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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cops Alleged to have Erased Phone Video Evidence

A witness of alleged abuse said cops erased cell phone video evidence
The New York Daily News by KERRY BURKE AND ALISON GENDAR - July 25, 2009

The NYPD is investigating a complaint that cops erased cell phone video that showed officers roughing up a suspect after a fatal police shooting in Manhattan last week. Witness Jose Gomez said detectives approached him after a cop shot and killed a robbery suspect who tried to run the officer over at W. 188th St. in Washington Heights. "I had four videos from three minutes to five minutes each," said Gomez, 23. "The cops said they wanted to see it. A lot of things were happening and they needed to piece it together." Gomez said he gave investigators his cell phone, but when they gave it back, the video was gone. An NYPD spokesman said the Internal Affairs Bureau - which investigates all police-involved shootings - would review Gomez's claims. Gomez said one of his video clips showed a "guy was on the floor in handcuffs and a cop was dragging him." Another sequence caught officers giving CPR to victim Maximo Pequero, 28, who later died from a gunshot wound to his neck.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Store Video Catches Cop Bullying Woman

Store video catches cop bullying woman
The Philadelphia Daily News by DAVE DAVIES - July 20, 2009 215-854-2595

WHEN AGNES LAWLESS and three friends were inside a Lukoil convenience store in the Northeast at 3 a.m. last August, they'd all but forgotten the fender-bender in which they'd been involved moments earlier. There was little damage, and the other driver had left the scene, near Northeast Philadelphia Airport. What they didn't know was that they'd been rear-ended by the son of a police officer who was on duty, and dad was about to get involved. Lawless was standing at the counter of the store, at Comly Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, smiling and chatting with the clerk, when she was grabbed from behind and violently pushed back with a police officer's gun in her face. "He hit me with his left hand, and he had his gun in his right hand," Lawless said. "He pushed his gun into the left side of my neck. It caused a scrape-type bruise on my neck." After a chaotic struggle, Lawless was arrested and charged with assaulting the officer. Lawless and her three friends, all in their early 20s, filed complaints with the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau. But in cases in which it's a defendant's word against a police officer's, the benefit of doubt often falls to the cop.

Except when there's video.

Once surveillance video from the store's four security cameras was released, the case against Lawless collapsed, and disciplinary action commenced against the officer, Alberto Lopez Sr. A lawsuit against the city is likely. The incident provides a vivid example of how the countless video recordings generated today by security cameras and cell phones are affecting police work. Drexel Law School professor Donald Tibbs said that video recordings are capturing more criminal activity and assisting prosecutions, but they're also monitoring police conduct. "Police are now aware they're more accountable for their actions, because these tapes may be used against them in misconduct cases or civil-rights lawsuits," Tibbs said. And Tibbs said that there are numerous cases of police seeking to confiscate and destroy tapes that may have captured a police action.

Internal Affairs probe

The clerk on duty the night that Lopez confronted Lawless told investigators that three times after the incident, police officers spoke with him about the security tape and that two asked if he would erase it. An Internal Affairs investigation found no misconduct among officers who spoke with the clerk about the tape. But it concluded that Lopez had verbally abused Lawless, had jammed his gun into her face and had violated departmental procedures that night. A hearing to determine what discipline, if any, will be imposed on Lopez is still pending. Lopez's attorney, Gerald Stanshine, declined to comment and said that Lopez couldn't discuss the incident. Lopez's son, Alberto Lopez Jr., didn't respond to messages seeking comment.

