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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Army Officer Gets Prison for Bribery

U.S. Army Officer Sentenced to Prison for Bribery and Weapons Conspiracy
The Examiner by Jim Kouri - January 31, 2010

Michael Wheeler, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was sentenced on Friday to more than three years in prison for his participation in a wide-ranging bribery conspiracy involving the U.S. government, the Republic of Iraq and the Coalition Provisional Authority – South Central Region (CPA-SC) in Al-Hillah, Iraq. Col. Wheeler was also sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper for the District of New Jersey – Trenton Division to serve three years of supervised release following his prison 42 month term and to pay $1,200 in restitution, according to a report and court documents obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police’s Fraud Committee. Wheeler, 50, of Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, was charged in a 25-count indictment unsealed on February 7, 2007, along with former U.S. Army Colonel Curtis G. Whiteford, former Lieutenant Colonel Debra M. Harrison, and civilians William Driver and Seymour Morris Jr., with various crimes related to a scheme to defraud the CPA-SC. Wheeler was an adviser and project officer for CPA reconstruction projects. According to testimony at trial, Wheeler, along with Whiteford and Harrison, conspired from December 2003 to December 2005 with at least three others — Robert Stein, at the time the comptroller and funding officer for the CPA-SC; Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen who owned and operated several companies in Iraq and Romania; and former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Bruce D. Hopfengardner — to rig the bids on contracts being awarded by the CPA-SC so that more than 20 contracts were awarded to Bloom. In total, Bloom received approximately $8 million in rigged contracts. Testimony revealed that Bloom, in return, provided Whiteford, Harrison, Wheeler, Stein, Hopfengardner and others with more than $1 million in cash, SUVs, sports cars, a motorcycle, jewelry, computers, business class airline tickets, liquor, promise of future employment with Bloom and other items of value. Bloom admitted he laundered more than $2 million in currency that Whiteford, Harrison, Wheeler, Hopfengardner, Stein and others stole from the CPA-SC that had been designated for the reconstruction of Iraq. Bloom then used his foreign bank accounts in Iraq, Romania and Switzerland to send some of the stolen money to Harrison, Stein, Hopfengardner and other Army officials in return for them awarding contracts to Bloom and his companies. “These defendants betrayed the trust and confidence placed in them by both the U.S. government and the people of Iraq,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “By using their positions to line their own pockets, they made it more difficult for others to carry out the legitimate goals of rebuilding and reconstruction. We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute this kind of corruption, wherever it occurs and no matter who commits it.” At trial, Wheeler was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud, the interstate transport of stolen property, and the possession of unregistered firearms. Whiteford was convicted at trial of conspiracy to commit bribery and ITSP, and Driver pleaded guilty to money laundering on August 5, 2009. Morris was acquitted.

“This sentence illustrates that even military officers are not above the law and will be brought to justice for their participation in defrauding efforts to support Iraqi reconstruction, no matter how complex the fraud scheme,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge John G. Perren of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The sentencing of Michael Wheeler marks the culmination of SIGIR’s lengthy investigation into a wide-ranging bribery, contract fraud, and kickback scheme that occurred in Hilla, Iraq, during 2003-2004” said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). “In concert with our partner law enforcement agencies, SIGIR will continue to pursue vigorously its many other ongoing cases to hold accountable those who took advantage of the Iraq reconstruction program to criminally enrich themselves.” “Wheeler and the others abused their positions of trust to line their own pockets,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton. “We hope these sentences deter others from attempting to scheme the government for their own advantage.” “Asa project officer of government contracts, Mr. Wheeler was entrusted to oversee contractors and ensure taxpayer money was spent wisely,” said Victor Song, Chief, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. “He broke that trust to enrich himself at the expense of the American taxpayers. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to exposing public corruption at any level by following the money from the crime to the criminal.” On January 29, 2007, co-conspirator Stein was sentenced to nine years in prison for related charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering, as well as weapons possession charges, for his role in the same scheme. Stein was also ordered to forfeit $3.6 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme. On February 16, 2007, co-conspirator Bloom was sentenced to 46 months in prison for related charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering for his role in the scheme. Bloom was also ordered to forfeit $3.6 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme. On June 25, 2007, Hopfengardner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for conspiracy and money laundering related to this scheme. Hopfengardner was also ordered to forfeit $144,500. On December 8, 2009, Whiteford was sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiring to commit bribery and ITSP. He was also ordered to forfeit the things of value he received from Stein and others, including a Breitling watch, a Toshiba laptop computer and $10,000 in cash. On June 4, 2009, Harrison was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $366, 640 in restitution. Harrison pleaded guilty on July 28, 2008, admitting that she took more than $300,000 from the CPA-SC while she was deployed there and that she used some of the stolen money to make improvements at her home. Harrison also admitted that she received a Cadillac Escalade from Bloom and that she helped to move unregistered firearms from a hotel in North Carolina to Stein’s home. On December 10, 2009, Driver was sentenced to six months home confinement and ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution for his role in laundering portions of stolen CPA money brought from Iraq back into the United States by Harrison, his wife.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner ( and New Media Alliance ( In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB ( Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NYPD 'perv' blame

