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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jail Guard Busted for Extorting Sex

Jail guard sex raps
The New York Post by KIERAN CROWLEY - December 31, 2009

A correction officer at a Long Island jail was busted for having his own harem of female inmates that he extorted sex from, authorities said. Nassau DA Kathleen Rice said Correction Officer Mark Barber, 47, of Levittown, was charged with 58 crimes -- including rape and sex ual abuse. The chubby, bald Barber faces a maxi mum sentence of up to 16 years behind bars if convicted on all counts of sexually abusing six inmates "in various places throughout the facility" -- three of whom he had intercourse with, said Rice. Rice said Barber, as the "female grievance officer," was supposed to help women inmates with any complaints, including sexual harassment, but instead, was sexually exploiting the women. "This defendant used the influence of his position to terrorize, rape and abuse vulnerable inmates," at the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow, said Rice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cop Works Second Job While On-Duty

Officer pleads not guilty to felonies
Schenectady's Dwayne Johnson, charged in 15-count indictment, also faces disciplinary hearings
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - December 24, 2009

SCHENECTADY, NY -- Prosecutors say for roughly four months Officer Dwayne Johnson worked private security at the Hess Express gas station near Route 890 when he should have been on patrol, then tried to cover himself by lying on police department time sheets. With his attorney by his side Wednesday, Johnson answered "yes" to several questions from Schenectady County Judge Karen Drago ensuring he understood his legal rights and the 15-count indictment that accuses him of defrauding the government, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing and grand larceny. He pleaded not guilty to those felonies and the 11 misdemeanors that Drago unsealed. He left court on his own recognizance without comment, leaving his attorney Gaspar Castillo to do the talking. The Albany lawyer said his client, who earned an all-time city pay record of $168,000 in 2008, is being punished for being a "hard working man," that the city was well aware he was moonlighting and who never worked his private security and city job simultaneously. "He has served the city and served it well and loves being a cop," said Castillo. "When everything comes out, it will become clear he has not done anything wrong." But Gerald Dwyer, counsel to the district attorney, said the charging document only deals with the alleged double dipping from Oct. 25, 2008 to Feb. 7 at the Brandywine Avenue business and not accusations Johnson remained inside a Woodlawn apartment earlier this year when he should have been on patrol. Outside police headquarters, Mayor Brian U. Stratton said the department is still looking into what Johnson, 50, was doing there as part of its ongoing internal probe. He said his administration will continue to aggressively go after cops who cross the line and that in Johnson's case they would be seeking to fire him and try to recoup any monies he was paid by the city while working his private job. "The public should know we're not tolerating this," he said, adding he was still hopeful that any police commanders who may have turned a blind eye to Johnson's alleged misdeeds should be punished. Later Wednesday, the police department released a statement saying Johnson had been suspended 30 days without pay and that it would be seeking to fire him through disciplinary hearings.

Besides the felonies, Johnson is also charged with five each of counts of official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities and scheme to defraud, all misdemeanors. On the top count felony alone, he could face a maximum four-year prison term In February, he was suspended without pay for 30 days amid an internal probe into allegations that he spent several hours on a number of Tuesdays in an apartment in the Woodlawn section during his midnight-to-8 a.m. shift. The revelation came less than a month after city payroll records for 2008 showed that Johnson, who has been on the force since 2001, had the highest earnings for one year in the department's history. At the time, the department's Office of Professional Standards was looking into allegations he spent time at the apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way when he should have been working. Police said the officer's cruiser, equipped with a GPS, was parked outside the location around 4 a.m. even though he was scheduled to work until 8 a.m. Months later, the department launched a second in-house investigation into fresh allegations that Johnson was working security at Hess when he should have been on patrol. Chief Mark Chaires has said tax-related documents reviewed by investigators showed Johnson was "simultaneously being paid by two employers." With overtime and about $35,000 in retroactive pay, he made $168,921 last year, nearly triple his base salary. Johnson is one of several city police officers scheduled for disciplinary hearings next year. Paul Nelson can be reached at 454-5347 or by e-mail at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ex-Jail Guard Spared Jail in Bribe Case

Ex-deputy spared jail in NV 'Girls Gone Wild' case
By SCOTT SONNER (AP) – December 12, 2009

RENO, Nev. — A former sheriff's deputy who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to give preferential treatment to "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis while jailed in Reno avoided prison time after U.S. prosecutors argued for leniency Friday due to his cooperation in the case.
Ex-Washoe County deputy Ralph Hawkins was sentenced to three years probation and fined $4,000 for accepting $3,200 in cash and tickets to Oakland Raiders football games from a Francis associate. He acknowledged that in exchange, he had smuggled in sushi, barbecued chicken and other food to the soft porn mogul while he was being held on tax evasion charges last year. Hawkins, 41, who now lives in Florida, had faced up to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of accepting a bribe. But assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow argued before U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones that probation was appropriate because Hawkins "provided substantial assistance" in the investigation. Rachow said when the allegations of bribery first surfaced, Hawkins "came forward and gave a complete and detailed statement of his involvement. "To use a colloquialism, he `cowboyed up' right from the get go. He admitted what he did and turned himself in," Rachow said Friday. "Prison would serve no useful purpose in this case." Hawkins told the judge he took full responsibility for his actions. "I whole heartedly regret my behavior. I not only lost my career but more importantly, harmed my family and tarnished the image of not only the Washoe County Sheriff's Office but all of the law enforcement community," he said. "I greatly regret that." Jones said the $4,000 fine corresponded with the overall value of the bribes. "I simply cannot tolerate walking away with any profit from this transaction," the judge said. "The person incarcerated was a real scoundrel and he got away with extraordinary treatment." Jones said he was reluctant to spare Hawkins jail time because he had betrayed the public's trust. "There is nothing worse than the offense of public corruption other than murder or assault or battery. In my opinion it is worse than drug charges," he said before agreeing to sentence Francis to probation. Rachow said that while Hawkins was guilty of smuggling in unauthorized food, he didn't really affect the security of the jail. "If it was more than just providing food to him, it would be a whole different story," Rachow said. Federal public defender Vito de la Cruz said that Hawkins "quickly understood what he did was wrong" then "did the right thing" by coming forward. "He has learned his lesson," he said, adding that the incident prompted jail officials to tighten security measures. In a light moment, Cruz questioned the estimated value of the Raiders tickets. "Given the Oakland Raiders success of the last few years, he probably was ill-advised to take those tickets," he said. "I'm not sure those were of any value." Aaron Weinstein, a Hollywood video and marketing executive who helped produce some of Francis' projects, was charged with three bribery counts in a grand jury indictment in July for allegedly trying to buy off jail officials to help his friend. As part of an agreement reached last month, Weinstein agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of providing contraband in prison, a crime punishable by up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set. Francis, who filmed and marketed videos of naked young women, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Reno on tax evasion charges in 2007. A federal judge in Los Angeles sentenced him last month to 301 days already served and a year of probation for filing false income tax returns and bribing the jail workers in Nevada.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Police Arrest Fellow Cop on Murder Charges

D.C. Police arrest fellow officer on murder charges
WTOP - December 16, 2009 -

WASHINGTON - D.C. police have arrested a fellow officer on felony murder charges Tuesday, accusing him of helping friends plot a failed drug robbery.
District detectives arrested Reginald Jones on Tuesday afternoon after a warrant was issued accusing him of felony murder in the Dec. 1 shooting of 40-year-old Arvell Alston. The officer was charged with murder despite being dismissed as the shooter. D.C. law considers conspirators in crimes that lead to murder equally responsible. "Officer Jones and his actions are a disgrace to the uniform proudly worn by the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department who put their lives on the line every day," says D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier. "This crime is a betrayal of the community's trust and is an insult to the fine men and women of this Department." According to the Washington Examiner, the officer's role in the failed robbery was to drive through the 4300 block of Fourth Street SE with the lights on in his police car to distract any gang members from interfering with the robbery attempt. Alston was shot during the attempted robbery. Jones, a six-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department, was assigned to the narcotics and special investigations division. Police have also arrested two other suspects in connection with the shooting. Twenty-seven-year-old Rashun Montea Parker was arrested on Dec. 11, and Arvel Crawford was arrested Tuesday. Both will also face charges of felony murder.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guilty plea by ex-ICE agent shocks many

Guilty plea by ex-ICE agent shocks many
Family, friends doubt ties to drug traffickers
The Arizona Republic by Robert Anglen - December 12, 2009

Richard Cramer was first a foot soldier and then a leader in the war on drugs. He once ran the Nogales office of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement and was twice assigned as an attache to Mexico. Incorruptible, dedicated, tireless - a cop's cop. That's how Cramer's family and friends describe the Sahuarita resident. But this week, Cramer's reputation was shattered when he admitted that he worked with Mexican drug dealers. In a Miami federal courthouse, Cramer, 56, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by helping two drug traffickers avoid arrest, a felony that carries a maximum 20-year prison term. His plea makes Cramer one of the highest-ranking ICE officials to admit to or be convicted of corruption in the six years since the agency was created. And it raises questions about the ability of Mexican drug cartels to reach the upper echelons of U.S. law enforcement. Cramer's supporters insisted that the charges were the product of overzealous investigators and prosecutors. They said he would never knowingly break the law. "This goes counter to everything I know about Richard," Rene Andreu, a former assistant ICE chief who hired Cramer as a customs investigator in the early 1980s, said weeks before the plea. "If somehow, some way, he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, my paradigm on life itself will be changed." Cramer's family said any plea deal is grossly unfair but is better than spending the rest of your life behind bars for something you didn't do. As part of the plea agreement, Cramer admitted that he "corruptly attempted to obstruct, influence and impede" an official investigation. The charge stands in contrast to the host of accusations levied against Cramer after his arrest in September. A federal complaint charged Cramer with using his position to supply drug dealers with intelligence on informants and investing his own money in a 300-kilogram (660-pound) shipment of cocaine. In exchange for the plea, the government dropped three cocaine-smuggling charges and will recommend that Cramer serve two years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 18.