Although some details of what happened are in dispute, it's clear that the Lukoil encounter occurred a few minutes after the blue Mazda in which Lawless was riding was rear-ended at Decatur and Comly roads by a Buick Century driven at slow speed by Lopez Jr. Lopez Jr. left the scene and drove to the Eighth District police station, at Academy and Red Lion roads, to report the incident to his father. Officer Lopez and his son then left in his patrol car and soon saw the blue Mazda in the Lukoil parking lot. Officer Lopez entered the store with his son and got into a physical confrontation with Lawless. Lawless ended up in cuffs, charged with assaulting Lopez. At a preliminary hearing four days later, Officer Lopez testified that he'd come into the store and ordered Lawless and the three young men with her to the floor, and that "she freaked out, started punching, slapping and kicking me multiple times." Based on the officer's testimony, Judge Robert Blasi ordered that the case proceed to trial. But four days later, investigators from Internal Affairs got the store's surveillance video of the incident, and things changed quickly. Lopez was assigned to desk duty and his weapon was removed. He failed to show up at three trial dates for Lawless' assault charges, which then were dropped. Images from four security cameras at the store reveal an encounter consistent with the accounts of Lawless, her three friends and Carlos "Tito" Ruiz, the clerk on duty at the time.

There is no audio, and the video is not continuous, capturing images at intervals ranging from three per second to one every few seconds. The images show that when Officer Lopez entered the store, Lawless was at the counter, smiling and apparently unaware of his presence behind her. Lopez grabbed Lawless' neck from behind with his left hand, with his gun in his right hand. Lawless broke free and faced him. "I was really confused," Lawless said in an interview. "I didn't know if we were getting robbed. I remember seeing his uniform on his arm, he swung me around and hit me with his arm. He hit me first with an open hand, then he hit me with his gun in the face." The video shows Lopez's left arm extending toward Lawless' face, and then his right arm driving forcefully toward her, jamming the gun in her neck or jaw. Lawless broke free again, and for several seconds the video shows the three young men sitting on the floor, while arguing occurs among all four and Officer Lopez and his son. "I had noticed his son as the guy who had hit us," Lawless said, "and [Officer Lopez] was screaming, 'You think you can hit my son and get away with it, you think you can f--- with me?' " The store clerk reported hearing similar comments from Officer Lopez. Lawless said that she and her friends were yelling back that it was Lopez Jr. who had hit their car and left.

'I was really scared'

About a minute after the gun was in her neck, the video shows Officer Lopez on his cell phone, apparently calling for more police, when Lawless grabbed her bag and tried to walk out of the store. "I remember stopping for a second, and thinking, like, 'This is out of control, I need to go get a real cop or something,' " Lawless said. "I was really scared." Lopez Jr. intercepted Lawless and pushed her backward over the counter, with his right hand on her neck. Officer Lopez joined in and struggled with Lawless, who swung her arms at the two of them. At that point, Lawless' friend Matthew Whatley came over and got between them, as did Ruiz, the store clerk. According to his statement to investigators, Ruiz managed to get Lawless and her friends to lie on the floor and wait for more police to arrive. Then, according to the Internal Affairs report of Ruiz's statement, Officer Lopez told him to "do himself a favor and get rid of the camera tapes." More officers soon arrived, and Lawless was cuffed and arrested. Her three friends were questioned and allowed to leave. In his arrest report, Officer Lopez mentioned the auto accident that had initiated the events, but never mentioned that his son had been involved, referring to him in the report only as "the witness." Ruiz told investigators that Lopez mentioned erasing the tape again after other officers arrived. He said that police visited him at the store twice the next day and asked him whether he would erase the tape. He also said that they had advised him to "help the cop out and testify for the cop." Eventually, Lukoil turned the tapes over to Internal Affairs and to Whatley's family. Although Officer Lopez and his son declined to discuss the incident with the Daily News, transcripts of their interviews with an Internal Affairs investigator provide their account of the events that night.