NYPD 'perv' blame
The New Post by LIZ SADLER - January 30, 2010

The city appointed two crooked cops to an elite task force and failed to properly train or supervise them, setting the stage for the sexual assault of a teenage girl, her lawyer charged yesterday. Officers Andrew Johnson and Donald Nelson picked up a high-school senior on an East Flatbush street corner in 2006 for allegedly playing hooky and drove her home. Hours later, Johnson, then an eight-year NYPD veteran assigned to the Brooklyn narcotics division, returned to the apartment in his own car and molested her, lawyer Seth Harris told jurors in his opening statement in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "He takes up his right hand and waves a gun in front of her face. At that point, for a few moments, she stops resisting because she's terrified by the sight of this gun," Harris said. "He pulls down her pants, touches her breasts and private parts." The girl, now 21, and her mother are suing the city and both officers for $5 million. Nelson, 39, and the city have denied the suit's allegations. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to official misconduct in the criminal case and was conditionally discharged, did not answer the civil complaint and faces a default judgment. Defense lawyer Gail Goode conceded that Johnson is "a dog, a bad cop" and "a bad husband" but said he alone was to blame for the incident. Goode also questioned the girl's claim that she suffered severe psychological damage from the assault, noting that she failed to immediately report it to her mom, who returned home less than two minutes later. "You have just, for 14 minutes, had a guy pull a gun on you, a guy on top of you, a guy unbutton your blouse -- for 14 minutes -- and what do you say?" Goode said in her opening statement. "'Hi, Mama, how was your day?' " Harris said the girl, now a college student, gave up modeling after the assault and was abandoned by friends who didn't believe her story. He said Johnson, who had been placed on modified duty in 2004 for allowing a prisoner to escape and failing to report it, and Nelson, who had been suspended and arrested in 2000 for soliciting an undercover cop posing as a prostitute, never should have been chosen for the special unit. "These guys are on the job, looking for girls -- that's what they're doing," Harris said. Nelson, who is still a cop in Brooklyn, sat stone-faced in the front row of the courtroom. Harris said Johnson is believed to be living in Florida.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Odd Pattern of Protection by Federal Courts

Two more civil rights lawsuits against Harrison police dismissed
The Journal News by Theresa Tjuva - January 29, 2010

HARRISON, NY — A federal judge has tossed out two more civil rights lawsuits against the police, making them the 10th and 11th lawsuits to end favorably for the troubled department. "It shows that each and every one that has been brought by a small group of miscontents and (attorney) Mr. (Jonathan) Lovett is entirely frivolous," Town Attorney Frank Allegretti said. "It vindicates the leadership of the police department." Chief Magistrate Judge George Yanthis dismissed claims Friday that the force's top brass violated police officers' free speech when they told them not to discuss the investigation of a missing $2,500 Harrison PBA donation. Harrison detectives learned in 2007 that a cashed check written to the Harrison PBA had been altered to the "Chiefs Police Association," which was headed by now former Police Chief David Hall. The plaintiffs, which included former PBA president Ralph Tancredi, who has filed other failed lawsuits, charged that after they wrote a letter to their superiors about the alleged crime, they were forbidden to discuss it. Yanthis wrote in his decision that the letter was not "a matter of public concern," but even if it was, the department "had a substantial interest in protecting the on-going investigation and thus limit the officers' speech to each other." The District Attorney's Office cleared Hall of any wrongdoing. Yanthis also dismissed a suit from police officer William Duffelmeyer against the town. Duffelmeyer claimed he was denied a promotion to sergeant because he was named a plaintiff in the missing donation lawsuit and a suit that accused police leaders of planting a video camera in the men's locker room. Tancredi said he was surprised by the latest outcome. "I'm baffled," he said by phone. "I'm discouraged by it." Allegretti said the town has spent an estimated $500,000 defending the 13 civil rights lawsuits filed since 2007. All of them have been dismissed or withdrawn, and two more are pending. Lovett did not return a phone message seeking comment. TJUVA@LOHUD.COM

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whistleblower Being Harassed at Work

