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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Military Officials Plead Guilty to Bribery, Fraud

Two Military Officials Plead Guilty to Bribery, Fraud and Conspiracy Related to Defense - June 20, 2009

Two U.S. military officials pleaded guilty to various bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges relating to Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in Afghanistan. A third military official pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, which was obtained through the bribery conspiracy. In addition, four DOD contractors and four affiliated contracting companies were indicted for their roles in paying bribes to the military officials and otherwise defrauding the United States. The pleas of the military officials were filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. A superseding indictment of the contractors and companies was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. “As the United States continues to expend resources in Afghanistan, the Antitrust Division will remain vigilant in prosecuting individuals and companies who divert funds for their personal gain,” said Christine A. Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division.

Christopher P. West, a U.S. Army Major from Chicago who served in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005, pleaded guilty to charges contained in the superseding indictment including three counts of bribery and three counts of conspiracy. West admitted to accepting $90,000 cash from contractors in exchange for awarding DOD contracts at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. West also pleaded guilty to two additional counts of conspiracy for accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for defrauding DOD by certifying inflated numbers of bunkers and barriers delivered at Bagram Airfield, causing the DOD to pay for goods that were invoiced and paid for but never received. Bunkers and barriers are cement structures used for force protection and perimeter walls. West agreed to pay $500,000 in restitution to DOD, to forfeit any fraud-related assets to the United States and to cooperate with the Department’s investigation. Charles Patton, a friend of West’s and a U.S. Army Sergeant from Chicago, pleaded guilty today to charges of receiving stolen property. Although a member of the same military unit as West, Patton was not deployed to Afghanistan. Patton admitted that he received shipments of cash from West in 2004 and 2005, while West was deployed. Patton hid the money in his home until West returned to the United States and retrieved the cash. Later, at West’s request, Patton moved the money to a safe deposit box in his own name. Patton has agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution, to forfeit any fraud-related assets and to cooperate with the Department’s investigation. Patrick W. Boyd, a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant from Rockledge, Fla., who served as a contracting officer at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005, pleaded guilty to three counts of bribery and three counts of conspiracy for accepting $90,000 cash from contractors in exchange for the award of DOD contracts at Bagram Airfield. Boyd also admitted to the additional offense conduct of receiving $25,000 in cash from a contractor in return for the award of a telecommunications infrastructure contract at Bagram Airfield. Boyd has agreed to pay $130,000 in restitution to the DOD, to forfeit any fraud-related assets and to cooperate with the Department’s investigation. The superseding indictment also charges brothers Assad John Ramin and Tahir Ramin, both U.S. citizens, and their companies AZ Corporation and Top’s Construction, Noor Alam, an Afghan citizen, and his company Northern Reconstruction Organization, and Abdul Qudoos Bakhshi, an Afghan citizen, and his company Naweed Bakhshi Company, with various counts of bribery, fraud and conspiracy. The superseding indictment alleges that these individuals and their companies conspired to and did pay bribes to West, Boyd and others in order to obtain contracts for supplying concrete bunkers and barriers and asphalt paving. It also charges that the contractors, along with West and others, conspired to and did inflate the number of bunkers and barriers delivered to Bagram Airfield, thereby causing the DOD to pay for bunkers and barriers that were invoiced and paid for but never delivered. West and Boyd were originally indicted in August 2008 on bribery and conspiracy charges. At the same time, the Ramin brothers, Alam and his company and Bakhshi and his company, were indicted on similar charges. Today’s superseding indictment adds AZ Corporation and Top’s Construction to the indictment, as well as mail fraud charges and additional bribery and conspiracy charges. “It is shameful that some members of our Armed Forces have conspired with contractors to unjustly enrich themselves while the U.S. is engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan,” said Sharon E. Woods, Director, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. “These crimes are particularly contemptible because they involve military members and contractors who are suppose to ensure our troops receive the best support and equipment possible to sustain our military operations. DCIS and its law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue allegations of corruption in Afghanistan and will continue to protect America’s warfighters both overseas and in the U.S.”

“Today’s announcement makes it perfectly clear that such activity by anyone affiliated with the U.S. Army, in or out of uniform, will not be tolerated. We will continue to investigate allegations of this nature and do everything in our power to see that persons responsible are held accountable and brought to justice,” said Brigadier General Rodney Johnson, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. The individuals face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the mail fraud conspiracy charge, and up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the bribery conspiracy counts. The maximum fine for these offenses may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum. The individuals also face up to 15 years in prison and fines up to three times the amount or value of the bribe for each of the bribery counts. Each corporate defendant faces a maximum fine of up to $500,000 on each charged offense. This case is part of an ongoing investigation being prosecuted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section (NCES), with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. The investigation of this case is being conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (Army CID), and Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Additional assistance was provided by Customs and Border Protection, Field Operations in Chicago; and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division. Today’s charges are an example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect U.S. taxpayers from procurement fraud through the National Procurement Fraud Task Force. The National Procurement Fraud Initiative, announced in October 2006, is designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in contracting activity for national security and other government programs.

Anyone with information concerning illegal conduct in the procurement of goods or services involving DOD contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan is urged to contact NCES at 202-307-6694 or; DCIS at 800-424-9098 or; or Army CID at

Monday, June 29, 2009

Federal Judge: "This Case Directly Implicates Our Judicial System..." - Questions Immunity

Judge: Masters' Attorneys Can Question Police, Not Prosecutors
Immunity Issues Still To Be Resolved
ABC News 7 News, DENVER, by Lance Hernandez, 7NEWS Reporter - June 25, 2009

DENVER, CO -- "It's time to get this case moving." With those words, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Babcock granted in part, and denied in part, a motion to stay proceedings in Tim Masters' lawsuit against officers and former officers of the Fort Collins Police Department, and prosecutors and former prosecutors in the Larimer County District Attorney's Office. Masters was wrongly convicted in 1999 of killing Peggy Hetrick in 1987 and leaving her partially clothed body in a vacant field behind his home. According to the coroner, the victim's left nipple and a portion of her external genitalia had been carefully excised postmortem with a very sharp instrument, most likely a scalpel. There were no signs of sexual assault. There was no direct physical evidence linking the then- 15-year-old Masters to the crime, but he was still convicted. After spending 10 years behind bars, Masters' conviction was thrown out after sophisticated DNA tests pointed to another culprit. Masters filed a federal lawsuit last December, alleging prosecutorial and police corruption and misconduct, manufacture of evidence, destruction of evidence, hiding of evidence and of being dishonest with courts. Babcock's ruling allows Masters' attorneys to proceed with questioning of police, but not prosecutors, at least not yet. The judge said the Supreme Court gives prosecutors "a great deal" of immunity from civil lawsuits. "The Supreme Court has developed an appetite recently for immunity issues," Babcock told attorneys. "Should the Supreme Court be hungry, there's plenty to feed on in this case." Babcock said this is going to be a hard case. "This case directly implicates our judicial system and how an accused was dealt with and treated in that system," Babcock said. "(Tim Masters) has a significant interest in as expeditious a resolution in this case as can be afforded him." Babcock set a hearing for Aug. 20 to settle the "complicated" prosecutor immunity issues. Plaintiff's attorney David Lane told 7NEWS, "I would ultimately like to see that everyone who has corrupted the criminal justice system is dealt with justly and that Tim Masters gets a fair and just compensation for a loss that there can be no fair and just compensation for." Attorney David Wymore said Masters is experiencing some serious stress disorders from being locked up for something he didn't do. "He's working through those issues without psychological help," Wymore said, "because it was a psychologist who helped convict him." Masters did not attend the Thursday hearing, opting instead to spend the day with his parents. "It's his birthday," Wymore said. "Little things like that are very important to him." "After what’s happened to him, he's afraid to step into a courtroom," Lane said. "He's reluctant to leave his house and worries that he’ll be arrested again for any little thing." When asked if Masters would consider settling out of court, Wymore told 7NEWS, "Tim wants a trial. Tim is anxious to see a trial. I'd like to see a trial."

