced to 97 months in prison and four years of supervised release. On Jan. 30, 2008, a Los Angeles jury convicted the defendant of conspiring to violate civil rights, conspiring to possess narcotics with intent to distribute, and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. The defendant’s brother and co-defendant, former Los Angeles police officer William Ferguson, was also convicted of deprivation of rights under color of law and several firearms offenses and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19, 2008.

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant and his co-defendants were members of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy, led by former Los Angeles police officer Ruben Palomares and including other law enforcement officers and drug dealers. Together, they committed more than 40 burglaries and robberies throughout the Los Angeles area between early 1999 and June of 2001. The robberies generally were committed after the group received information that a particular location was involved in illegal drug-trafficking. The robbery teams usually consisted of multiple sworn police officers in uniform or displaying a badge, who would gain access to the residence by falsely telling any occupants that they were conducting a legitimate search for drugs or drug dealers. Victims often were restrained, threatened or assaulted during the search. These assaults included firing a stun gun at a victim, striking victims with police batons and putting a gun in the mouth of a victim. When the group stole drugs, they would use co-conspirators to sell the drugs and they would split the profits among the group.

In all, 17 defendants, including law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections have been convicted of federal crimes in connection with the conspiracy. “This former police officer violated his oath as a public servant when he, along with his co-defendants, began engaging in violent criminal conduct,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will not hesitate to prosecute those who cross that line.”

This case was investigated by Special Agent Phil Carson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of Steve Sambar, Roger Mora and Mark Bigel of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Police Departments. This case was prosecuted by Department of Justice Special Litigation Counsel Jeffrey S. Blumberg, Department of Justice Trial Attorney Josh Mahan, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas M. Miller. The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as the laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in Fiscal Year 2006. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than the previous seven years.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Judicial marshal fired, accused of sexy actions with inmate

Newsday/New Haven Register - May 8, 2008

MILFORD, Conn. - Court officials say a judicial marshal in Milford Superior Court has been fired for his alleged sexy actions with a female inmate. Police say 39-year-old Manfred Vives of Ansonia is accused of trading doughnuts and cookies for sexy actions by the 19-year-old woman. Vives was arrested last month on a warrant charging him with fourth-degree sexual assault. He allegedly grabbed the breast of the inmate. According to court documents the same woman had flashed her breasts and kissed another female inmate while Vives watched, in exchange for baked goods and sweets. Vives, fired on Wednesday, has denied the charges and claims it's retaliation for raising concerns about the safety of inmates and marshals because of staffing levels.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

$1M for straphanger whacked by cop

The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI - May 7, 2008

The city agreed Monday to pay $1 million to a Brooklyn straphanger who was walloped in the face with a cop's nightstick after being ejected from a No. 2 train, the Daily News has learned. Mitchi Cunningham, 24, underwent neurosurgery to relieve swelling inside his skull and suffered permanent loss of his sense of smell as a result of the clubbing, according to court documents and his attorney, Fred Lichtmacher. "He was hit in the face with a baton for asking the officer for his shield number," Lichtmacher said. Cunningham and two friends, Marcus Copeland and Johnel Jamison, both 20, were heading home after seeing a movie in Times Square on Nov. 5, 2004, when the train's motorman told Copeland to put out his cigarette. The trio walked through the cars to the back of the train, where Copeland and Jamison started rapping, court papers show. When the train pulled into the Wall St. station, Officer Marcus Rollins boarded the car and ordered the three to get off the train.