Whistleblower who exposed allegations of corruption in Fort Pierce City Hall says she's being harassed at work
The Florida by Alexi Howk - January 27, 2010

FORT PIERCE, FL — Assistant Finance Director Melissa Moore, who for the first time is publicly disclosing she was the “whistleblower” in exposing allegations of corruption in the Community Services Department, said she’s being harassed at work for her actions. Speaking through her attorney Brian LaBovick, Moore said she arrived at work Jan. 7 to find someone had poured oil on her office chair. Moore claims the oil incident was to intentionally ruin her clothing in retaliation for revealing allegations of corruption in the Community Services Department. She verbally complained to the Human Resources Department about a hostile work environment. Human Resources Director Mazella Smith said she investigated Moore’s complaint and has filed a confidential report with the City Manager’s Office. Moore also called police when she realized someone at City Hall had hacked into her work computer in October and accessed her personal e-mail account by installing a device to record her keystrokes, LaBovick said. Fort Pierce Police confiscated her computer and the matter is now under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “(FDLE officials) were here earlier this week to investigate the Moore computer hacking incident,” City Manager David Recor said Tuesday, adding he does not know who broke into Moore’s computer or put oil in her chair. “We couldn’t prove who did it,” he said. LaBovick said that because Moore was the whistleblower, her boss, Finance Director Gloria Johnson, wants to fire her. Johnson could not be reached immediately for comment. Johnson’s daughter, Ursula, received $33,970 from the Community Services Department and has been accused of receiving preferential treatment. LaBovick said Recor offered to create a position for Moore in Human Resources as an auditor because Johnson wants her gone. Recor, who earlier said the issue is a “personnel matter,” could not be reached for comment on this issue. “Hopefully there’s a happy ending,” he said, declining to comment further. When Moore, who has a background in auditing, was hired by the city in July 2008, she discovered errors and irregularities in city-backed mortgages issued by the Community Services Department when they came through the Finance Department for review and recording. Moore is accused by co-workers of leaking the information she found to citizens through her personal e-mail using her work computer, her attorney said. In response to the issues being made public, Recor hired Kessler International of New York City to conduct a forensic audit. The Kessler audit called the Community Services Department a “corrupt organization” that used federal and state housing dollars to benefit employees, their friends and relatives. LaBovick said that when Moore brought issues of wrongdoing in Community Services to the attention of her supervisors, her concerns were ignored. “Everything Melissa uncovered she was told, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s not your deal,’” LaBovick said.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teen Alleges Pittsburgh Police Brutality

Teen violist alleges Pittsburgh police brutality
The Associated Press by RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI - January 22, 2010

PITTSBURGH, PA -- The photos taken by Jordan Miles' mother show his face covered with raw, red bruises, his cheek and lip swollen, his right eye swollen shut. A bald spot mars the long black dreadlocks where the 18-year-old violist says police tore them from his head. Now, 10 days after plainclothes officers stopped him on a street and arrested him after a struggle that they say revealed a soda bottle under his coat, not the gun they suspected, his right eye is still slightly swollen and bloodshot. His head is shaved. The three white officers who arrested him have been reassigned. And his mother says she is considering a lawsuit. "I feel that my son was racially profiled," Terez Miles said. "It's a rough neighborhood; it was after dark. ... They assumed he was up to no good because he's black. My son, he knows nothing about the streets at all. He's had a very sheltered life, he's very quiet, he doesn't know police officers sit in cars and stalk people like that." A judge continued the case until Feb. 18 after the officers failed to appear at a hearing Thursday, Miles' attorney, Kerrington Lewis, said. The police department is saying little as it investigates and isn't releasing the officers' names. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said that the city is investigating whether the officers' actions were justified and that if they weren't, "they will be held accountable for those actions." "The incident was very troubling to me, and we're taking it very seriously," Ravenstahl told reporters. "It seems as if there was a tremendous amount of force used." Miles' family describes him as a studious teenager who plays the viola for a jazz band and the orchestra at Pittsburgh's prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School. The confrontation began around 11 p.m. Jan. 12, when the teenager walked out of his mother's home and headed to his grandmother's, where he spends most nights. His mother complimented him on the new jacket he had gotten for his birthday. "It looks handsome," she said, smiling as he walked down the front steps. As Miles walked up the block, he noticed three men sitting in a white car, "but I thought nothing of it," he said. The criminal complaint says Miles was standing against a building "as if he was trying to avoid being seen." But he says he was walking when the men jumped out of the car. "Where's the money?" one shouted, according to Miles. "Where's the gun? Where's the drugs?" the other two said. "It was intimidating; I thought I was going to be robbed," Miles said. That's when he says he took off back to his mother's house but slipped on the icy sidewalk. Before he could pull himself up, Miles said, the men were at his back. "That's when they started beating me, punching, kicking me, choking me," he said. Not until 15 minutes later, when uniformed officers drove up in a van and Miles overheard their conversation, did he realize he had been arrested, he said. Initially, when the handcuffs were clamped around his wrists, he thought he was being abducted, he said. The police believed Miles, who appeared to have something heavy in his pocket, was carrying a gun, according to the affidavit. The police say they used a stun gun on the teenager. According to the affidavit, the object in Miles' pocket turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. But Miles says he didn't have anything in his pocket and rarely drinks Mountain Dew. "The story just doesn't make sense when you read the affidavit," said Lewis, the teen's attorney. Miles said the family is considering suing the police department and the officers. "I knew that he hadn't done anything wrong," his mother said. "That's just not an option for Jordan." Pittsburgh police have reassigned the three officers and put them back in uniform while the city investigates, spokeswoman Diane Richard said. She declined to say whether racial allegations are part of the probe. Meanwhile, Jordan Miles says he awaits a physician's approval to return to school and is suffering from nightmares and flashbacks. Once he's done with school, he says, he hopes to attend Penn State University - and study crime scene investigation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Once-Beloved Lawman Readies For Prison

Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik: The Final Chapter
After Kerik's guilty plea, more secrets slip out
The Village Voice by Tom Robbins - January 19, 2010

The main events in the always fascinating saga of Rudy Giuliani and his once-beloved lawman, Bernie Kerik, came to a close late last year. Kerik copped a plea in November in federal court to fraud and tax charges stemming from favors he collected from a mob-tied contractor.
Giuliani finally ended his own tease just before Christmas, taking himself out of the running as a candidate for statewide office, at least for the immediate future. All of which tended to lower the often-feverish temperatures of those of us who have closely followed the career paths of the volatile ex-mayor who tried to become president, and his one-time sidekick, the former police commissioner who nearly became the nation's Homeland Security secretary. But buried in court legal papers that were not released until weeks after Kerik's guilty plea are some strong hints of the lumps that the reputation of New York's legendary former chief executive might have taken had the Kerik case gone to trial. Giuliani, who started out as a rackets-busting prosecutor, has always been fuzzy about his own knowledge of Kerik's ties to Interstate Industrial Corp. The contractors were desperately trying to convince city regulators that their business dealings with organized-crime figures were incidental, and that they should not be denied lucrative city contracts worth some $30 million. The city's concerns had been sparked after Interstate bought a large waste-transfer station on Staten Island from a Gambino crime family soldier named Edward "Cousin Eddie" Garafola, and then kept the gangster's wife and sons on the payroll as mob-owned trucks rolled through the gates. Kerik helped contractors Frank and Peter DiTommaso relay their side of the story to city officials. The grateful builders in turn secretly funded a quarter-million-dollar renovation of Kerik's new Bronx apartment. All of this happened even as Giuliani was promoting his former driver and bodyguard from head of the city's Corrections Department to police commissioner.

When Kerik's Homeland Security nomination blew up in a tempest of scandal in 2004, the ex-mayor insisted that he knew nothing about his top cop ever going to bat for the mob-tainted contractors. But back in 2007, the Times' William Rashbaum got hold of a transcript of Giuliani's April 2006 testimony before a Bronx grand jury that was the first to probe the episode. Giuliani, the transcript showed, admitted that he was briefed more than once by his own top investigations chief—but then forgot all about it. It took a lot of forgetting. Among the exhibits that prosecutors were prepared to introduce as evidence in the federal case were three pages of never-released notes that Kerik typed out in March 2000 regarding his involvement with Interstate. The memo—in detective-style jargon of initials and free-form punctuation—was written, prosecutors explained, for then city investigations commissioner Edward Kuriansky, who was regularly briefing Giuliani about his agency's activities. The notes show someone who, as the government said in its motion, was "peculiarly well-informed about the nuances" of the investigation that city officials were then conducting: "FD [Frank DiTommaso]," typed Kerik, "believes that perception about [the transfer station] emanates because of acquisition from EG [Edward Garafola] he was EG's primary customer when NYCTWC [the city's Trade Waste Commission] cancelled EG's license. EG contacted him, explained that his license was pulled and that he needed to sell the company. FD's analysis reveals that it's beneficial to acquire based on their needs and structures deals within 30 days to avoid losing license. Part of agreement is that EG's wife and two sons stay on for 4 weeks to familiarize incoming team with business. NYCTWC makes request to interview EG's relative, they walk out. $2M to $1,750,000 w/ 5 year payout."

