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Monday, August 31, 2009

Former Police Deputy Marshal Arrested on Drug Charges

Former Harvey police deputy marshal arrested
Chicago Tribune - August 28, 2009

A former Harvey police deputy marshal was arrested Friday on drug charges as part of an FBI investigation into law-enforcement corruption that also snagged a reserve police officer who allegedly ran drugs for and sold weapons to a Chicago narcotics dealer. Leroy Grant, 38, was arrested after he and the reserve officer transported fake cocaine last November for a drug dealer who was cooperating with federal agents, according to the complaint. An Illinois Police Reserve official said the reserve officer, who is not named in the complaint but who in 2007 helped manage traffic for Orland Park police, has also been arrested. Harvey spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado said the town abolished its paid deputy marshal program about three years ago and Grant has not been involved "in any way, shape, or form" with the town since. Commander Joe Kulys of the Illinois Police Reserve, which he said places reserve officers with suburban towns to help them with crowd control and traffic duties, said he learned of the other man's arrest Friday and that the entity's internal affairs unit had opened an investigation. The two men were paid $1,000 apiece to pick up the sham cocaine from undercover FBI agents at a Home Depot parking lot near 87th Street and the Dan Ryan expressway, according to the complaint. "Money's what ... we here for!" Grant told the drug dealer, according to the complaint. "And if it's easy, it's easy!" Grant is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing, said a U.S. attorney spokesman. --Steve Schmadeke

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Former Cop Yells, "Stop Corruption!"

Ex-Corinth officer challenging sheriff
The Albany Times Union by LEIGH HORNBECK - August 30, 2009

BALLSTON SPA, NY -- Longtime Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen, 71, has a challenger: Jason Longton of Greenfield, an independent who says he will not accept campaign donations. Longton, 42, who now drives a fuel delivery truck, is a former Corinth police officer. He was fired in 2004 for insubordination after he continued to investigate a harassment complaint against a local restaurant owner even after the police chief told him to stop. Longton said the restaurant owner, who has since died, had political connections got him off the hook. Longton challenged his dismissal under civil service law and won a new hearing. He was fired a second time, but was awarded the pay he would have received had he not been fired illegally the first time -- $92,000. But before he won his back pay, Longton was forced to file bankruptcy. The experience left him determined to change the system. He formed a one-man party, "Stop Corruption." His nominating petitions have been certified by the county board of elections. "If elected, I will investigate any and all complaints regardless of affiliation," Longton said.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sheriff Among Drug Ring Members Sentenced

Texas drug ring members sentenced to prison include sheriff, teacher
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - August 28th 2009

A former South Texas sheriff and a Houston elementary school teacher were among 11 people sentenced to prison Thursday for their role in a conspiracy that moved marijuana and cocaine from Mexico, through Houston and as far as Delaware. The sheriff's involvement illustrated how intertwined public corruption and drug trafficking are even on the U.S. side of the border. Since late 2006, more than 80 law enforcement officers working on the U.S.-Mexico border at the local, state and federal level have been convicted of corruption-related charges, according to an Associated Press tally. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo "Rey" Guerra to 64 months in federal prison and four years of supervised release for helping Mexican smugglers move drugs through his county in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes. The sentence was less than the eight to 10 years recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, but Guerra admitted his guilt early and cooperated with authorities, Crane said. FBI agents arrested Guerra at his office in October as part of operation "Carlito's Weigh." Prosecutors termed Guerra a "minor participant" in the drug trafficking conspiracy that so far has netted indictments against 28 people. Guerra, 52, who prosecutors said made it easier for drugs to move through his county, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to distribute narcotics. He apologized Thursday to his family, community and "to the men and women who wear the badge. I'm sorry I let them down."

Crane told Guerra that "it's a stain on the badge when somebody in your high position engages in organized crime like this." "For really pennies, nickels, you were influenced by these people," the judge said. Guerra received one payment of $3,000 and several more payments of $3,000 to $5,000, but authorities aren't sure how much he actually earned in bribes. His attorney Philip Hilder said the money came as gifts from lead defendant Jose Carlos Hinojosa and was not paid in direct exchange for information from Guerra. By sharing information, and in at least one instance providing false information so a deputy would close a case related to the drug trafficking operation, Guerra made it easier for Hinojosa to move drugs through his county, prosecutors said. Hinojosa, who is still awaiting sentencing, had once worked in law enforcement in Mexico. He later began working for the Zetas, the brutal enforcers of the Gulf Cartel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Toni Trevino said investigators had no evidence Guerra ever cleared an area of law enforcement so that drug loads could move through his county. But he did tell Hinojosa when there would be extra patrols so smugglers could avoid them. Guerra complicated the ongoing investigation of Hinojosa's smuggling ring because federal agents had to limit their activities in Starr County for fear that Guerra would alert Hinojosa, Trevino said. The wide-ranging indictment swept up those who organized the drug smuggling across the border, drivers who carried drugs to Houston and brought the cash proceeds back to South Texas and distributors who mailed drugs to customers as far away as Delaware. A small player in that distribution operation was Houston school teacher Sharletha Woodard whose boyfriend John Louis Jordan said he received drugs on consignment and distributed them. Woodard, a fifth-grade teacher with a master's degree, was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in prison for sometimes mailing packages of cocaine for Jordan, who received a 15-year sentence. "I made a mistake," Woodard said. "This is a lifestyle that I really wouldn't take part in." Before announcing her sentence, Crane said "one of the lessons is nobody's above the law." "I'm really surprised you're still teaching," he said. Woodard had said she taught as recently as Wednesday. The Houston Independent School District could only say that a teacher by that name worked at Robert Lee Frost Elementary School in South Houston, and officials were checking to see if it was the same person, spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deputy Faces Additional Sexual Assault Charges