The confrontation escalated when the group refused to leave the station and Rollins pepper-sprayed them, the papers show. Cunningham retreated and claimed he was then attacked when he returned to ask Rollins for his badge number. Rollins contended the men tried to take his gun, but a token booth clerk who saw the incident testified at a deposition that none of the men acted menacingly toward the cop. The settlement was reached during jury selection for the case in Manhattan Federal Court. Copeland and Jamison, who were suing for malicious prosecution, will each receive $30,000 under the settlement. "The city evaluated the case and felt that settlement was in everyone's best interest," said city attorney Rachel Seligman.  jmarzulli@nydailynews.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

B'KLYN DA HAS GUN COP IN HIS SIGHTS

The New York Post by LARRY CELONA and STEFANIE COHEN

May 6, 2008 -- A Brooklyn cop's "guesswork" in making gun busts could shoot down as many as 20 pending weapons cases, The Post has learned. Federal prosecutors recently dropped one gun case because of what a judge described as Officer Kaz Daughtry's flawed methodology, and now prosecutors from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office are reviewing 20 pending cases on which the cop was the arresting officer, law-enforcement sources said. Daughtry had busted Anthony McRae in Brownsville last September after he saw him adjusting something on his waistband.His search found McRae was carrying a loaded .45-caliber Ruger and heroin - but it was the only gun he came up with in a three-day sweep. Brooklyn federal Judge John Gleeson found Daughtry shouldn't have searched McRae because the convicted felon "did not move in a sufficiently suspicious manner."

Monday, May 5, 2008

COP BUSTED AS A RAPIST

The New York Post by LEONARD GREENE and DAN MANGAN

May 2, 2008 -- A rookie NYPD officer faces rape charges after allegedly forcing himself on a sleeping woman in a Manhattan hotel room, The Post has learned. Kevin Johnson, of Brooklyn, was busted Tuesday morning after the purported attack in the Gershwin Hotel at 7 E. 27th St., law-enforcement sources said.

Johnson, 27, met several women who were attending a hairstylists' convention at a bar Monday night. The group later went to the women's room at the Gershwin, a source said. Johnson had sex with one of those women, while the others were asleep or out of the room, sources said. Authorities said Johnson left the bed of the woman with whom he had sex, crawled next to one of the other sleeping women, and raped her. Another woman in the room awoke and began yelling before calling 911. Johnson, assigned to the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville, was arrested at the scene. He was suspended without pay and arraigned Wednesday on multiple rape and sexual-abuse charges. He was released on $10,000 bond. Additional reporting by Peter Cox

Sunday, May 4, 2008

30G E-Z TAB FOR 'TOLL BEAT' COP

The New York Post by JAMES FANELLI

May 4, 2008 -- One of New York's Finest owes almost $30,000 to the Port Authority after evading tolls at the agency's crossings for seven years, according to court records. Like other deadbeat drivers dodging their dues to the PA, Officer Anthony Lagala allegedly racked up the hefty sum by using E-ZPass lanes without an account. After issuing him fines and siccing a collection agent on him, the PA is now suing the Staten Island cop for the cash, according to a lawsuit filed in Staten Island Supreme Court on April 14. The exact amount Lagala, 45, owes is $29,193 - a combination of unpaid tolls and fines. He accrued the debt between July 30, 2000, and July 8, 2007, after his E-ZPass account became invalid, according to the PA.

Lagala, who has moonlighted as a limo driver, lives in a two-story home in the Annadale section of Staten Island. Last week, the detached house had a "for sale" sign on the front lawn and four cars, including a white Lincoln limousine, parked outside. His son said the limo was for his father's chauffeur business. Lagala said that he was unaware of any legal action against him and that he has an E-ZPass account in good standing. "If there were any problems, I would have taken care of it," he told The Post last week. "I'm a family man, and I don't play games." The cop said he believed the debt might be connected to a limousine business that he was a partner in six years ago. He speculated that some accounts were left in his name after he left the business. He declined to name his former partners. Other than confirming that Lagala is currently a cop, the NYPD had no comment. Toll beaters cost the PA millions of dollars each year.

The bi-state agency recorded 1.7 million unpaid-toll violations - amounting to $14 million in lost revenue - between October 2006 and September 2007, according to an agency spokesman. The agency said it has recovered more than half the lost revenue, with $5.3 million left to collect. The agency took in $702 million in toll revenues during that period for a total of 127 million city-bound crossings on its four New York-New Jersey bridges and two Hudson River tunnels.