Lopez Jr. said that after the accident, the occupants of the blue Mazda got out of the car and began shouting, cursing and kicking his car. He said that he left and drove to the Eighth District station, where he described the events to Officer William Forster in the operations room. Forster put out a "flash" description on police radio of the car and its occupants. Forster told Internal Affairs that when Lopez Jr. described the incident, he never mentioned the possibility that any of the car's occupants might be armed. But in his statement to Internal Affairs later, Lopez Jr. said that in the shouting at the accident scene, one of the occupants of the Mazda, a Hispanic male, "was reaching under his shirt and he was saying, 'Get him the f--- out of the car; I got something for him.' " Ruiz, the Lukoil clerk, told investigators that after officers arrived following the altercation in the convenience store, he heard Officer Lopez give his son some instructions in Spanish, including, " 'Say he had a gun.' " Lopez Sr. and Jr. both denied that, saying that the younger Lopez speaks almost no Spanish. Officer Lopez told investigators that his son had said from the beginning that a Hispanic man from the Mazda "lifted up his shirt and made a motion as if he had a gun." The Internal Affairs report noted, however, that Officer Lopez's conduct inside the Lukoil store seemed inconsistent with a suspicion that he might be confronting armed suspects. The video showed that he never frisked any of the young men, and at times left them unattended on the floor of the store while he went outside. When asked by Internal Affairs why he had allowed his son into the store if he thought someone had a gun and he was going to take police action, Lopez said: "I didn't even think about it. It happened so fast. It was bad judgment."

Ironically, Lopez Jr. had a .22-caliber Magnum revolver in his waistband during the accident and throughout the confrontation in the Lukoil, according to his statement to Internal Affairs. He had a permit to carry the weapon, he said in the statement. The driver of the Mazda, Stephen Soda, also had a handgun in his glove compartment along with his carry permit, according to police. Police reviewed the permit and released Soda without charges. Neither weapon was drawn in the incident. Officer Lopez said that before he grabbed Lawless in the store, he'd ordered her and her friends to the floor several times, and that the three men had complied. But the video shows that Lopez grabbed Lawless' neck no more than five seconds after he entered the store, and that all three men were still standing. He said that he had his gun in his hand with his finger outside the trigger, and "used three fingers of my gun hand and gripped her shirt to try to get her to the floor because she was still swinging at me." The video doesn't show Lawless swinging at Lopez then. She does appear to swing at Lopez and his son later, after they stopped her from leaving the store, and Lopez Jr. appeared to push her back over the store counter by her neck. Officer Lopez said that Lawless "told me I was a Mexican, I was here illegally, and that I should go back to Mexico." Lopez Jr. said she was "calling my father a f---ing s--c, a Mexican." Lawless acknowledged in an interview that in her fury she "got racial." Lawless wasn't seriously injured in the incident, but she said she had pain in her neck, back and jaw.

A night in jail

She spent the night in a jail cell, where she counted 23 mice and saw feces on the walls, she said. "Somebody had probably had s--- on their hands and smudged it all over the wall," she said. "In the morning I threw up. It smelled so bad." She said that she was emotionally traumatized for months, and afraid of the police. She moved to Florida earlier this year. The District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and declined to prosecute Officer Lopez in December. Eight days later, he was reissued his weapon and returned to full duty. But he may yet face discipline from the Police Department. The Internal Affairs report concluded that Lopez had verbally abused Lawless and that he had pushed his gun into her neck. Investigators did not sustain a charge of physical abuse based on Lawless' reported injuries. The report cited a lack of visible signs of injury on her arrest photograph, and said a "very minor scratch/abrasion to her left chin area . . . may have occurred at any point during Ms. Lawless' resistance to P/O Lopez's attempts to restrain Ms. Lawless or during her physical confrontation with Alberto Lopez Jr. when she tried to flee the store." The report noted that Lawless was treated for bruises and abrasions at Frankford Hospital-Torresdale (now Aria Health's Torresdale Campus), two days after the incident, but that efforts to secure further medical records from her attorney had been unsuccessful.