City officials had good reasons to be concerned that a top law-enforcement officer was involving himself with a contractor doing business with a gangland figure like Garafola. At the time, Garafola was in charge of the construction division of John Gotti's crime family, overseeing union shakedowns and contractor extortion. He later pled guilty to racketeering in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme aimed at the MTA and to having helped murder one of his cousins. Garafola was also indicted in a mob stock fraud case in Brooklyn in 2000; among his co-defendants was Lawrence Ray, Kerik's then best friend who had been hired by Frank DiTommaso as a consultant on Kerik's recommendation. It was that indictment, prosecutors stated in court papers, that prompted investigations chief Kuriansky to quiz Kerik about his complicated relationships with Interstate and its associates. In his discussions with Kuriansky, prosecutors noted, Kerik also told the investigator about a controversial 1999 lunch at Walker's Restaurant in Tribeca with the head of the city's Trade Waste Commission, which was overseeing Interstate, and a Corrections Department investigator. Everyone present agreed that the subject was Interstate's ongoing licensing problems, although just how heavily Kerik advocated for the company later became a matter of dispute. The important issue for city investigators, however, had to be just why Kerik—then the city's Corrections Department commissioner—was involved in any of this. Kuriansky, the key figure at the time, has since died. But prosecutors and FBI agents who participated in the federal probe quizzed city investigators closely about how things worked. One of those they questioned was Walter Arsenault, who served as first deputy commissioner for the Department of Investigation (DOI) from 2003 to 2008.

"During the Giuliani Era at DOI," Arsenault told the FBI, according to a memo compiled for the case, "Edward Kuriansky had to inform the Mayor of the details of what was going on at DOI. During this time, Kerik provided details to Kuriansky about the Walker's meeting, and other aspects of what Kerik was involved in, yet no one did anything to look into it further." The opportune moment to look into it further was in the late summer of 2000, as Giuliani was preparing to name Kerik the city's 40th commissioner of police. But no one did. As was later acknowledged when the Kerik scandal broke full-bore in late 2004, the new commissioner wasn't told to fill out a new background questionnaire, a standard city procedure. Even at that point, four years later, Interstate was still battling hard to overcome city objections. To help make their case, the DiTommaso brothers hired as their lobbyist one of Giuliani's most stalwart political supporters, former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari. As their attorney to testify that they'd cleaned up their act, they brought on another veteran Giuliani loyalist, former deputy mayor Randy Mastro. As a City Hall aide, Mastro had helped create the Trade Waste Commission and served as its first chairman where he helped produce the tough scrutiny that it used on private waste carters. It was all part of the mayor's avowed crackdown on mob influence in the industry. In December 2004, as the scandal was breaking, the Voice asked Mastro if he'd learned about Kerik's role at Interstate. "At some point, I was told by people at the company," he said. Had he shared that knowledge with Giuliani? "No," he said. "It wasn't an issue that I ever discussed with anyone." For his part, Kerik is currently under house arrest at home in New Jersey, an electronic ankle bracelet monitoring his movements. He's due to keep it on until his sentencing on February 18 by Judge Stephen Robinson in court in White Plains. Prosecutors have agreed to a prison term of 27 to 33 months. The judge could go higher if he chooses.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Serpico on Serpico

Serpico on Serpico
The New York Times by COREY KILGANNON - January 22, 2010

HARLEMVILLE, N.Y. — He looked like some sort of fur trapper, this bearded man walking through the snowy woods here in upstate New York. But then, Frank Serpico has always been known for his disguises. Anyone who has seen the celebrated 1973 film “Serpico” knows that he often dressed up — bum, butcher, rabbi — to catch criminals. His off-duty look was never vintage cop either, with the bushy beard and the beads. This is the man whose long and loud complaining about widespread corruption in the New York Police Department made him a pariah on the force. The patrolman shot in the face during a 1971 drug bust while screaming for backup from his fellow officers, who then failed to immediately call for an ambulance. The undaunted whistle-blower whose testimony was the centerpiece of the Knapp Commission hearings, which sparked the biggest shakeup in the history of the department. Four decades later, Frank Serpico is still bearded, handsome and a flamboyant dresser. At 73, he seems spry enough to chase down and collar a perp; on that wintry walk through the woods, he interrogated a man carrying a sled, and followed a trail of blood drops in the snow until it disappeared. Not long before, he had sniffed out a dumper of garbage on his property and reported him to the police. Mr. Serpico still carries the detective shield he was awarded as he left the department on a disability pension and, often, his licensed revolver, with which he takes target practice on his 50-acre property not far from this Columbia County hamlet. He also still carries bullet fragments lodged just below his brain from the drug shooting; he is deaf in his left ear, and has nerve damage in his left leg. For many, “Serpico” conjures the face of Al Pacino, who won his first Golden Globe award for his star turn in the film. The movie — along with news reports and the best-selling biography of the same name — seared the public memory with painful images: of the honest cop bleeding in a squad car rushing to the hospital, where, over months of rehabilitation, he received cards telling him to rot in hell. Instead, Mr. Serpico took his fluffy sheepdog, Alfie, and boarded a ship to Europe; the film’s closing credits describe him as “now living somewhere in Switzerland.” Which was true at the time. After years traveling abroad, Mr. Serpico returned to the United States around 1980 and lived as a nomad, out of a camper. He finally settled about two hours north of New York City, where he lives a monastic life in a one-room cabin he built in the woods near the Hudson River. In 1997, he spoke out after the brutal beatings of Abner Louima in a Brooklyn station house, but mostly he stays far from his old nemesis. Now, all these years later, Mr. Serpico is working on his own version of the harrowing adventures chronicled by Peter Maas’s biography, which sold more than three million copies (royalties from the book and the movie have helped him live comfortably without working). The memoir begins with the same awful scene as the film: Serpico shot in the face during a heroin bust on Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 3, 1971. Working title: “Before I Go.”

