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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Police Officer Embroiled in Corruption Case is Suspended

Minneapolis police officer embroiled in corruption case is suspended
The Star Tribune by TONY KENNEDY, PAUL McENROE and DAVID CHANEN - January 30, 2009

A Minneapolis police lieutenant, who was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in a federal corruption investigation, has been suspended without pay for related departmental violations. Lt. Lee Edwards, 51, began the suspension this week, but the length of the disciplinary action was not disclosed. The department's Internal Affairs Unit found that Edwards violated codes of conduct and ethics in dealing with a high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples street gang. He faced six Internal Affairs allegations; four of them were sustained in a report completed last summer. Edwards was the main target in an FBI probe of police corruption as alleged by Taylor Trump, the gang member. Trump, a convicted drug dealer who is awaiting sentencing on federal mortgage fraud and drug charges, told authorities in June 2007 that he had knowledge of at least six Minneapolis officers who gave him information to protect his criminal enterprises. Edwards, a former commander in the Homicide Unit and inspector in the Fourth Precinct on the city's North Side, was taped by the FBI conversing with Trump and providing him with the license plate number of a city-owned vehicle.

The Internal Affairs report stated, "Edwards should know that a vehicle listing to the City of Minneapolis Equipment Division is likely to be an unmarked squad and that revealing this information to a known gang member and drug dealer could result in physical harm or death to an undercover police officer." In that instance, Edwards was found to have violated the department's code of ethics by providing a gang member with information related to an unmarked police vehicle. The three other sustained findings are closely related to the one in which Edwards provided secured information to Trump. Edwards, for his part, has maintained that he was conversing with Trump only because he sought to turn the gang member into a confidential informant. He said that, at the time, he did not know that the FBI was already using Trump as an informant. Trump was directed by the FBI in the summer of 2007 to get close to Edwards in an attempt to find whether Edwards would take money in return for providing information. But while Edwards provided Trump with information, no bribe money was offered by Trump. Three weeks ago, Edwards was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the Anoka County Attorney's office. Minneapolis police investigators involved in the FBI investigation had asked the Anoka County Attorney's office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

The Anoka County review found that Edwards' communications with Trump were "rather innocuous" and he never received any tangible benefits or rewards. Anoka County Attorney Robert M.A. Johnson said in his letter explaining the decision not to file charges that Edwards released information to Trump "solely because he and Trump had been acquainted with each other since the early 1980s while attending college in Mankato." Edwards, who recently was promoted to run the department's Training Unit, could not be reached for comment. He is expected to appeal the unpaid suspension. Edwards is one of five black Minneapolis police officers who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Chief Tim Dolan and the City of Minneapolis in December 2007. The lawsuit is pending. Sgt. Bill Palmer, Minneapolis Police spokesman, declined to comment. When asked about Edwards' suspension, Palmer said, "it's a non-public personnel matter.'' According to the Internal Affairs report, a key allegation against Edwards was not sustained. That allegation, made by Trump, was that Edwards had accepted bribe payments over the years of approximately $5,000 for providing information related to on-going criminal investigations. "With the exception of the statement of Taylor Trump, there is no evidence to support the allegation that Lt. Lee Edwards violated the professional code of conduct as it relates to this specific allegation," the report stated. Paul McEnroe 612-673-1745 Tony Kennedy 612-673-4213 David Chanen 612-673-4465

Friday, January 30, 2009

Arrested Memphis Police Officer Resigns

Arrested Memphis police officer resigns
WZTV -  Nashville, TN - January 30, 2009 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A Memphis police officer has resigned the day after he was arrested on criminal charges. Memphis Police spokeswoman Monique Martin said 36-year-old patrol officer Ravell Slayton resigned Friday. Police said the 36-year-old Slayton was charged with official misconduct and theft. He is accused of buying large-screen TVs that he knew were stolen. Slayton is also accused of being in uniform in a police car outside a residence where he knew illegal drugs were being sold. He is free on $5,000 bond. More than 40 Memphis law enforcement officers have been charged with corruption-related charges over the last five years.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Two Cops Arrested in Separate Investigations

2 Memphis police officers charged in separate investigations
The Commercial Appeal by Hank Dudding - Janury 29, 2009

Two Memphis police officers were walked to squad cars in handcuffs Thursday after their arrests in separate criminal investigations. Both men were jailed and relieved of duty with pay pending administrative hearings. "Corruption has no place in the Memphis Police Department," said Director Larry Godwin. "As far as I'm concerned, that's two criminals off the streets." Lt. Billy Smallwood, 45, was charged by a federal grand jury with accessing law enforcement databases and selling the information to a third party. Patrol officer Ravell Slayton, 36, was charged by a Shelby County grand jury with two counts of official misconduct, one count of theft and another count of attempted theft. He was involved in buying and selling stolen property, Godwin said. Slayton also admitted being in uniform in a patrol car outside a house where he knew his brother was selling drugs at least 50 times.

The charges were announced during back-to-back news conferences Thursday afternoon attended by Godwin, Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons, FBI Special Agent in Charge My Harrison, U.S. Atty. Larry Laurenzi and Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell. The federal indictment alleges that Smallwood used a fake name to access information on Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation databases. The databases include criminal histories and other personal information and are restricted for official law enforcement use. He's charged with three counts of wire fraud, one count of creating a false document in a matter within FBI jurisdiction and another count of computer fraud. Laurenzi wouldn't say who Smallwood sold the information to, nor how much he was paid. Smallwood, who is free on $5,000 bond, was assigned to auto theft under Investigative Services and has been with the MPD since 1989. The Smallwood case was investigated by the Tarnished Blue Task Force, which is made up of FBI agents, Memphis police officers and Shelby County deputies.

Over the past five years, Tarnished Blue investigations have resulted in the arrests of 48 law enforcement officers, including 18 with the Memphis Police Department. Slayton, who is free on $2,500 bond, was picked up at his home Thursday as police rounded up suspects who'd been indicted during an investigation targeting street-level drug sales. He joined the department in 2001 and was assigned to Airways Station. Responding to a tip, undercover officers on Jan. 15 sold Slayton three 52-inch televisions he thought were stolen, police said. Slayton and his brother, Talvayentez Williams, 33, are believed to have profited from items stolen in the Chickasaw Gardens area by another man, Marcus Guy, 32. Police raided Williams' home at 1196 Aubra on Jan. 15, seizing drugs, weapons and a scale. He's free on $40,000 bond. Guy was also arrested Thursday, but no bond had been set. Godwin said the arrests will solve a number of burglaries in the Chickasaw Gardens area. "It clears it up tremendously," he said. "What you hate is to know that a police officer was involved in it." Smallwood -- who was arrested while attending a class at the training academy -- and Slayton got no special treatment from their fellow officers, Godwin said. "They were handcuffed, put into the back of a squad car and arrested," he said. "If you're going to commit a criminal act, you're going to be treated like any other criminal we arrest." -- Hank Dudding: 529-2565

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FBI says Cop Took $100 Per Towed Car

FBI says Chicago cop took $100 per towed car
The Chicago Sun-Times by Frank Main - January 28, 2009

A Chicago Police scandal widened today with the unsealing of federal charges against an officer for allegedly taking bribes from tow-truck operators — at least the fourth cop ensnared in the corruption probe. Officer Jimmie Akins is charged with attempted extortion for allegedly taking bribes in 2006 and 2007. Akins accepted bribes to let tow-truck operators remove vehicles from accident scenes the officer was responsible for in the Near North District, according to an affidavit by FBI Agent Craig Henderson. Akins would use his cell phone to alert the tow truck operators about accidents, Henderson said. Under police rules, cops are prohibited from advising tow operators that their services might be needed — and from recommending services to car accident victims. An informant who owns a towing company told the feds he met Akins at a nightclub in 2004 and they began a crooked business relationship, according to the affidavit. The informant allegedly started paying Akins $100 per towed car and told the FBI he towed about 20 cars from accident scenes in downtown Chicago. The informant also said he paid Akins $500 to pay off the officer’s cell phone bill.

In 2006, Akins was secretly recorded by the FBI demanding $2,300 from the informant for vehicles the informant had towed in 2005, according to the FBI. “We did one hundred a car — I got you 38 cars,” Akins allegedly told the informant. “So from the 38 cars, out of those you gave me $1,500. So the change is $2,300.” On April 21, 2006, they met at a McDonald’s and the informant paid Akins $1,000. The meeting was secretly recorded, according to the FBI. The informant paid Akins the remaining $500 about a week later, the FBI says. Meanwhile, another tow-truck operator said Akins was angry at him for not paying for tows from accident scenes. In April 2006, Akins allegedly tried to get the tow-truck operator to leave an accident scene. Akins wound up hitting the tow-truck operator, handcuffing him to a steering wheel and arresting him on charges of theft, illegally using a cell phone in a vehicle and resisting a peace officer, records show. Those charges were later thrown out. In 2007, they apparently had repaired their relationship and the tow-truck operator paid Akins at least $1,800 in exchange for towing jobs, the FBI said.