Venerated lawman

In nearly 30 years of chasing drug smugglers, winnowing out corruption and enforcing justice along the border, Cramer had seen it all. He had turned down bribes, busted dirty agents and stood his ground when traffickers threatened his life, according to colleagues who worked with him on the front lines. "He was costing drug-trafficking groups south of the border a lot of money," said Andreu, adding that Cramer stacked up more arrests than almost any other agent. "In Nogales, you were in constant contact with drug-trafficking organizations. You got information about competitors. ... You worked one against the other." Andreu said Cramer was a great undercover agent with a flawless understanding of his native Mexico, including the language and the people.

Cramer rose from a customs officer to an investigator and then worked internal investigations before being tapped for the highly selective post of Mexican attache in the late 1990s. When he returned to the U.S. in 2001, he was put in charge of Nogales. Cramer's counsel was so highly valued that, when he accepted a new stint as an attache in Guadalajara, he was able to name his replacement: ICE supervisor Matt Allen. Allen, who is now special agent in charge of the Arizona ICE Office of Investigations, would not comment on Cramer. "While even one betrayal of the public's trust by a (Department of Homeland Security) officer or agent is too many, the vast majority of our employees are dedicated public servants who uphold the highest standards of integrity and professional responsibility," Allen said. Cramer retired to his Sahuarita home in a gated golf community in 2007, but he found it impossible to trade the gun and badge for golf and country-club gossip. So this year, he took a $30,000-a-year job as a corrections officer with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, where he had started his law-enforcement career three decades earlier. The father and grandfather joined the academy, started a physical-fitness regimen, took and passed a lie-detector test and sailed through a psychological exam and background investigation. "He was one of those success stories," county Sheriff Tony Estrada said, emphasizing that not a single red flag arose. "I kept saying, 'Richard, I'm impressed. Why do you want to do this?' "Now, Estrada said, the question everyone is asking is: "What made him jump to the other side?"

Accused of trafficking

Cramer's conviction comes amid a rise in criminal-corruption cases involving U.S. law-enforcement officials along the border, many involving Customs and Border Protection officials, who are tempted with bribes of money or sex to look the other way as smugglers move drugs and illegal immigrants into the country. No ICE agent in Arizona has been arrested on bribery or drug-smuggling charges since the creation of ICE in 2003. Cramer was arrested Sept. 1 after his regular shift at the Santa Cruz jail. He was called to Tucson for an interview with his former colleagues in ICE and subsequently placed in custody on drug-trafficking charges. The charges stem from a 2006 investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into a Mexico cartel operating in Florida.

According to the DEA, while Cramer was stationed in Mexico, he supplied a drug-trafficking organization with information on the workings of U.S. law enforcement, including how it conducts records checks, investigations and the turning of informants. Agents said that Cramer was linked to the cartel through e-mail addresses and a direct push-to-talk phone line that connected traffickers to his home. The DEA built its case largely through confidential informants, who reported that Cramer quit his job with the government to work for the cartel. Agents said Cramer also invested in a shipment of cocaine from Mexico to Spain, which was later seized by agents. In an attempt to identify who tipped off authorities to the shipment, members of the cartel discussed using Cramer to oust the traitors, saying he had "very powerful friends," including DEA agents. In court, Cramer pleaded guilty to arranging to run the names of a Mexican money launderer and his associate through U.S. law-enforcement databases to determine whether they were being investigated. Federal prosecutors said the money launderer was hiding in Miami and wanted to return to Mexico but needed assurance he was not being sought by authorities. Members of an unidentified drug-trafficking organization reached out to Cramer, prosecutors say, and he provided them printouts of criminal records searches that allowed the money launderer to return safely to Mexico. When smugglers were later busted, agents found they were carrying copies of the background checks. Cramer's lawyer in Miami told the Associated Press that his client did not profit from this activity, which he described as mistakenly handling computer records.


Cramer might have been born in Mexico, but he had lived in the U.S. since childhood. Family and friends say he is American to the core, which makes his arrest and plea even harder to comprehend. "He is beyond reproach, has been for every minute of my life that I have known him," said Hector Ayala, a Tucson high-school teacher who has been friends with Cramer since fifth grade. "I am devastated." Cramer was reared dirt poor in Nogales. His mother worked as a restaurant cook and his stepfather was a decorated World War I and World War II veteran. Although Cramer's stepfather died when he was about 10 years old, he left his stepson a legacy of service and love of country. "He idolized his father," Ayala said, remembering how Cramer used to talk about the military as if it were a higher calling. When he was 17, Cramer answered that call, dropping out of school to join the Marines and go to Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star for bravery when he defended his platoon from a vicious assault. Friends and family say Cramer brought that sense of duty home, instilling it in his three children, who followed in their father's steps; his son became a Navy corpsman, his daughters law-enforcement officers. "That's what makes no sense," Ayala said. "He would not betray his wife or his son and daughters, who are in law enforcement, or his nephews who are in law enforcement."

Cramer's oldest daughter, Michelle Cramer, who worked in the Army Criminal Investigative Division, said she does not believe her father switched sides. She points out that she has dealt with many criminals and does not believe that her support is based on naive assumptions. She described the case against her father as circumstantial, based primarily on words from confidential informants. In letters to his daughter, penciled on yellow memo sheets from his solitary cell in Miami, Cramer has repeatedly insisted he is innocent and intended to fight the charges in a jury trial. "I write to my father every other day. And he has written back every day," she said. "A couple of times he has gotten emotional. . . . He said, 'You know I never had anything to do with this.' " At other times, Cramer has reminded her of his faith and his feeling that God is testing him. "But his faith has never wavered," Michelle said. But she wants to be pragmatic. Should her father risk spending the rest of his life in prison in an attempt to clear his name? She doesn't think so. Even before a plea bargain was offered, she said her father should consider one if it were offered. "It is really (awful), admitting to something you didn't do," she said. "He doesn't deserve any of this."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

4 Cops Accused of Fatal Beating Cover-Up

Pa. police accused of cover-up in immigrant attack

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Four Pennsylvania police officers have been led into a courtroom in handcuffs for arraignment on charges that they orchestrated a cover-up in the fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant. A federal indictment announced Tuesday accuses Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and three officers under his command of charges including witness tampering and lying to the FBI in the 2008 death of Luis Ramirez. The officers are awaiting their arraignment in a Wilkes-Barre (BEHR') courtroom Tuesday. The indictment also charges two former high school athletes with a hate crime for allegedly shouting racial epithets at Ramirez while they were beating him.

SHENANDOAH, Pa. (AP) — Four police officers in this Pennsylvania coal town are accused in a federal indictment of orchestrating a cover-up in the fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant, an attack that resulted in the acquittal of two popular high school football players of serious state charges. The former Shenandoah High School athletes, 19-year-old Derrick Donchak and 18-year-old Brandon Piekarsky, have been charged with a hate crime, accused of beating Luis Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him in July 2008, the Justice Department said Tuesday in Washington. Separate indictments accuse Police Chief Matthew Nestor and three officers under his command with charges including witness tampering and lying to the FBI. Nestor, Lt. William Moyer, and Officer Jason Hayes were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice during the investigation into the Ramirez beating. Moyer was charged with witness and evidence tampering, as well as lying to the FBI. The police chief and his second-in-command, James Gennarini, were charged with extortion and civil rights violations in a separate case. The two are accused of extorting cash payoffs from illegal gambling operations and demanding a $2,000 payment from a local businessman in 2007 to release him from their custody. No one answered the phone at the Shenandoah Borough Police Department on Tuesday. Piekarsky's lawyer didn't immediately return a call, and there was no lawyer listed for Donchak on the indictment. Reaction among residents to the indictment was mixed. "Why come in and stir it up again? Why stir it up?" said George Dambroski, 61. "The town is stirred-up enough." Shawn Grady, 35, agreed with the new charges.

"The feds did what they should have done. No one deserves to die. At least, not like that. Justice should be done," he said. Donchak, Piekarsky and a third teen were previously charged in state court in Ramirez's death and cleared of all serious charges. State charges were dropped against a fourth suspect in exchange for a guilty plea to a federal civil rights count. Piekarsky was acquitted by an all-white jury of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation; Donchak was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Both were convicted of simple assault, which carry possible one- or two-year prison sentences. Piekarsky was sentenced in June to six to 23 months in prison, and Donchak was sentenced to seven to 23 months. Both are serving their sentences at the Schuylkill County jail. The May verdicts were decried by Hispanic advocates who say Ramirez's death was part of a rising tide of hate crimes against Latinos. The confrontation began when a half-dozen high school football players were headed home from a block party in Shenandoah, once a nearly all-white town 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia that has attracted Hispanic immigrants with jobs in factories and farm fields. They came across Ramirez, 25, and his 15-year-old girlfriend in a park. An argument broke out, and the football players hurled ethnic slurs, although lawyers disputed who said exactly what. Defense attorneys called Ramirez the aggressor. Soon Ramirez and Piekarsky were trading punches. Donchak jumped in — his lawyers said to break up the fight — and wound up on top of Ramirez. Prosecutors said he pummeled Ramirez while gripping a small piece of metal to give his punches more power; defense attorneys denied he had a weapon. The fight wound down, but the argument continued. Ramirez charged the group. He was knocked out by a punch to the face. Prosecutors said he was killed by Piekarsky's kick to the head; defense lawyers said another teen delivered the fatal blow. Ramirez, a native of the small central Mexican town of Iramuco, was in the United States illegally working at various jobs. Matheson reported from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Associated Press writer Devlin Barrett contributed to this report from Washington.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cop Charged In Civil Rights Abuse in Juvenile Beating

Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
District of Rhode Island
Contact: (401) 709-5000

Woonsocket Police Officer Charged with Civil Rights Abuse in Alleged Beating of Juvenile

A federal grand jury in Providence has returned an indictment charging John H. Douglas, a Woonsocket Police officer, with violating the civil rights of a juvenile in his custody by assaulting him, and with obstructing justice. United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s regional field office, jointly announced a two-count indictment, which the grand jury returned yesterday, but which was placed under seal until Douglas’ arrest today. The indictment charges Douglas, 34, of Blackstone, Massachusetts, with depriving the 16-year-old victim of his right under the Constitution to be free from the use of unreasonable force by someone acting “under color of law.” It alleges that, on September 15, Douglas did “punch, strike, and otherwise assault” the victim, resulting in bodily injury.