The defendants named in the lawsuit include:
  • Terence A. Gilmore, Former Deputy DA – 8th Judicial District
  • Jolene C. Blair, Former Deputy DA – 8th Judicial District
  • James Broderick, Lieutenant - Fort Collins Police Dept.
  • Marsha Reed, Former Detective – Fort Collins Police Dept.
  • Dennis V. Harrison, Chief of Police – Fort Collins Police Dept.
  • City of Fort Collins – Municipality
  • Stuart VanMeveren, Former DA – 8th Judicial District
  • Larry Abrahamson, District Attorney – 8th Judicial District
  • 8th Judicial District of Colorado
Previous Stories:
  • June 25, 2009: Judge Allows Wrongly Imprisoned Man To Press Claim
  • February 11, 2009: Ex-Prosecutor Doubts Hettrick Slaying Will Be Solved
  • January 21, 2009: Detective: Crime Fingerprints Didn't Belong To Masters
  • November 19, 2008: Police Clear Investigator In Tim Masters Case
  • October 21, 2008: Tim Masters Files Federal Lawsuit
  • September 9, 2008: Judges Censured For Role In Masters Case
  • August 2, 2008: Access To Evidence Slows 1987 Murder Investigation
  • July 20, 2008: Masters Picks Up Life After Wrongful Imprisonment
  • July 8, 2008: No Criminal Charges Against Officer In Overturned Murder Case
  • May 2, 2008: Investigation Into Police Officer On Masters' Case Delayed
  • April 30, 2008: Bracelet May Hold Clues To Killer's Identity
  • March 19, 2008: DNA Laws Likely To Change
  • January 25, 2008: DA To Dismiss All Charges Against Masters
  • January 22, 2008: Word Of The Day 'Freedom', Says Master
  • January 22, 2008: Tim Masters Now A Free Man
  • January 22, 2008: Family Eager To See Masters
  • January 21, 2008: Focus Shifts To Investigators In Masters Case
  • January 19, 2008: Masters Says He Awaits Release From Jail
  • January 19, 2008: New DNA Evidence Means New Trial For Tim Masters
  • November 9, 2007: Report: Doubts Over 1999 Colorado Murder Conviction
  • August 24, 2007: Man Convicted In Woman's Slaying Claims Doctor Responsible

Long List of Sheriff Scandals

Oklahoma troubled by long line of sheriff scandals
The Associated Press by SEAN MURPHY – June 27, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (AP) — A small-town sheriff and his top deputy kept close watch over a lonely stretch of interstate in eastern Oklahoma, looking for drug couriers to fleece. But one motorist carrying $30,000 in cash turned out to be an undercover federal agent. Now former McIntosh County Sheriff Terry Jones and undersheriff Mykol Brookshire are awaiting sentencing on conspiracy charges. They are among the latest in a long line of Oklahoma lawmen to go astray in a colorful history that dates to the Wild West. "Generally, the people attracted to law enforcement are similar to people attracted to a life of crime," said Bob Blackburn, director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. "They like action. They're physical. They like the excitement of the chase, whether they're the chasee or the chaser.

"In some cases, the good guys become bad guys." On Wednesday, four former female inmates filed a lawsuit accusing Delaware County Sheriff Jay Blackfox of covering up sexual assault complaints and sexual harassment by other jailers, but Blackfox contends he did nothing wrong. In March, former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess was sentenced to 79 years in prison for sexually abusing female inmates. A month earlier, Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig was booted from office after he admitted he allowed a teenage girl to drink wine coolers and vodka while riding in his vehicle. U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling, who prosecuted Jones and Brookshire, helped secure a 25-year prison sentence four years ago against former Latimer County Sheriff Melvin Holly, who was convicted of forcing three women prisoners to have sex with him, serving one moonshine and threatening the life of another. Sperling also prosecuted former Choctaw County Sheriff J.W. Trapp, who was sent to prison in 1996 for taking bribes from marijuana growers and illegal gambling operators. Sperling said Oklahoma sheriffs may face great temptation because they hold a lot of power in rural areas where there are few people to challenge them and little oversight of their activities. It's a symptom of an outdated system of government that includes 77 separate counties, each with its own sheriff, county commission and local court. "Our system of government should be modernized, but the political reality is that folks want to hang on to their little fiefdoms," Sperling said. "Is this a smart way to operate? Should every county have three county commissioners and all the county officers they have? "It's crazy that we haven't gone to a regional system."

Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska, says states with similar county systems have been plagued with corruption since before the Wild West days.
"The sheriff goes back to the founding of the first colonies," Walker said. "It's really been an endemic problem, because they're independently elected. "They've got a lot of power, a lot of political power, and with power comes corruption." But there is little political will to overhaul a system that has been in place since Oklahoma became a state in 1907, and even minor tweaks to the system proposed by legislators in recent years have been met with fierce resistance from the powerful county government lobby. The sheriff's lobby is also quick to note that most of its members are law enforcers, not breakers. "It's not that many as the overall numbers go," said Ken McNair, executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association. "One is too many for a peace officer with a badge, but you're going to have some that get in and succumb to that temptation." Still, folks in Eufaula had hoped for better after electing Jones to uphold the law in McIntosh County, a community about 120 miles east of Oklahoma City and home to about 20,000 residents. "He tainted his own badge," wrecking service operator Lonnie Ballard said. "It's a bad deal that he got to that point, but everybody knows right from wrong, and he opted to go on the wrong side." Blackburn, the historian, said some crossing of the line may be inevitable since law officers often come from backgrounds similar to criminals' and live life on the edge. "The vast majority of lawmen are exemplary citizens who want to protect society and are willing to put their life on the line," he said. "But that's compounded by one other thing — to be a good lawman and find the bad guys, you've got to be able to walk the life of the criminal."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trooper Charged in Theft After Vehicle Stop

Trooper charged
The Emporia Gazette - June 26, 2009

A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who served a number of years in Lyon County is charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. Clint Dwayne Epperly, 35, was charged Thursday morning with a felony count of official misconduct and two counts of misdemeanor theft. The case was unsealed this morning after proof of service was returned to Lyon County District Court. The case, investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and filed by the Kansas attorney general’s office, alleges that Epperly removed property from a vehicle after a drug stop on Dec. 17 of last year. The property was removed after the vehicle was taken to a secure inspection area of Williams Automotive. No forfeiture action was ever filed, according to the KBI agent who investigated.

Ex-Cop Sentenced in Corruption Case

Ex-cop sentenced in corruption case
He’s held responsible for ‘out of control’ unit.
Culture of wrongdoing led to elderly woman’s death in a botched raid.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Steve Visser - June 20, 2009

A federal judge sentenced a former Atlanta police sergeant to 18 months in prison Friday, saying he allowed a culture of corruption to run rampant in the narcotics unit he supervised. U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes said she believed Wilbert Stallings, who had 23 years experience with the Atlanta Police, was a “good man,” but he had a responsibility to stop the police corruption that had become common in his unit. That culture culminated with the killing of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in an illegal raid on a house on Neal Street in 2006. “He was head of a unit that was out of control, ” Carnes said. The federal investigation into the Johnston killing uncovered Stallings’ involvement in an illegal break-in to search a duplex on Dill Avenue in 2005. In that case —- which turned up no illegal drugs —- Stallings told officers to leave a back door unsecured to make the intrusion look like a burglary. “That case was perhaps a harbinger of things to come,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Curt Erskine. “That victim may never again trust law enforcement in any way, and perhaps he is right not to.” Stallings, 45 of Conyers, was working with Officer Gregg Junnier when they committed the Dill Avenue break-in and cover-up. Junnier was the lead officer of the narcotics team that lied to obtain a no-knock search warrant from a judge to raid Johnston’s Vine City house after receiving an erroneous tip that a kilo of cocaine had been stashed there. The officers planted marijuana in the house after killing Johnston, who had fired a shot when they were breaking down her door. Stallings was not directly involved in the Neal Street raid, and Junnier was sentenced to six years in prison for his role. Stallings’ lawyer, Brad Gardner, argued that the former officer deserved probation because, other than the illegal acts of the narcotics unit, he had led a fine life and had cooperated with the federal investigation. “I told Mr. Stallings he was like a classic battered spouse —- you stay from doing what is right … because you don’t want to be mistreated,” Gardner said. “Instead of doing what he knew was the right thing to go, he allowed others to cut corners, and he cut corners.” Stallings pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of another person by breaking into a private residence without a warrant. U.S. Attorney David Nahmias’ office recommended the 18-month sentence. Stallings, who entered the guilty plea in March 2008, seemed relieved after the sentencing. “Thank God this situation has come to a conclusion,” he said outside court. He is free on bond pending his surrender to begin serving his sentence.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cop cops Plea in Drug Bust

NYPD officer cops a plea in drug bust
The New York Daily News by Nicole Bode - June 27, 2009