Even after the Chicago Police Department stripped Akins of his police powers because of the FBI investigation, he continued to call the tow-truck driver and inquire about accident scenes, the FBI said. Akins was still interested in getting paid for towing jobs, according to the FBI. In one secretly recorded meeting with the second tow-truck operator, Akins told him that he expected an additional $2,000 for billings on repairs to vehicles towed from accident scenes, the FBI said. Three other cops have been charged in the corruption investigation, which involves at least five Chicago Police districts and began in 2003. In April 2008, federal prosecutors charged Chicago Police Officer Scott Campbell with setting up a scheme to make it look as if someone had stolen his 1996 green Volkswagen Passat.

Federal prosecutors said Campbell arranged to have the car taken and sold in pieces. State Farm Insurance paid Campbell about $4,000 for what they believed was a stolen vehicle. Joseph DeMichael of Chicago was charged with scheming with Campbell by taking the car home, dismantling it and selling the parts. In March 2008, Chicago Police Officer Michael J. Ciancio, who also served as an assistant athletic director at a west suburban high school, was accused of extorting up to $800 a week from a tow truck company. He pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month and is awaiting sentencing May 13. Chicago Police Officer Joseph Grillo and Collision Towing owner Jim “Meatball” Athans were previously charged in the investigation. Grillo and Athans were charged with helping Campbell carry out the insurance scam. Grillo, who pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to change his plea on Feb. 17, records show.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Former Police Officers Set to Face Drug Trial

Former South Bend police officer Jamie Buford and former St. Joseph County police officers Andrew Taghon and Ryan Huston are set to face trial Monday.

The Tribune by Erin Blasko - January 27, 2009

A 2007 federal indictment charges the three with aiding and abetting wire fraud and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute the drug. Taghon also is charged with selling a firearm to a felon and sale of a stolen firearm. A fourth man, Daniel Alvarez, also is included in the indictment. Alvarez pleaded guilty in February 2008 to selling two stolen guns linked to Taghon and has agreed to testify for the prosecution. On the eve of the trial, the documents outline to a degree not previously known the intricacies of the alleged conspiracy, including its origins, the players involved, and the twists and turns that led to its eventual unraveling. What unfolds is a tale of greed, betrayal and gross abuse of power.

The Trailers

The case against the three officers centers on the alleged theft and subsequent sale of drugs and other items from two South Bend trailers — one located in Clear Water Mobile Village and the other near South Bend Regional Airport. William Speybroeck, a childhood friend of Taghon and a convicted felon, allegedly assisted the men in the criminal enterprise. He fenced many of the items by placing them for sale on eBay, prosecutors allege, and then split the profits with the officers. He also allegedly attempted to locate people willing to take drugs off the officers’ hands. In October 2007, Speybroeck spoke to The Tribune from prison about his role. At the time, David Capp, acting U.S. attorney for Northern Indiana, would neither confirm nor deny Speybroeck was involved in the conspiracy. Prosecutors allege that in July 2004, Buford visited one of the trailers and attempted to serve a phony warrant to its owner, a man he knew to be a possible drug dealer. He was allegedly accompanied by another officer, and a third officer arrived later. Without proof of the warrant, however, the man would not let the officers inside and they eventually left. Later that same month, the owner of the trailers was arrested. While in custody, Taghon and Huston allegedly broke into both trailers and stole several items. The two allegedly brought the items to Speybroeck’s home in a police vehicle. They told him from where they came, prosecutors allege, and Speybroeck agreed to buy two desktop computers and two flip-down television monitors. Huston allegedly kept a plasma television. He hung it above his fireplace, and Speybroeck later helped him connect to it a surround-sound system. Before leaving, Taghon and Huston allegedly told Speybroeck items of value remained in the trailers, and suggested he loot them.

Beaten to the punch

Soon, Speybroeck enlisted the help of another man, prosecutors allege, and with Taghon guiding him by cell phone, drove to the Clear Water trailer at night. When the two arrived, however, several people were already removing items from the trailer. Taghon, by cell phone again, allegedly told Speybroeck and his accomplice to wait for the people to leave and then follow their vehicle. They did, but were eluded. The two then returned to the trailer and broke in, prosecutors allege, but found nothing of value inside. The next day, Speybroeck allegedly enlisted the help of another man and drove to the second trailer during the day. Finding it locked, they allegedly called Taghon and were told Taghon’s "partner" was on the way to assess the situation. While waiting for the partner, however, several people arrived and, as with the first trailer, began removing items. Speybroeck and his accomplice left, prosecutors allege. They met Taghon in a parking lot, where he allegedly told them he had already taken some items from the second trailer.

The cocaine

About a week later, Taghon and Huston allegedly visited Speybroeck again and asked whether he knew of anyone who might be able to take some cocaine off their hands. They then allegedly opened the trunk of their squad car and revealed to Speybroeck cocaine they claimed had been stolen from one of the trailers. Daniel Alvarez, the fourth indicted person, was allegedly contacted by Speybroeck about buying the drugs at a very low price, but eventually declined. Alvarez later pleaded guilty to selling two stolen guns traced back to Taghon. The weapons were allegedly used in the shooting of an undercover South Bend police officer in 2004. The gun charges against Taghon allegedly stem from his original sale of the weapons to a known felon. Several days later, Buford allegedly contacted a confidential informant about selling the cocaine as part of the informant’s ongoing work with police. On two separate occasions, prosecutors allege, the informant was given 9 ounces of cocaine. After selling the drugs, he handed the proceeds over to Buford and Huston.

The recordings

Speybroeck allegedly continued working with Taghon and Huston throughout the summer and fall of 2004. He listed stolen items for them on eBay, and then transferred money from the sales to their accounts, committing wire fraud. In 2005, however, Speybroeck learned he was under investigation by federal authorities for interstate transportation of stolen property. When Taghon learned of the investigation, he allegedly advised Speybroeck to seek leniency by informing on a firearms dealer who illegally sold a gun to Speybroeck. The plan backfired, prosecutors allege, and instead of leniency, Speybroeck found himself facing gun charges as well.

In May 2005, Speybroeck was charged with firearms and interstate theft offenses by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana. He pleaded guilty and agreed to provide information concerning other crimes in the district, including those involving the officers. Speybroeck and his wife were both given concealed audio recorders, and over several months allegedly recorded phone and face-to-face conversations with Taghon, Alvarez and Speybroeck’s two accomplices in the trailer burglaries. His wife’s recorded conversations were mostly with Taghon, prosecutors allege, and occurred during the time that Speybroeck was still in state custody, before he reported to federal prison. The conversations mostly consisted of Taghon’s efforts to help the family out financially by purchasing from them stolen goods, prosecutors allege. But Taghon also allegedly inquired routinely about the extent to which Speybroeck was cooperating with federal authorities to "work some of his time off." Speybroeck’s recordings were allegedly made between September 2005, when he was released from state custody, and mid-October 2005, when he reported to federal prison. To get Taghon to talk about the conspiracy, Speybroeck allegedly lied and said he had heard a county police officer had testified against him to the federal grand jury, and that he feared that officer might be Huston.

In the recorded conversations, the two allegedly talk not only about Huston, but Buford, Alvarez and several others involved either directly or indirectly in the conspiracy. At the same time, Taghon allegedly continued to press Speybroeck about his time in custody and the extent of his cooperation with authorities. The two last spoke on Oct. 10, 2005, the day before Speybroeck was scheduled to report to prison, prosecutors allege. At one point during the conversation, Taghon allegedly passed a note to Speybroeck that read, "Do me and (Huston) have anything to worry about?" Speybroeck allegedly said no, and Taghon asked if he was sure. When Speybroeck asked why Taghon had posed the question in writing, Taghon allegedly said, "Well, you were asking some pretty f-----’ weird questions the other night, man …" Speybroeck allegedly explained he had been trying to determine who had testified against him to the grand jury. "It ain’t me and it ain’t Huston," Taghon allegedly said. "It ain’t nobody else." The next day, Speybroeck went to prison. Two years later, federal agents arrested Taghon, Huston and Buford. Staff writer Erin Blasko: (574) 235-6187

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grifter claims NYPD officer paid him $50,000 to kill ex-wife

Grifter claims NYPD officer paid him $50,000 to kill ex-wife


An NYPD officer was suspended from duty Saturday after a Long Island grifter claimed the Queens cop paid him $5,000 to kill his ex-wife, police sources said. Officer Anthony Battisti, 42, was suspended Saturday as police investigate claims by Timothy Gersbeck, 34, that the 17-year veteran hired the man to kill his ex-wife, sources said. Battisti has not been charged with any crime. Gersbeck was arrested Friday after he plunged a screwdriver into the neck of the woman in front of the Franklin Square home she once shared with Battisti. Police sources said Battisti was jealous of a new relationship his ex-wife had been pursuing and may have paid Gersbeck to kill the 44-year-old Long Island woman. Gersbeck, who was arrested on insurance fraud charges in 2005, had done odd jobs for Battisti, including some house painting and car repairs, police sources said. The victim, whose identity the Daily News is withholding, was in serious condition Saturday night at a Nassau County hospital.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Three Jail Guards Indicted in Prisoner Death

The New York Post by IKIMULISA LIVINGSTON and ANDY GELLER - January 22, 2009

Three guards and 12 inmates have been indicted in connection with the beating death of an 18-year-old prisoner at Rikers Island, Bronx prosecutors said today.Two of the guards, Michael McKie and Khalid Nelson, were arraigned on enterprise corruption charges for allegedly running a scheme that allowed inmates to run a cellblock and beat up other prisoners to keep order. This made the lazy guards' jobs easier, prosecutors said. The slain prisoner, Christopher Robinson, who was in Rikers on a parole violation charge, was found dead in his cell last Oct. 18. He was covered with bruises.

