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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jail Guard Busted for Extorting Sex

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cop Works Second Job While On-Duty

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ex-Jail Guard Spared Jail in Bribe Case

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

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Police Arrest Fellow Cop on Murder Charges

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

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guilty plea by ex-ICE agent shocks many

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

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

Venerated lawman

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

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

Accused of trafficking

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

4 Cops Accused of Fatal Beating Cover-Up

Pa. police accused of cover-up in immigrant attack

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cop Charged In Civil Rights Abuse in Juvenile Beating

Department of Justice Press Release

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

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

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

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