The Internal Affairs report concluded that Lopez had committed "departmental violations," and it expressed skepticism about the claim that one of the four occupants of the Mazda appeared to have had a gun. The report also noted that "by taking his son inside the Lukoil to confront the complainants, P/O Lopez made a dangerous situation even more volatile because of his close relationship with the alleged victim of the earlier attack." Lawless' attorney, Alan Yatvin, said that he was exploring a civil suit on her behalf. "I'm troubled by the conduct of the officer, about his telling a story that lacks credibility, and about the fact he thought he could get away with it," Yatvin said. He said it's also troubling that so many officers apparently sought to dispose of the video, the key evidence in the case, and suffered no consequence after Internal Affairs investigated. At the end of his interview with Internal Affairs, Lopez was asked if he would like to add anything that would assist the investigation. "I would like to have used better judgment that night," the officer said.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Officers fired, Corruption Weeded Out

Officers fired, corruption weeded out of Waco PD
Waco News 25 by Henry Rosoff - July 23, 2009

WACO, TX - An internal investigation into the Waco Police department found deception, corruption and cheating the tax payers had become the norm for at least four police officers. News Channel 25 has learned the investigation took months and there may be more officers found to be corrupt. Waco Police department spokesmen say they plan to answer any questions later next week. However, with the investigation wrapping up, News Channel 25 was able to obtain the names of the officers indefinitely suspended following the investigation. "Indefinitely suspended" is an administrative term for "fired." Detective Calvin McLean, Officer Christopher Jones, Detective Doyle Anz and Officer Alan Thompson all received letters of Indefinite Suspension. News Channel 25 only obtained letters to McLean, Jones and Anz, although can confirm four other officers were investigated and are now retired or have resigned. All worked part time jobs as security guards at Waco Housing Authority, which is federally funded. Each "double-dipped," meaning they logged hours during the same time of day at both the Police Department and the WHA. In a letter to Jones, Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman wrote: "Your conduct has caused discredit to the department, and continues to reflect unfavorably on the department," adding: "That is likely to cause members of the community to question your integrity and the integrity of this department." Anz's indefinite suspension letter shows he broke the law 60 times, including seven times September 2007. McLean got paid by both the city and the housing authority for the same six hours of work twice in just one week. He also tried to cover his action up during a polygraph test. The tester asked him: "Did you complete less than 80-percent of the hours you charged the housing authority since 2007?" "No," McLean said. "Did you lie to me today when you said that you worked a minimum of 80 percent of the hours you were paid by the housing authority since 2007?" the tester said. McLean answered negatively once again, both times the tester noted "deception." All the officers can appeal the decision to have them removed. News Channel 25 is not aware of any officers taking those steps, however, and Thursday was unable to reach any of the officers involved.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cop Admits Having Sex With Underage Girls

NYC cop admits having sex with underage girls
The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - July 11, 2009  

A New York City police officer has pleaded guilty to federal charges of having sexual intercourse with three young girls - at least two of whom were students in his New Jersey martial arts school. The Rockland Computer Crimes Task Force played a role in the investigation leading to Trent Young's arrest in January 2008 and conviction on Thursday in U.S. District Court in White Plains. Young, 41, a suspended officer held in federal custody since his arrest, could face up to life in prison when sentenced Jan. 15. Young pleaded guilty before Judge Kenneth M. Karas to driving two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old across New York and New Jersey lines on separate times for sex from April 2003 to December 2006 and then having sexual intercourse with them. The statutory prison sentences for the three sex crimes range from five and 30 years to life in prison.

Prison terms are usually less under federal sentencing guidelines. Young has been held without bail since his arrest. The case against Young is outlined in federal indictment, along with Young's plea statements in court to prosecutors Marcia Cohen and James Halperin. In April 2003, Young drove a 14-year-old girl from her home in Brooklyn to his home in Middletown, N.Y., traveling through New Jersey. He admitted they engaged in sexual intercourse at his house in Orange County. In the spring of 2006, Young operated a martial arts studio, Iron Tiger Martial Arts, in West Milford, N.J. In November 2006, Young drove another 14-year-old girl from Middletown to the New Jersey martial arts studio and engaged in sexual intercourse with her. Around November or December 2006, Young brought a 16-year-old girl to Iron Tiger and they had sexual intercourse. Acting U.S. Attorney Lev. L. Dassin said in a news release that the investigation into Young included the FBI, Middletown Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the Rockland County Sheriff's Department and the Computer Crimes Task Force, the West Milford Police Department in New Jersey, and the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ex-cop gets 10 years in corruption scandal