The second count of the indictment alleges that Douglas obstructed justice when he allegedly tried to persuade other Woonsocket officers to provide false information to FBI agents who were investigating the matter. FBI agents, assisted by Woonsocket Police, arrested Douglas today. He was arraigned before Magistrate Judge David L. Martin in U.S. District Court, Providence, pleaded not guilty, and was released on bond pending further proceedings. An indictment is merely an allegation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. In the event of a conviction, the maximum penalty for the civil rights allegation would be ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for obstruction of justice would be 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Special Agent in Charge Bamford thanked Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas Carey for his department’s cooperation in the investigation. The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelly, and Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro of Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wrongly Imprisoned Man Gets $340,000.00

Autistic Brooklyn man, wrongly imprisoned after coerced slay confession, gets $340G settlement
The New York Daily News by Kerry Burke and John Marzulli - November 25, 2009

The city will pay $340,000 to an autistic Brooklyn man railroaded by NYPD detectives into falsely confessing to murdering his sister. Ozem Goldwire spent more than a year in prison for the January 2006 slaying of his sister, Sherika, before he was exonerated by prosecutors in the Brooklyn district attorney's office. "This was a terrible, terrible injustice," said lawyer Gerald Allen, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of Goldwire in Brooklyn Federal Court. Goldwire was subjected to 21 hours of interrogation at the 73rd Precinct by detectives who screamed, cursed and shoved him. They also accused him of having sex with his sister, according to the suit. Warned that he wouldn't be released if he did not confess, Goldwire wrote a statement claiming he strangled his sister because she refused to lower the volume on the TV. A psychologist who examined the 31-year-old maintenance man at the request of prosecutors concluded that he was highly vulnerable to suggestion and eager to please the detectives. Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach threw out the charges against Goldwire, describing the circumstances as "the perfect storm for false confession." Mom Essie Goldwire said Tuesday she gave cops information about a local junkie she suspects in her daughter's slaying, which is still unsolved. "They thought I was just gathering evidence to clear my son. That was four years ago and I never heard from them again," she said. The settlement admits no wrongdoing on the part of Detectives Nancy Malota, Christopher Scandole and Matthew Collins. "As Mr. Goldwire had confessed to the murder, we believe that the NYPD and DA's office acted appropriately. This is an unfortunate situation, and we believe the settlement is in the best interest of all parties," said a spokeswoman for the city law department. Malota was also a defendant in a 2004 false-arrest suit filed by James Brown of Brooklyn, who spent nine months in jail for attempted murder before the charges were dismissed. Brown received a $40,000 settlement from the city.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retired NYPD Detective Guilty of Drugging and Raping Woman

Retired NYPD detective convicted of drugging, raping woman at Greenburgh motel
The Journal News by Rebecca Baker - November 24, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, NY — A jury convicted a retired New York City police detective of drugging and raping a woman in a Greenburgh motel last year, but acquitted him of kidnapping her from a bar in the Bronx. Jose Arroyo, 47, was found guilty today of two felony counts of rape, for sexually assaulting a physically helpless person who was incapable of consent, and for facilitating a sex crime using drugs. He was also convicted of felony assault for impairing the woman with drugs. Arroyo’s mother began sobbing when she saw her son handcuffed after the verdict. He turned to his mother and other family members and said, “Don’t worry. Love you.” He will be held at the Westchester County jail until his sentencing on Jan. 20. He faces up to 25 years in state prison on the top rape count. Arroyo was convicted of slipping drugs in the drink of a 31-year-old Texas woman at Doyle’s Pub in the Bronx on Nov.—, 2008, rendering her unconscious. He then took her to the Alexander Motel on Tarrytown Road in Greenburgh, where he had sex with her and took 16 photographs of her nude body in various poses. Arroyo then left for his job as a bouncer at a White Plains bar, where he showed her driver’s license to male co-workers as a “before” picture and the nude photohaphs as “after” pictures. The woman, who was in the area visiting her ex-girlfriend, told the jury she woke up the next morning and didn’t know where she was. She grabbed Arroyo’s keys and some of his clothes and ran out of the room. A motel manager called police when he saw her trying to open several different cars. Arroyo, a former Marine who worked as a bouncer in White Plains and used to train and recruit security guards, insisted that he never drugged the woman and that they had consensual sex. During deliberations, the jury asked more than once to watch a security video from Doyle’s Pub, which prosecutors said captured Arroyo spiking the woman’s drink while she was in the ladies’ room, stirring it up and handing her the glass when she returned.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ex-ICE Officer Pleads Guilty to Immigration Fraud

Ex-ICE Officer Pleads Guilty to Immigration Fraud
The Sun-Times Media - November 23, 2009

Chicago, IL - A former federal deportation officer pleaded guilty Monday to obstruction of justice and producing a fraudulent immigration document for an immigrant facing deportation. Thomas P. Randell, 37, of Chicago, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer from 2000-09, admitted that he destroyed the immigration files of two aliens to interfere with administration of immigration laws, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. In a separate scheme, he admitted to fraudulently providing an immigration stamp conveying temporary legal resident status to an alien eligible for deportation. Randell, indicted in early 2008, remains free on bond while awaiting sentencing, which U.S. District Judge Wayne Anderson scheduled for March 25. He faces up to 20 years in prison for obstruction and 15 years for producing a false ID document, plus a $250,000 fine on each count, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office. According to a plea agreement, the government anticipates Randell's advisory sentencing range is 27 to 33 months in prison. As a deportation officer, he was responsible for supervising aliens who had been ordered deported, but were not in ICE custody, the release said. Randell met one alien in 1998 while serving as an Immigration and Naturalization Service detention officer. That alien was subsequently released and a friendship between the two developed, the release said. In 2002, when the alien received a letter from INS stating his deportation was imminent, he asked Randell to help block it and the deportation of an acquaintance who had received the same letter. Both were Iraqi citizens of Assyrian descent. In response to the request, Randell offered to make the complete master immigration files of both aliens "disappear" in a way that could not be traced, the release said. The alien accepted and in early 2003 Randell obtained the files and aided in shredding them, the release said. Randell also admitted that in June 2005 he fraudulently placed an Alien Documentation Identification and Telecommunication stamp in the Hungarian passport of a third alien, a legal permanent resident whose “green card” had expired, the release said. The stamp provides the same evidence of legal immigration status as a green card. An investigation determined the alien was eligible deportation due to state felony convictions. Randell admitted he obtained an ADIT stamp from an unspecified Homeland Security employee, the release said. He also admitted to a previous instance of providing a stamp to that alien in 2003.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cop Indicted in Bank Heist

County officer indicted in bank break-in
Officer allegedly used police cruiser in June's attempted burglary
The Gazette by Joshua Garner - November 16, 2009

A former Prince George's County police officer and a Capitol Heights man have been indicted on two counts of larceny for allegedly attempting to break into a SunTrust Bank in Temple Hills in June, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland said Monday. Cpl. Eddie Lee Smith Jr., 41, of the 9700 block of Rider Court in Fort Washington and Earl Blake, 53, of the 1900 block of Brooks Drive were indicted Monday for conspiracy to commit bank larceny and attempted bank larceny stemming from a June 10 incident in which the men allegedly attempted to break into the bank, on Old Branch Avenue. If convicted, both men face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempted bank larceny and five years in prison for the conspiracy. According to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Smith, a 16-year veteran of the county police department, allegedly drove Blake to the bank in his marked police cruiser. The men allegedly then cut the phone lines to the bank and used a power saw to break into the bank. Blake allegedly took the saw and entered the bank, setting off the fire alarm, while Smith remained in the police cruiser. When Prince George's County firefighters arrived, Smith allegedly advised them to leave because he had already checked the bank and it was secure, according to the indictment. Blake then ran from the bank and was briefly chased by Smith, who returned to his car and left the area. Blake was later arrested by other Prince George's County Police Department officers.