Prosecutors said three inmates beat and stomped him to death when he refused to go along with the policing scheme, called "the program." McKie, 31, of Brooklyn and Nelson, 34, of Staten Island were ordered held on $200,000 bail. A third guard, Denise Albright, 43, of Manhattan, was charged with conspiracy and assault and held on $50,000 bail. The 12 inmates are to be arraigned tomorrow. Three of them are facing manslaughter charges for beating and stomping Robinson to death, prosecutors said. They were identified as Joseph "Pop Brim" Hutchinson, 18, of Manhattan, Anquant "Ant Luv" Bryant, 18, of The Bronx and Shaddon "Fire" Beswick, 18, of The Bronx. Robinson's mother, Charnel, who has filed a $20 million wrongful death suit against the city, called the indictment "fair and just." "It's extremely painful to know my son was placed in their care. They blatantly ignored any signs of abuse," she said outside court. "It's very soothing for the agony and pain that I have to deal with on a constant basis." Robinson's was the first homicide in city jails in four years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cops who abandoned boy avoid jail

Cops who abandoned boy, 15, in Staten Island swamp avoid jail after he refuses to testify
The New York Daily News by MIKE JACCARINO AND DAVE GOLDINER  - January 21, 2009

Two NYPD officers accused of dumping an egg-tossing teen in a desolate area of Staten Island escaped prison time Wednesday after the boy told prosecutors he wouldn't testify. "He didn't want the officers to go to jail," Assistant District Attorney Mario Mattei said of 15-year-old Rayshawn Moreno. "[He believes] they should go about their lives and he should go about his." Officers Thomas Elliassen and Richard Danese, both 29, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct Wednesday, knocking a felony down to a violation. Under the terms of the plea deal, the cops each paid $95 in court fees in connection with the Halloween 2007 incident. The cops were initially charged with felony unlawful imprisonment and faced up to four years in prison. Moreno's family blasted the deal as "disgraceful," saying the teen is still "petrified" over the incident. "They destroyed his dignity," said Evelyn Boyd, 61, the teen's grandmother. "He's afraid and he doesn't want to talk about it." Defense lawyers for the officers trashed the case as a house of cards and said they accepted the slap on the wrist to put the issue behind them. "It's a win-win," said Salvatore Strazzullo, who represented Danese. "It shows the mistakes that were made in the prosecutor's case." The officers were placed on desk duty after the incident and could still face departmental discipline.

Authorities said the cops put the Richmond High School student into a squad car after catching him tossing eggs at other vehicles. Prosecutors said they drove Rayshawn to a remote swampy area, forced him to strip down to his underwear and then left him. The boy's parents branded the two white 120th Precinct cops as racists, saying they mistreated their son because he's black. The cops told supervisors they dumped Rayshawn to teach him a lesson. When they came back to get him, he was gone. Rayshawn had to walk to a nearby strip mall to plead for help. His parents said he was terrified by the incident. Mattei called the youth "generous" and insisted he told the truth about his clash with cops. Ikiesha Al-Shabazz, the lawyer for Elliassen, said prosecutors dropped the criminal charges to spare the teen from having his story ripped to shreds on the witness stand. "Mr. Moreno was a victim who wasn't a victim at all," Al-Shabazz said. "He didn't want ... the truth to come out." A year after the dumping incident, Rayshawn was charged with weapons possession after he allegedly brought a box cutter to school. With Alison Gendar

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ex-guard pleads guilty to raping female inmate

Ex-Bedford Hills guard pleads guilty to raping female inmate
The Journal News by Rebecca Baker - January 20, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, NY - A former state correction officer admitted in court today that he had sex with an inmate at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility last year. David Sawyer, 50, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape, a felony, for having sex with the incarcerated woman. Under state law, female prisoners cannot consent to sexual relationships with corrections officers. Sawyer, who lives in Washington County, was arrested Jan. 23, the same day he is accused of having sex with the inmate. In court, he closed his eyes as he admitted that he knew sexual relations between inmates and correction officers were forbidden. He will be sentenced April 14. Westchester County Court Judge Jeffrey A. Cohen said he planned to place Sawyer on sex offender probation for 10 years. Third-degree rape is punishable by up to four years in prison. The judge also issued a protective order barring Sawyer from having any contact with the inmate. People who receive sex offender probation must avoid pornography and sexually explicit material, and must undergo routine polygraph tests at their own expense, among other restrictions. Bedford Hills is the state's only maximum security prison for women.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ex-sleuth in NYPD badge racket strikes $10G deal
The New York Daily News by Thomas Zambito - January 14, 2009

Former NYPD Detective Robert Neves will pay a $10,000 fine for handing out hundreds of phony NYPD badges that ended up in the hands of stickup men and even a suspected killer. As part of a deal reached with Manhattan federal prosecutors on Wednesday, Neves won't be prosecuted if he stays clean for six months and stops handing out the badges from his bounty hunter schools. Prosecutors say 78 of the 943 badges given to graduates of Neves' bounty hunter schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Passaic, N.J., went to convicted felons. Some used the tin badges to impersonate cops during robberies, get out of tickets or get inside government buildings. The badges were patterned after NYPD detective shields and were inscribed with the words "U.S. Recovery Bureau" and "Special Agent." Still pending are charges against Neves co-defendant Ralph Rios, who ran the schools with Neves. Among those U.S. Recovery Bureau grads who flashed the badge was Darryl Littlejohn, the ex-con accused of raping and killing John Jay College graduate student Imette St.Guillen in 2006. Littlejohn got a job as a bouncer at the Manhattan bar where he met St. Guillen by showing off his badge and claiming to be a fugitive enforcement agent. Littlejohn was sentenced to 25 years in prison last week for kidnapping a Queens woman as she walked home from York College in 2005.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Undercover cops busted

Undercover cops busted in fake cocaine arrest; innocent men collared to boost cops pay, prestige
The New York Daily News by LISA L. COLANGELO -  January 15, 2009

A pair of undercover cops were indicted Thursday for boosting their arrest figures and their paychecks by busting four innocent men on bogus cocaine charges. Henry Tavarez, 27, and Stephen Anderson, 33, surrendered on a 42-count indictment stemming from the January 2008 "buy and bust" operation in a Queens tavern, District Attorney Richard Brown said. The officers tampered with evidence to arrest four innocent men - including one who spent three days behind bars before making bail, Brown said. "Such egregious conduct not only taints the reputation of their fellow officers, but erodes public confidence and trust in the department," Brown said. "Conduct like this can never be tolerated." Maximo Colon, 24, who was wrongly arrested with his brother Jose, was at the Queens courthouse after the indictment was announced. "I want to know what's going to happen," he said. "I want justice."

The Colon brothers filed a $20 million lawsuit earlier this month against the city and the NYPD over the fake arrest. The two undercover cops were working inside the Club Delicioso on January 5, 2008 when Anderson purchased three bags of cocaine for $60 from a pair of suspects, Brown said. Anderson then slipped two of the bags to Tavarez, who claimed he purchased the cocaine from four other men inside the bar, Brown said. All six defendants were arrested; charges were dropped against the four innocent men last June. Maximo Colon was jailed for three days before he could post $2,500 bail. The rigged charges disappeared after Jose Colon went back to the bar and found a security video showing no contact between the undercover cops and the suspects, authorities said. Brown, asked about the officers' motive, said the duo "wanted to appear as if they were doing their job, and make a little extra overtime." Anderson has since retired from the NYPD, while Tavarez was placed on desk duty. Each faces up to nine years in prison for unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy, official misconduct and other charges.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whistle-blower Claims Police Chief Abused Power

Whistle-blower claims Oakland police chief abused power promoting union head
The Oakland Tribune by Thomas Peele - January 14, 2008

OAKLAND — Police Chief Wayne Tucker stopped a rank-and-file vote of no confidence in his administration by unilaterally promoting the police union president to boost his pension eligibility, according to whistle-blower and internal affairs complaints sent to city officials last week. The complaints, filed by Lt. Lawrence Green, a patrol commander and SWAT team leader, accuse Tucker of misappropriating public funds by making Oakland Police Officers Association President Robert Valladon an "acting sergeant" last year — a move that increased Valladon's pay and the amount of monthly pension payments he can receive upon retirement. Green's complaint, which also was sent to the police Internal Affairs Division, names Assistant Chief Howard Jordan and Deputy Chief David Kozicki in addition to Tucker.