Ex-cop gets 10 years in corruption scandal
The Indystar by Jon Murray - July 10, 2009
Former patrolman helped 2 detectives steal cash and drugs, testified against them

A former Indianapolis patrolman heading to prison for helping two corrupt detectives steal drugs and money said Thursday that he hoped to one day earn his integrity back. A federal judge handed down a 10-year sentence to James D. Davis for his role in the corruption scandal, the worst to hit city police in years. Davis said he had sought to serve honorably before he yielded to temptation and joined the detectives' schemes. "I'm humiliated. I'm embarrassed," Davis told U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney, adding that he hoped to resume an honest life. "I want to be that person again." Davis, 34, had cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office since his June 2008 arrest. He testified against the two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives for seven hours during their trial last month. A jury convicted them on multiple conspiracy and drug counts. His help led Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler to endorse the minimum sentence allowed by his plea agreement, which set the maximum at 15 years. His sentence includes another three years on supervised release. Former narcotics Detectives Robert B. Long and Jason P. Edwards face up to 20 years in prison each. Their sentencing dates have not been set. Later Thursday, McKinney sentenced a fourth defendant, Kabec Higgins -- used by Long, his cousin, to sell marijuana -- to 15 months in prison and three years on supervised release; he has nearly fulfilled the prison time already. The three officers took part in a half-dozen incidents, all playing out under the FBI's watch from March to June 2008, including a $20,000 shakedown of a drug courier and a videotaped theft of marijuana and cash inside a set-up drug house.

Davis had gotten off to a promising start: He played football at Warren Central High School, married his sweetheart, bought a suburban home and began raising a son, who now is 11. His family, however, had been touched by an earlier police scandal. Indianapolis Patrolman Myron A. Powell -- a former stepfather to Davis -- was convicted of felony murder for his role as an accomplice to a 1997 killing of a drug dealer; he is serving a 65-year prison sentence.  Powell was married to Davis' mother, Alberta Weaver, from 1986 to 1994, according to divorce records. Davis joined the Marion County Sheriff's Department in 2004 and became an IMPD officer after the city's police merger. Family members declined to comment after Thursday's sentencing but praised Davis' character and devotion to his wife and son in letters to the judge.  Davis testified at the trial that he gave in to greed and a desire for acceptance by Long and Edwards, who worked in the drug unit he wished to join one day. "This is the saddest thing about this case," his attorney, Jack Crawford, said. "He was, and could have been, a good police officer."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cop Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations, Faces 2 Years

Montgomery officer pleads guilty to civil-rights violations
The Charleston Gazette by Gary Harki - July 9, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kaleigha Reynolds was just 4 years old, sitting in her car seat and drinking some juice, when a police car with lights flashing pulled in front of her parents' car in Montgomery. She didn't understand what was happening as Montgomery Police Officer Matthew Leavitt pulled her parents from the car and then started beating her dad on Sept. 26. Leavitt pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor civil-rights violations in federal court on Monday. Leavitt pleaded to beating Twan Reynolds with a slap jack and illegally charging his wife, Lauren Reynolds, with driving under the influence. Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin accepted the plea. After watching Leavitt plead guilty, Twan Reynolds said Monday he remembered hearing his daughter's screams that night. He said Kaleigha was terrified by what happened. Lauren Reynolds said she first saw Leavitt that day as she was in line at a concession stand at a football game. "He was standing behind me, looking at me," she said. "He kept rocking back and forth. ... I got an eerie feeling from it. It was chilling." When they left the football game, the Reynolds family stopped at the local Go-Mart to put air in a car tire. The machine was broken, and they drove to the 7-Eleven. There Leavitt and Officer Shawn Hutchinson pulled Lauren Reynolds from the car, telling her it sounded like she was slurring her words. They looked at her license, which had a St. Albans address. "They said, 'You're a little St. Albans girl. You haven't had the privilege of being introduced to the Montgomery police yet," Lauren Reynolds said.