In June, police spokesman Maj. Andy Ellis told The Gazette that Smith was located hours later and was arrested by officers from his own police district. Smith, who has resigned from the department, was one of several county officers named in July as being under investigation by the FBI for allegedly providing security and assistance to area drug dealers in a widespread corruption ring, Ellis said. In 2007, the county police department began a probe into the officers for allegedly provided security for area drug dealers who met to gamble, Ellis said. After more information was uncovered, police decided earlier this year to turn over the investigation to the FBI, he said. Richard J. Wolf, an FBI spokesman, declined to comment Monday on the status of the investigation. County Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said in a statement the department is thankful the FBI and the U.S. attorney have investigated the bank break-in case and brought it before the grand jury. "We support due process and want the community to understand that the lack of integrity of one officer does not reflect the character of the rest of the officers working for the Prince George's County Police Department," Hylton stated. "We are held accountable like all citizens and we hold ourselves to a higher standard." Smith's attorney, William Brennan, whose office is in Greenbelt, declined to comment Monday. Blake's attorney, John Chamble, whose office is in Greenbelt, did not immediately return calls for comment Monday. No court date has been scheduled for the men. E-mail Joshua Garner at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cop Bank Robber Sentenced

Cop bank robber sentenced to 78 months in prison
The New York Post by REBECCA ROSENBERG - November 13, 2009

Former NYPD cop Christian Torres was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 78 months in prison for armed bank robbery. Manhattan federal court Judge Laura Taylor Swain ordered 12 of the 78 months to run consecutively to the 121-month sentence previously imposed on Torres for a separate armed bank robbery and a firearms offense in Pennsylvania. The feds claim that between June 2007 and April 2008, Torres and his ex-girlfriend, Christina Dasrath, a teller at the Sovereign Bank branch at 57 Avenue A, conspired to defraud the bank by staging a phony bank robbery. On June 8, 2007, Torres entered the bank and handed Dasrath at her teller station a note directing her to "empty both drawers" and threatening to "start shooting." Dasrath then gave Torres $16,305 from her teller drawer, a portion of which he later shared with her. Torres' lawyer, Paul Missan, said his client was "gratified by the judge's sentence and he wants to use it as an oppurtunity to do as much good as he can in prison to make up for the shameful act." Dasrath previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, bank larceny and making false statements charges on Sept. 5, 2008 and was sentenced to 30 months behind bars. Additional reporting by John Doyle

Thursday, November 12, 2009

U.S. Head In Sand While Russia Admits Police Corruption

Russia admits police corruption
BBC News by Richard Galpin - November 10, 2009

Moscow - The Russian government has admitted that parts of the police have been turned into what the interior minister has described as criminal businesses. It is the most frank admission so far of corruption and other crimes being committed by members of the police. It came after a senior policeman in southern Russia posted a video on the internet in which he appealed to the prime minister to tackle the problem. It is the latest in a series of highly embarrassing revelations about police. Earlier this year a senior police officer went on a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket, killing three people. The incident was recorded on security cameras and the video was widely broadcast on Russian TV and on the internet. Now a serving police officer, Major Alexei Dymovsky, has spoken out in a video, also posted on the internet which has registered more than 700,000 hits in just a few days. The officer from southern Russia accuses his superiors of forcing policemen to arrest innocent people to ensure monthly quotas are met. And he says they are paid so little they have no choice but to accept bribes.

Interior ministry pledge

It is very unusual for a policeman to speak out so openly. And he has clearly had a major impact - holding a packed news conference in Moscow on Tuesday. He said he wanted to meet the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ensure there was a proper investigation to restore the honour and dignity of the police force. The interior minister has announced that any policeman accused of committing serious crimes will face prosecution.


Whistleblower Tackles Russian Police Corruption
CBS by Alexsei Kuznetzov - November 10, 2009
This story was filed by CBS News producer Alexsei Kuznetsov in Moscow.

Tired of working amid corruption, a 32 year old Russian police officer made an unthinkable video appeal directly to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He says he now fears for his life, but thinks this whistle had to be blown. "Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am appealing directly to you," says Major Alexei Dymovsky in his video (at left), referring to Putin's by his traditional name. "You have been talking about corruption – you have been saying that not only should corruption constitute a crime, you said it should also be unseemly to engage in corrupt practices. But this is not the case in this country." The words were more likely to come from a human rights activist or an opposition politician. But this rare outpouring of emotion came from within the Russian power structure, from Dymovsky, a cop in the city of Novorossiysk. "I want you to know how we live – ordinary officers, ordinary policemen – those who solve and untangle (crimes) and detain (criminals), those who do the real work," Dymovsky said in his recorded speech, during which he looked visibly nervous and stumbled at times. He's clearly had enough. In his appeal, full of pain and desperation, he criticizes his superiors for neglecting the needs of police officers, for low wages and for trumping up criminal cases, something he even confesses to doing himself. "I was promoted to the rank of Major last May for having given a promise [to my superior] to put an innocent person in prison. I am not afraid to say this, even though I know that I can be punished for that. But it is a fact."

Reached by CBS News on the phone in Novorossiysk, Dymovsky explained what prompted him to take such an unusual step. "Now I have got nothing to lose. I decided to burn my bridges and posted the video on the Web because I am a Russian man… I could no longer live and work like that – I could no longer stand being treated like cattle. So even if I am to go, I want my younger colleagues to have a normal life — to work hard, to be paid well and to be treated with respect." The real situation inside the Russian police today, Dymovsky said, could not be farther from that. Policemen in his city are paid about $400 per month, have to work, "30 days out of 31 without any paid overtime," and are often denied basic medical attention for not solving enough crimes. But worst of all, "when young guys come to work on the force and say that the wage of 12,000 rubles (about $400) does not frighten them, they know they will be making some extra money on the side. How can it be that a police officer is making money on the side?" Andrei Narvatkin, a former police operative in Novorossiysk seems to have the answer. "What we have in Russia today should not be called the police. It is a complete mess with police bosses taking tremendous bribes collected for them by their underlings. While the bosses are basking in the sun on the Canary Islands, rank and file policemen work round the clock to collect bribes from citizens and businesses to be passed on to the top," Narvatkin told CBS News. Having quit the force after seven years of service, Narvatkin knows what he's talking about. "Those officers who try to stay honest and do not take bribes, are eventually gotten rid of. Others just keep their mouths shut and keep collecting – they have families to support. No wonder the entire police system is corrupt to the core." "Dymovsky said what nearly every police officer feels in Russia," Mikhail Pashkin, chairman of the Moscow police union's coordinating committee, told Ekho Moskvy radio station. "We have the same happening in Moscow."

To most Russians, what Dymovsky said hardly comes as news. Opinion polls show the public views the police as one of the nation's most corrupt agencies. Nevertheless, his video appeal was a sensation on Russian Web sites, attracting over 450,000 viewers in a matter of several days. So, what was so special about Dymovsky's appeal? "He was the first one from within the system who openly told this indifferent country the exact same thing that is being discussed in private over kitchen tables. One man against the system – that deserves respect," wrote a blogger going by the name "anna_amelkina". The ultimate questions facing Russian society was iterated by another Russian blogger, who asked, "Will honest police officers give their support to major Dymovsky? Will Russia rise in his defense? Will this small stone ever become a landslide that will transform our society?" So far, there are no signs of a looming landslide. Vladimir Putin and his press service have remained silent. In a trademark Russian manner, Dymovsky was quickly fired from the police for "spreading slander about his colleagues and actions besmirching the dignity and honor of a Russian policeman." Short of counterarguments and apparently unwilling to properly investigate the incident, the police authorities even resorted to a tried-and-true method in from Soviet-era (and Putin's) Russia — blaming all problems on an outside enemy. "The way, the form and the timing of the publication of the video appeal bear witness to the fact that Alexei Dymovsky is getting support from some third parties," a source in the Department of Internal Security of the Russian Interior Ministry told Interfax news agency, hinting that the United States Agency for International Development could well be that "third party." The Russian blogosphere brushed off this idea with a smile: "Dymovsky – an American provocateur!!! I can literally see the CIA plotting a crafty conspiracy of how to recruit Major Dymovsky! Apparently, the Interior Ministry is low on fresh ideas – it is the Americans again! Poor imagination and no creative work!" wrote a blogger nicknamed "alga72". Alexei Dymovsky is in no joking mood. Fearing retributions, the Major has all but gone into hiding – he changes his cell-phones frequently, does not spend nights at home, has hired a bodyguard and is planning to send his wife, who is six months pregnant, to Moscow.

But he remains true to his quixotic crusade. "If I do not get killed, I am planning to travel to Moscow and meet with Vladimir Putin personally," he told CBS News. "I am ready to tell Putin everything and I am not afraid to die or that my family may be persecuted. I am ready to carry out an independent investigation and I will show him the seamy side of a Russian cop's life - with all the corruption, all the ignorance, all the rudeness, when honest police officers die because their commanders are blockheads." Logic dictates that Mr. Putin should be interested in meeting the Major - a broader issue that Alexei Dymovsky's personal drama raises is how heavily the Kremlin can rely on a police force staffed by disgruntled and desperate officers like him. As the economic crisis deepens in this country and more lay-offs are looming this winter, Moscow could one day find local police siding with outraged citizens, instead of following orders and dispersing unsanctioned rallies. "The system has already started to come apart at the seams. If our needs are simply ignored, there will be a cop revolt in Russia. I have lost my job, but other officers will heed my words – those who do not want to keep living on their knees," Dymovsky told CBS News. "In any case, after what I have done, the police will never be the same again. This is my truth, and I am fighting for it."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Former Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Robbery

Former Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Robbery
FBI PRESS RELEASE - November 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Malik Snell, 37, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for an attempted home-invasion robbery in Pottstown, and the robbery of a large-scale drug dealer, Ricardo McKendrick, in Philadelphia, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy. Both robberies were carried out in December 2007. Snell, a former Philadelphia police officer, was convicted June 9, 2009, of Hobbs Act robbery, attempted Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered Snell to pay restitution in the amount of $7,261.04, a $400 special assessment, and serve five years of supervised release. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Pottstown Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Leo R. Tsao, Eric B. Henson, and Kathy Stark.