Broward deputy faces additional sexual assault charges
The Sun Sentinel by Sofia Santana - August 25, 2009
Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, accused of preying on homeless men and illegal immigrants, remains jailed without bail

A Broward sheriff's deputy who was arrested on charges he stalked and sexually assaulted men searched police records to obtain photos and personal data on more than two dozen men and five prisoners he met while on duty, court documents show. Investigators found the information, printed from law enforcement databases, in a wooden chest in Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss' bedroom, according to a search warrant filed Monday in Broward Circuit Court. The printouts also carried added notations, for instance "HOT JEEP GUY" and "HOT GUY IN TOYOTA ECHO," said investigators, who matched the printouts to an activity log on Bleiweiss' computer at work. Bleiweiss, 29, initially faced 15 criminal charges stemming from one man's allegations, but on Monday prosecutors added seven counts -- including stalking, armed false imprisonment and sexual battery -- relating to a second man's statement. At least six other men have levied allegations against Bleiweiss, saying the deputy fondled, assaulted, threatened and harassed them. The men are all undocumented immigrants and almost didn't report the incidents because they feared reprisal, officials said. The second man told investigators that Bleiweiss pulled him over early one morning in April or May in Oakland Park and ordered him to sit in the backseat of the patrol car, where Bleiweiss then reportedly performed oral sex on him. "Immediately afterwards, Jonathan Bleiweiss grabbed his flashlight and radio and exited the vehicle, asking [the victim] if he would like to do it again in the future," Detective Graciela Benito wrote in an arrest report released Tuesday. The alleged victim said that Bleiweiss pulled him over again three days later and fondled him. Investigators said they could find no written record of the traffic stops. Bleiweiss has been held at the Broward County Jail without bond since his arrest Aug. 3. He remains employed by the Sheriff's Office but has been suspended without pay. The criminal investigation is ongoing, as is an internal investigation by the Sheriff's Office. Before his arrest, Bleiweiss' image was that of an openly gay deputy who excelled at his job and was a leader in the local gay community. After his arrest, though, homeless men and undocumented immigrants in Oakland Park have come forward to tell reporters that they despised and feared Bleiweiss because he often harassed them for no reason. Staff Writers Jon Burstein, Joel Marino and Juan Ortega contributed to this report. Sofia Santana can be reached at or 954-356-4631.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cop Charged in Crime Stoppers Scam

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 26, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of Florida - Contact: (305) 961-9000

City of Miami Police Officer and Two Others Charged in Crime Stoppers Scam

Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. Folmar, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Robert Parker, Director, Miami Dade Police Department, announced that City of Miami Police Officer Wayne Fortella and two civilian associates, Kurt Burgess and Ainsworth Stanley, were charged in a Criminal Complaint with wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud by scheming to collect Crime Stoppers rewards to which they were not entitled, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1349. Fortella and Burgess made their initial appearances in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick A. White, and were released on bond. Defendant Stanley remains at large. Today’s charges arose from a long-term investigation jointly conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the cooperation and assistance of the City of Miami Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. According to the Complaint, Fortella, an 11-year veteran of the Miami Police Department, was assigned as a detective at the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Unit. In this capacity, Fortella was responsible for taking anonymous tips from citizens regarding crimes that had occurred within Miami-Dade County. Fortella, Burgess, and Stanley allegedly took advantage of Fortella’s position to implement a scheme to fraudulently obtain Crime Stoppers reward payments that had not yet been collected by the actual tipsters. According to the allegations in the Complaint, Fortella used his position at the Crime Stoppers Unit to identify tips that had been authorized for payment but which had not yet been collected by the tipsters, and to learn the substance of the information provided in those tips. Fortella also obtained the unique codes needed to collect these rewards, and then passed this reward collection information to Burgess and Stanley. Thereafter, Burgess and Stanley would use this tip information to fraudulently collect the rewards. In this way, Burgess is alleged to have collected numerous reward payments totaling more than $9000, and Stanley is alleged to have collected reward payments totaling more than $5000. Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman stated, “Corruption by public officials, no matter at what level of government, undermines the public’s trust in our public servants. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to helping to restore that trust and to maintain untarnished the good name of the many honest public servants who work and risk their lives each day to help make our communities a better place. Michael J. Folmar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office, added, “Crime Stoppers is a valuable and essential program that has assisted law enforcement in catching countless criminals. It is unfortunate that one police officer chose to take advantage of the anonymity that this program offers for personal gain. Nonetheless, the success of Crime Stoppers surpasses the acts of one police officer. Public corruption is a top priority for the FBI and our law enforcement partners, and we will continue to investigate corruption at all levels.” Director Robert Parker of the Miami-Dade Police Department stated, “It is vital that we take immediate action to root out anyone who participates in illegal activity. Corruption will simply not be tolerated. Anyone who chooses to engage in activity that undermines the public trust will be investigated and prosecuted. The Miami-Dade Police Department stands ready to fully engage with our law enforcement partners to address any allegation of corruption and misconduct.” If convicted, all three defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to twenty (20) years in prison on each count charged in the Complaint. A complaint is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Sloman commended the efforts of the numerous detectives of the Miami-Dade Police Department and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who have been working on this investigation. Mr. Sloman also thanked the City of Miami Police Department for their assistance during this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward N. Stamm and Karen E. Gilbert. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cop Accused of Posing as Twin for Sex

Conn. police officer accused of posing as twin for sex
The Associated Press - August 21, 2009