Twan Reynolds started talking to the two officers as he also tried to calm his daughter. "She was crying and I was trying to look back at her," he said. "From that point it just got out of hand." 'This ain't no rap movie' Leavitt and Hutchinson pulled Twan Reynolds out of his car and tried to handcuff him. When Reynolds told the men he hadn't done anything that justified arrest, Leavitt pulled out a slap jack -- a small weapon with a weight at the end -- and hit him in the face with it, according to Montgomery Police Lt. J.D. Burrow. In December, Burrow told the Gazette that Leavitt and Hutchinson threatened to arrest him when he tried to stop them from attacking Reynolds. "These guys were on their own. They felt like they could do what they want," Burrow said at the time. "It seemed like they always had that little leeway to do what they wanted to, to me." Chuck Miller, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, handled the case himself. He pointed out in the courtroom that slap jacks have been outlawed for police use because they can kill.


Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 6, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of West Virginia
Contact: (304) 345-2200

Former Montgomery Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations

CHARLESTON, WV—A former Montgomery Police Officer pled guilty today before Chief United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin to a two-count information charging him with deprivation of rights under color of law. Matthew A. Leavitt, 31, of South Charleston, WV, admitted that on September 26, 2008, while acting as a uniformed police officer for the City of Montgomery, he intentionally struck an African-American man with a slap jack, an unauthorized piece of law enforcement equipment, thereby using excessive force and willfully depriving the victim of his Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force by one acting under color of law. Leavitt further admitted that on the same day, he unlawfully and without probable cause detained and arrested the victim's wife on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. Leavitt, who is scheduled to be sentenced on September 24, 2009, faces up to two years in prison, a $200,000 fine, two years supervised release, and an order of restitution to the victims. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. United States Attorney Charles T. Miller is handling the prosecution.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Drunk Police Sergeant Mows Down Pedestrian

NYPD silent as 15-yr. veteran police sgt. charged with mowing down pedestrian while driving drunk


An NYPD Sergeant has been quietly charged with driving drunk and mowing down an upper East Side man who had just picked up his morning coffee, the Daily News has learned. Sgt. Joseph Spiekerman, 43, was arrested following the June29 crash in which he hit Barry Gintel, 68, after running a red light at York Ave. and E. 86th St., court records reveal. Gintel - vice president of the Fire Bell Club of New York, a group of Fire Department buffs - was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. He underwent emergency surgery for two fractured legs, broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, and head and neck injuries. Contacted in his hospital room, Gintel, who was wearing a neck brace, declined to comment. "He doesn't remember too much. His biggest concern is getting out of that bed, and he wants to walk," said Joseph Higgins, president of the Fire Bell Club.

Police officials declined to explain why they failed to release details of the crash and Spiekerman's arrest sooner. The crash occurred at 6:40a.m. near The Mansion diner, right after Gintel had bought a large coffee and two buttered rolls. "I give him his change, look out the window, and I see he got hit and goes flying 10, maybe 20 feet in the air," said Leticia Guerrero, 24, a cashier. Guerrero said the impact shattered the windshield of Spiekerman's silver Volvo. The cop got out and tried to help Gintel, who lives about a block away. Spiekerman was charged with felony vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated. He was arrested after officers responding to the accident noticed his bloodshot eyes and smelled booze on his breath, according to records. A 15-year NYPD veteran, Spiekerman admitted drinking, records say. A lawyer for his police union said an investigation into the crash still "needs to be completed."  Spiekerman, a union delegate for the Sergeants Benevolent Association, refused to take a breath test, forcing cops to get a court order to draw his blood. The sergeant, assigned to the PSA 7 housing precinct in the Bronx, has been suspended without pay, officials said. With Melissa Grace and Alison Gendar  -

Monday, July 6, 2009

Former Corrections Officer Gets 3 Years for Assault on Inmate

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 6, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Contact: (904) 301-6300