“It’s the rest of the story,” he said recently over lunch in the self-service cafe of a health-food store here in Harlemville. “It’s more personal. I used to think, ‘How can I write my life story? I’m still living it.’ ” Though he is healthy, he added, “I’m getting close to the line, so I figure I better get busy.” It is, ultimately, a story of healing. He wandered in Europe and across North America, he said, because “I wanted to find my life.” “I had gone through a near-death experience,” he explained, “and that gives you an insight into how fleeting life is, and what’s important.” After he settled here, his journey turned inward. He eschewed what he sees as an ugly American addiction to consumerism and media brainwashing. He eats mostly vegetarian and organic food, cooking on the wood-burning stove that heats the cabin, where there is neither television nor the Internet. “This is my life now,” he said. “The woods, nature, solitude.” Mr. Serpico relies on Chinese medicine, herbs and shiatsu. He practices meditation, the Japanese Zen flute and African drumming, and dance: ballroom, tango, swing. He takes long walks at sunrise and rescues wounded animals. He raises chickens and guinea hens. He has a girlfriend: she is French, a schoolteacher, age 50. None of which has exorcised the demons of being Serpico. “I still have nightmares,” he said. “I open a door a little bit and it just explodes in my face. Or I’m in a jam and I call the police, and guess who shows up? My old cop buddies who hated me.” Growing up the son of Italian immigrants in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, young Frank revered the local cops. He loved detective stories on the radio and dreamed of wearing the uniform. He had also cultivated a bit of worldliness from visiting Italy as a child and traveling abroad with the Army after enlisting at age 18. He joined the New York Police Department in 1959 and passionately pursued big game. His partners and bosses resented his hippie looks and his zealousness to make arrests even while off-duty or on the turf of other officers. His intrigues with the ballet and opera rubbed against the conservative culture of the station house. He lived a bohemian life, with a small garden apartment on Perry Street in the West Village, where he was known as Paco and hid his police badge. The street-savvy but idealistic Officer Serpico was appalled at the cliquishness and the payoffs — free meals as well as big, blatant bribes — from criminals, gamblers, numbers men and ordinary merchants whom he saw as a beat cop in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct and later while working vice and racketeering. He refused to accept such grease, and became despised for it both inside and outside the department.

In 1967, Mr. Serpico began telling what he knew to high-ranking officials at police headquarters and City Hall. He presented names, places, dates and other information, but no action was taken. Frustrated, he and a friend on the force, David Durk, a graduate of Amherst College who had become an officer in 1963 after quitting law school, contacted a reporter for The New York Times. The front-page story by David Burnham on April 25, 1970, pressured Mayor John V. Lindsay to form the Knapp Commission, before which Mr. Serpico testified that “the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers.” The commission carried out the most extensive investigation of police wrongdoing in the city’s history and exposed a pattern of entrenched corruption and cover-up that helped usher in reform. “It was terrifying in those days — they were really sticking their necks out,” recalled Mr. Burnham, who now works at a data-gathering and research firm. “We really shamed the city, and things really changed.” Mr. Serpico does not exactly agree. He believes the department still does not acknowledge its internal problems because the leadership’s top priority is to avoid scandal. “I hear from police officers all the time; they contact me,” he said. “An honest cop still can’t find a place to go and complain without fear of recrimination. The blue wall will always be there because the system supports it.” Paul J. Browne, the chief police spokesman, dismissed Mr. Serpico’s indictment by saying, “It’s a very different department now.” “Things have changed vastly,” Mr. Browne said, “and he is literally old enough to be the grandfather of some police officers now on duty.”