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) - An Orange police officer has been charged with sexual assault and placed on administrative leave for allegedly posing as his twin brother to have sex with a woman. The alleged victim told police that 25-year-old Jared Rohrig of Milford, posed as his identical twin brother to engage in a sexual encounter on July 19. The woman claims that Rohrig restrained her and continued the encounter against her will once she realized he was not the person she thought he was and attempted to leave. Rohrig did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment Friday. Police charged Rohrig with first-degree sexual assault and criminal impersonation. Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne said earlier this month that the department was investigating Rohrig, a probationary officer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ACLU Sues Prosecutor

ACLU Sues Prosecutor for Charging Kids With Recording Talk With Cops on Cell Phone
The Associated Press - August 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - The ACLU is suing the Allegheny County District Attorney's office, saying it wrongly charged a man with violating state wiretap law for recording police with a cell phone. The suit says Elijah Matheny, of Pittsburgh, and his friend had been looking for items discarded by University of Pittsburgh students leaving for the semester in April. School police asked Matheny's friend for identification as Matheny recorded the incident. An officer arrested Matheny for recording police without permission after checking with the prosecutor's office. A judge dismissed the charge in July. The ALCU says the First Amendment guarantees people a right to record police in public places. The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.


ACLU says Pa. man wrongly charged in wiretap case / The Associated Press by Dan Nephin - August 13, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - The Allegheny County District Attorney's office wrongly charged a man with violating state wiretap law for recording police with a cell phone, the American Civil Liberties Union claimed in a federal lawsuit Thursday. The ACLU said law enforcement agents in Pennsylvania, Allegheny County in particular, have been misapplying the wiretap law. "Unfortunately, many Pennsylvania law enforcement officers don't understand that the courts have said the state wiretapping law cannot be applied to punish people for recording police actions in public," Glen Downey, an attorney involved in the suit, said in a statement. The suit was filed on behalf of Elijah Matheny, of Pittsburgh, in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. It seeks unspecified damages, claiming police violated his civil rights.

According to the suit, Matheny and a friend were looking in a trash container for useable items thrown out by University of Pittsburgh students leaving for the semester in late April. A university property manager called police, who asked Matheny and his friend for identification. Matheny presented his, but when his friend said she didn't have any, police handcuffed her briefly while they checked her name. Matheny made an audio and video recording of the incident. An officer arrested Matheny for recording his voice without permission, the suit said. While Matheny was being held in a university holding cell, the officer checked with the district attorney's office, where an on-duty district attorney advised that Matheny had broken the wiretap law. In July, a judge dismissed all charges against Matheny, who also was charged with possessing an instrument of crime , the cell phone. Mike Manko, a district attorney's office spokesman, denied a claim in the suit that the office has a policy of advising officers to charge people who make audio recordings of police. But he said the office would have no further comment until it reviewed police reports from the case. Witold "Vic" Walczak, the ACLU's legal director in Pennsylvania, said the problem is surprisingly widespread, citing complaints in York, Philadelphia and suburban Pittsburgh. Walczak expects demonstrators at the Group of 20 global economic summit in Pittsburgh in September to use cell phones to record police. "Police have every right to arrest people if they destroy property or block passage, but police need to understand that they cannot arrest people simply for putting them on candid camera," he said.

Former Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Months

Department of Justice Press Release, For Immediate Release
August 10, 2009 United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of California - Contact: (619) 557-5610

Former Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison

United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt announced that today Juan Hurtado Tapia, a former uniformed officer of the San Diego Police Department, was sentenced to serve 30 months in federal prison by United States District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez based upon his guilty in federal court in San Diego to offenses resulting from the misuse of his status as a law enforcement officer to obtain and pass sensitive information to associates involved in drug trafficking crimes. Tapia entered his guilty plea on April 28, 2009. According to the plea agreement, Tapia admitted that in May 2008 he misused his position as a San Diego Police officer and ran a criminal records check on an individual on behalf of two others. He also admitted that, on both July 9, 2008 and July 11, 2008, when he was asked by federal agents about the reasons why he ran the records check, he knowingly lied to them. In addition, he admitted that at the time he lied to agents on July 9, 2008, he knew that the questions were in reference to a federal drug-trafficking investigation, and he was attempting to impede that investigation. Tapia was immediately remanded into custody to begin serving his prison sentence.  DEFENDANT Case Number: 08cr3281BEN, Juan Hurtado Tapia Age: 39 Imperial Beach, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGES - Count 1: Obstructing, Influencing, or Impeding an Official Proceeding, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(2) (Felony) Maximum Penalties: 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine - Count 2: Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030(a)(2) (Misdemeanor) Maximum Penalties: 1 year imprisonment and $100,000 fine: Counts 3-4: False Statement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001 (Felony) Maximum Penalties: 5 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine per count. PARTICIPATING AGENCIESFederal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, San Diego Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cop Admits to Sexual Assault While on Duty

California officer admits to sexual assault while on duty

  • Story Highlights
  • Feliciano Sanchez admits to forcing driver to perform oral sex on him after traffic stop
  • Sanchez faces up to 10 years in prison at November sentencing
  • Sanchez, 34, pulled over female motorist, said her car would be towed
  • He drove her to a parking lot, placed hand on his gun and forced her to perform act
CNN By Khadijah Rentas - July 17, 2009