A disgraced NYPD officer turned in his badge and pleaded guilty Friday to framing two brothers in a phony drug bust. Police Officer Henry Tavarez, 27, of Manhattan, admitted he and Detective Stephen Anderson worked together to wrongly incriminate brothers Jose and Maximo Colon during a Jan. 5, 2008, sting inside a Queens nightclub. They arrested the brothers on trumped up charges that the Colons sold them cocaine at the Delicias de Mi Tierra bar in Elmhurst, prosecutors said, then tried to cover their tracks by placing in evidence some of the drugs they had purchased during another bust. Tavarez pleaded guilty to felony charges of offering a false report. As part of his plea deal, he resigned from the NYPD and could face five days in jail at sentencing. All charges against the brothers were dropped and they have filed a federal lawsuit against the officers. Anderson resigned from the NYPD prior to the revelation. He could face up to nine years in prison, prosecutors said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Internal Affairs Investigating Bronx Captain

Internal affairs investigating Bronx NYPD captain over use of city vehicle The New York Daily News by Alison Gendar - June 26, 2009

An NYPD police captain known as a stickler for the rules is under investigation for allegedly breaking one, sources said Friday. Internal Affairs is probing whether Capt. Charles Barbuti, who is assigned to the Bronx district attorney's investigative squad, improperly took and wrecked a city car. Barbuti, 46, is accused of hanging onto the car while he was off-duty studying for the bar exam last summer, police sources said. "He didn't tell anyone, and people only learned about the fact that he totaled it months later," a police source said. The accident was June 4, 2008, according to Department of Motor vehicle records. No further information was available. Barbuti allegedly took the car at a time when the city was cutting back on the use of its cars by officials. "He's a stickler for rules and procedures but they don't apply to him," one police source said. A spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney's office declined comment. Barbuti could not be reached, but his union said he hadn't broken any rules. "He reported the accident to the local law enforcement and notified the District Attorney's office soon after. And that was it - he complied by the rules," said the head of the captain's union, Roy Richter. The 22-year veteran has not been questioned by Internal Affairs yet. One supporter said a disgruntled employee had lodged several false accusations against the captain in recent months.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

NYPD Detective Found Guilty of Perjury

The New York Post by DENISE BUFFA, MURRAY WEISS and ANDY GELLER - June 25, 2009

It was approaching midnight when Bronx Detective Christopher Perino confronted Erik Crespo in the interview room of the 44th Precinct station house on New Year's Eve 2005. Crespo, then 17, had been caught on a surveillance camera shooting John Torres, 24, and Perino was trying to establish a rapport with the teen. The interrogation set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the detective being convicted of perjury yesterday after a nonjury trial. Back in 2005, Perino told Crespo he could beat the rap because he had a clean record. But first, he had to reveal where the gun was. "I want the gun, all right? I want the gun," Perino said. "Don't make it hard for me, 'cause I could keep you here all night. I can keep you here all tomorrow morning. I can make sure that you don't see the judge for the next three days." But Crespo remained vague about the gun. "There's enough cops that have been killed," the detective said later. "There's enough innocent people that have been killed. Maybe your mother or your little sister could be walking down the street someday and, God for bid, they take a bullet." As Perino was doing what any detective would do to get a confession out of someone he knew was guilty, Crespo slyly recorded the entire 75-minute interrogation on an MP3 player he had in his pocket. Perino then dug a hole for himself he couldn't climb out from when he lied under oath at Crespo's attempted-murder trial and said he never grilled the teen. Perino, 43, who had been on the police force for 19½ years before he made the fateful decision to commit perjury on the witness stand, was suspended without pay yesterday pending termination by the NYPD. The lie will cost the third-grade detective his $80,000 annual salary, his pension of $41,300 a year once he retired -- and, more than likely, his freedom when he's sentenced Aug. 18. In grilling the teen, Perino made two crucial mistakes. He failed to read him his Miranda rights and he didn't frisk him. Another cop frisked Crespo, but failed to find a little red MP3 player the teen received for Christmas, sources said. The player could record and -- unknown to Perino -- Crespo documented the entire conversation. For the next 15 months, the veteran sleuth had no idea that a 62-page, 16,000-word transcript of interrogation existed. "Now, you said on direct examination that you never asked him any questions when you were alone with him in the [interview] room on Dec. 31, 2005, isn't that true?" asked Crespo's lawyer, Mark DeMarco during the teen's 2007 trial. "That's correct. He wasn't questioned," Perino replied. DeMarco then whipped out the transcript and Perino was charged with perjury. The NYPD veteran was convicted yesterday by Judge James Kindler and faces up to seven years behind bars -- the exact same sentence Crespo is currently serving after pleading guilty to weapons possession. At his trial, Perino first claimed he had forgotten grilling Crespo because he had questioned 50 people since then. He subsequently testified he had a 10-minute conversation with Crespo, not a 75-minute interrogation. A close friend said Perino is devastated by his conviction. "He only wanted to be a cop. He loved being a cop. He worked in a specialized violent crime unit that got guns off the street," the police pal said. "Now he has lost everything."

Serious Misconduct by Prosecutors a Recurring Problem

Corporate Crime
Serious Misconduct by Prosecutors a Recurring Problem
The New York Law Journal by Howard W. Goldstein - May 07, 2009

At least once in his or her career, and usually more often, every criminal defense lawyer is asked some variant of the question "How can you represent those people?" There are many deeply personal answers to this question, but one constant theme of the answers (aside from a reminder that some of "those people" are, in fact, innocent) is the importance to our criminal justice system and to the protection of our basic liberties of putting the prosecution to the test of proving its case in the face of a vigorous defense. Indeed, as a nation we are historically allergic to the exercise of unchallenged power. On occasion, the product of a vigorous defense is the exposure of a malfunction in the system so obvious that the resulting judgment in favor of the defendant is accepted without the otherwise too frequent and too unfortunate cries that the defendant "beat the rap." The recent case of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was such a case. But much as we would hope the Stevens case was an aberration, it is not. Rather, it is only another recent manifestation of what the judge in the Stevens case characterized as a "troubling tendency."

The Legal and Ethical Basics

The basic legal and ethical obligations violated by prosecutors in the recent cases discussed below are well established and clear. In Brady v. Maryland,1 the Supreme Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution."2 In Giglio v. United States, the Court made clear that exculpatory evidence included impeachment material, in that case a non-prosecution promise to a testifying co-conspirator.3 These legal obligations are also ethical obligations, violations of which can subject a prosecutor to professional discipline. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, adopted in substance in New York, specifically provides that the prosecution in a criminal case shall: make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal.4 These legal and ethical obligations are rooted in the prosecutor's role and responsibility in the criminal justice system. As described by the Court in Brady, Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials are fair; our system of the administration of justice suffers when any accused is treated unfairly. An inscription on the walls of the Department of Justice states the proposition candidly for the federal domain: "The United States wins its point whenever justice is done its citizens in the courts."5

Or, as explained by Justice Sutherland in these oft-quoted words: The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor - indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.6

The Stevens Case

These legal and ethical obligations were repeatedly violated in the recent case of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. In October 2008, Senator Stevens was convicted after a five-week trial of charges that he had failed to list on Senate disclosure forms approximately $250,000 worth of goods and services he received. During the trial, government prosecutors were repeatedly forced to admit that they had failed to turn over information to the defense.7 At least twice during the trial, the Court instructed the jury to ignore evidence the prosecution introduced.8 The government was also chastised for allowing a witness to leave town without informing the judge or the defense and for introducing evidence it knew was not accurate.9 After the trial, an FBI agent sought whistleblower protection and filed a 10-page affidavit in which he made allegations of misconduct he had witnessed both by prosecutors and by fellow FBI agents, including allegations that evidence had been willfully withheld from the defense.10

On Feb. 3, 2009, shortly after taking office, Attorney General Eric Holder replaced the prosecutors on the case with a new team.11 Later in February, Judge Sullivan held three of the prosecutors (including the chief and the deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department) in contempt for failing to comply with the Court's orders relating to the production of documents. On April 1, the newly-appointed prosecution team filed a motion to set aside the verdict and to dismiss the indictment with prejudice. The team had discovered prosecutors' notes from an April 2008 interview of a key prosecution witness that contradicted his trial testimony and had never been produced to the defense.