Mr. Serpico avoids the city now, but there is a part of him that has never left its station houses. Several years ago, he showed up at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan to confront Patrick V. Murphy, the police commissioner at the time of the shooting, who was in the audience. “I’ve been carrying a bullet around in my head for 35 years and I hold you responsible,” Mr. Serpico recalled telling Mr. Murphy, who did not respond. Michael Bosak, a 27-year veteran of the Police Department who has served as its informal historian since retiring in 1995, said that for a time he kept in touch with Mr. Serpico by e-mail, and that his messages tended to be long diatribes on various topics, seemingly unaffected by the passage of decades. “The N.Y.P.D. is a thousand times more honest than it was 40 years ago,” Mr. Bosak said. “I think he’s still in a lot of pain. Going through what he went through, it can drive you off your rocker.” Indeed, Mr. Serpico still brims with bitterness that he was made third-grade detective, rather than the top tier of first-grade; that the department’s museum in Lower Manhattan declined his offer of his uniform and his service revolver; that its leadership never asks him to speak about corruption or reform. The Medal of Honor he was awarded — the department’s highest commendation — remains tossed “in some drawer.” “They never even had a ceremony for me,” he said of the honorary promotion. “They handed it to me over the counter with the Medal of Honor, like a pack of cigarettes. “The department never recognized me for standing up for what’s right,” he added, “because I violated the omertà; I spoke out.”

During his years in Europe, Mr. Serpico bought a farm in the Netherlands and married a Dutch woman with two young children. But after the woman died of cancer, her parents took custody of the children and Mr. Serpico sold the farm and moved back to the United States. He wandered the continent from Mexico to Canada in his camper. In 1980, a lover had a son and brought a paternity suit. He claimed to have been “deceived and entrapped” by the woman, and then waged a lengthy and unsuccessful court fight to avoid child-support payments. He did not raise the son, Alex Serpico, and has had limited contact with him in recent years.

Mr. Serpico refused to reveal the exact location of his current home. Instead, he was interviewed in various coffee shops and restaurants where he is a regular in a few small villages north of Hudson, N.Y., just off the Taconic State Parkway. He is known to the locals as Paco, his off-duty nickname in the Village in the late 1960s. At lunches in the Harlemville health-food store, Mr. Serpico slipped a bottle of red wine out of his bag and poured it into paper cups. Afterward, cigars. True to his cinematic self, he always showed up in a different outfit and hat: one day as the sheepherder, the next day the prospector, then the monk. He wears an earring in each ear and a magnifying glass around his neck for fine print. He would spout esoterica and draw from his knowledge of Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Arabic and Russian. In a coffee shop, he might quote from Dante’s “Inferno,” or pull out his harmonica and play “Danny Boy.” Mr. Serpico said he had played, in local productions, the Arab in Saroyan’s “The Time of Your Life,” Gonzalo in “The Tempest,” a detective in “Ten Little Indians” and Johann Most in Howard Zinn’s “Emma.” “My acting career began on the streets of New York,” he said. “When I was a cop, I played many impressive roles, from derelict to a doctor, and my life often depended on my performance.” Back then, as he became suspect among fellow officers, Mr. Serpico began spreading the word that he was writing a book, but only as a bluff. “I said, ‘I’m going to name names, and if anything happens to me, I got it all written down right there,’ ” he recalled. “But I never really wrote anything.”

After several frustrating attempts at collaboration with co-writers — “They just don’t get it,” he said — Mr. Serpico enrolled in a weekly workshop through an arts group in Troy, N.Y., where his classmates also do not always understand his stories. “How could they?” he said. “We have women in the class writing about their kids — they don’t know what a bag man is.” Frank Serpico writes out the story of his life daily in longhand, at the cabin, then types the pages on a computer at the public library, using the two-finger method he honed filing arrest reports on station house typewriters, gathering the pages in a manila folder. The memoir begins on the night of the Williamsburg drug bust, his bleeding body cradled by an elderly tenant who called for assistance when his fellow officers did not, the narrator floating above and recounting the life path that led him there. It is not unlike the opening scene of the film. He said he had never seen the full movie, but agreed to watch it with me — on my laptop, propped on a windowsill at the public library in Kinderhook, N.Y. As Pacino, near death, was rushed to Greenpoint Hospital, the real Mr. Serpico stared out the window, unable to watch — too painful, he said. He provided a running commentary: His own wardrobe was much better than in the film, as were his police disguises. The scene in which the police commissioner hands him a gold detective shield in the hospital bed was conjured; in reality, he picked it up from a clerk at police headquarters. Afterward, Mr. Serpico seemed spent. He looked out at the snow and trees graying in the descending darkness. “They took the job I loved most,” he said. “I just wanted to be a cop, and they took it away from me.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Activists Call for Penalties for Cops Who Protect Bad Cops