Tucker, Jordan and Kozicki did not respond to messages Monday. Department spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason said it was against department policy to discuss personnel complaints and misconduct allegations. Tucker "improperly assigned and paid Valladon as an 'acting sergeant' for a position that does not exist as a quid pro quo arrangement to delay or prevent a vote of no-confidence against the chief within the (union)," Green wrote in the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Bay Area News Group-East Bay. The complaint does not provide specifics about when such a vote may have been discussed. Tucker has been chief for nearly five years and has instituted several unpopular policies, including 12-hour patrol shifts. Green is a former union official. The complaint also alleges that when Green questioned another union official about why Valladon was given the acting sergeant position, Tucker plotted to transfer Green to a lesser-paying job as retaliation. Tucker and Jordan "are threatening to move me from patrol to (detectives) as retaliation for my public airing of my dissatisfaction with the (union) and the improper quid pro quo arrangement," Green wrote. Valladon told Green's brother, an Oakland sergeant, about the transfer last month before Green or his immediate supervisors knew of it, according to the complaint. "It appears Valladon is a direct line to the chief and may be, in part, responsible for my possible transfer," Green wrote in the complaint.

Green, a veteran of more than 20 years, filed the document in late December with auditor Courtney Ruby under a new whistle-blower program that followed the firing of former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly last year. Last week he made the same allegations to internal affairs and sent copies to Mayor Ron Dellums, City Attorney John Russo, council members and others.

He refused to discuss the complaint Monday but did issue a short statement. The police chief and the union president "represent different interests but appear to be in bed together during the darkest times in the history of (the department)," he wrote in an e-mail. That "may explain why the (union) president has been silent while the department has been placing officers on administrative leave and firing others for what amounts to mistakes, not misconduct," a reference to a scandal in which at least one officer has been fired and others suspended for making false statements in search warrant affidavits. Police documents show Valladon, who has worked for more than 29 years in the rank of officer, now has the title of acting sergeant and is assigned to a patrol desk. He was named an acting sergeant in February. According to a statement posted on the union Web site, his last day as union president is Wednesday, ending 18 years in the position. It is unclear when he is retiring. The maximum hourly pay rate for officers is $47.16, according to city records. The pay rate for sergeants is $54.41. The yearly difference, under a complicated formula the city uses because police work 12-hour shifts, is roughly $15,800. Pension payments under the Public Employees Retirement System are calculated on the highest amount of base salary paid in a 12-month period. In 2006, the last year for which salary data is available, Valladon received $87,172.81 in base pay. A year of pay at the sergeant's rate would be roughly $113,000, effectively allowing Valladon to retire as if he had worked at the higher position earned through civil service testing and promotion, and draw a pension as high as 90 percent of his highest pay year. Green is not the first to raise concerns about Valladon's promotion. In an undated letter to Jordan that was attached to Green's complaint, retired Oakland Lt. Patrick Garrahan wrote that several "red flags" existed with the promotion, including the fact that others were not eligible to seek the job, which is based at the Eastmont Substation. "Many officers, supervisors, and commanders "believe" there is some form of quid pro quo agreement between the executive management team and the (union) president," Garrahan wrote. "I believe this is a form of corruption." Garrahan also wrote that he had a telephone conversation with Jordan about the Valladon promotion in which Jordan told him that Tucker "kind of signed off on" the promotion and that "it doesn't pass the smell test." In the letter, Garrahan also wrote that Jordan told him the department "takes care" of officers as they near retirement, an apparent reference to pay increases that boost pension benefits. Staff writer Kelly Rayburn and independent journalist Bob Butler contributed to this report.

Transit Officer Arrested For Murder After Killing Black Rider

CitizenSugar - January 14 2009

A police shooting of a black train rider on Bay Area public transportation has caused an outrage and fiery protests in the community, and today Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who fired the shot, has been arrested for murder [1]. On New Year's Eve, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot by Mehserle while lying face down in a BART station. While on his way back from celebrating in San Francisco, the young and unarmed African American was pulled off a train, along with others, so train police could investigate a fight. In shocking video filmed by passengers [2], Officer Mehserle tried to put handcuffs on Grant, before he suddenly pulled his gun from his holster and fired one shot into Grant's back. Mehserle was arrested today in Nevada. He said he left the Bay Area after receiving death threats. While more details will surely emerge, do you think the criminal justice system, and murder charges, are the proper way to address the death of Oscar Grant?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ex-DEA Analyst Charged with Misuse of Info

Ex-DEA analyst charged with misuse of info
Allegedly used to harass woman
THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE by Lee Hammel - January 14, 2009

A man who worked as an intelligence analyst in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Worcester has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he used DEA resources to harass his former girlfriend. Earl S. Hoffman Jr., 40, formerly of Lowell, was arrested Sunday at a remote border crossing from Canada into Vermont, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. He spent the past year working overseas. Mr. Hoffman worked for the Massachusetts National Guard in 2007 and was assigned that April to work in the National Guard’s counter-drug program. He was assigned to the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force in the DEA’s Worcester office, collecting and analyzing information for the task force’s drug-related criminal investigations.

Mr. Hoffman had access to a computer database with sensitive information that was supposed to be used only to assist criminal drug investigations, according to the indictment. The indictment alleges Mr. Hoffman used a DEA computer in Worcester on May 25, 2007, to access the Massachusetts driver’s license records of a woman who was not the target of a drug investigation. He had had an intimate relationship with the woman that ended badly two years earlier. Because Mr. Hoffman’s computer in Worcester could not print out driver’s license photographs, he called the HIDTA office in Methuen and asked colleagues there to send him the woman’s driver’s license information, her driver’s license photograph and her criminal history. The Methuen office complied, believing the request was for official purposes. That same day, an e-mail containing the woman’s driver’s license photograph and an insult to the woman was sent to her teenage son. Although Mr. Hoffman sent the e-mail, it purportedly was sent by his ex-girlfriend’s then-current boyfriend. He also faxed an official DEA subpoena to a telephone company in Kansas seeking information about the telephone number that his girlfriend had used when they were romantically involved. After sending at least one more similar communication to his ex-girlfriend and her son, Mr. Hoffman sent the son an e-mail or instant message that included his ex-girlfriend’s driver’s license photograph and a pornographic picture. The Massachusetts State Police investigated and learned that Mr. Hoffman had requested his ex-girlfriend’s state records, and the DEA learned of the state police investigation. Mr. Hoffman told a DEA group supervisor that he sought the information because her telephone number had been linked to an ongoing drug investigation and that a task force officer in Worcester asked him to subpoena information. He also falsely said that he requested his ex-girlfriend’s information for an official purpose and entered it into a DEA internal database in the Worcester office.

Mr. Hoffman produced a call report that he altered to indicate that his ex-girlfriend’s telephone number had received a call from a telephone number that actually was under DEA investigation. “By inspecting the records carefully, law enforcement ensured that Hoffman’s actions did not result in a false prosecution,” according to the statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. A message left at a telephone number listed to Mr. Hoffman in Lowell was not returned last night. Mr. Hoffman is charged with violation of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, making false statements, altering and falsifying records in a federal investigation, and wire fraud and the theft of honest services from the National Guard and DEA. The U.S. attorney’s office said that this is the first known criminal charge under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. Congress passed the law in 1994 after the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer by a man who had gotten her address from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The case was investigated by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice with assistance from DEA, the state police, and the Massachusetts National Guard. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland and Jeffrey M. Cohen, in the computer crimes and public corruption unit of U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, are prosecuting the case.

Former Police Chief Surrenders

Former SUNO police chief surrenders
The Times Picayune - January 13, 2009

Leatrice Warren, the former acting chief of the Southern University at New Orleans Police Department, has been booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on felony charges of filing false public records and malfeasance in office. Warren, who had led SUNO's police force since 2002, surrendered today to investigators from the state inspector general's office and Louisiana State Police. Warren had resigned from the university police force after the release of a report from Inspector General Stephen Street accusing her of running personal errands when she should have been working, giving herself excessive overtime and skipping the required annual firearms test for five years. The case will be referred to East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore for prosecution. Officials say Warren was arrested in Baton Rouge since documents which the warrant alleges to be fraudulent were submitted there.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Task Force Intelligence Analyst Arrested

Former Task Force Intelligence Analyst Arrested for Harassing Former Girlfriend and Falsely Implicating Her in a Drug Investigation

BOSTON, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A former drug task force intelligence analyst was arrested for using his law enforcement position to harass his former girlfriend and falsely implicate her in a drug investigation.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, announced today that EARL S. HOFFMAN, JR., age 40, formerly of Lowell, was arrested late yesterday night on a four-count indictment unsealed today alleging that he falsified records in a federal investigation, made false statements to federal officers, committed wire fraud, and violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. HOFFMAN was arrested at a remote border crossing from Canada into Vermont, after having spent the last year working overseas.