Former cop gets 30 years for home invasion
The Pottstown Mercury by Carl Hessler, Jr. - November 11, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA — A former Philadelphia police officer will be behind bars for several decades in connection with a Dec. 16, 2007, home invasion robbery in Pottstown that ended with a car chase into Berks. Malik R. Snell, 37, of Philadelphia, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 30 years in a federal prison, to be followed by five years' probation, on charges of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce and a weapons offense in connection with the home invasion and a separate drug-related robbery of a drug kingpin in Philadelphia, which involved $40,000. U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick also ordered Snell to pay $7,261 in restitution. Snell, who had been a police officer since 1996, was convicted of the charges in June during a third trial. Two previous trials in October 2008 and April 2009 ended in mistrials when jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked and couldn't decide the case. While federal prosecutor Leo Tsao sought a lengthy prison sentence against Snell, defense lawyer John I. McMahon Jr. asked the judge to temper any punishment doled out to Snell. "He had exemplary military service in the Marine Corps serving in Somalia. He had been a good police officer," McMahon, of Norristown, said on Snell's behalf. "He grew up in the projects of South Philadelphia in a very crime-ridden neighborhood." McMahon said despite Snell's poor upbringing, he was honorably discharged from the military and became a police officer. "There is another side to him, other than that which committed these crimes," said McMahon. "I think he's in shock. I think he's devastated, mainly for his family. It's very unfortunate for his family." Snell pleaded for leniency from the judge, saying he wanted to be free one day to be a good role model for his children, including twin sons who were born while he was incarcerated. "I believe Mr. Snell had developed a serious gambling problem which led to this activity," McMahon added.

At the trial in April, the jury did acquit Snell of two other charges — witness retaliation and a weapons offense — in connection with allegations he threatened the lives of two alleged drug dealers who cooperated with investigators against him. Snell had been under federal detention since the original indictment was filed against him in April 2008. Authorities alleged Snell, who was charged along with two other men in connection with the Pottstown incident, was the getaway driver. But Snell testified during all three trials that he didn't know anything about plans for a robbery and that he was simply giving his brother-in-law, Tyree Markeen Aimes, a ride to Pottstown to see another person about some money. McMahon argued the prosecution's case was based on the testimony of "corrupt and polluted sources," admitted criminals who cooperated with prosecutors in order to gain lenient sentences for their own crimes. Aimes, 25, and Stephon A. Gibson, 22, both of Philadelphia, each previously pleaded guilty to a firearms charge and conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery in connection with the Pottstown incident. Aimes and Gibson testified against Snell at one or more of the trials. The trio originally had been charged by Montgomery County authorities. However, the case was transferred to federal court, where penalties upon conviction are more severe. All three men are accused of taking part in the Dec. 16, 2007, incident.

Snell and Aimes, who are brothers-in-law, were charged after they were involved in a high-speed chase along westbound Route 422 after the home invasion that occurred inside an apartment on South Roland Street. Snell drove at speeds of 130 mph along Route 422 before crashing his sports utility vehicle into another car at the intersection of Gibraltar Road in Exeter, authorities alleged. Snell and Aimes were apprehended in the yards of nearby homes after the crash. Authorities alleged Gibson didn't get into Snell's Dodge Durango after the Pottstown home invasion and Snell and Aimes left Pottstown without Gibson. Gibson and Aimes allegedly forced their way into the South Roland Street apartment at about 11:45 p.m. and assaulted a male occupant and choked a female occupant, using a cord from an iron to tie the woman's hands. One of the intruders then allegedly ransacked the apartment, court papers indicate. In one of his statements to police, Aimes claimed he, Snell and Gibson went to Pottstown for the purpose of "beating up a man," according to the original arrest affidavit filed by Pottstown detectives. Aimes and Snell then fled Pottstown in Snell's SUV. Pottstown police gave chase and were assisted by Exeter police as the chase traveled into Berks and ended in the crash at Gibraltar Road. A loaded semiautomatic .380-caliber handgun was recovered from inside the SUV after the crash, police said.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Appeals court dismisses order to reveal cops' names

Appeals court dismisses order to reveal cops' names by David Heinzmann - November 10, 2009

A two-year legal battle to open up disciplinary records of Chicago police officers suffered a setback today when a panel of federal judges decided to keep the files secret -- denying an attempt by a journalist and 28 aldermen to open thousands of documents to public scrutiny. The fight over the files has unfolded amid a broader public debate about police oversight in the city, with some critics suggesting the files would reveal evidence of police department leaders ignoring rogue cops for years. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision came down to a simpler legal matter. The files had been exchanged as discovery evidence between parties in a federal misconduct lawsuit against eight police officers. But the files had never been formally placed in the case file. The three-judge panel ruled that legal precedents favoring public disclosure of court records do not apply to records not in the case file. A South Side woman, Diane Bond, had sued the police department in 2004, alleging repeated abuse by officers. Her lawyer, University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, had demanded the disciplinary files in order to show a pattern of police misconduct condoned by department officials. Futterman's analysis of the records showed that fewer than 1 percent of misconduct allegations were sustained by the department's internal investigations, a far lower rate than the national average. Just before the city settled Bond's lawsuit in 2007, independent journalist and community activist Jamie Kalven filed a motion to intervene and lift a protective order that had sealed the police records. U.S. District Court Judge Joan H. Lefkow decided to lift the protective order, but the city appealed the decision. While the appeal was pending, a group of 28 aldermen signed onto the case with Kalven, saying they too wanted access to the files. At the time, aldermen were dealing with police-oversight reforms in the wake of several police scandals, including allegations ofd misconduct by officers in the department's Special Operations Section.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Speeding Ticket Recipients Allege Police Corruption

Speeding ticket recipients allege police corruption
KAIT8 TV - ABC by Lori Brown - November 3, 2009

JERICHO, AR (WMC-TV) - Jericho residents tell stories that, if, true, paint a picture of a corrupt small town police department. In the latest chapter in the ongoing Jericho traffic ticket drama, Bill Masterson of Holly Springs, Mississippi, says he wasn't speeding when a Jericho police officer pulled him over. "He said I was going 59. I said, 'Sir, can I see that radar gun?' He said, 'No, I don't have to show you nothing. You can go to jail," said Masterson. He says he was then asked to fork over cash. "He told me I could pay $150 dollars and it was done. I said, 'I ain't going to do that.' " Masterson says he tried to pay his ticket at city hall, but no one was there. The following week, he again drove 66 miles from Holly Springs to Jericho for traffic court, but court was canceled. Finally, last Thursday, he went before a Jericho judge. "They brought six police in, and I said, 'Mercy alive, ya'll hire six police for a town of 200 people?'" The judge wouldn't dismiss the ticket, and the $150 ticket increased to $205 for court costs. Then the judge wouldn't accept a check. "He said, 'we don't take nothing but cash.' He said, 'You've got it, go ahead and get on up off of it,'" said Masterson. "And the police was standing right there looking down on me, and I said, 'I feel like I'm being pressured here.' " The judge finally accepted Masterson's check after he refused to pay cash. "Cash they can pocket it, check they have to turn it into the state and county. I've paid plenty of speeding tickets, but when I'm not speeding, I'm not paying it," said Masterson. But Masterson did pay the ticket out of fear of being thrown in jail. The tree trimmer says he could have used the $200 as the slow winter season sets in. In a phone call Sunday night, Jericho Police Department's assistant chief wouldn't answer Action News 5's questions about the tickets or why the town would only accept cash.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two Cops Admit Pocketing Summons Money

Two ex-Hardeeville cops plead guilty to pocketing traffic-ticket money
Hilton Head Island From Staff Reports - November 2, 2009

Two former Hardeeville police officers pleaded guilty today to charges they illegally pocketed money during traffic stops, charges that stem from an investigation by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. Tony Pollen of Ridgeland was arrested in January 2009 and charged with misconduct in public office and embezzling more than $5,000, according to a news release from the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Judge J. Ernest Kinard sentenced him today to five years of probation, 500 hours of community service, a $500 fine and restitution of $307. Pollen, who worked as a corporal with the Hardeeville Police Department from 2002 to 2006, targeted Hispanic drivers, accepting cash bonds in exchange for not giving them a ticket, the release said. “He admitted to targeting Hispanic drivers and the last names in his ticket book back that up,” said Solicitor Duffie Stone. “It is a very serious offense for an officer sworn to uphold the law to violate the public’s trust. Corruption damages public safety more than just about any other crime because it undermines the trust the public has in the criminal justice system.” Christian R. Nollinger of Bluffton was arrested in October 2007 and charged with misconduct in public office, a misdemeanor that carries up to a $1,000 fine and a year in prison, the release said. Kinard sentenced him today to six months of probation, four days of community service and a $150 fine. He had worked as a patrol sergeant at the Hardeeville Police Department from July 2006 to October 2007. Nollinger pulled a Hispanic driver over for speeding and discovered the man also didn’t have a driver’s license, the release said. He issued the man two state uniform traffic tickets and accepted a cash bond for each citation. He turned over the $128 bond for the driver’s license violation to the Hardeeville Clerk of Court Office, but destroyed the speeding ticket and kept the $128 bond for that citation, the release said.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jailed Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty to Attempted Robbery

Ex-county officer pleads guilty in attempted robbery
Taghon's prison time could be lengthened by four to five years.
The Tribune by JEFF PARROTT - October 15, 2009