(CNN) -- A former California police officer accused of sexually assaulting a motorist during a traffic stop pleaded guilty in federal court, federal prosecutors said Friday. Feliciano Sanchez, 34, admitted in court Thursday that while on duty on May 16, 2007, he pulled over a female driver in a traffic stop and forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien, who heads the office for the Central District. Sanchez, then of Los Angeles County's Bell Police Department, stopped the woman for speeding or weaving down the road, said central California U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek, citing court documents. After learning the woman, identified as R.H. in court documents, did not have a driver's license with her, Sanchez told her he suspected her of drinking and her car would be towed, Mrozek said. Sanchez offered to drive R.H. to her job, but instead drove her to the parking lot of an auto repair outlet in Bell, Mrozek said. Sanchez placed his hand on his gun and forced her to perform sex on him in his patrol car, Mrozek said. Afterward, Sanchez drove R.H. to her work place, Mrozek said. "Officer Sanchez brutalized a person he had sworn to serve," O'Brien said in the release. "As a result of his criminal conduct, Mr. Sanchez now faces a substantial amount of time in federal prison. His conduct eroded public confidence in law enforcement and cast a pall over his former colleagues who obey the law, proudly working to preserve public safety." Federal prosecutors charged Sanchez with a civil rights violation, according to the release. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison upon sentencing. Sanchez has been held without bond since his arrest in May 2007, Mrozek said. Sanchez's sentencing is scheduled for November 18. Sanchez resigned as an officer after his indictment, Bell Police Department Capt. Anthony Miranda said. Miranda said Sanchez's case was a first for the department "We were in shock, and actually, disbelief," he said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deputy Accused of Forcing Woman to Perform Sex Act

On-duty deputy accused of forcing woman to perform sex act
The Albany Times Union by LEIGH HORNBECK AND CHRISTEN GOWAN - August 12, 2009

MILTON, NEW YORK - A Saratoga County Sheriff's deputy has been arrested for forcing a woman to commit a sex act while he was on duty at a vehicle repossession Tuesday night in Edinburg, authorities said. Donald Harder III force the woman to perform the act in his patrol car, authorities said, and the woman believed she had to comply because she was in the vehicle and he was in uniform. Authorities said the woman immediately reported the incident. Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy and Sheriff James Bowen held a joint news conference about the incident this afternoon. They said Harder, 28, was charged with first-degree criminal sex act. Bowen said the two are past acquaintances.

Cop Investigated For Background Check On President

Officer Investigated For Background Check On Obama
PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― August 8, 2009

CBS 3 has learned a Philadelphia Police officer is under investigation after attempting to perform a background check on the President of the United States. Police said an officer with the 18th District did a search on President Barack Obama's name and birth date from his patrol car's mobile data terminal, which is normally used to provide instant background information such as driver's licenses and gun registration. The search was immediately flagged and an investigation was launched. Officials said no personal information of the President was released. "This was beyond dumb and he will be disciplined," said Philadelphia Police Sergeant Ray Evers. The officer currently remains on duty, but could face disciplinary action pending the outcome of the investigation. In a similar incident last month, two officers in Georgia were suspended after using the county computer system to run a background check on President Obama.

Other Story:

Officers Run Background Check On Obama; Placed On Leave

WSBTV Atlanta, GA - July 30, 2009 - Two DeKalb County police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave after an investigation revealed they ran a background check on President Barack Obama. A representative for the DeKalb County CEO’s office identified the officers as Ryan White and C.M. Route. Officials said Obama’s name was typed into a computer inside a DeKalb County police car on July 20 and ran through the National Crime Information Center. The secret service was immediately notified and contacted the DeKalb County Police Department. A representative said both officers have been with the department less than five years. A representative said one of the officers denied involvement. An official investigation is being conducted by the DeKalb County Police Department’s Internal Affairs division. It is unclear why the officers ran a check on the president.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NYPD Captain Who Exposed Himself Keeps Pension

NYPD captain who exposed himself in subway station gets to keep pension
The New York Daily News by BRENDAN BROSH - August 11, 2009

An NYPD captain who exposed himself in a Queens subway station while on duty got off with a slap on the wrist Monday - and his full pension. Transit Bureau Capt. Jeffrey Klimas tried to fondle a 20-year-old man in a bathroom at the Union Turnpike station in Kew Gardens in May 2008, prosecutors said. Klimas pleaded guilty to public lewdness and disorderly conduct in October 2008. Prosecutors asked for the misdemeanor lewdness charges to be dismissed after he completed a psychotherapy program and agreed to resign from the NYPD. Klimas - who started with the NYPD in 1983 - was docked 11 vacation days, but left the force with his full pension, his lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said. Queens Criminal Court Judge Stephanie Zaro told Klimas to "stay out of trouble for a year." The 20-year-old man told police investigators he was involved in a romantic relationship with the married cop. Klimas, 52, was charged with two counts of public lewdness and suspended from the force at the time. The veteran transit officer was also accused of fondling a teenager on the No. 4 train in 2003. Those charges were reportedly dismissed as unfounded.

Prior News Article:

Police Captain Grilled
The New York Post by John Doyle, Larry Celona and Dan Mangan