The indictment alleges that in 2007, HOFFMAN worked for the Massachusetts National Guard and was assigned to the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force. While there, HOFFMAN worked out of a United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Worcester to collect and analyze information for the task force's drug-related criminal investigations. To accomplish this, the indictment alleges, HOFFMAN was provided access to various computer databases with sensitive information, which he was supposed to use solely to assist criminal drug investigations.

The indictment alleges that in late May 2007, HOFFMAN accessed the driver's license and criminal history records for a woman identified in the indictment as "B.P.," with whom HOFFMAN had shared an intimate relationship that had ended badly approximately two years earlier. According to the indictment, HOFFMAN then sent B.P.'s son an e-mail that included B.P.'s driver's license photograph and an insult to B.P. HOFFMAN falsely made the e-mail look as if B.P.'s current boyfriend had sent it, which he had not. After one or more similar communications to B.P. and her son, in late August 2007, HOFFMAN pretended again to be B.P.'s current boyfriend and sent B.P.'s son an e-mail or instant message that included B.P.'s driver's license photograph and a pornographic picture. Earlier in the summer, the indictment alleges, HOFFMAN had sent a DEA subpoena to obtain B.P.'s telephone records.

According to the indictment, when the DEA inquired into the matter, HOFFMAN falsely stated that he had requested B.P.'s driver's license, criminal history, and telephone records as part of an ongoing, legitimate drug investigation. The indictment further alleges that HOFFMAN entered into a DEA database information about B.P.'s telephone number. The indictment alleges that HOFFMAN then altered a telephone company report to falsely indicate that B.P.'s telephone number was connected to the telephone number of a suspect in an actual, ongoing drug investigation. HOFFMAN allegedly gave the DEA this report to falsely implicate B.P. and justify his actions. By inspecting the records carefully, law enforcement ensured that HOFFMAN's actions did not result in a false prosecution.

The indictment alleges one count of wire fraud against HOFFMAN for defrauding the Massachusetts National Guard, the task force, and the DEA of their right to his honest services; one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation for altering the call report and entering false information into the DEA's internal database; one count alleging a variety of material false statements, representations, and omissions during the DEA investigation; and one count of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act for knowingly obtaining B.P.'s driver's license photograph, Social Security number, and other information for the unlawful purpose of harassing her and her son. This is the first-known criminal charge under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act.

The case is being investigated by the United States Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Massachusetts National Guard. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland and Jeffrey M. Cohen, of Sullivan's Computer Crimes and Public Corruption Units.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ex-Cop Accused of Drugging, Raping Woman

Ex-Cop Accused of Drugging, Raping Woman, Bail was set at $200,000
NBC News, New York - January 12, 2009

Jose Arroyo is accused of 1st degree rape and 2nd degree kidnapping. A retired New York City policeman hasbeen accused of drugging a woman in a Bronx bar and then raping her in a Westchester County motel. Police in Greenburgh say 46-year-old Jose Arroyo is charged with second-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape and has been sent to the Westchester County Jail. A call to Arroyo's lawyer, Todd Lamond, was not immediatelyreturned Monday. Police say Arroyo, a property manager and nightclub bouncer from the Bronx, met the 31-year-old woman Nov. 14 in the bar and drugged her drink. The police account says that while the woman was helpless, Arroyo took her to the Alexander Motel in White Plains and raped her. She awoke and fled the next morning. Arroyo was arrested Friday. Bail was set at $200,000.

Cop Arrested After Fighting Cop Brother

Officials: Schenectady cop arrested after fighting Albany cop brother
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - January 12, 2009

SCHENECTADY A city officer already expected in court this morning to answer charges of alleged drunken driving was arrested again over the weekend after he fought with his brother, an Albany cop, police said. John Lewis, 39, was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief for destroying a kitchen table at an Oregon Avenue home on Sunday, according to records filed in City Court. "Police received a call from Officer Lewis' mother at 3:47 am on January 11, 2009 stating that he was destroying the house and physically fighting with his brother, who is a police officer in the City of Albany," Schenectady police said in a statement released this afternoon. Last month, the 14-year-veteran was arrested for drunken driving after a automobile accident in the city and later suspended for 30 days. Lewis is expected to be in City Court this morning to answer to charges of DWI. Lewis was charged with driving while intoxicated, aggravated driving while intoxicated, speeding and improper lane use. It's the second time Lewis has been suspended in as many months. In November, he allegedly threatened to kill his former wife and anyone she dated. He was arrested on third-degree stalking and second-degree aggravated harassment charges. Lewis was released without bail after his arrest in that case. Before that, a City Court judge acquitted Lewis of harassment for allegedly pushing his wife. He is suing the department, contending they conspired with his wife in a bid to get him fired.

Ex-chief admits to misconduct

The Albany Times Union by JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST - January 10, 2009

ALBANY — After more than three decades as Guilderland's top cop, James R. Murley sat for 40 minutes Friday in Albany City Court waiting his turn like every other defendant.
At first, he couldn't even find a seat. Murley, 62, who retired in May 2007 after 34 years atop the department rather than face dismissal, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct, solemnly acknowledging that on more than 50 occasions he claimed to have been working when he was actually gambling at an Oneida County casino.

With the plea deal that will spare the well-known lawman jail time, visiting Judge Kenneth Connolly sentenced Murley to pay $13,500 in restitution to the town, an $800 fine plus $200 state surcharge, and continued participation in a gambling counseling program. The program will be required to give the court monthly updates on Murley's progress. Connolly also issued a conditional discharge, which means, according to prosecutors, that if Murley abides by the terms of the plea, the case is concluded. The conviction will stay on his record. It was the first and possibly only time Murley will appear in court. He pleaded at his first chance. Connolly, a visiting Voorheesville village justice, heard the case in Albany because Guilderland's town justices recused themselves. Murley shook hands with his prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Linda Griggs, and left court without making a statement, but his lawyer painted his case as an example of how addictions can tear lives apart. "This gambling, it's an insidious thing," the attorney, William J. Gray, said outside court. "The important part then is to get the treatment and get yourself well and get yourself back to health."

Murley admitted to failing to notify the town at least 53 times between February 2001 and August 2004 that he was actually at Turning Stone casino in Verona when his monthly time slips said he was working. He also admitted to claiming sick leave on at least three other occasions. Depositions by his former co-workers in the case shed more light on the sexual harassment allegations that led the town — and ultimately State Police — to take a harder look as his attendance records. One former female subordinate told investigators Murley had a habit of making improper comments toward women around his office and would, on occasion, personally issue accident reports to attractive females, often waiving the standard $3 fee. One of his top commanders acknowledged concerns about the chief's conduct around female defendants, his habit of releasing sensitive information to the media and that "often I would not know the whereabouts of Chief Murley."

The town had brought sexual harassment charges, as well as others, against Murley, but he retired before getting a hearing. He keeps his pension and health benefits. Investigators zeroed in on the time sheet problems, in part, with the help of Murley's own casino gambling card, which records the date of its use. One former employee who alleged harassment told investigators the chief took long weekends, and often borrowed money from subordinates for snacks, expecting them to retrieve the food from a nearby store. Another former subordinate told State Police she became uncomfortable filling out the chief's time sheets for him. Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for District Attorney David Soares, said the primary concern was that Murley get counseling. "We hope Mr. Murley gets the help he needs," Orth said.

Mark Grimm, a Guilderland Town Board member, said for him the investigation is just beginning because he wants to know how Murley's conduct went unnoticed, or at least unpunished, for so long. Appointed acting chief in 1973, Murley became a fixture in both law enforcement circles and the local media. Town Supervisor Kenneth Runion, in a written statement, struck a conciliatory tone. "James Murley had a long and professional career as Chief of Police in the Town of Guilderland. He brought the town police force from a five-man, part-time police department to the professional thirty-five person department it is now," Runion said, adding that his conduct "demonstrates the effects this illness can have on an admirable career." Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attorney, Son Working on Police Corruption Murdered on Mexico Border

The Latin American Herald Tribune

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO -- Two attorneys - a father and his son - were murdered by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas, prosecutors in Mexico's Chihuahua state said. Mario Escobedo Salazar, 59, and his son, Edgar Escobedo Anaya, 32, were working on several cases involving police officers accused of corruption. The attorneys were gunned down Tuesday at their office in downtown Juarez, with one of the bodies found outside the building and the other inside, the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office said. Last year, more than 1,600 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, making it, according to tallies published in the press, the most violent city in Mexico.

In 2008, Juarez lived through days when dozens of people were murdered in the span of a few hours and armed groups committed acts of violence in public areas that terrorized residents. The year ended with a total of 1,605 people murdered in the border city, including 71 federal, state and municipal police officers, as well as 85 bank robberies, an average of 10 cars stolen per day and more than 20 businesses burned, press tallies published on New Year's Eve said. The last few months of 2008 also saw citizens living in fear of telephone extortion rackets that spread rapidly and prompted anti-crime marches by grassroots groups in the city, which became infamous for the murders and disappearances of women. This year started with police finding the body in Ciudad Juarez's northern section of a woman who appeared to have been tortured.