On April 7, 2009, Judge Sullivan granted the motion to set aside the verdict and dismissed the indictment with prejudice. In delivering his decision from the bench, Judge Sullivan called the prosecutors' conduct the most serious he had seen in almost 25 years on the bench and characterized the conduct as part of a "troubling tendency" of prosecutors to stretch the boundaries of ethical restrictions and withhold evidence from defendants.12 Stating that he had no faith in the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, he appointed an outside attorney to investigate six of the prosecutors, including both the chief and the deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section, for possible criminal contempt charges.13

The Shaygan Case

Dr. Ali Shaygan, a physician in Florida, was charged with 141 counts of unlawfully prescribing medication after one of his patients died from an overdose.14 Midway through trial, during cross-examination, a government witness disclosed for the first time that he had secretly recorded conversations with the defense team with the prosecution's authorization. The prosecution then disclosed that another witness had also recorded conversations - both sets of tapings being done as part of a purported witness tampering inquiry. Neither witness had been presented to the jury as cooperating with the prosecution.15

Dr. Shaygan was acquitted. Thereafter, his lawyer sought attorney's fees and costs under the Hyde Amendment, and the court held a two-day hearing on alleged prosecutorial misconduct, including the undisclosed recordings and violations of Brady, Giglio, and the Jencks Act.16 At the conclusion of the hearing, the court issued a 50-page order criticizing, in the strongest terms, the government's handling of the case. The court granted the defendant full relief for all fees and costs from the time the superseding indictment was filed, which is when the court concluded the prosecution had first taken a position in bad faith. The prosecutors' conduct was described as the product of "the prosecutors' moral obliquity and egregious departures from the ethical standards to which prosecutors are held."17 The order is remarkable for its repeated findings of actions taken in bad faith, repeated rejections of the prosecution's testimony as not credible, and conclusion that the collateral witness tampering investigation was the product of the prosecution's personal animus for the defense lawyers.18

In addition to the Hyde Amendment sanctions, the court, among other steps, entered a public reprimand of the United States Attorney's Office and three prosecutors specifically, indicated that it would refer the matter to the relevant disciplinary authorities, and ordered the United States Attorney's Office to report to the Court the result of the inquiry being conducted by the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility.19

The Judge Wolf Cases

In United States v. Jones,20 Chief Judge Mark Wolf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied the defendant's suppression motion, but only after first rejecting the government's justification for the seizure "because of repeated government misconduct that, if not discovered, might have frustrated the court's ability to find the facts reliably and might have deprived Jones of his right to due process."21 In Jones, the government's arguments to sustain the seizure depended on the testimony of a Boston police officer, who claimed that he knew and recognized the defendant riding a bicycle away from the police after first making eye contact with the officer. In advance of the suppression hearing, this claim was made by the government in its written submission, orally, and in an affidavit by the officer. At the hearing, the police officer reportedly testified to that effect.

At the beginning of the hearing, the prosecution told the court that all exculpatory material had been disclosed. After the officer's testimony, the prosecutor repeated that claim, but at the court's urging to be sure, she provided her notes to the court "out of an abundance of caution."22 The notes disclosed that the officer in fact had told the prosecution several times that he did not recognize the man when he was on the bicycle. On Jan. 21, 2009, in a 42-page memorandum denying the defendant's motion on other grounds, the court ordered the government, among other things, to show cause why the prosecutor should not be sanctioned.23 After receiving the government's response, Judge Wolf scheduled a hearing to consider whether to order the prosecutor to reimburse the court for some of the time spent by the defendant's appointed counsel and to attend a court-organized program on disclosure obligations involving judges, defense lawyers, and prosecutors.24 This was not Judge Wolf's first experience with prosecutorial misconduct in his district. An attachment to the January Memorandum listed eight major cases before Judge Wolf in which prosecutors had withheld important evidence.25 In one of those cases, Ferrara v. United States, a defendant who pleaded guilty in an organized crime case was resentenced to time served after it was discovered that the lead prosecutor had withheld evidence that directly negated the defendant's guilt on charges that he had directed a murder.26 Incredibly, in appealing Judge Wolf's order resentencing the defendant to time served, the government maintained that the withheld evidence was not material, even after the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility concluded in an internal report that the evidence was exculpatory and should have been produced.27


The cases discussed above are only a few examples of recent cases involving serious prosecutorial misconduct. Space limitations preclude discussing additional cases, but interested readers can look at cases cited in the accompanying footnotes for further examples, including one in which the prosecutor attempted to excuse his failure to investigate and disclose indications that his main witness was lying by asserting that he was too busy preparing for trial (the witness did not testify and was ultimately prosecuted for lying to the prosecutors),28 and another characterized by the Ninth Circuit as "prosecutorial misconduct in its highest form."29 This article is not meant to be a condemnation of prosecutors, most of whom are accomplished and dedicated public servants who conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism. But the fact remains that, for whatever reason, prosecutorial misconduct is a recurring problem.30 And it is also a fact that these ethical and legal lapses frequently would go undetected, to the detriment of the defendants' most basic rights, but for the defense lawyers' dedication to the protection of those rights. So, "how can you represent those people?" The answer is clear. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."31

Howard W. Goldstein is a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Megan Whyte, an associate at the firm, assisted in the preparation of this article.

1. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
2. Id. at 87.
3. Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).
4. Model Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 3.8(d) (2008); see N.Y. Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 3.8(b) (2009).
5. Brady, n.1 supra, at 87.
6. Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935). See also Standards for Criminal Justice: Prosecution Function & Def. Function 3-3.11 cmt. (3d ed. 1993) ("A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate"); United States Attorneys' Manual, Title 9, §9-5.001 (October 2006) (setting forth policy "with respect to the government's obligation both to disclose exculpatory and impeachment information to criminal defendants and to seek a just result in every case").
7. Neil A. Lewis, "Tables Turned on Prosecution in Stevens Case," N.Y. Times, April 8, 2009, at A1.
8. Del Quentin Wilber, "Judge Tosses Out Stevens Conviction," Wash. Post, April 7, 2009.
9. Del Quentin Wilber, "Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case," Wash. Post, April 8, 2009, at A01.
10. Redacted Complaint, United States v. Stevens, No. 08 Cr. 231 (D.D.C. Jan. 14, 2009).
11. Neil A. Lewis & David Johnston, "Dismayed Lawyers Lay Out Reasons for Collapse of the Stevens Conviction," N.Y. Times, April 7, 2009, at A20.
12. Neil A. Lewis, "Tables Turned on Prosecution in Stevens Case," N.Y. Times, April 8, 2009, at A1.
13. Wilber, "Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case," n. 9 supra.
14. Martha Neil, "Federal Judge Sanctions US $600K for Secretly Taping Defense Lawyer," ABA J., April 9, 2009.
15. Jay Weaver, "Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct," Miami Herald, March 3, 2009, at B3.
16. Vanessa Blum, "Judge Might Penalize Prosecutors in Failed Drug Case," Sun-Sentinel, March 21, 2009, at 9B.
17. Order on Defendant's Motion for Sanctions Under Hyde Amendment at 41-42, United States v. Shaygan, No. 08 Cr. 20112 (S.D. Fla. April 9, 2009).
18. See id. at 6-27, 29.
19. Id. at 49-50.
20. United States v. Jones, No. 07 Cr. 10289, 2009 WL 151587 (D. Mass. Jan. 21, 2009).
21. Id. at *1.
22. Id. at *4.
23. Id. at *6.
24. United States v. Jones, No. 07 Cr. 10289, 2009 WL 1111210, at *1 (D. Mass. April 27, 2009).
25. Jones, n. 20 supra, 2009 WL 151587, at *17-18.
26. Ferrara v. United States, 384 F. Supp. 2d 384 (D. Mass. 2005), aff'd 456 F. 3f 278 (1st Cir. 2006); Ferrara v. United States, 372 F. Supp. 2d 108 (D. Mass. 2005).
27. Adam Liptak, "Federal Judge Files Complaint Against Prosecutor in Boston," N.Y. Times, July 3, 2007, at A11.
28. United States v. Quinn, 537 F. Supp. 2d 99, 111 (D.D.C. 2008).
29. United States v. Chapman, 524 F.3d 1073, 1090 (9th Cir. 2008).
30. See, e.g., Duff Wilson & David Barstow, "Duke Prosecutor Throws Out Case Against Players," N.Y. Times, April 12, 2007, at A1 (North Carolina Attorney General stated that three Duke University lacrosse players had been wrongly accused by a "rogue prosecutor"; "We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations"); Duff Wilson, "Prosecutor in Duke Case Disbarred by Ethics Panel," N.Y. Times, June 17, 2007, at 1 (North Carolina state ethics panel disbarred Durham's district attorney in light of his dishonesty and deceitfulness toward the court and defense counsel); Aaron Beard, Associated Press, "Ex-Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Leaves Jail," Sept. 8, 2007 (district attorney served 24-hour jail sentence for criminal contempt for lying to court).
31 Wendell Phillips, Speech at the Melodeon (Jan. 28, 1852), in Speeches Before the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, January 1852, at 13 (1852).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Judge Delays Decision on Ending U.S. Oversight of LAPD

Judge delays decision on ending U.S. oversight of LAPD
Attorneys for the LAPD and the U.S. Department of Justice propose that the consent decree be terminated in favor of a 'transition agreement.' ACLU asks judge to keep the decree in place.
The Los Angeles Times by Joel Rubin -  June 16, 2009

A judge Monday postponed deciding whether to free the Los Angeles Police Department from years of federal oversight. More than eight years ago, following the Rampart corruption scandal, the LAPD was forced by the U.S. Department of Justice to agree to a sweeping set of reforms aimed at improving officers' behavior and the department's ability to maintain order in its own house. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, who oversees the department's reforms, angrily rejected the idea that the LAPD was ready to police itself and added three more years to the life of the so-called consent decree. Now, with nearly all of the dozens of reforms in place and police leaders eager to move beyond the stigma of federal oversight, the LAPD was once again seeking an end to the decree. Attorneys for the LAPD and the U.S. Department of Justice jointly submitted a proposal to Feess asking that the consent decree be terminated in favor of a "transition agreement." Under the proposal, the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD, would assume responsibility from federal monitors for ensuring that the LAPD would follow through on the remaining reforms.