May 28, 2008 -- An NYPD captain allegedly sexually exposed himself to a young man at a Queens subway station yesterday while on duty, and was taken into custody after the victim alerted a cop, police sources said.Transit Bureau Capt. Jeffrey Klimas, 51, was charged with two counts of public lewdness last night, given a desk-appearance ticket, and suspended. Multiple police sources said the married father of two had long been suspected of trolling for encounters in the subway system, despite being executive officer of the Transit Bureau's Special Operations District. A police source called the 25-year veteran "eccentric" and "like a Jim McGreevey" - referring to the gay former New Jersey governor's penchant for searching for sex with men at highway rest stops while still closeted. The source said Klimas, who lives with his paralegal wife, Loraine, in New Hyde Park, LI, signed in yesterday morning at the District 20 Transit Bureau at the Van Wyck/Briarwood station in Queens, then boarded an F train, in plainclothes for his Brooklyn office. He got off at the Union Turnpike station and exposed himself to a young man in a station bathroom, sources said. The young man saw a cop and reported that he had been accosted, a source said. "The cop goes with him, and [the man] points out the guy, and it's Klimas," the source said. Klimas ran away and when the cop apprehended him, the captain became irate, saying, "Don't you know who I am," identifying himself by name and rank, sources said. The second lewdness count against Klimas stems from an April 2007 incident, also at a Queens subway station, but details were not immediately available. "He did it again," said another high-ranking police source, who was aware of another incident in which Klimas was caught allegedly soliciting a man in 2003 but escaped without charges. In that incident, a teen claimed Klimas fondled him on a No. 4 train. The youth ran off the train at Borough Hall and pointed out the captain. But an investigation determined the claim was unfounded, saying the accuser was emotionally disturbed, sources said. Klimas' neighbors were shocked that the deeply religious man known for his regular attendance at church was caught up in a sex scandal. "In a million years, I wouldn't believe that," said Annette Palazzollo, a neighbor and close friend. "He's a wonderful man. He's good with his children. He's always playing with his son outside." Additional reporting by Tatiana Deligiannakis, Erika Martinez, Reuven Fenton and Peter Cox

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bust of Corrupt US Border Police On Rise

AP IMPACT: Busts of corrupt US border police rise

McALLEN, Texas — Corruption along the U.S.-Mexican border takes many forms. It can start as simply as a smuggler's $50 gift to the child of a reluctant federal agent, quickly escalating to out-and-out bribes. "Everyone does it," the agent, now in prison, recalls telling himself. Other times, county sheriffs greedily grab thousands from drug dealers. In a few instances, traffickers even place members in the applicant pool for sensitive border protection jobs. An Associated Press investigation has found U.S. law officers who work the border are being charged with criminal corruption in numbers not seen before, as drug and immigrant smugglers use money and sometimes sex to buy protection, and internal investigators crack down. Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, interviews with sentenced agents and a review of court records, the AP tallied corruption-related convictions against more than 80 enforcement officials at all levels — federal, state and local — since 2007, shortly after Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels that peddle up to $39 billion worth of drugs in the United States each year. U.S. officials have long pointed to Mexico's rampantly corrupt cops and broken judicial system, but Calderon told the AP this isn't just a Mexican problem. "To get drugs into the United States the one you need to corrupt is the American authority, the American customs, the American police — not the Mexican. And that's a subject, by the way, which hasn't been addressed with sincerity," the Mexican president said. "I'm waging my battle against corruption among Mexican authorities and we're risking everything to clean our house, but I think there also needs to be a good cleaning on the other side of the border." In fact, U.S. prosecutors have been taking notice. Drug traffickers look "for weaknesses in the armor," said former prosecutor Yolanda de Leon in Cameron County, Texas. One such weakness was her own county's Sheriff Conrado Cantu. With his thick mustache, ample belly and Western hat, Cantu was a backslapping natural in the political machine of Cameron County, population 335,000. The county includes Brownsville, Texas, directly across the Rio Grande from Matamoros, Mexico. In no time, Cantu rose from constable to sheriff, a job he later acknowledged he was unqualified to hold. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to federal charges of running a criminal enterprise involved in extortion, drug trafficking and bribery. He's now serving a 24-year sentence for extorting money from drug traffickers and illegal gambling operations. "If the opportunity came along he would take it," said de Leon. Not all corruption charges that turned up in AP's checks were related to drug trafficking. The researched cases involve agents helping smuggle immigrants, drugs or other contraband, taking wads of money or sexual favors in exchange — or simply allowing entry to someone whose paperwork isn't up to snuff, all part of the daily border traffic that has politicians demanding that the U.S.-Mexico border be secured. Court records show corrupt officials along the 2,100-mile U.S.-Mexico border have included local police and elected sheriffs, and officers with such U.S. Department of Homeland Security agencies as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, which includes Border Patrol. Some have even been National Guardsmen temporarily called in to help while the Border Patrol expanded its ranks. As Calderon sent thousands of soldiers to northern Mexico to stop the gruesome cartel violence and clean out corrupt police departments, CBP, the largest U.S. law enforcement agency, boosted its border forces by 44 percent or 6,907 additional officers and agents on the southwest border. At the same time, CBP saw the number of its officers charged with corruption-related crimes nearly triple, from eight cases in fiscal 2007 to 21 the following year — and began to crack down.