The body of the victim, who was between 25 and 30, was found last Saturday in the Juarez Valley, on the outskirts of the city, where more than 400 women have been killed since 1993, with the majority of the cases going unsolved. On Monday, a man's bullet-riddled body was found in Juarez, the AG's office said. Police found the body in the Los Alcaldes neighborhood along with a message that said: "This is going to happen to those who seek a share in the name of La Linea," referring to a wing of the Juarez drug cartel. Three bullet casings were found at the crime scene, the AG's office said, adding that the victim had been shot three times in the head.

Last year, the government could not contain the wave of violence in Juarez, where army and federal police forces were bolstered in late March in an unsuccessful effort to battle criminal groups. December was the second-bloodiest month of the year, with 195 murders reported, surpassed only by August, when 228 people died. Armed groups linked to Mexico's drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the 2008 death toll soaring to 5,630, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily El Universal. The newspaper reported Monday that 39 people had already been murdered across Mexico in the first few days of 2009. The majority of the killings have occurred in the states of Chihuahua, Baja California and Sinaloa.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baltimore Mayor Indicted in Theft and Perjury Case

By DOUG DONOVAN - January 10, 2009

BALTIMORE — Mayor Sheila Dixon of Baltimore was indicted Friday, accused of stealing gift cards donated to the city for needy families and failing to report trips, fur coats and other luxuries paid for by a local developer who was her former boyfriend. The indictment, which follows a nearly three-year state investigation, charges that from 2003, when she was City Council president, until shortly after she became the first woman to be elected mayor of Baltimore, in 2007, Ms. Dixon, a Democrat, committed perjury, theft, fraudulent misappropriation and misconduct in office. She is charged with using at least $2,000 in donated gift cards for Target and Best Buy to buy a digital camcorder, a PlayStation 2, an Xbox 360 and other electronic devices for her personal use and failing to disclose her trips to New York, Chicago and other places with a prominent developer, Ronald H. Lipscomb.

City ethics laws require elected officials to disclose gifts from people doing business with the city. Mr. Lipscomb’s company, Doracon, a minority subcontractor, often works on developments that receive city tax breaks. After state prosecutors raided the mayor’s home last summer, carting away boxes and other items, Ms. Dixon publicly acknowledged having had a “personal relationship” with Mr. Lipscomb in 2003 and 2004 after both had separated from their spouses. The mayor said the relationship had not influenced her “decisions related to matters of city government.” Mr. Lipscomb and a City Council member, Helen Holton, were indicted this week on bribery charges, but their indictment did not mention Ms. Dixon. After Ms. Dixon’s indictment was announced on his official Web site, Maryland’s state prosecutor, Robert A. Rohrbaugh, said in a statement, “The citizens of Baltimore have every right to expect their public officials will be open and honest and will not use the office for personal motives, gain or greed.”

Ms. Dixon and her chief lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner, denied the charges at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “I am being unfairly accused,” Ms. Dixon said. “Time will prove that I have done nothing wrong, and I am confident that I will be found innocent of these charges.” Mr. Weiner said that Mr. Rohrbaugh was obsessed with indicting the mayor and that his investigation was politically motivated. Mr. Rohrbaugh was appointed in 2004 by the governor at the time, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican. Ms. Dixon is a close ally of Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, who was Baltimore’s mayor before he defeated Mr. Ehrlich in November 2006. “Sheila Dixon has been the state prosecutor’s singular personal obsession,” Mr. Weiner said. “There wasn’t a bed sheet he failed to look under.” Before the state prosecutor began his investigation in 2006, Ms. Dixon and the entire City Council were the subject of a federal public corruption inquiry by United States Attorney Thomas DiBiagio, a Republican appointee who left office after memorandums publicly surfaced that seemed to indicate political bias against the Council, whose members were all Democrats. Mr. DiBiagio’s successor dropped the investigation. Mr. Weiner said Friday that the state charges against Ms. Dixon were nearly identical to accusations that federal prosecutors had deemed not worthy of pursuing.

The charges claim that Mr. Lipscomb paid for a $2,000 gift certificate that the mayor used to buy a Persian lamb coat and a burnt umber mink coat. The indictment also states that he may have spent nearly $13,000 on items, travel and personal services for Ms. Dixon at Saks Fifth Avenue, Giorgio, Coach and St. John Boutique, all in Chicago; at the Ritz-Carlton in Avon, Colo., and the Trump International hotel in New York . The two traveled together to New York in February 2004, hours after Ms. Dixon, then council president, had voted to approve a $13.6 million tax break for a Lipscomb project, according to court records. Mr. Lipscomb could not be reached Friday for comment. Mr. Weiner said Ms. Dixon did not have to report gifts from Mr. Lipscomb because his company was not on the official lists of those that do business with the city. Mr. Weiner said city law allowed Ms. Dixon to continue her work as mayor, with an annual salary of $151,700. Many residents attribute last year’s sharp decrease in homicides in the city to Ms. Dixon’s leadership, particularly her decision to hire a local police commissioner. “I will continue to put all of my energies into running the City of Baltimore during these perilous economic times,” Ms. Dixon said. “And with God’s grace, I am confident that the city, my family and I will weather this storm.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

Law Enforcement Corruption

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Local agencies deal with corruption allegations
The Tonawanda News by April Amadon and Neale Gulley - January 9, 2009

— When the news broke last month that Niagara Falls Police Officer Ryan Warme had been arrested, reactions across the community were mixed. Some were surprised that a police officer — a man charged with protecting residents — would find himself on the other side of the law. Other more jaded residents pointed to the arrest as just another example of someone on the force abusing his power. For local law enforcement officials, the prevailing mood was one of disappointment. “You’re let down,” Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour said. “You take an oath of office, and you trust the people you’re working with respect that oath. When someone lets you down like that, it does give a black eye to law enforcement.” Warme, 27, was arrested Dec. 2 by his fellow Falls police, along with federal agents. Warme was charged with raping and tormenting women and buying cocaine on duty. Warme has now been suspended from the Falls police, and he remains in custody. He will return to court Jan. 23. City of Tonawanda Police Chief Cindy Young and North Tonawanda Chief of Police Randy Szukala each discussed how such allegations are viewed within their respective departments.  “It’s not just their behavior eight hours a day, it’s their behavior 24/7 that they have to answer to,” Young said. 

The message was the same – an emphasis less on shock, in a profession where betrayal, violence and corruption are an everyday theme of the job -- but deep disappointment coupled with the constant need to uphold higher-than-normal standards of conduct. “I don’t think anybody can predict what will happen with somebody,” Szukala said.  Warme’s father Gordon, for instance, is a 30-year retired veteran of the Niagara Falls police force who is highly regarded by his colleagues. In this case, the bad apple fell a long way from the tree. “There are different things that happen to (the officers) throughout their lives – they’re exposed to different things.”

Close to home

The Twin Cities are no stranger to dealing with occasional, albeit somewhat less sensational infractions by police officers. Young and Szukala flatly decried Warme’s actions, offering examples of their own firings in recent years to explain both the rigors involved in bringing new officers on board and the necessity to act with a firm hand when things go wrong.  In May 2006, former City of Tonawanda officer Brian MacDonald was cut from the force in light of 17 charges of misconduct, including attempting to patronize a prostitute, attending a Buffalo Bisons baseball game with a convicted felon and lying to superior officers. The charges prompted a lawsuit settled early this year, granting MacDonald $47,000 in lost wages and benefits. “It’s not always easy to do the right thing, but you have to do it,” Young said. “A lot of the officers are people who you’ve been out on the road with for years and you had each other’s backs – and now you’re in a position to discipline them. You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.” In 2005, Szukala said a 17-year veteran of the North Tonawanda force, Patrick Baly, was fired after it was discovered he possessed illegal drugs. While a strong bond can form among officers sharing in the day-to-day perils they are exposed to, he said “the city’s finest” aren’t called that for nothing, and off-duty conduct is as important as any other, especially in a small town where such individuals are as much ambassadors as they are enforcers.

Background checks

At the sheriff’s department, Voutour said they perform extensive background checks, reviewing financial histories for any sign the candidate has problems with money. “(If they do), they have more tendency to maybe be corrupt,” Voutour said. “It’s difficult to predict the future character of a person, and the only way you can predict the future is to look at the past.” Both Twin Cities departments conduct their own rigorous background checks using their own detectives, in addition to the usual civil service exam and physical agility test scores.  In the last year, Young has instituted a separate, psychological evaluation conducted by Dr. Jay Supnick, of Law Enforcement Psychological Associates, in Rochester. The two-day commitment by prospective officers is more than what is required, but, said Lt. Fred Foels of the City of Tonawanda Police Department, such information can make or break a candidate for the job. “It’s not just pushups – that psychological evaluation is a big, big factor in deciding if that person is fit to be a police officer,” he said.  But even for departments where such extra measures aren’t routine, he indicated it has never been easy to become a cop. “Our department,” Foels said, “Our detectives conduct the background inquiry and really dig into a person’s past and they try to get into every nook and cranny of the person. You can ace an exam, but when you get into a person’s background there are sometimes some things in a person’s past.”