Among the unresolved issues is the department's ongoing effort to strengthen its stance against racial profiling by officers. And it still must demonstrate the functionality of a computer system that tracks police behavior and a policy that requires some officers to disclose personal financial information.  In a lengthy morning hearing, Feess acknowledged that the LAPD had come a long way, but he refused to go along with the plan. He expressed doubt about doing away with the current decree and putting in place a new agreement that, he said, was too vague. The proposal, he said, left his authority over the department uncertain and did not make clear whether outside groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union would continue to have a say in the unresolved issues. Feess gave the attorneys a week to submit written responses to his concerns. Attorneys for the ACLU of Southern California criticized the transition agreement, saying that it inadequately addressed unfinished reforms. They asked Feess to keep the consent decree in place. When asked by Feess for his comments, federal monitor Michael Cherkasky said he believed that the push to end the decree stemmed from the negative "symbolic nature" of the agreement. The idea of continuing the consent decree, he said, has pushed the LAPD to a "psychological breaking point." That idea seemed to hold little sway with Feess. "I don't know there is anything anyone can say about that," Feess said.  Police Chief William J. Bratton has made no secret of his desire to be done with decree, saying that the continued oversight hurts officers' morale. After the hearing, Bratton reiterated that idea. "It is time to move on," he said.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Freedom March For The Wrongly Convicted in NYC on June 27th


NEW YORK— An estimated 10% of all prisoners in the U.S. have been wrongfully convicted. According to a recent report released by the Pew Center on the States, the U.S. correctional population -- those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole -- totaled 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults. This means that up to 730,000 people in the correctional population may have been wrongfully convicted. In the last 3 decades 238 Americans have been exonerated with DNA evidence after spending an average of 12 years incarcerated.  The severity of this problem has begun to be recognized in New York and other states. The New York Bar Association earlier this year released their Final Report of the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions. Also in April, Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of New York’s Court of Appeals, said he is creating a permanent task force to examine wrongful convictions and recommend ways to minimize them. In order to raise public awareness of a national problem that has become a national shame, a National Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted is being held simultaneously in many states on June 27th. The New York march will be held in New York City on June 27th starting on the Steps of City Hall from 10:00 to 11:00, to follow with a march to Foley Square Park where there will be speakers and informational materials from 11:00 to 2:00. Speakers at the March will include Jeffrey Deskovic, Richard Aborn, Colleen Eren and representatives from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the ACLU.

Jeffrey Deskovic served 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit and is now working to bring about reforms which will help reduce the number of wrongful convictions. Mr. Deskovic’s speech will provide insights into the devastation a wrongful conviction can cause to the innocent and their families as well as the need for systematic reform to help reduce these injustices. Another aspect will be the role that judges play in perpetuating wrongful convictions by putting procedure over innocence, rubber stamp denying appeals, and generally looking for any and every means possible to affirm convictions no matter what the facts are or the quality of the legal arguments which are based upon the fairness of trials.

Richard Aborn is a candidate for Manhattan district attorney. He was a member of the NYS Bar Association Task Force on Wrongful Convictions and a leader in helping pass a new state law calling for expanded use of DNA to fight crime and quickly exonerate the innocent. He has also long pressed for overturning the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, and has been a firm and consistent opponent of the death penalty. Colleen Eren is Organizing Director with New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NYADP) and a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She became involved in the abolitionist movement at the age of 16, after starting a chapter of Amnesty international in her high school. She has served on Amnesty's National Steering Committee for the Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, and has been with NYADP five years. She has taught undergraduate Sociology courses at Hofstra University, Queens College and Hunter College. Please join us at this worthwhile event. More information on the National Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted at

Monitor Cites Reform, Though Incomplete, by Los Angeles Police

Monitor Cites Reform, Though Incomplete, by Los Angeles Police
The New York Times by SOLOMON MOORE - June 16, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Police Department here has taken significant steps to root out corruption and reduce brutality and racially biased arrests, but it must still do more to eliminate racial disparities in police searches and the use of force, a court-appointed monitor testified on Monday. The department agreed to sweeping reforms in 2001 after the Justice Department found a pattern of police misconduct over a decade that included the videotaped beating of Rodney G. King in 1991 and the Rampart corruption scandal, which involved police officers’ stealing illegal drugs, framing gang members and committing extortion. Federal authorities also determined that the department had engaged in a pattern of excessive force, false arrests and unreasonable searches, especially of members of minorities, because of poor training and insufficient protocols. Supervision of the court-mandated reforms was set to expire Tuesday. At a hearing in federal court, Michael Cherkasky, who has been the monitor of the Police Department for eight years, said more time was needed. Mr. Cherkasky and lawyers for the civil rights division of the Justice Department told Judge Gary A. Feess that oversight should continue for three years, but with the Police Department dealing directly with the court instead of a federal monitor. Nonetheless, Mr. Cherkasky told the court that the department had progressed enough to warrant shifting more authority from federal oversight to the department’s internal monitors.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics of the department disputed the idea that the police were ready to institute reforms without the impetus of federal monitoring and urged Judge Feess to extend the consent decree. The judge acknowledged the department’s success in reducing crime and abuses, and he extended the consent decree for two weeks to review arguments on ending federal monitoring. Mr. Cherkasky urged the court to put in place a three-year transitional agreement that would end federal monitoring if the department reduced racial bias in searches and arrests, instituted a financial disclosure policy for certain kinds of investigators and created a better system to gauge problem officers by tracking complaints against them and use of force. “We’re saying these things need to be resolved before we can say that there has been substantial compliance,” he said. “If they do these things, we don’t have a problem with a transitional agreement.”

Under the transitional agreement, Mr. Cherkasky said, he would end his monitoring and the court would directly oversee final reforms by the department. Mr. Cherkasky said that although the Police Department had more work to do, it was “psychologically” important for the court to acknowledge the progress it had made. He said a decision to phase out federal monitoring in Los Angeles could be an encouraging sign to other departments that compliance with court-mandated reforms would eventually end well for agencies that cooperated. Chief William J. Bratton has complained that the consent decree is expensive and unnecessary since the Police Commission and the office of inspector general can fulfill the watchdog function. But Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U., said Judge Feess should extend federal monitoring until the department ended racially biased policing practices. Mr. Rosenbaum cited recent department statistics that showed officers had used force against African-Americans and Latinos more frequently than against whites. He also said statistics showed that African-Americans were searched by the Los Angeles police more frequently than whites, even though officers were less likely to find evidence of a crime when they searched blacks. “This is still a police force where, unfortunately, race still matters when deciding to frisk or arrest, even when there is no evidence of criminal conduct,” Mr. Rosenbaum said in an interview. Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and an expert on policing, agreed that the department had made strides since the inception of the consent decree. But Mr. Chemerinsky said it was premature to end the federal court’s role. “If L.A.P.D. has the capacity to make the necessary reforms, the consent decree is at worst unnecessary and redundant,” he said. “At best, it is essential. Why take the chance?”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Judge Temporarily Bars Public From Police Hearings

Judge temporarily bars public from police hearings
The Journal News by LAUREN STANFORTH AND PAUL NELSON - June 22, 2009

SCHENECTADY, NY -- A judge is temporarily blocking the public from attending the disciplinary hearings for two Schenectady police officers who face internal affairs charges. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer this afternoon issued a temporary injunction until he completes research on whether the hearings for officers John Lewis and Darren Lawrence should be public. Kramer said he would issue his ruling on July 16. Lewis' hearing was supposed to start Tuesday. Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said he will consult with Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett before the city decides whether to start a secret hearing Tuesday or wait for the judge's ruling. The officers face hearings on internal affairs charges that could lead to their dismissals and the city contends the hearings are open to the public. Attorneys have filed the injunction on behalf of Lewis and Lawrence. Both officers also face criminal charges for alleged off-duty misdeeds stemming from domestic issues and drinking problems. The police union has fought against the disciplinary hearing process, which will have Bennett presiding over the officers' cases at open hearings. The city decided to open up the disciplinary hearings amid scrutiny from residents and the media.