"Day in, day out, someone in our agency is approached and says no, but we operate in this high-threat environment," said James Tomsheck, assistant commissioner for internal affairs at CBP. "The reality of it is we are deeply concerned." In the past 10 months, 20 agents from CBP alone have been charged with a corruption-related crime. At that pace, the organization will set a new record for in-house corruption; 90 employees have been charged with corrupt acts since October 2004. Agency officials expect those cases to continue to climb: There are 63 open criminal investigations — including corruption cases — against CBP employees. At least as unsettling were the prospective agents who never got to commit their crimes: Four applicants for jobs in federal border law enforcement were not hired when polygraph tests and background checks confirmed they were infiltrators from drug trafficking operations, authorities said. Such in-depth checks are conducted on only about 10 percent of applicants for border agent jobs, though such scrutiny will eventually be made standard for all applicants, according to Tomsheck. Meantime, officials are left to wonder: Are other gangsters working undercover for agencies charged with protecting the U.S. border? CBP had more than 2,000 in-house discipline cases during the past three years, according to records obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act. Most were minor, but about 100 reflected more serious, corruption-related incidents, many of which were later prosecuted. The jump in corruption cases comes as CBP has increased its team of internal investigators from five three years ago to 220 today. CBP's own investigation of corruption cases showed little correlation between minor disciplinary problems and the more serious instances of bribery and malfeasance.  "Virtually none of the employees arrested for corruption are employees that have serious misconduct issues," Tomsheck said. "Actively corrupt employees do everything they can to stay below the radar screen." It can be heartbreaking to see agents switch sides for small amounts of money, said U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, whose turf covers a long stretch of border from the Gulf of Mexico to Laredo, Texas. But, Johnson and other federal prosecutors say, "these cases will always have a priority" and must be prosecuted "to the fullest extent," to emphasize that corruption will not be tolerated. "You can't allow people who work within the law enforcement community to compromise our mission. We would just lose control of everything down there," he said. It's a lesson Mexico learned the hard way, ignoring for years corrupt police until Calderon began to replace them with military personnel. In Texas, which has more than half the U.S. border with Mexico, the commission that oversees state and local law enforcement officers reported that criminal misconduct cases were opened against 515 officers in fiscal 2007 and 550 officers in fiscal 2008. Some form of disciplinary action was lodged against 324 and 331 peace officer licenses, respectively, in those years. "The cartels increasingly recruit law enforcement officers on both sides of the border," Steve McCraw, then Texas's homeland security chief, told state lawmakers earlier this year. "It's not just a Mexico problem because of the amount of money involved. And as we've increased presence between the ports (of entry), there's an increased desire to recruit law enforcement personnel to move across the bridge or use them between the ports."

In-house CBP data shows corrupt agents fall into two categories — recent hires who are charged very quickly, indicating they took the jobs intending to break the law, and veteran agents who have worked for the agency for a decade or more before succumbing to the offers. "From the Mexican cartels' point of view, it is cheaper to pay an official several thousand dollars to allow a load of narcotics to pass by than it is to risk having the shipment seized," Scott Stewart and Fred Burton, vice presidents of global intelligence firm Stratfor, wrote in a recent report. "Such bribes are simply part of the cost of doing business — and in the big picture, even a low-level agent can be an incredible bargain." One such officer, a CBP agent convicted of taking money to smuggle illegal immigrants, was over his head with credit card debt, behind on child-support payments, about to lose his truck. His 10-year-old, whom he had taken to the mall for the day, wanted a football he couldn't afford. That's when a friendly, familiar Mexican man pulled a $50 bill from a thick wallet and handed it to the agent's son, who snatched the money and dashed off to the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop. The father related the story in the visiting room of a federal prison in California where he is serving a four-year term. "I was like, 'Wait son, hang on!' but he was gone, so happy with that money," said the former agent, whom prison officials allowed the AP to interview on condition of anonymity because convicted law enforcement officers are considered potential targets. That was how it began, the ex-agent continued. A few weeks later, the Mexican man suggested that the officer let a man through his pedestrian checkpoint early one morning without asking questions. He'd get $5,000 for his trouble. "I thought, 'Naaah, I can't do that.' Then I thought, 'Hell, my life's a mess. Everyone does it. If I'm caught I'll just say the guy got past me. I'll do it once. I could use the money,'" he recalled. The cash came in handy. He bought clothes for his kids, jerseys for a youth team he coached; he made his truck payment, caught up on credit card bills. The next time was easier, if less lucrative: $1,500 a person.Nervously smoothing his prison-green scrubs, he said, "I really planned to stop." But then another offer came, even while colleagues warned him the FBI was snooping around. And then a woman he had illegally passed through named him when she was caught by an honest agent. He was convicted for passing one person through. He paid $5,000 in fines in addition to the prison term.

"You want to know how many times I did this?" he asked. "Sixty-six. I kept a tally." The men and women who were caught described their jobs as prestigious and well paid for the small border towns where they grew up. An entry-level CBP officer earns $37,000 a year in Laredo, and within a year is likely paid $41,000, well above the local average annual income of $25,000. In border communities, the demarcation between countries is insignificant. People live on one side, work on the other; have a favorite barber on one side, but buy groceries on the other. The traffic is heavy, and constant. Some of the border authorities were born in Mexico or are related to Mexican nationals. So do you let a colleague's Mexican aunt cross the border without a visa for a family birthday party? Or wave through a loaded truck that belongs to your bosses' brother-in-law without looking inside? Some agents said yes. And so did some state and local officers. The deputy commander of a narcotics task force was caught in a sting operation protecting what he believed were loads of drugs moving through Zapata County; others have shaken down drug traffickers moving product through their turf. In October, FBI agents arrested Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra at his office as part of a sweep dubbed "Operation Carlito's Weigh." Guerra, the chief law enforcement officer for the border county of 62,000 people, had spent a decade as sheriff. There was little public pressure for his ouster after his arrest and since he was running unopposed, Guerra was re-elected weeks later. County Judge Eloy Vera said the day of his arrest that Guerra, a mustachioed bear of man, was a "very good sheriff." He resigned only as a condition of his release pending trial. In May, Guerra pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking charge for accepting thousands of dollars in exchange for passing information to a former Mexican law enforcement contact who he knew was working for Mexico's Gulf Cartel. Guerra once even gave false documents to one of his own deputies to close a drug trafficking investigation, prosecutors said. Guerra could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced later this month. Martha Mendoza reported from San Jose, Calif.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Citizens Group Upset Over Police Cover-Up Reports

Anti-Corruption Rally To Be Held At Hollywood PD
CBS 4 - Hollywood, Florida by Lisa Cilli - August 6, 2009

Hollywood police officers are accused of doctoring a police report following a rear end collision during a traffic stop in February. A group of people are holding a rally Thursday evening against the Hollywood Police Department in the wake of an alleged police cover-up and what they call corruption within the department.  The rally will be held outside the city's police department, located at 3250 Hollywood Boulevard, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The rally, organized by grass-roots activism group "Broward Corruption Watch", comes a week after a video was released that showed several police officers discussing doctoring a police report to help a fellow officer involved in a car crash in February.  That's when 23-year old Alexandra Torrens-Vilas was pulled over in the 28-hundred block of Sheridan Street on the suspicion of drunk driving. As Hollywood police officer Joel Francisco pulled in behind her, he rear-ended her car.