Taking complaints

Depending on the complaint, there are different avenues it may take. Some complaints are simple — for instance, a driver complaining an officer was rude during a traffic stop — while others may be more complex or serious. People who are uncomfortable going to the local police to complain about an officer can go to the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office. Some law enforcement agencies, including the New York State Police, have internal affairs units that deal specifically with complaints and allegations of misconduct within that department. District Attorney Michael Violante could not be reached to comment on how his office handles complaints and allegations of police misconduct. At the sheriff’s department, anyone with a complaint should call dispatch and ask to speak to a shift supervisor, Voutour said. He said they entertain a variety o complaints. “We’ll look at it and get both sides of the story,” he said. “Obviously, if it’s just, ‘The officer was short with me,’ that may be handled at the shift supervisor level. Anything (at a) criminal level will come to me quickly.” Contact reporter April Amadon at 439-9222, ext. 6251. Contact reporter Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 114.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sheriff locked up over measly jail meals

Ala. sheriff locked up over measly jail meals
The Associated Press by JAY REEVES - January 9, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A northern Alabama sheriff was in federal custody Thursday after a judge ruled he purposely fed inmates skimpy meals so he could make money from an unusual system that lets sheriffs turn a profit on their jail kitchens. Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett testified at a Wednesday court hearing that he made $212,000 over three years by cheaply feeding prisoners — every cent of it legal under a Depression-era state law and reported on his tax forms as income. But U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon ordered federal marshals to arrest Bartlett after hearing a string of skinny prisoners testify they were served paper-thin bologna, bloody chicken and cold grits in the north Alabama county's jail.

"He makes money by failing to spend the allocated funds for food for the inmates," Clemon ruled after a daylong hearing in a lawsuit filed by prisoners over jail conditions. Clemon said Bartlett, who has been sheriff for six years, would remain in custody until he submitted a plan to feed prisoners meals that are "nutritionally adequate," as required by a previous agreement in the lawsuit. Ten prisoners testified that they were so hungry after meals they are forced to spend hundreds of dollars at a for-profit store inside the jail for junk food like oatmeal pies and chips. "We had an apple on Christmas, and I think we've had them one other time," said Clifton Goodwin, who's been in Bartlett's jail for 15 months. Alice Hines, who has two sons in the jail on drug charges, said she gives them all the money she can — $50 sometimes, $100 others — to buy food from the jail store so they won't go hungry. Prisoners are even forced to buy basics like salt, pepper and ketchup to spice up bland meals. "You're supposed to pay for your crime, but good God, feed them," said Hines. Bartlett's lawyer, Donald Rhea, said the sheriff would be incarcerated in his own jail, but the department declined comment on Bartlett's whereabouts. The U.S. marshal's service did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Bartlett looked stunned as Clemon ordered him into custody. A lawyer for prisoners called his arrest "extraordinary." "I was shocked by the amount of money he pocketed ... all while men and women in the jail go hungry," said Melanie Velez of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights.

Sheriffs in 55 of Alabama's 67 counties operate under a Depression-era system allowing them to make money operating their jail kitchens. The state pays sheriffs $1.75 a day for each prisoner they house and lets the elected officers keep any profits they can generate. Bartlett said he also received money from the county and the U.S. government for housing federal prisoners. According to testimony, Alabama's ethics commission cleared Bartlett of a complaint in December, turning aside allegations that he improperly used his office for personal gain by profiting from inmate meals. The ethics commission cited the state law allowing the practice and a previous legal opinion from Alabama's attorney general. Clemon's order dealt only with Morgan County, but the longtime head of the Alabama Sheriff's Association said its impact will be felt around the state since counties lack money to feed prisoners and state budgets are stretched thin. "It's going to be real far-reaching. It's going to affect a lot of counties other than this one," said association executive director Bobby Timmons. Bartlett testified he made a $212,000 profit over the last three years to supplement his annual salary of about $64,000. Bartlett said last year's profit was $95,000 — almost half of the total jail feeding budget of about $203,000 for about 300 prisoners. Bartlett said profits from the jail store are used to pay for equipment and training and don't go into his pocket.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Police Sergeant Found and Arrested

Decatur police Sgt. Faron White found and arrested in Las Vegas
January 6, 2009-Decatur PoliceSgt. Faron White, head of the Decatur Police Department's Organized Crime Unit, has been found and arrested.

DECATUR, Ala. - Missing Decatur police Sgt. Faron White was found and arrested late last night in a Las Vegas motel. U.S. Marshals arrested White in the lobby of a Hampton Inn around 11:15 p.m. and transported him to the Clark County Detention Center where he was charged as a fugitive from justice. Decatur police say White stole more than $2,500 from the department and then staged a struggle at his office before fleeing to Nevada. Sarah Elizabeth Richardson of Decatur was also arrested and charged with first degree hindering prosecution or apprehension for allegedly helping Sgt. White stage his disappearance. White is being held on a $20,000 bond in Nevada, while Richardson is being held at the Decatur city jail under a $2,500 bond. White, 48, who supervises the department's Organized Crime Unit, was last seen working alone Friday night in his office at the department's Training Center. His family reported him missing early Saturday after he failed to come home. Decatur Police DepartmentSarah Richardson was arrested for helping Sgt. Faron White stage his disappearance.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ex-Miami Officer Gets 9-Years In Corruption Sting

Geovani Nuñez Sentenced To More Than 11 Years In Prison - Nuñez & George Hernandez Were Arrested In May

MIAMI- A former 13-year old veteran of the City of Miami Police Department was sentenced Thursday to 9-years in federal prison on drug conspiracy charges. Jorge Hernandez and fellow ex-officer Geovani Nuñez previously pled guilty for their roles in protecting what they thought was a multi-kilo delivery of cocaine. It turned out to be part of an undercover FBI sting operation. Hernandez' 9-year prison sentence is to be followed by three years of supervised release. Hernandez and Nuñez were arrested in May and both later pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to possess and distribute drugs. Nuñez was sentenced last month to more than 11 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised released. He was also ordered to pay $28-thousand in restitution to the FBI. Prosecutors say both took cash bribes in exchange for escorting what they thought was a truck full of stolen goods and cocaine. In all, Nuñez was paid $28,000 over eight months for the work. Hernandez got $11,500. It turned out that it was all an undercover operation by the FBI and many of the meetings and transactions were audio and videotaped, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bribery probe snares bailiff

Bribery probe snares bailiff
Defendants allegedly could buy secret friend in courtroom
The Cincinnati EnquirerBy Kimball Perry -January 2, 2009 -

Hoping to crack a federal drug case, investigators were listening in on telephone calls when they stumbled across a conversation that is sending shock waves through Hamilton County's judicial system. On that wiretap, federal officials heard what they believe was an attempt by convicted drug dealer Charles Johnson to buy his freedom by arranging a meeting with a court bailiff he hoped would fix his sentence. That alleged incident is the centerpiece of a criminal investigation into Damon Ridley, who was the bailiff for Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge John "Skip" West until Ridley was confronted with the allegations and resigned. Johnson's case has investigators poring over thousands of court documents involving criminal cases before West over the last five years. They are looking at why some cases presided over by West never had their sentences carried out and why other cases before him had no activity for years.

The issue is whether Ridley, 37, who also is the girls' varsity basketball coach at Woodward High, accepted money or favors in exchange for fixing sentences handed down by West or delaying them so long that thousands of dollars in fines and court fees were never paid. Bailiffs run the day-to-day operations of courtrooms and schedule when cases are heard. Johnson was arrested in July 2007, accused of selling heroin and cocaine in Over-the-Rhine. He was staring at 8½ years behind bars after police caught him with drugs and $2,165 in cash. That's when Johnson made a few calls, heard on the wiretaps, and arranged a meeting at a Spring Grove Avenue baseball field to try to avoid jail time. Johnson, now also under a federal drug indictment, was offering to pay Ridley $1,000 to help Johnson fix his criminal case so he wouldn't go to prison, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said. Ridley showed up at the baseball field, Deters said, but the prosecutor wouldn't discuss the issue further, citing an ongoing investigation. Johnson pleaded guilty March 25 before West to reduced charges that still could have sent him to prison for 5½ years. Instead, West sentenced Johnson to probation and to serve up to six months in the River City Correctional Center, a drug-rehabilitation center run by Hamilton County judges. Investigators asked Ridley on Oct. 29 about the allegation. He resigned the next day. "I can tell you (Ridley) has told us numerous stories," Deters said.