Unlike MTA crossings, which have gates on E-ZPass lanes that block a vehicle that has not paid the toll, the PA's bridges and tunnel lanes have no gates. Instead, the agency has video cameras that capture the license plate of a toll-beater. Violators are sent a notice requesting payment of the toll plus a $25 administration fee. For first-time offenders, the fee is waived if the toll is paid within 15 days. A second notice is sent after 30 days. If no payment is received after another 25 days, the PA's collection agency will contact the violator with calls and letters.

If it is still unsuccessful in obtaining a payment after about six months, the PA forwards the larger cases - usually violators owing more than $100 in tolls - to a law firm that then sends out letters and pursues action on a case-by-case basis. "We have an aggressive plan in place to seek out those people who fail to pay tolls and recover the money that's owed to us," PA spokesman Steve Coleman said. "Those who fail to pay their tolls will not only ruin their credit rating, but will end up paying much more in court and administrative fees." jfanelli@nypost.com

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jury to Begin 2nd Day of Deliberations in Racketeering Case Against Hollywood Private Eye Anthony Pellicano

AP-Fox News- LOS ANGELES — May2, 2008 - For the past nine weeks, jurors in the federal racketeering trial of private eye Anthony Pellicano got the inside story on some juicy Hollywood scandals. Now they have to decide if the man who investigated some of those sticky situations is guilty of running a criminal enterprise that targeted the rich and famous. Jurors began deliberations Thursday to determine if Pellicano spearheaded an illegal scheme that wiretapped such stars as Sylvester Stallone, and ran the names of other celebrities such as Gary Shandling and Kevin Nealon through law enforcement databases to dig up dirt that clients could use in legal and other disputes. Jury deliberations are set to resume on Friday. Pellicano, 64, and four co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges. More than two years have passed since the indictment was unsealed against Pellicano and Hollywood began to buzz with speculation about who might be snared in the investigation and what secrets might be revealed. Fourteen people were charged and seven, including film director John McTiernan and former Hollywood Records president Robert Pfeifer, have pleaded guilty to charges including perjury and conspiracy.

But the biggest power brokers with links to Pellicano, such as famed entertainment attorney Bert Fields, Paramount studio head Brad Grey and one-time superagent Michael Ovitz, insisted they didn't know about his methods and weren't charged. Before jurors began deliberations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders urged them in his final argument not to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of the case. "This case is not about Hollywood," Saunders said. "It's not about Sylvester Stallone, Keith Carradine, Brad Grey or even Michael Ovitz. "This case is about corruption, about cheating, greed, arrogance and the perversion of the justice system. It just happen to take place in Hollywood," the prosecutor said. During the trial, jurors watched as an uncomfortable Chris Rock testified about a model he believed was trying to shake him down. They saw a confounded Shandling study his name on a police records audit, and a stoic Ovitz recount how he had hired Pellicano to find the source of negative news stories about a company he was selling.

Pellicano, who acted as his own attorney, insisted in his closing arguments that he acted as a "lone ranger" while gathering information for his clients. He denied leading a criminal enterprise. Pellicano insisted he shared no information with colleagues as he conducted investigations, and allowed others to learn only what he wanted them to know. Saunders refuted Pellicano's claim, saying recorded conversations laced with expletives between the private investigator and his clients proved he was willing to divulge information. "He shared with client after client what he did and what he could do," Saunders said. The five defendants face a total of 78 charges. Pellicano, former Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Arneson and ex-telephone company worker Rayford Earl Turner are charged under federal racketeering laws with taking part in a criminal enterprise. They face other charges such as identity theft and computer fraud. Earlier Thursday, jurors heard the final closing arguments from lawyers for Turner and Abner Nicherie. Nicherie, a Pellicano client, is charged with one count of aiding and abetting a wiretap.