The officer's dash cam video then recorded an apparent conspiracy when Francisco and another officer discussed covering up the cause of the accident and putting the blame on Torrens-Vilas.  The following can be heard on the tape: "We'll bend this a little bit. She's drunk so it is what it is. I don't want you to make things up ever, it's wrong, but if I need to bend to protect the cop, I'm gonna."  Three Hollywood police officers and two civilian employees were suspended for the alleged cover up.  The Broward State Attorney's Office later dropped the DUI and improper lane charges against Torrens-Vilas saying the videotape would, "raise questions about the accident."  Twenty-seven other cases involving the suspended officers are now being reviewed, as well as some closed cases.  Personnel files obtained by CBS4 News also show that Officer Joel Francisco, who rear-ended the DUI suspect's car, has had seven accidents in city vehicles in the last 10 years. His driving record is so bad he was ordered to go to traffic school a few years ago.  Torrens-Vilas, meantime, may file a suit against the city's police department.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lawsuit Planned in Police Corruption Cases

Lawsuit planned in Benton Harbor corruption cases
Mother of man arrested by Benton Harbor police will seek restitution.
The Tribune by CAROL DRAEGER - August 4, 2009
BENTON HARBOR, MI -- Benton Harbor's Police Department is in the middle of a public relations nightmare. The three-year police chief, Al Mingo, will retire early in the wake of a police corruption scandal that has already sent one officer -- Andrew Collins -- to prison for 37 months. Another narcotics officer, Sgt. Bernard Hall, was recently indicted on similar corruption charges involving falsifying search warrants and lying about drug buys. Earlier this year another officer was under the microscope for mishandling vehicle titles. While Mingo has said the Police Department has initiated and cooperated in all of the investigations, the fallout has resulted in Berrien County prosecutors' dismissing search warrants and expunging the records of at least 30 criminals. And that's just the beginning.  More dismissals may be on the way as Berrien County prosecutors review about 100 arrest cases that Collins and Hall handled. Not surprisingly, the Police Department may soon be fending off a lawsuit. Rachelle Moore, the mother of one of the felons that Collins and Hall put in prison, said she plans to file a civil lawsuit against the BHPD. Berrien County prosecutors expunged two drug convictions against Craig Eugene Moore Jr. on July 14, but the 23-year-old will remain in prison until December 2010 on a third drug conviction, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. Rachelle Moore said she knows her son has been in trouble for marijuana possession charges, but she said the other "trumped up" charges made by Collins and Hall has cost her family.

Craig Moore was first charged with delivery/manufacture of marijuana in 2006, according to DOC records. He served about five months in prison. In 2008, he was arrested on a series of marijuana violations. Two of those recent convictions were expunged, but a third conviction still stands, which means Moore will remain behind bars until next year, Russ Marlan a Michigan DOC spokesman, said. "How do you pay back the children for the emotional abuse they've suffered?" Moore said, referring to the convicts as "children." She said the wrongful convictions have cost families money. "We want our bond money back and the restitution we've paid." In addition to Moore, prosecutors in July also dropped drug charges and/or dismissed sentences for: Natosha Bowman, Kendall Brown, Daniel Green, Monroe Lee Hill Jr., Michael Horn, Brian McKinney, Ronald Williams, Dunshan Evans, Phillip Washington, Chequila King, Donald Adams, Courtney Warren. Two outstanding arrest warrants also were dismissed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Defenders, prosecutors review cases involving Broward deputy accused of sexual abuse
'Those cases are going to fall apart,' said Public Defender Howard Finkelstein
The South Florida Sun Sentinel by Ihosvani Rodriguez, Juan Ortega and Joel Marino - August 5, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - Prosecutors and public defenders are reviewing at least 15 pending criminal cases -- an attempted murder case among them -- that may depend on the testimony of accused Broward Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss. Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said Wednesday that his staffers also are looking at recently closed cases. He said they have been getting unconfirmed reports that the deputy might have been physically abusing homeless people. Bleiweiss' attorney said those reports are false. "He's an open target now, especially as a law enforcement officer, and as an openly gay deputy," said Eric Schwartzreich."Where were all these people before? You have to be suspicious of their motivations and biases. You have a good, tough officer, and naturally people are not going to like him." Bleiweiss, 29, is accused of intimidating at least eight illegal immigrants he picked up on traffic stops, including a teen, into performing sexual acts while he was on duty in Oakland Park. He faces 14 criminal charges. Broward Sheriff's Office officials said Wednesday they are considering more charges against Bleiweiss. Investigators ask that other people come forward if they have information about Bleiweiss. Ron Ishoy, spokesman for the Broward State Attorney's Office, said prosecutors also are reviewing cases that call for Bleiweiss' testimony. They will be "evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if the state can, in good faith, proceed with prosecuting any of those cases without the deputy's testimony," Ishoy said.  Among the pending cases under review are two unrelated batteries on a law enforcement officer, an armed robbery and several arrests on charges of driving under the influence. Details of the cases were not released, pending notification of the defense attorneys handling them. "Basically, if there are any cases involving Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, chances are those cases are going to fall apart," Finkelstein said. "I don't think the deputy will be cooperating with the State Attorney's Office, the same people who are prosecuting him."