A former St. Joseph County police officer in prison for corruption has agreed to also plead guilty in the attempted robbery of a gas station manager. Andrew Taghon could receive about four to five years more in prison for the robbery, to be served after his six-year sentence on the corruption conviction, according to a plea agreement filed this week in court records. U.S. District Judge Philip Simon was set to consider the plea agreement at a Nov. 4 hearing in Hammond. The development comes a week after former county officer Ryan Huston, who pleaded guilty in the initial corruption scheme, had his prison term shortened in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors in other undisclosed crimes. A federal investigation revealed that from July 2004 to March 2005, Taghon, Huston and then-South Bend officer Jamie Buford received money for stolen items and drugs and deposited that money into private bank accounts. All three pleaded guilty in January to that scheme. In July, a grand jury indicted Taghon and Buford on new charges of attempting to rob a gas station manager while he made a bank deposit. The manager managed to fight off the attack but was injured in the struggle, according to court records. Taghon and Buford were set for a Jan. 25 trial date in that case. That trial date still stands for Buford. Under the plea deal, Taghon agrees not to minimize the involvement of others in order to protect them. Prosecutors, in turn, agree to recommend a sentence shorter than four years on the attempted robbery charge if Taghon gives them more help in investigating other crimes between now and his sentencing hearing. Staff writer Jeff Parrott: (574) 235-6320

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sheriff's Deputy, Animal Rights Advocate Indicted

Putnam sheriff's deputy, animal rights advocate indicted
The Journal News by Barbara Livingston Nackman - October 5, 2009

CARMEL, NEW YORK - A Putnam County sheriff's deputy who has been under investigation for nearly three years was indicted this afternoon on charges of grand larceny, perjury and official misconduct. Barbara Dunn, 41, who had come under fire for alleged abuse of power and conflict of interest because she headed the Putnam County Humane Society at the same time she investigated animal abuse cases for the Sheriff's Office, was charged in a 28-count indictment that was unsealed in front of Westchester County Court Justice Jeffrey Cohen in the Putnam County Courthouse. Dunn, a deputy for some 13 years, pleaded not guilty to all charges during a brief arraignment where she appeared before Cohen with her attorneys.

She is charged with the theft of $56,000 after prosecutors say she lied about falling down a flight of stairs at the Putnam County Sheriff's Office when she was really injured after being thrown from her horse. The money, prosecutors say, represents salary that Dunn collected tax free under workers' compensation after claiming falsely that her June 3, 2008 injury was on-the-job. At the time she claims to have tumbled down the stairs at work, Dunn, a Dutchess County resident, was already under investigation after a Kent judge concluded that she lied on the stand during a July 2007 hearing on evidence she gathered in an animal abuse and neglect case. In that case, Dunn seized purebred Maltese belonging to Kent breeder Linda Nelson. Kent Judge J. Peter Collins said Dunn lied to the court about when and why she first entered Nelson's house, took photographs before securing a search warrant and did not tell the truth about the location of Nelson's dogs, 11 of which were seized and two puppies born afterward. The puppies were neutered without Nelson's knowledge and the Humane Society, which sued Nelson for $34,000 for the care of her animals, twice defied orders by Collins to hand over the dogs. Dunn, described by supporters as a dedicated animal rights advocate, had said the dogs at Nelson's house were found in two cramped cages without food and water, and that the cages were surrounded by piles of garbage and excrement. All charges against Nelson were dropped when Collins ruled the evidence against her was "tainted." The official misconduct charges Dunn now faces are related to that case, prosecutors say, along with the alleged workers' compensation fraud.

Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith this afternoon called the criminal charges against Dunn "troubling". It's expected by tonight that she will be officially suspended from the sheriff's department, requiring her to turn over her badge, her weapon and any property belonging to the county. Dunn was investigated by the FBI who, according to Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy, interviewed witnesses, reviewed documents and worked closely with his office. "When the FBI offered their support, we gladly accepted," Levy said in a statement. "The agents who worked hand-in-hand with our Criminal Investigator Henry Lopez and Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher York were thorough, meticulous and professional in their approach to this matter." Levy inherited the investigation when he took office in January 2008. His predecessor, Kevin L. Wright, recused himself from the investigation and the court appointed White Plains attorney Stephen Lewis as a special district attorney in the matter in January 2007. In March 2008, Dunn was removed from the patrol division and placed in the sheriff's communications division. Levy said the FBI became involved in the case 18 months ago. Other controversial animal cruelty cases headed up by Dunn -[0x0f]including the seizure of farm animals from Garrison resident Alexander Saunders and the taking of a 12-year-old horse that Dunn ended being involved in the animal's adoption -[0x0f]did not figure into today's indictment.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NY Times: Few Results for Reports of Police Misconduct

Few Results for Reports of Police Misconduct
The New York Times by CHRISTINE HAUSER - October 4, 2009

Joseph A. Diaz’s problems with the police began in 2007. He was sitting on the stoop of his apartment building in the Bronx, smoking a cigarette, when a police officer approached him and, according to Mr. Diaz, asked him for identification. “Why are you asking me this?” Mr. Diaz, 58, said he told the officer. “For 40 years, I live in this building. Did you see me do something? Did you get a call on me? You can’t profile me,” he said in an interview. One week later, Mr. Diaz said, he was confronted by the same officer and a few others. Words were exchanged, and this time, Mr. Diaz said, he was handcuffed and frisked before being released without arrest. That encounter began an effort, now nearly two years running, by Mr. Diaz to seek an official explanation. Like thousands of other New Yorkers each year, he filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct. But about a year after the review board substantiated part of Mr. Diaz’s case, the Police Department closed it without explanation. “His is the typical case that we are concerned about,” said Dick Dadey, the executive director of Citizens’ Union, which has pressed for reforms at the review board. “It has been dismissed without him or the public knowing why.” Civil rights advocates, elected officials and community leaders say cases like Mr. Diaz’s are reviving ideas for reforms of the review board, including recent legislative proposals by City Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick and Bill de Blasio, a candidate for public advocate. Most focus on the board’s relevance; many civilian complaints, even those that the board’s investigators substantiate, result in no disciplinary measures taken by the Police Department. And of the cases sent to the police, 40 percent are rejected. “If you think you are going to see the cop fired or something serious happen, then maybe C.C.R.B. is not the right way to go,” said Cory Walker, a former review board investigator, referring to the advice he gives his clients in his current job as a Legal Aid Society lawyer.

Police officials, in defending the way they handle discipline of officers, suggested that the department has improved its relationship with the review board. But they also insist that the department’s own lawyers are best qualified to decide whether to pursue a case against an officer. “The department advocate is best positioned to assess the relative strength of the case and the probability of a finding of guilt,” said the chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne. The review board was established in December 1992, with a City Council vote intended to create an independent civilian agency to investigate misconduct complaints against the police. The allegations can range from obscenity to excessive force. This year, the board is projecting that at least 8,200 citizens will file complaints, which would be the highest yearly total ever in the city. In 2008, more than half a million people — also a record number — were stopped and frisked, a practice that generates the most complaints to the board. Despite the increasing volume of complaints, the review board has seen the Police Department decline to act upon a growing percentage of its cases.

In 2005, the Police Department declined to prosecute 2 percent of the cases that the review board referred to it. By 2008, that figure had risen to 33 percent; so far this year, the department has declined to prosecute 40 percent of the cases, records show. “The only plausible explanation for the huge increase in dismissed cases is that the department has made a conscious decision not to pursue discipline against officers found by the C.C.R.B. to have engaged in misconduct,” said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. The board’s records also show a trend of fewer officers being disciplined: it was 58 percent last year, down from 74 percent in 2004. The Police Department has said that its standards of proof are different from those used by the review board’s lawyers, and that only department lawyers have the expertise to decide which cases to prosecute. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly recently noted the department has made reforms to improve the way it works with the review board, like by replacing police personnel with civilian prosecutors in trials. “There were police officers who were prosecuting other police officers,” Mr. Kelly said in a recent news briefing. “Some were attorneys, some weren’t.” If a case is substantiated by the review board, it is passed on to the Police Department, which has the sole discretion and power to drop the case or pursue it. Commissioner Kelly has the final say in any decisions about discipline, which can result in dismissal. Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, said although they were prosecuting fewer cases referred by the review board, the conviction rate at departmental trials had risen to 60 percent from 30 percent in 2004. Mr. Browne credited an overhaul of the department’s advocate office, whose prosecutors have been more selective about which cases they take on. “It would be unfair and counterproductive, and a waste of scarce police resources, to move forward with a case which is incapable of being proven in the trial room,” Mr. Browne said.

Over the years, some of the current ideas for reforms had been suggested before, like in 2001, when former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, acting on the recommendations of the Commission to Combat Police Corruption, backed the idea of giving prosecutorial authority to the review board. But now, at the start of the board’s 16th year in operation, many say at no other time has the need to expand the agency’s powers been more pressing. In addition to the rising number of complaints, the board is facing internal challenges. Like other city agencies, its staffing and budget are coming under pressure, with $10.2 million budgeted for the 2010 fiscal year, down from $11.4 million in 2009. The agency lost 10 investigators in the 2009 fiscal year and will shed another 16 in the following year, board officials said. Joan Thompson, the board’s executive director, testified at a City Council committee hearing in May that the agency was losing some staff, and she projected that slightly more than half of the cases would have to be dropped because investigators would not be able to meet the 18-month statute of limitations for each case.