Former Florida State Corrections Officer Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Assaulting an Inmate

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Paul Tillis, a former Florida Department of Corrections officer, was sentenced today in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., on a federal civil rights charge related to assaulting an inmate, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King. Tillis was sentenced to three years in prison followed by two years of post-release supervision. Following a week-long trial, a federal jury in Jacksonville convicted Tillis on Jan. 16, 2009, of violating the civil rights of an inmate at the Florida State Prison in Raiford while on duty as a supervisory corrections officer. The evidence at trial showed that he assaulted the victim by pouring a bottle of scalding water onto the inmate’s chest while the inmate was lying on the floor of his cell. The evidence showed that Tillis also failed to arrange for medical care for the victim, who suffered second degree burns on his chest as a result of this assault. “Corrections officers must not misuse their positions of authority to inflict physical harm on inmates as punishment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a lawful and professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit acts of cruelty such as this.” This case was investigated by agents from the FBI’s Jacksonville Division and the Florida Office of the Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Heavener of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Douglas Kern. The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, deprivation of property without due process of law and other acts of misconduct by law enforcement and other government officials. More information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and the laws it enforces, is available at

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Former Police Officer Sentenced to 255 Years

Former police officer sentenced to prison
The Commercial Appeal by Lawrence Buser - July 1, 2009

A former Memphis police officer was sentenced to life plus 255 years in federal prison this morning for shaking down drug dealers for money, drugs and merchandise. Arthur Sease IV, 31, was convicted in February of directing or or participating in some 16 such robberies between November 2003 and April 2006. He is one of more than 40 law enforcement officers from six different agencies indicted on official corruption charges in the past five years and the only one to go to trial. According to testimony in trial, Sease committed the robberies to finance his dream of becoming a rap music producer. Witnesses included drug dealers and fellow officers. One dealer finally complained to police that Sease had robbed him of some $32,000 in cash. Sease was fired in January 2005, but continued the holdups by enlisting the help of department friends still in uniform.


MEMPHIS, TN – Authorities say a former Memphis police officer has been sentenced to life in prison, plus 255 years for stealing drugs and money. A federal jury has convicted former Memphis Police Officer Arthur Sease IV of stealing drugs, money and merchandise from drug dealers. A Department of Justice spokesperson says jurors heard testimony that Sease worked with Memphis drug dealers to arrange deals and would then rob the other dealers when they arrived. Authorities say in one case, he had a dealer resell stolen cocaine to another dealer. Sease later pulled over the buyer’s car, stole the drugs and sold them again, investigators said. The jury deliberated for the most part of three days in reviewing charges of money-laundering, extortion, robbery, conspiracy, rights violations, kidnapping, drug dealing and weapons charges against Sease. Sease, 31, went on trial on accusations of participating in or directing 16 robberies of drug dealers between November 2003 and April 2006.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ex-Cop Draws Prison Time

Ex-Chicago cop draws prison time
WGN News by Jeff Coen - June 30, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - Saying the case had helped erode the public's trust in law enforcement, a federal judge today sentenced a former Chicago police officer to almost 11 years in prison. Richard Doroniuk pleaded guilty and testified against his partner, Mahmoud Shamah. The 131-month sentence had been agreed on as part of his plea deal. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said the case is part of what appears to be an epidemic of police corruption cases. "In this city it seems to me we have just been bombarded by stories and cases and prosecutions of police misconduct," Gettleman said. The public wants to believe in the promise that the police are there to protect them, he said. "When that promise is broken, we're all in trouble," Gettleman told Doroniuk, who had apologized to the court. The public should want to call the police for help, the judge said, "not be worried that if they do come (they could) be robbed or abused or subjected to excessive force, or worse," Gettleman said. Doroniuk and Shamah were arrested in an FBI sting in which they removed thousands of dollars in cash from a storage locker after an informant told them the cash was drug proceeds. Doroniuk pleaded guilty to to racketeering and conspiracy charges. Shamah is to be sentenced Thursday and faces up to 30 years in prison.