The seven-year veteran deputy is jailed without bail and in protective custody. His attorney said Wednesday he plans to seek a new bail hearing. Reached at his home in Ashland, Oregon, Rick Bleiweiss, said he has spoken to his son regularly since his arrest. "He is absolutely innocent," Bleiweiss said. He declined to comment further. The case against Bleiweiss will depend heavily on the cooperation of those who have accused him. That might prove difficult to obtain. South Florida immigration attorneys say illegal immigrants who are victims in criminal cases might be wary of testifying in court for various reasons, including concern they will be arrested or deported. "Some cooperate and some have shied away," said Jeffrey Brauwerman, a former immigration judge who practices immigration law in Plantation. "Cases do fall apart when witnesses are unavailable." Miami immigration attorney Ira Kurzban said authorities might be able to persuade immigrants to testify by providing them visas under a law that protects crime victims. Such visas, good for several years, are available to those who provide court testimony and meet other requirements. "If the state wants to get them as witnesses, that's the best way to do it," Kurzban said. Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, said those visas are rarely offered early in a case and never are guaranteed. "You don't want to make it look like a quid-pro-quo thing," said Little, whose group represents immigrants in court cases. "Most of them come forward because they know it's the right thing to do." Ihosvani Rodriguez can be reached at or 954-385-7908.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cover-Up Cop Has History

Records: Hollywood officer has history of crashes
The Miami Herald by Alexia Campbell - August 6, 2009

The Hollywood police officer involved in a rear-end crash that allegedly was covered up by fellow officers is no stranger to road accidents. His personnel file, obtained by the Sun Sentinel, shows he was involved in eight other crashes while driving his patrol car. Joel Francisco, 36, an 11-year veteran of the force, was ordered to attend Driving Training School three times. Early in his career, he was suspended for being in three crashes within a year's time that were deemed preventable, the file says. According to other Hollywood police documents, a sergeant who is accused of helping doctor the report on Francisco's latest accident was cited this May for misinforming superiors about a crash. Francisco, Sgt. Andrew Diaz, Officer Dewey Pressley, a community service aide and a crime-scene technician have been suspended at home with pay after a video surfaced last week showing Hollywood officers talking about doctoring their report to shift blame for the Feb. 17 crash from Francisco to the woman he rear-ended. The video had been recorded by a dashboard camera in one of the officer's cars. Alexandra Torrens-Vilas, the 23-year-old woman whose Toyota Tercel was hit, was originally charged with four separate criminal counts of DUI. The Broward State Attorney's Office dropped the prosecution after the video became public. Francisco could not be reached for comment. Like the other four Hollywood police employees, he is the subject of an internal investigation ordered by Chief Chad Wagner.

Francisco's file includes reports on his involvement in eight earlier crashes that his supervisors said he could have avoided. The first one occurred in June 1999, when Francisco backed into a cement-filled metal pole in a parking lot on South Park Road. About a month later, he hit a car from behind as it made a left turn, a report said. Both of the accidents could have been avoided, his supervisors said, and he was sent to driving school. In January 2000, Francisco struck another car as he made a U-turn to chase a suspected felon. It was his third preventable accident in a year, and he was suspended for two days without pay. The next write-up came in January 2002, for a minor crash in the 3100 block of Hollywood Boulevard. Francisco was written up for failing to prevent the incident, the report said. About two months later, Francisco wrecked his patrol car during a chase on South Park Road. He was ordered to attend driving school for the second time. In September 2002, Francisco was prohibited from taking his police car home for a month. The next accident happened in September 2007. Francisco's supervisors said he did not do everything possible to prevent the crash and had him review the department's operations manual. Following an accident Jan. 21, 2009, that was also judged preventable, he was ordered to attend his third driving school class.

In May, a supervisor accused Diaz of negligence, incompetence and violating procedures when he responded to an accident involving a fellow police officer in a patrol car, according to a report in his file. At the scene, Diaz, 39, didn't tell the on-duty shift lieutenant over the phone that the police car was totaled or that the officer involved was not in uniform, preventing a more in-depth investigation, the report said. Diaz's handling of the accident played a role in that officer's decision to resign. Diaz, who has worked with the department for 16 years, was required to get remedial training. Pressley, 42, wrote the report detailing the February midnight crash in the 2800 block of Sheridan Street. His file shows the department reprimanded him for a car accident in 2003 that was ruled preventable. Meanwhile, a group of citizens angered by reports of a police cover-up following an officer-involved crash will hold a rally Thursday night to protest police corruption at police headquarters, 3250 Hollywood Blvd., at 6 p.m., according to Broward Corruption Watch, a grass-roots activism group. Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek and Staff Writer Sofia Santana contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watchdog agency that oversees NYPD has no bite, officials say
The New York Daily News by Wil Cruz - August 5, 2009

The watchdog agency that oversees the NYPD has no bite and should be reformed, elected officials and advocates said Tuesday. City Councilman Bill de Blasio introduced and supported bills last week to overhaul the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Among the changes: The $10 million a year agency would have the power to prosecute and initiate its own cases. "The CCRB should be more than just a reactive agency," said de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), who is running for public advocate. The CCRB declined to comment. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department has already taken steps to empower the board - and sees no reason to take away Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly's authority.