One of them was the case Mr. Diaz initiated. On Feb. 8, 2007, a week after Mr. Diaz said he was initially approached by the officer on his stoop, that officer and three others passed him in front of his building. The officers spoke among themselves, and then one, identified in Mr. Diaz’s case records as Officer Luis Ortiz, backtracked and asked Mr. Diaz for identification. “You’re harassing me,” Mr. Diaz said he told Officer Ortiz. Mr. Diaz, in a telephone interview, said Officer Ortiz then used physical force, handcuffed him and frisked him before letting him go. Mr. Diaz immediately filed a complaint with the review board. Ten months later, the board sent him a letter that said their investigators substantiated that Officer Ortiz had abused his authority by stopping and detaining Mr. Diaz. It referred the case to the police for action. Mr. Browne, the department spokesman, said in an e-mail message that Mr. Diaz could not adequately identify the officers. Mr. Diaz denies this. Mr. Browne also said a command log shows that the accused officers were in a different location at the time Mr. Diaz said he was harassed by them. But Mr. Diaz did not hear anything about his case until September 2008, nearly a year later, when he got a letter from the Police Department saying it investigated and decided no disciplinary action would be taken, and considered the matter closed. It did not tell him why. “They waited like two years and nothing happened and it just disappeared,” Mr. Diaz said. “It just disappeared like smoke.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cop Arrested in Drug Sting

City police officer arrested in drug sting
The Baltimore Sun by Justin Fenton - September 4, 2009

A Baltimore police officer was arrested for shaking down an undercover internal affairs officer posing as a drug dealer, the department said. Michael Sylvester, 29, was arrested Thursday morning after he stole $70 from the undercover officer in the 3900 block of Carlisle Ave. in Northwest Baltimore as part of what the department refers to as an integrity test, according to Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman. Guglielmi also said police recovered three small bags containing suspected cocaine in Sylvester's locker at the Northwest District police station. Sylvester, a four-year veteran, had been recently transferred from the Central District's Pennsylvania Avenue task force after police received numerous complaints that he was stealing cash from suspected drug dealers, Guglielmi said. The area is regarded as one of the largest drug marketplaces on the East Coast. Sylvester had not been charged as of Thursday afternoon, but Guglielmi said he was expected to be charged with theft and drug possession. Guglielmi said rooting out corrupt officers is a top priority of Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. Earlier this decade, such integrity stings were hailed by city leaders and the police commissioner as an effective way to stop and prevent corruption. But some criticized the effort after not a single officer was caught stealing drugs, money or other items planted by internal affairs in more than 100 tests over a three-year period from 2000 to 2003. Union officials and outside experts questioned at the time whether the stings were an effective use of resources. In August 2008, city Officer Jerome K. Hill was acquitted on charges of assault stemming from an incident in which he punched an undercover internal affairs detective during an integrity test in January 2008. Circuit Judge John C. Themelis said he could not second-guess the instincts of the officer and that he might have had good reason to act aggressively.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NJ Prison Guard Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Drugs to Inmate

N.J. corrections officer pleads guilty to smuggling drugs to inmate
New by Chris Megerian - August 31, 2009

TRENTON, NJ -- A corrections officer pleaded guilty today to smuggling cocaine and a syringe to an inmate in Southern State Correctional Facility. Roy Solomon, 33, of Lower Township in Cape May County admitted to official misconduct, which could land him in prison for five years. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13. Neither the Department of Corrections nor the Division of Criminal Justice would identify the inmate Solomon smuggled the contraband for last year. Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, said the inmate has not been charged. He would not comment on how the drugs or syringe were brought into the prison, saying the investigation is ongoing. Solomon started working at Southern State in March 2001 and has been suspended without pay since April 2009. The prison, which holds about 2,000 inmates in dormitory-style housing, is a medium-security prison located in Delmont in Cumberland County. Corrections spokeswoman Danielle Hunter declined to comment on the investigation. Last year the department fired 78 officers for infractions including possessing drugs and failing drug tests, as well as for simply not showing up to work, according to records and officials.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prison Guard Arrested with Pot in her Bra

Ark. prison guard arrested after state police say marijuana found in bra
By The Associated Press - August 29, 2009

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Bond has been set at $5,000 for a prison guard at the Maximum Security Unit near Pine Bluff after authorities say marijuana was found in her bra as she reported for work. A judge on Friday ruled there was probable cause to charge 26-year-old Michelle Anderson of Pine Bluff with possession of drugs with intent to deliver and possession of a weapon on prison property. According to a state police affidavit, Anderson was arrested Wednesday after another corrections officer conducting a body search found more than an ounce of marijuana in her bra. Deputy prosecutor Nicole Pugh Anderson says corrections officers searched Anderson's vehicle in the parking lot of the prison and found a handgun.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Former Cop Admits Corruption

Fmr cop admits guilt in corruption case
Maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, $250K fine
WOOD-TV8 - September 9, 2009

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. - A former Benton Harbor police officer has pleaded guilty in connection with a corruption investigation with his past employer. Bernard Hall Jr., 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Benton Harbor residents, according to the Department of Justice. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Hall was taken into custody July 17. He was head of the narcotics unit with the Benton Harbor Police Department at the time of the alleged incidents. He was the supervisor of other officers in the unit, including former officer Andrew Thomas Collins. Collins is also allegedly connected to this case. He is currently serving time in federal prison for a felony drug conviction on January 26. At that time, Collins admitted he abused his position of trust as a BHPD officer, in that on more than one occasion he failed to report and submit to the department all narcotics he seized in the course of his duties and instead retained possession of the drugs for his own use. Collins also admitted he reported false and fictitious controlled substances to the department for the purpose of improperly securing search warrants and to embezzle funds from the department. Count one of the indictment alleges Hall and Collins falsified search warrant affidavits, obtained search warrants without probable cause, embezzled funds from BHPD, filed false police reports and unlawfully seized and misappropriated people's money and personal property for their own personal use. The FBI office in St. Joseph, Michigan State Police, the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office and Benton Harbor Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian K. Delaney is prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Police Officer Admits Corruption

Ex-Benton Harbor police officer admits corruption
The Associated Press - September 9, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A former Benton Harbor police officer has admitted falsifying search-warrant affidavits, embezzling police funds and illegally seizing suspects' money and property. Bernard Hall Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to conspiracy to violate civil rights, which carries up to 10 years in federal prison. The former head of the Benton Harbor Police Department's narcotics unit admitted in a plea agreement that he and another officer engaged in "a pervasive pattern of police corruption." Andrew Collins already has been sentenced to 37 months in prison. WSBT-TV reports some drug cases handled by the officers have been dismissed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ex-Immigration Agent Arrested for Smuggling Cocaine

Ex-immigration agent accused of cocaine smuggling
The Associated Press - September 4, 2009

A former high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was stationed in Mexico before retiring in 2007 was arrested Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. Richard Padilla Cramer was arrested at his home in Green Valley, Ariz., 25 miles south of Tucson, and appeared before a federal judge, who denied bail. No one answered the phone at Cramer's home Friday and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer. The charges stem from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigation dating back to 2006. Authorities say Cramer helped a large-scale drug trafficking organization move cocaine into the United States, according to a criminal complaint made public Friday. The complaint says that Cramer provided members of a drug smuggling organization with information from confidential law enforcement databases that told them whether one of their members was a government informant. The complaint also says Cramer and the smuggling organization invested about $400,000 in a 660-pound shipment of cocaine. The cocaine was shipped from Panama and went through the U.S. en route to Spain, where it was seized in June 2007. An informant told DEA agents that Cramer had "very powerful friends" among DEA agents in Mexico and a strong relationship with one particular member of the smuggling organization, according to the complaint.

The complaint also says that during an August 2007 meeting, a member of the smuggling organization convinced Cramer to retire from ICE and begin working directly for the organization in drug smuggling and money laundering. The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, where federal prosecutors say the majority of the acts occurred. Authorities say Cramer will be extradited to Florida. Cramer was the former resident agent in charge of the ICE office in Nogales in southern Arizona, according to agency spokesman Vincent Picard, who did not know how long Cramer worked there or how many agents he oversaw. "It's a criminal complaint, not a conviction," Picard said. An Associated Press investigation recently found that U.S. law officers who work the border are being charged with criminal corruption in numbers not seen before, as drug and immigrant smugglers use money and sometimes sex to buy protection, and internal investigators crack down. Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, interviews with sentenced agents and a review of court records, the AP tallied corruption-related convictions against more than 80 enforcement officials at all levels - federal, state and local - since 2007 It's unclear if any of them ranked as high as Cramer, and Picard said his agency did not have that information.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Top Cop Sanitized Report for Politician

No state cops' rogue unit: report
The New York Daily News by Kenneth Lovett and Glenn Blain - September 7, 2009

ALBANY, NY - A long-awaited report by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo shot down charges that a rogue unit operated within the state police conducting political dirty tricks for two ex-governors, sources said last night. While no charges are expected, the report, which is likely to be sent to Gov. Paterson as early as tomorrow, is critical of former law enforcement officials. Ex-state police Col. Daniel Wiese, who headed security for former Gov. George Pataki and had a close relationship with disgraced ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, takes a beating. "It's going to be harsh on Dan Wiese, but there is nothing to substantiate any rogue unit ...," said a source. "There was no ... political espionage." Paterson requested the probe a year ago after hearing reports from more than 10 lawmakers that they might have been targeted by rogue cops. The report found that Wiese had inappropriate influence and often spoke with Rod Covington, who retired last year as head of the state police's executive services detail, sources said. The report also found that former state police Superintendent Wayne Bennett sanitized a domestic violence report on former upstate Republican Rep. John Sweeney during his unsuccessful 2006 reelection campaign.