Police Department Could Clean House

Spring Lake police department could clean house
WRAL.COM - June 15, 2009

SPRING LAKE, N.C. - Spring Lake Interim Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said Monday that the town's troubled police department could terminate and start over next year. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office assumed control of law enforcement in Spring Lake on May 6, following the arrests of Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. and Sgt. Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. on a variety of charges. Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned shortly thereafter. Jarvies said the town cannot afford to continue paying the sheriff's office and its remaining officers, so 11 police employees could be laid off within the coming weeks, according to a proposal submitted to the Town Board Monday afternoon. Other employees would be transferred to jobs within the sheriff’s office. Jarvies said he made the recommendation after a judge told him the only way the department would regain its power is to start over. "It hit them (the officers) hard. You can imagine telling someone that we are going to recommend that your job is going to be gone in two weeks, (and) now you can go home and tell your family that you don't have an income,” Jarvies said.

Spring Lake officers could face lay-offs

“I’m very sad on a personal level for the families of the police officers that really didn't have anything to do with this,” said Jackie Jackson, with Citizens on the Move. Jackson said she founded Citizens on the Move in response to concerns of corruption within the police department. She said city leaders did not act fast enough to complaints. “While we are in the process of restructuring our police department, we need to think about restructuring our leadership as well,” she said. Sheriff's deputies would also continue to provide law enforcement for the town while the police department is restructured under the proposal. That could cost the city as much as $90,000 a month, Jarvies said. Officers with better training would be hired by February and would eventually take back policing the town from the sheriff's department, Jarvies said.

More on police probe

Indictments allege that Coulter participated in an April 2008 home invasion in which three men were held at gunpoint and that he asked subordinate officers to falsify a report about a September raid on a motel room in which $2,900 was seized. Whittington allegedly stole that money from the police department's evidence room and tried to cover it up, according to an indictment. Brown resigned the following day, and reports that he and another officer were shredding files in the department prompted a judge to order the State Bureau of Investigation to take control of all Spring Lake Police Department files. Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis has dismissed all pending misdemeanor cases in Spring Lake, saying that he suspects senior officers of lying and directing other officers to fabricate facts in police reports. Spring Lake officials had named Sgt. Mack Utley III as acting police chief before turning to Jarvies. Jarvies spent 32 years with the Chapel Hill Police Department, including seven as chief. He also has been a consultant for the Illinois State Police and a guest lecturer at North Carolina State University.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dirty Detective Allegedly Tipped Off Drug Kingpin

Dirty Detective Allegedly Tipped Off Drug Kingpin
The Philadelphia Enquirer by PAT DOLENTE - June 17, 2009

Durham is said to have received tens of thousands of dollars from the "Ace Capone" organization. In what was like a plot lifted from a movie script a former Philly detective was charged for allegedly telling drug kingpin "Ace Capone" about federal raid that was about to go down. The dirty cop calls friend who calls big, bad drug dealer to warn him about pending government raid on properties. Big, bad drug dealer then takes care of the evidence and gets away with it, at least until the third act. But in real life, former Philadelphia police detective Rickie Durham’s calls to warn drug kingpin Alton “Ace Capone” Coles were not in time. Police searched 23 different locations and 11 different automobiles connected to Coles in 2005. During those searches they found numerous firearms, including several 9-millimeter handguns, live ammunition, several hundred grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and approximately $800,000 in drug proceeds. Coles was eventually convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison. And now Durham faces up to 30 years behind bars as well as a $1.5 million dollar fine if convicted of all crimes after his indictment was unsealed Wednesday. “The alleged actions of Mr. Durham are contrary to the code of police officer duty when trying to prevent crime and ensure public safety. ATF lives, those of our partners and community members were endangered when, as the indictment elicits, Mr. Durham contacted a major violent drug dealer, through an intermediary, to alert him of law enforcement presence,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge for the Philadelphia Field Division of ATF Russell May. Durham was said to have received a car, clothes, tickets to sporting events and cash totaling over tens of thousands of dollars from friend J.R., Jr. while being assigned to the F.B.I as a Task Force Officer from the Philadelphia police department. It was J.R., Jr. that Durham allegedly made the phone call to to warn about the searches. “Rickie Durham, in his official position as a Philadelphia Police Officer and F.B.I Federal Task Force Officer, abandoned the sacred trust of his law enforcement oath in order to curry the favor of his criminal friends. Working in our office alongside FBI Agents and other law enforcement officers, he jeopardized not only important on-going criminal investigations but also public safety through his alleged criminal activities,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. In June 2008, federal agents investigating the origin of the warning given to Alton Coles interviewed Durham. In the interview, Durham lied about his relationship with J.R., Jr. Durham allegedly made similar false statements to investigators in January 2009.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Woman: Cop Abused Me

The New York Post by BRUCE GOLDING and IRENE PLAGIANOS - June 20, 2009

A Queens woman is suing a veteran NYPD detective, claiming he sodomized her inside a police-station bathroom while another cop stood guard outside, The Post has learned. The 29-year-old Elmhurst woman claims Detective Oscar Sandino carried out the brazen sex attack after threatening to have her kids removed following a drug raid at the apartment she shares with her boyfriend. Her Manhattan federal court suit, which doesn't specify damages, says Sandino was part of a team of cops who stormed her apartment in a drug raid on Feb. 16, 2008. Sandino -- a married father of two -- allegedly took the mother of three on a car ride after the raid, at which time he allegedly threatened her, saying, "You know you are going to lose your kids," and asked her what she was willing to do for them. "What do you mean -- anything?" she answered.  "How did your children come into the world? . . . You had to be bedded," Sandino allegedly responded in Spanish. Sandino eventually barged in on her bathroom stall, demanding to know "what's your answer" to the alleged demand for sex, and refusing to let her leave. The woman's suit says she was "fearful and helpless," and she said, "No, not here." But the detective allegedly said, "This is the safest place." He then allegedly ordered her to take her pants down and said, "Wow, you have an earring down there." He then allegedly groped her and sodomized her and then said, "Now I know I can trust you!" The woman later met with NYPD Internal Affairs investigators, and even met with Sandino wearing a wire. But he guessed she was trying to trap him and threatened her. Police sources said she never reported that she was sexually assaulted, only complaining that Sandino had made inappropriate comments and calls to her. Sources said that in March 2008, Sandino was put on modified duty. Yesterday, Sandino said, "I am not a rapist," when reached outside his house. He referred requests for comment to the detectives union, which did not respond to calls.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cop Bust As 'Sandal Swiper"

The New York Post by TIM PERONE - June 19, 2009

An off-duty cop has been arrested for suspicion of shoplifting from a Queens athletics store, The Post has learned. Thirelle Taffe, 38, of East New York, Brooklyn, was charged with petit larceny for allegedly swiping sandals from the Sports Authority on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. She was suspended 30 days without pay, an NYPD spokesman said.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cop Released From Prison Early, Facing New Charges

Former Parma police officer Mark McCombs wins early release from prison, faces new charges
The Plain Dealer - June 17, 2009

A judge on Wednesday granted former Parma police officer Mark McCombs an early release from prison. But McCombs didn't get far. Immediately after Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo approved his release, McCombs was arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents on federal weapons charges, and county prosecutors unsealed a 13-count indictment charging him with theft in office and tampering with records. McCombs, 46, was convicted of tampering with evidence last year and was sentenced to two years in prison. He applied for early release last month. He is now accused in federal court of owning two unregistered machine guns and a silencer with scratched off serial numbers. And county prosecutors said McCombs stole several expensive items from Parma police during his time as a patrolman. The items include night vision goggles worth nearly $3,000, flashlights and chargers, a 30-round magazine, 23 bags of gun parts and three lasers. He is accused of trying to cover his tracks by removing serial numbers and inventory labels from several of the items. McCombs was arraigned Wednesday before a magistrate in federal court. A hearing is scheduled for noon next Wednesday before U.S. District Judge John Adams in Akron. His arraignment in state court is scheduled for Friday. Prosecutors opposed McCombs' request for an early release, citing the pending charges. But Russo said future charges had no bearing on her decision. Russo inherited McCombs' case when Judge Bridget McCafferty recused herself. McCafferty stepped aside because McCombs' attorney, Henry Hilow, is representing her in the FBI's investigation into corruption in Cuyahoga County government. Federal agents searched McCafferty's court chambers in September. Hilow could not be reached to comment after McCombs' arrest. McCombs was fired from the Police Department in May 2007 after allegations of misconduct 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Detective Surrenders to Feds