Some of Pellicano's former employees testified they saw Nicherie wear headphones and listen to wiretapped conversations at the private eye's office. Nicherie's attorney, Lawrence Semenza, said in his closing argument there was no definitive evidence to show what his client heard. "They saw him with earphones on, but that doesn't mean he was listening to intercepted conversations," Semenza said. Turner's attorney, Mona Soo Hoo, said her client did not provide phone records to Pellicano and didn't assist with wiretaps."Mr. Turner is presumed innocent, not assumed guilty," she said. Arneson is accused of taking bribes in excess of $180,000 to run names through law enforcement databases but has said he received the money for off-duty security and surveillance work. Kevin Kachikian, a software designer who created the wiretapping program known as Telesleuth, is charged with wiretapping, conspiracy and destruction of evidence. His lawyer said Kachikian was misled by Pellicano and told the software would be marketed to law enforcement agencies.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Former Boston police officer pleads guilty in drug case

Prosecutors said picture showed Ortiz collecting a debt for drug dealers.
The Boston Globe by Jonathan Saltzman - April 29, 2008

A former Boston police officer pleaded guilty today to federal charges that he conspired to extort $265,000 on behalf of drug dealers while in uniform and threatened to kill the man who supposedly owed them the cash. Jose A. "Flaco" Ortiz, 45, formerly of Salem, also admitted in US District Court in Boston that he participated in a related scheme to distribute cocaine he obtained from the victim. In brief and barely audible remarks in court, he denied personally threatening the victim but said he relayed warnings from Colombian drug dealers that the victim "might be in some kind of danger" if the man did not pay the debt. Ortiz, who spent 21 years on the force before his firing last May, is the fifth officer to plead guilty to federal charges since September. All the cases, including one involving three officers, revolved around drugs. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if US District Judge Rya W. Zobel issues the harshest possible sentence. But federal prosecutors are recommending a prison term of 11 to 14 years because Ortiz has admitted his guilt and waived his right to appeal, if he receives the lighter sentence.

"It's not a happy day for law enforcement" when a police officer pleads guilty to a crime, First Assistant US Attorney Michael K. Loucks said after the hearing, which was handled by another prosecutor. But Loucks praised Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis for helping federal authorities pursue cases of police corruption. ``No matter what organization, there are always going to be people who commit crimes,'' Loucks said. Ortiz's lawyer, Scott A. Lutes, of Providence, R.I., said his client changed his plea because he wanted to take responsibility for his misdeeds. "He candidly admits his guilt and feels terrible about it," said Lutes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cop whined at low pay - now he's accused of writing scores of bogus tix

The New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR - April 29, 2008

He was the poster boy for low-paid NYPD officers, but now he is under investigation for sticking it to the public with scores of bogus tickets, sources told the Daily News. Joseph Harmon won public sympathy last May when he wrote The News about how he couldn't pay the rent on his cop's salary and how he, his three kids and pregnant wife were about to be evicted. He said the letters "CPR" on patrol cars, which stand for Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect, for him meant: "Can't Pay Rent."

Fellow cops offered the rookie free apartments. Strangers offered money, and The News found him a financial planner to help him stretch the $1,247.47 pay check he got twice a month. Now everyone is feeling burned. Harmon was stripped of his gun last month and pulled from the Queens housing project he had patrolled, after investigators alleged the 30-year-old cop issued more than 80 bogus tickets over the past two years. In some cases, Harmon allegedly made up names and addresses on bogus summonses for quality-of-life violations, such as public drinking, sources said.

More troubling, they said, Harmon stopped actual residents, took down their names and addresses and stockpiled their information for future tickets. "He would keep the names and information in his memo book, and use them when he needed to meet a quota; at least that was his excuse," a law enforcement source said. "The people he stopped had no idea that any summonses [were] ever written. It's loopy on this cop's part," a source said. Investigators so far found at least two examples where Harmon used the names of actual residents on bogus tickets. Harmon was flagged when a high proportion of his summonses came back to nonexistent names and addresses, sources said. The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation, as did the Bronx and Queens district attorney offices, sources said.

"They are all allegations, just accusations," Harmon said in a brief telephone interview."I have been instructed not to talk about it, but they are just that - allegations." When asked if his fellow officers, and those who opened their hearts and wallets, should feel betrayed, Harmon said, "It happened, you are absolutely right, but these are just accusations." "The article last year shone a light upon me. I guess I made a name for myself and I guess some people didn't take a liking to it," Harmon said.    agendar@nydailynews.com