Feds Focus on New Orleans Cops

Federal probe digs deeper into NOPD's actions after Hurricane Katrina
The Times Picayune by Brendan McCarthy and Laura Maggi - September 5, 2009

For the past several months, the federal building on Poydras Street has seen a steady stream of New Orleans police officers trudge in and out, all of them testifying before grand jurors gathering evidence of possible civil rights violations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- allegations that center on police misbehavior. Alex Brandon / The Times-Picayune archivePolice handcuff a man Sept. 4, 2005, after a confrontation with police on Chef Menteur Highway near the Danziger Bridge. It is one of the incidents involving New Orleans police that is being investigated by federal agents. Federal agents, meanwhile, have been studying police e-mails and documents obtained by subpoena -- as well as through a surprise search warrant executed on the New Orleans Police Department homicide office -- in an attempt to ferret out exactly what happened in the chaotic days after the storm. The feds also have sent subpoenas seeking photographs to The Times-Picayune, and they have ordered a former photographer for the paper to testify before the grand jury. Observers and authorities say the investigations, and the charges they are likely to result in, could shake the very foundation of the New Orleans Police Department in ways that haven't been seen since the Len Davis murder-for-hire case in the mid-1990s. Davis, who essentially ran a drug-protection racket comprised of fellow NOPD officers, was sentenced to death for ordering the execution of a woman who filed a complaint against him. But the reverberations from the new cases could extend well beyond the department. The cases are likely to get international publicity and heighten already-deep mistrust of the Police Department. And, as did other notorious Katrina cases -- such as allegations of euthanasia at Memorial Medical Center and of gross neglect at St. Rita's nursing home -- the cases will force New Orleanians to confront an uncomfortable and perhaps unanswerable question: How accountable should people be for the actions they take in desperate times?

Led by prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division and conducted by FBI agents, the simultaneous federal investigations are focused on two separate police actions -- one on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans and the other in Algiers. Federal authorities are also exploring allegations of vigilante violence by civilians in Algiers Point. The Danziger incident is well-known to New Orleanians: Police, responding to reports of shots fired at officers, shot six people on the bridge, killing two men and wounding four others. Alex Brandon / The Times-Picayune archiveLance Madison is arrested by State Police and NOPD SWAT members on Sept. 4, 2005, after a confrontation with police near the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans. Ronald Madison, Lance Madison's brother, was shot to death that day. A state grand jury in late 2006 indicted seven police officers on murder and attempted murder charges, but a Criminal District Court judge last year dismissed the charges, concluding that prosecutor errors tainted the case. Federal authorities then agreed to pick up the case. The Algiers investigation is more recent and less publicly known. Though four years have passed since Katrina, the probe began only this year, after published accounts described a potential police role in the burning of a corpse that was eventually pulled from a charred car on a West Bank levee. That probe focuses on whether NOPD officers just days after Katrina played a role in shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover, beating him and his buddies, then later torching the vehicle where his body was discovered, sources close to the case have said. It is not clear whether the officers believed to be involved in the shooting and those who allegedly set fire to the car knew about each others' roles, sources have said.

The scope of the feds' inquiry -- and the expectation that the effort will bring results -- has led many observers to recall the mid-to-late-1990s, when FBI agents were actually stationed within the Public Integrity Bureau. That relationship resulted in some shocking prosecutions, among them the arrest and conviction of two police officer brothers who were part of drug kingpin Richard Pena's distribution operation. NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the probes in detail. "The NOPD has cooperated with the U.S. attorney and the FBI and will continue to do so throughout their investigations, " said Bob Young, head of the department's public affairs division. Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said even without knowing what the results of the post-Katrina investigations will be, they must be considered to be serious, based on the resources the federal government has committed. "These investigations, should they result in any criminal charges, would be at least as significant and notorious and damning as the Len Davis case, " he said. Authorities, speaking on background, have given similar assessments. Each of the cases involve police officers possibly committing some wrongdoing while acting in their official capacities. Each also could result in charges related to civil rights violations, Goyeneche said. Obstruction of justice charges are also possible. "If they do result in indictments, I think there will be an international media feeding frenzy, " Goyeneche said.

Facing a deadline

The federal investigation into Danziger began last fall, and the Algiers probe was launched a few months later. It's unclear when the feds hope to wrap things up. But most of the relevant federal laws have statutes of limitations of five years, meaning any charges must be brought by next September. Since the probe got under way, agents from the FBI New Orleans office's civil rights division have been applying steadily increasing pressure on local police. Agents, along with prosecutors, have woken up officers at home. They have issued several subpoenas for a wide array of documents, including all Blackberry communications for officers in several police districts and in specialized units, sources said.

Federal prosecutors have also demanded that the NOPD preserve all such communications during an 11-month period starting in September 2005. Perhaps most dramatically, agents conducted a raid on the NOPD's homicide division in early August, showing up unannounced and executing a search warrant on the computers and files of two veteran homicide detectives -- both supervisors -- who had handled NOPD investigations of the Danziger and Algiers incidents. Though at least one member of the NOPD's internal investigative unit -- the Public Integrity Bureau -- accompanied the agents in the homicide office, detectives were caught unaware of the seizure. It was by no means a friendly visit, sources said. The probe has created a gnawing sense of anxiety within the department. Privately, officers have groused that the feds are using strong-arm tactics, not offering professional courtesy usually extended to fellow law enforcement agencies. In one incident that's become legend, the 2nd District commander argued with and nearly barred agents earlier this summer from entering his station house. Federal agents, along with at least one prosecutor, showed up at the Uptown station to interview a police officer. They were met by Maj. Bruce Little, who took umbrage with their presence, several sources said. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the interview was conducted at a later time, though the incident did little to smooth relations. Officers have long been suspicious of the prying eyes of the feds. The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police organization in New Orleans, sent an e-mail message to all of its members in late May reminding officers of their right to consult an attorney before submitting to an interview. The message recommended taking advantage of that right, regardless of whether the officer was being questioned as a target or witness.

Change in course

While the Algiers and Danziger cases are the focus of the probe, the federal examination of the department has not stopped there. For example, federal agents earlier this year began looking into the police shooting of 22-year-old Adolph Grimes in the 6th Ward on New Year's Day. The recent focus on possible civil rights abuses by New Orleans police seems to represent a new course for a Justice Department that was focused on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "We've gone a very long time with a Justice Department that had very little interest, if any, in either investigating or prosecuting corrupt or brutal police officers, " said Mary Howell, a veteran civil rights attorney and longtime NOPD critic who is also representing a family suing the department over the Danziger Bridge incident. Since the investigations are largely focused on incidents that occurred four years ago, Howell said it remains unclear whether federal investigators are planning to delve into more current wrongdoing in the department. Federal authorities, meanwhile, say privately that the probes are more a function of new evidence than a policy shift at the Department of Justice. Until an article about the Henry Glover shooting appeared late last year in The Nation, they said, they were unaware of the incident.

Focusing on rights

In both the Danziger and Algiers cases, federal investigators are focused on whether police violated citizens' civil rights, which is a federal offense. On Sept. 4, 2005, police acknowledge shooting two groups of people, killing two men and injuring four others. While the victims have said they were ambushed by the police, the officers have said they responded to reports of shootings and used their weapons only after first taking fire. Details of the Algiers incident are murkier, but sources close to the investigation have said the grand jury is trying to determine whether an officer or officers shot Glover, as well as if other cops are responsible for burning his body. Photo courtesy of Rolanda ShortHenry Glover with his daughter, Nehemiah Short, sometime before September 2005. Glover's charred remains were pulled out of a car weeks after the storm. After he was shot on Sept. 2, a man named William Tanner picked him up, along with Glover's brother, Edward King, and a friend, Bernard Calloway. Tanner, who had been talking to a woman near where Glover was shot, drove the injured man to the Paul B. Habans Elementary School, where the Police Department's SWAT team had set up a temporary headquarters. At the school, Tanner said, police officers did not help them. Instead, he said, they were abusive to the three men trying to help Glover, while leaving the injured man bleeding in the car. Eventually, one of the officers drove off in Tanner's Chevy Malibu, with Glover still inside. Tanner didn't see his car for weeks, until a federal agent told him that the burned remains were left on the Algiers levee, near the 4th District police station. The remains were retrieved by the 82nd Airborne, according to the Orleans Parish coroner's office.

Along with the subpoenas they've sent to New Orleans police, federal investigators looking into the case have subpoenaed The Times-Picayune, asking for photos taken by Alex Brandon, who was one of dozens of Times-Picayune photographers and reporters covering the chaos after Hurricane Katrina. Brandon has also received a subpoena to testify before the grand jury investigating Glover's death. Brandon was at Habans on Sept. 2, the day Glover was shot. Lori Mince, an attorney for the newspaper, said prosecutors have asked for any pictures he took at the school on that day. Mince said photographers' images normally are archived at the newspaper's office in New Orleans. But in the aftermath of Katrina, the newspaper was displaced. After the newspaper resumed normal operations, it collected the images its photographers shot and archived them. She said the newspaper does not have any photos taken by Brandon at Habans that show Glover or Tanner or the Malibu. Brandon, who spent several days after the storm photographing law enforcement officers as they tried to keep order in the city, was also at the Danziger scene shortly after the shootings there. Federal authorities have also subpoenaed the newspaper's photographs of that scene. Reached by telephone, Brandon, who left the newspaper in 2006 and now works for The Associated Press, declined comment. The story of Glover's death was first reported in The Nation magazine and Web site late last year. A companion report alleged that some white residents of Algiers Point turned into vigilantes after the storm, shooting at black people they considered possible looters. Federal agents have also been looking into those allegations. Brendan McCarthy can be reached at or 504.826.3301. Laura Maggi can be reached at or 504.826.3316.