Police Detective Surrenders To Feds Indictment Alleges Tip-Off Call To NBA Player - FOX 29 News - June 17, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA - A veteran Philadelphia Police Detective surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday morning to face corruption charges. With his attorney at his side, Detective Richard "Rickie" Durham turned himself in to U.S. Marshals to face an indictment that was unsealed by authorities later Wednesday morning, Fox 29's Dave Schratwieser reported. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges in a news release that "Durham, through a third party, warned drug dealer Alton 'Ace Capone' Coles of a forthcoming search by federal law enforcement agents." Durham, 43, is a 12-year force veteran and member of the police department's major crimes unit who was assigned to the FBI at one point. Schrtwieser reported that the accusations are related to a phone call Durham allegedly made to former NBA player Jerome "Pooh" Richardson -- a friend of his for years -- back on Aug. 10, 2005. Richardson's sister was living with Coles at the time. There was supposed to be and later were a series of drug raids executed later that morning on all of Coles' properties. As the U.S. Attorney's Office put it: "Searches of at least 23 properties and 11 automobiles associated with the Coles Cocaine Gang were scheduled for that day. According to the indictment, Coles then placed several calls to his co-conspirators warning them of the imminent searches and, in at least one case, telling them to hide or destroy evidence." Coles was one of 18 people arrested during the raids, which authorities said yielded numerous firearms (including several 9-millimeter handguns), live ammunition, several hundred grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and approximately $800,000 in drug proceeds. Coles was hit with drug and gun charges, subsequently convicted and sentenced to life plus 15 years, Schratwieser reported. Numerous of his associates were also convicted. Jerome "Pooh" Richardson is not mentioned by name in Wednesday's news release. He has not been charged and is, according to sources, cooperating with the investigation, Schratwieser reported. Authorities said only that the alleged tip-off call was placed to a "J.R. Jr."

Prosecutors allege in the six-count, 18-page indictment that Durham lied last June about his relationship with "J.R. Jr." and "falsely denied" warning him about the raids. Durham has been on desk duty at police headquarters for the past year as the investigation has unfolded. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey sayd Wednesday morning, "Well, it's unfortunate. I've been aware of the case for a while, and certainly it's very serious charges. And we'll see what the outcome is, but it certainly is not something that I feel good about. Durham's attorney, Fortunato "Fred" Perri Jr., told Fox 29 News his client vehemently denies the charges against him. "Detective Durham is a dedicated and well-respected member of the law-enforcement community. He enjoys a great deal of support and respect in the law-enforcement community, and again he looks forward to clearing his name," Perri said. The detective faces obstruction of justice, advance notice of search and false statement counts that carry a combined maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, if he's convicted. Durham is expected to plead not guilty at a 1:30 p.m. arraignment before a federal magistrate, Schratwieser reported. Stay with Fox 29 News and for more on this developing story.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Police Chief Calls Probe Retaliation

Milton Police Chief Calls Probe Retaliation
WBOC 16 by Kye Parsons and Michael Lopardi - June 16, 2009

MILTON, Del.- Milton Police Chief William Phillips wants the town to publicly disclose why it is seeking to fire him. Phillips says the town sent him a letter June 3 saying officials wanted to fire him for 17 instances of alleged misconduct including alleged removal of video evidence of a tasering incident of a prisoner back in January of 2008. While Phillips is technically still an employee of the town of Milton, he is on administrative leave, according to Mayor Don Post. Post said that as of this point, the town's investigation of Phillips is complete. Post added that the complaints that led to the chief's suspension originated from two police officers. Phillips denies all of the charges against him. Phillips, who has served as Milton's police chief since 2001, said he is being punished for opposing bad government and corruption and is demanding a public hearing before the town council. "For some time now I have been opposing the mismanagement of the town and now it wants to fire me for my opposition to bad government," Phillips said in a statement issued by his attorney, Thomas S. Neuberger of Wilmington. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant for the corruption which is infecting the Town. The administration of the town of Milton is broken and it needs to be fixed. So instead of a Star Chamber private trial against me, I am inviting the general public and citizenry to a public trial of the false charges against me." Post said the town will hold a public hearing for the police chief within the next 30 days, though a specific date has not been set. Post said the town will lay out all of its evidence against Phillips, including photos, during the hearing. The town is required to hold the hearing under the Delaware Police Officer's Bill of Rights, according to Post.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cape Cod Cop Busted on Drug Charge

Ex-Mashpee police officer busted on drug charge
The Cape Cop Times by MATTHEW M. BURKE - May 21, 2009

MASHPEE, MA — A former local police officer, who resigned from the force in February, has been arrested on drug charges, according to police. Joseph Kelley, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after narcotics detectives from the Barnstable Police Department executed a search warrant at his Cotuit home. The 33-year-old was charged with one count of trafficking in heroin, morphine, or opium, their salts, or derivatives, after officers allegedly found 200 oxycodone tablets, as well as an undisclosed amount of other drugs described as various pills and liquids. The arrest comes just days after Barnstable County correctional officer Ryan R. Carroll, 31, of Bourne was arrested after allegedly buying $400 worth of OxyContin from an undercover police officer in Bourne. "I think it's a sad story," Mashpee police Chief Rodney Collins said when reached by phone yesterday. "I hope he gets all of the professional help that he needs." A call made by the Times to Kelley's cell phone went straight to voice mail, and he did not respond to messages seeking comment. Collins said Kelley was a member of the police department for about seven or eight years. He said Kelley resigned in February. Collins declined to comment on Kelley's service record or the reasons behind his resignation. Kelley had been living in Mashpee while employed by the town, Collins said, but, according to the police report on his arrest, had moved to Cotuit. Barnstable police officers referred media inquiries to the detectives division yesterday, but no one could be reached for comment. According to the police report, narcotics detectives obtained a search warrant for Kelley's home as a result of an "ongoing OxyContin distribution investigation." Police executed the search warrant at about 2 p.m. Tuesday and found Kelley at home, the police report states. After 22 grams of oxycodone were found, he was arrested on the trafficking charge and held on $40 bail. The other substances found at the home were sent to a crime lab for analysis, the police report states. Kelley is expected back in court for a pretrial hearing June 17, according to court records.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Two, Sworn to Uphold the Law, Caught Lying by Videotape

Drug Suspect Turns Tables on NYPD With Videotape

NEW YORK (AP) -- When undercover detectives busted Jose and Maximo Colon last year for selling cocaine at a seedy club in Queens, there was a glaring problem: The brothers hadn't done anything wrong. But proclaiming innocence wasn't going to be good enough. The Dominican immigrants needed proof. ''I sat in the jail and thought ... how could I prove this? What could I do?'' Jose, 24, recalled in Spanish during a recent interview. As he glanced around a holding cell, the answer came to him: Security cameras. Since then, a vindicating video from the club's cameras has spared the brothers a possible prison term, resulted in two officers' arrest and become the basis for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The officers, who are due back in court June 26, have pleaded not guilty, and New York Police Departmental Justice have downplayed their case.

But the drug corruption case isn't alone. On May 13, another NYPD officer was arrested for plotting to invade a Manhattan apartment where he hoped to steal $900,000 in drug money. In another pending case, prosecutors in Brooklyn say officers were caught in a 2007 sting using seized drugs to reward a snitch for information. And in the Bronx, prosecutors have charged a detective with lying about a drug bust captured on a surveillance tape that contradicts her story. Elsewhere, Philadelphia prosecutors dismissed more than a dozen drug and gun charges against a man last month when a narcotics officer was accused of making up information on search warrants.

The revelations in New York have triggered internal affairs inquiries, transfers of commanders and reviews of dozens of other arrests involving the accused officers. Many drug defendants' cases have been tossed out. Others have won favorable plea deals. The misconduct ''strikes at the very heart of our system of justice and erodes public confidence in our courts,'' said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. Despite the fallout, authorities describe the corruption allegations as aberrations in a city where officers daily make hundreds of drugs arrests that routinely hold up in court. They also note none of the cases involved accusations of organized crews of officers using their badges to steal or extort drugs or money for personal gain -- the story line of full-blown corruption scandals from bygone eras. Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agrees the majority of narcotics officers probably are clean. But he also believes the city's unending war on drugs will always invite corruption by some who don't think twice about framing suspects they're convinced are guilty anyway. ''Drugs are a dirty game,'' Moskos said. ''Once you realize it's a game, then you start playing with the rules to win the game.'' Just ask the Colon brothers.