None of what Deters says is true, Ridley told The Enquirer. "I haven't done anything wrong," Ridley said, denying he ever took money or favors for altering sentences. Ridley confirms he was questioned by investigators who asked him if he took money to alter West's sentences - which he denied - but said he hasn't spoken to investigators "in the last two months." "They just put my name on a lot of stuff that is not true," Ridley said. Investigators, Ridley said, also asked him about his visits to Indiana's riverboat casinos, where Ridley admits he gambles often. Ridley resigned after being questioned, he said, to lessen any impact on the judge. "I have a lot of respect for Judge West and I wasn't going to bring anything (negative) to him," Ridley said. He declined to answer additional questions, he said, on the advice of his attorney. He refused to say who his attorney was. If the allegations are proved, Ridley's actions could be disastrous to the Hamilton County court system as the public - and criminals - may infer the judicial system was undermined by one person's greed. "When you've got someone putting their thumb on the scales of justice, it's a very serious offense," University of Cincinnati law professor Christo Lassiter said. "You lose faith in government and there is a very serious threat to the judicial branch.

"The whole idea is to have a neutral arbiter. Why do that if there is a judge whose decisions are being bought by a bailiff? We may as well not have a judicial system." Deters is unsure of what role, if any, the judge has in the delay of cases, but he doesn't believe West is involved in wrongdoing. "Wherever this leads, we will go," Deters said, "but it would shock me to my core if the judge was involved. The judge is cooperating with us." West has refused to talk about the investigation, referring questions to Deters. Because Johnson's case is one of many being looked at, Deters asked for help from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, an arm of the Ohio Attorney General. Investigators seized all of West's notes and files on the cases he presided over since 2003, shortly after Ridley became West's bailiff. In late November, Investigator McKinley Brown and several other prosecutor's staff took so many documents from West's fifth-floor courtroom they needed a flatbed to take them to the prosecutor's office. Ridley's work computer also was seized and its hard drive pulled for analysis. While on the bench, West talked about several of the stalled cases in question.

In three specific cases, West acknowledged from the bench that the case files he uses to track each case's progress contained handwriting that wasn't his. Generally, judges write their notes from each case on a case file or card they keep for their records. Some judges, though, cede the responsibility of maintaining the case file to their bailiffs. In each of those three cases, the person charged with a crime had no action taken on their case in at least two years. In each, West insisted he knew nothing about why those cases were dormant and noted there were no legal documents - especially none signed by him - that allowed the cases to be continued or set for another court date. Lawyers representing those three defendants admit they have been questioned by investigators about why the cases were dormant for years. Two of those lawyers - Kevin BoBo and Gloria Smith - said the investigators asked them if they had ever given Ridley money or loaned him money to continue the case. Each denied giving or lending Ridley money and denied any wrongdoing. But Ridley did borrow money from some lawyers, Deters said. "Some defense attorneys called us and said they loaned him money," Deters said.

At a Nov. 18 court hearing, West called the case of Josh Ludlum, who pleaded guilty Feb. 15, 2005 - 3½ years earlier - to attempted possession of cocaine. West sentenced Ludlum at that time to pay court costs and a fine. West then allowed Ludlum until March 15, 2005, to pay the fines and fees. But they were never paid. "I have no other record of this defendant being before this court," West said that day. "I have no indication that the fine or the court costs have been paid." The judge then turned to Brown, the prosecutor's investigator who was in the courtroom, and said, "Mr. Brown, this is one of those ones (cases) we discussed." "Yes sir," Brown responded. The second case in question that day involved the 2005 drug case against Gary Walker. "The entry that appears on the (judge's) card and not in my writing is that on 2/24/06, this matter was continued to 4/13/06 for plea or trial setting," West said. "There is no other entry, and I don't know what's happened since then."

In another case that day, Sakinah Thomas, a co-defendant of Walker, had her drug case called. It dated from 2005, three years before. Thomas was represented by attorney Smith. The week before, she told West that the case was still dormant. "You brought it to my attention last week and I'm very curious about that," West told Smith. "But more so, there is an investigator here and that's also curious. ... I know he wants to speak to your client." Smith confirmed she and her client had been interviewed by investigators about the case. West then noted that the last entry made on Thomas' case file was from March 9, 2006, which set the next court date for April 13, 2006. "I made no other notation," West said. "The next notation that appears on my note card is not in my writing, and it's dated 4/13/06, and it says 'continued to 5/10/06 ...' " In a Dec. 15 hearing on Thomas' case, her attorney told the judge she and Thomas had been to the courthouse "many times" to try to plead guilty and dispose of the case. "The case has always been continued," Smith told the judge. "By whom?" West asked. "Mr. Ridley," Smith answered. West also noted that all of the activity on the Thomas case "took place on dates when I wasn't in court" and there were no court entries continuing the case. "All of this is contrary to the way I do business," West told Smith.

Prosecutors became so frustrated with the slow pace of justice in West's courtroom that one, Katherine Pridemore, filed a legal motion requiring her to be contacted on a specific case that had been continued - without her knowledge or agreement - dozens of times. David Gvozdanovic was convicted Oct. 25, 2003, in West's room for trafficking in marijuana. Almost three years later, an exasperated Pridemore filed a motion that showed her frustration. Titled "State's Supplemental motion to be present for any further action taken on this case," the motion reads, in part: "On August 31, 2006, it came to the attention of the State that this case was yet again moved from the September 1, 2006 docket to September 11, 2006 without notice to the State, causing this case to be continued for the 34th time." The investigation has taken an emotional toll on West. West was close personally to Ridley, treating him like family. West and his family vacationed with Ridley and socialized with him. In West's courthouse chambers, there is a studio portrait of West, Ridley and another of West's court workers. Ridley worked for the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office from April 16, 1997, until Nov. 15, 2002, when he began working as West's bailiff. Ridley's annual salary when he resigned after being confronted by investigators was $43,957. Deters predicted the investigators' audit of West's files would be complete within "two to three weeks."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Feds arrest 3 Puerto Rico officer on drug charges

The Associated Press - December 19, 2008

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Federal agents in Puerto Rico on Friday arrested three island police officers accused of providing security for drug traffickers, an FBI spokesman said. A fourth officer indicted by a U.S. grand jury remained at large, spokesman Harry Rodriguez said. The U.S. territory police officers, all members of an extradition unit, are among six people indicted on charges including conspiracy and weapons possession related to drug trafficking. Police arrested one of the two suspects who are not police officers, Rodriguez said. The raids took place in and around the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan. The investigation of the drug ring began more than a year ago, Rodriguez said. The island's 8,000-strong police force is reeling from accusations of corruption. In June, federal authorities charged six officers with planting evidence and building false cases against people in a northwest coastal town.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sheriff Charge with Corruption: Bribes, Embezzlement, Etc.

Telfair County Sheriff Charged with Corruption
Fayette Front Page - December 31, 2008

Fayette, Georgia- Edmund A. Booth, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, announced December 22 the filing of a criminal Information against Jimmie W. Williamson, age 48, the Sheriff of Telfair County, Georgia. The Information charges Williamson with devising a scheme to deprive the citizens of Telfair County of his honest services as their Sheriff and using the United States mails in furtherance of that scheme, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1346. Booth noted that the criminal Information charges that Williamson engaged in this scheme from approximately 2004 to the present through a variety of corrupt activities in his official capacity as Sheriff.

As specified in the criminal Information, those corrupt activities included:

• the embezzlement of fine and bond money paid by individuals arrested in Telfair County for his own personal use instead of properly sending such money to the Telfair County courts;

• the acceptance of bribes from individuals arrested in Telfair County in exchange for reducing or dismissing the pending charges against them and in exchange for granting those individuals special privileges while housed at the Telfair County Jail; and

• the improper purchase of items for his own personal use with funds belonging to and for the exclusive use of the Sheriff’s Department. Booth stated that if Williams is convicted, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and a period of supervised release of three (3) years. An initial appearance and arraignment have not been scheduled at this time. The investigation was conducted by Special Agent Robert Jones of the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorney R. Brian Tanner.

Cop Gets Probation in $14,000 Evidence Theft

Former Lake Saint Louis officer gets probation in theft
THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH by Shane Anthony - January 2, 2009

ST. CHARLES COUNTY -- A St. Charles County circuit judge placed a former Lake Saint Louis police officer on probation this morning for stealing nearly $14,000 from the department's evidence room. Stephen K. Taylor, 30, (pictured at left) of the 900 block of Ardsley Court in O'Fallon, pleaded guilty in November to one count of felony stealing. He took the money between February 2005 and his resignation in August 2007. He worked for the department for six years and was one of two officers who managed the evidence room. Police Chief Mike Force could not be reached for comment. Assistant prosecutor Breck Burgess asked for a five-year prison sentence. He said the crime was one of public corruption, and it casts doubt on the entire legal system. Officers like Taylor are trusted to make sure evidence is not tainted, he said. Taylor's attorney could not be reached. Taylor has paid back the stolen money. He told police he had used it to pay bills and credit card debt. Police have said his resignation was not tied to the theft. Circuit Judge Ted House placed Taylor on probation for the next five years. Taylor must complete financial management courses, and he is barred from working as a police officer during his probation. He will have a felony conviction on his record. Officials from the Missouri Police Officer Standards and Training Program could not be reached Friday to answer questions about Taylor's certification. State law says the director of the Department of Public Safety can suspend the license of any officer who is indicted for, charged with or convicted of a felony.