The brothers' evening started much like any other. Max's friend worked at a bodega down the street from Delicias de Mi Tierra, where they'd sometimes drink and play pool in the evenings. This night, the pool table was closed. They instead sat at the bar. Security cameras ended up filming their every move. The brothers barely moved from the same spot for about 90 minutes as the undercovers entered the bar and mixed with the crowd. Moments after the officers left, a backup team barged in and grabbed six men, including the brothers. Paperwork signed by ''UC 13200'' -- Officer Henry Tavarez -- claimed that he told a patron he wanted to buy cocaine. By his account, that man responded by approaching the 28-year-old Max, who then went over to the undercover and demanded to pat him down to make sure he wasn't wearing a wire. Max collected $100 from Tavarez, the report said. The officer claimed to see two bags of cocaine pass through the hands of three men, including Jose, before they were given to him. Jose was released after a court appearance. His brother was shipped off to Riker's Island until he could make bail. ''I was scared,'' Max said of his time at Rikers. ''I don't get into trouble, and here I am with real criminals.'' The moment Jose walked out of the holding cell, he made a beeline for Delicias and asked for a copy of the security tapes from the night they were arrested, Jan. 4, 2008. ''I knew it would be the only way to defend myself, because I knew the police would not believe me,'' he said. The owner of Delicias queued up the tapes and the two waded through an entire day's worth of surveillance -- until they found the two hours the men spent in the club that night -- supposedly selling drugs.

Jose quickly got the tape to defense attorney Rochelle Berliner, a former narcotics prosecutor. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. ''I almost threw up,'' she said. ''Because I must've prosecuted 1,500, 2,000 drug cases ... and all felonies. And I think back, Oh my God, I believed everything everyone told me. Maybe a handful of times did something not sound right to me. I don't mean to sound overly dramatic but I was like, sick.'' What the tape doesn't show is striking: At no point did the officers interact with the undercovers, nor did the brothers appear to be involved in a drug deal with anyone else. Adding insult to injury, an outside camera taped the undercovers literally dancing down the street. Berliner handed the tape over to the District Attorney's integrity unit. It reviewed the images more than 100 times to make sure it wasn't doctored by the defense before deciding to drop all charges against the brothers in June. Six months later, Officer Tavarez and Detective Stephen Anderson pleaded not guilty to drug dealing and multiple other charges that their lawyers say were overblown. Anderson's attorney has described him as a seasoned investigator who had no reason to make a false arrest. Tavarez, his attorney said, was a novice undercover merely along for the ride.

Life quickly deteriorated for Max and Jose after their arrest. They owned a successful convenience store in Jackson Heights, but lost their license to sell tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets. The store closed a week before their case was dismissed. ''My life changed completely,'' Jose said. ''I had a life before, and I have a different existence now. ... Now, I'm not able to afford to live in my own house or care for my children.'' Jose has found construction work, while Max commutes two hours to Philadelphia to work at a relative's bodega. They stay away from the old neighborhood, where they say ugly rumors about them persist. The brothers have filed a $10 million false arrest lawsuit against the police department, the officers involved and the city. ''I'm angry because, why'd it happen to me? I know a lot of people ... they don't go the right way and they can get away with it,'' Max said. ''I'm young and I try to go the right way and boom, this happened to me. So I'm angry with life, too.''

Cop Charged With Theft, Drug Possession

Former Glendora police officer charged with theft, drug possession
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune by Brian Day - May 20, 2009

GLENDORA - A former Glendora police officer is facing theft and drug charges after allegedly stealing money and methamphetamine last year during a department sting targeted at him, officials said. Timothy Radogna, 33 was charged Wednesday with grand theft, possession of drugs for sales and possession of drugs with a firearm. The arrest stems from an integrity investigation carried out by Glendora police in September, after they received information that Radogna was allegedly failing to book narcotics and money into evidence, Glendora Chief of Police Charles Montoya said. Montoya declined to say what specifically aroused their suspicions. "As law enforcement officers, we're held to a higher standard than the general public," Montoya said. "But at the very minimum, we have to obey society's laws, just as any other person. Unfortunately, Mr. Radogna did neither." During the integrity test, Montoya said an undercover car containing money and methamphetamine was placed as bait. Radogna was asked to book the evidence, and when $1,000 and a small amount of methamphetamine were discovered missing, Radogna was placed on administrative leave and an investigation was opened, Montoya said. Radogna was fired from the department Dec. 12. Radogna was a 3-year veteran of the Glendora Police Department, and previously served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Covina Police Department, Montoya said. A felony arrest warrant was issued for Radogna on May 14, said Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. He was arrested Wednesday morning by deputies from the sheriff's Cerritos station, according to court records. He is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail. He will be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court Friday, according to court records. If convicted on all counts, Radogna faces a maximum penalty of more than 9 years in prison, Davila-Morales said. Glendora Mayor Karen Davis said while the alleged actions of Radogna are disturbing, the police department as a whole is exemplary. "While it is disappointing that this happened, it's no reflection of the outstanding job they do 24-7 for the community," she said. Councilman Kenneth Herman echoed Davis' sentiments. "This is just one person who should not ruin the entire image of our fine police department," he said. "It's an aberration that's been taken care of." (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ex-Detective Pleads Guilty in Felony Cash Theft

Ex-Athens detective pleads to felony misconduct in cash theft
The Knowville News Sentinel by News Sentinel staff - May 28, 2009

LOUDON, TN - A former Athens, Tenn., police detective pleaded guilty to felony official misconduct in Loudon County Criminal Court on Thursday. Bill Matthews previously confessed to taking more some $8,900 from an Athens city safe, which a state comptroller's audit report verified was missing more than $46,000, drugs and a handgun last year. Loudon County Criminal Court Judge E. Eugene Eblen gave Matthews a two-year suspended sentence, ordered him to pay $11,600 in restitution to the city of Athens, plus court costs, and to undergo alcohol and drug assessment and any recommended treatment, according to a statement released Thursday by Ninth Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson. Matthews admitted to TBI investigators last year that he took the cash. A McMinn County Grand Jury, however, refused to indict him on any criminal charges. Johnson was appointed to prosecute the case after Tenth Judicial district Attorney General Steve Bebb recused himself.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ex-Cops Found Guilty on Drug Charges

Ex-cops found guilty on drug charges
The by Jon Murray - June 12, 2009

Two former Indianapolis narcotics detectives face the prospect of two decades in prison after a jury convicted them Friday in the city's biggest police corruption case in years. But the penalties could have been stiffer. Although Robert P. Long and Jason P. Edwards were convicted of conspiracy and drug charges for their part in a scheme to steal marijuana and money from drug dealers, they were acquitted on firearms charges. Convictions on the gun charges could have meant 55 years of extra prison time for Long, 35 -- an effective life sentence -- plus five additional years for Edwards, 38. "It's always a sad day when police officers are convicted on federal charges," U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Morrison said outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown Indianapolis. The jury's verdict still will hold the men accountable, Morrison said, and "provides some sense of justice to those people who think law enforcement personnel are immune from the law." After two hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Long and Edwards of conspiracy and several counts of actual or attempted drug possession with intent to distribute. The half-dozen incidents played out under the FBI's watch from March to June 2008. Investigators engineered several of the incidents, including a $20,000 shakedown of a drug courier, an intercepted package containing marijuana and a videotaped theft of marijuana and cash from a supposed drug house, planted there by the FBI. A third former officer, James D. Davis, 34, has pleaded guilty to his role and faces 10 to 15 years in prison.

In court documents, prosecutors also outlined allegations of earlier graft by Long and Edwards going back years, but the jury was barred from hearing those claims. Kevin McShane, Edwards' attorney, said later that the jury's verdict was fair. Long's attorneys, Ralph Staples and Jeffrey Mendes, were pleased by convictions that could result in Long's release by the time his grandchildren are born. They had challenged the firearms charges in part by arguing that even when Long carried a gun, it never left his holster and didn't further the crimes. Edwards, on suspension at the time from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, didn't have a gun. "They took advantage of opportunities," Staples said. "And that is what they should be punished for." In a win for government lawyers, the jury decided that the drug conspiracy involved an amount of marijuana above a 50-kilogram threshold -- about 110 pounds -- that sets a 20-year maximum sentence, instead of five years. A grand jury's eight-count indictment of the officers didn't include actual corruption-related charges. Morrison said federal law is murkier in such situations than Indiana law, which provides a broad low-level felony charge of official misconduct. Before the jury, defense attorneys conceded the mountain of evidence but protested that investigators let the caper run long after they had the officers pinched. McShane compared the case to a movie during his closing argument Friday. He even suggested a title: "The Last Temptation of Rob and Jason." "(The movie) was produced, scripted and directed by FBI Entertainment, if you will," McShane said. "Robert and Jason were invited to star in this production, and they agreed -- to their everlasting regret."