Activists call for penalties when cops protect colleagues who drive drunk
The Journal News by Richard Liebson and Shawn Cohen - January 21, 2010 (

Public safety officials and those fighting drunken driving said Tuesday that any officer who gives cops who drive drunk a free pass should be disciplined and that anyone found driving while intoxicated should be held accountable. "There should be no tolerance for individuals in our profession who allow others to violate the laws that are there for everyone," said Tuckahoe Police Chief John Costanzo, president of the Westchester County Association of Chiefs of Police. Reacting to a Journal News report in which 10 local police officers admitted anonymously that cops often give other cops a break when they are found driving drunk, Costanzo and others said no slack should be granted in DWI cases. Carol Sears, president of the Westchester chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, called the report "very disturbing." "These are the people who are supposed to be protecting all of us," she said. "We put our trust in them to keep drunk drivers off the road, and it turns out that when they're the drunk drivers, they're being protected by other police officers." The issue comes in the wake of the arrests of White Plains Officer Joe Zepeda, Westchester Officer Joseph Kraus, Dobbs Ferry Officer Michael Huffman and county Correction Officer Patricia Yancy-Johnson on misdemeanor DWI charges following accidents within a three-week period. All four, who were off duty, refused to submit to chemical tests to determine blood-alcohol levels. All have pleaded not guilty. They also are under internal investigation and face departmental discipline. Vito Pinto, chairman of the Westchester Board of Legislators' Public Safety Committee, said the arrests "prove that drunk driving is something that goes across all cultural and economic lines." "I believe strongly that police officers are not different than anybody else," he said. "This is a crime that affects everybody. "Our police officers take the lead in protecting the public from DWI," Pinto said. "I'm somewhat surprised and disappointed that some say they would cover up for fellow officers. Our police officers have enjoyed the confidence of the public over the years, and in order to keep that confidence, we need to meet this issue head on." He said the county would work with the chiefs association. "This is something that must and will be addressed in training, not only at the police academy but in all of our local departments," Pinto said. Costanzo said that while he doesn't believe cops covering for cops in DWI cases is a common practice, "I'm not that naive to think that it doesn't happen at all. Certainly all of us that want to make the police profession the best it can be want to earn the public trust. When members of our respective departments either say or do things that indicate there are two sets of rules, it's detrimental to all of us." Sears said that, according to MADD, the average person stopped on suspicion of DWI for the first time has driven drunk 87 times without being stopped. "Many of these people have alcohol problems, and getting stopped can be the first step in making them realize that they have a problem," she said. "If it happens to be a police officer with the problem, they're not being helped by having their fellow officers cover up for them." If convicted of DWI, Sears said, officers "should lose their licenses for a substantial amount of time and be required to have the ignition interlock installed in their car." "As police officers, they should be held to as high a standard as anyone else, if not higher," she said. Sears said any officer who covers up for another officer should be brought up on charges. "I'd like to see some agency or entity investigate this whole 'blue wall of silence' thing," she said. "If a cop's caught driving drunk, they should be brought up on charges, and they should also lose their badge," said Michael Bastardi Jr., whose father and brother were among eight people killed in July when drunken driver Diane Schuler crashed while traveling the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway. "If a police officer gives another police officer a pass and lets them continue to drive drunk, they should be suspended from the force. That's just ludicrous ," he said. "Nobody should be exempt from drunken-driving laws."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cops Protecting Bad Cops

The unwritten rule
The Journal News - EDITORIAL - January 20, 2010

The report in the Journal News on Sunday confirmed what many had long suspected: Off-duty cops who drink and drive can pretty much expect to get away with it, as long as they don't cause an accident. Staff writers Richard Liebson and Shawn Cohen provided a rare glimpse behind the famed blue wall of silence, as 10 patrol officers spoke anonymously about the professional courtesy extended to off-duty police officers who are stopped for driving drunk. "If you can get them a ride home and put their car someplace safe, that's what you do," said one. "It's kind of an unwritten rule. You don't jam up another cop unless you have to." At a time when the public is calling for zero tolerance of drinking and driving, as reflected in our ever-stricter DWI laws, it is unconscionable that anyone — let alone a sworn officer of the law — would be given a pass for behavior that is reckless and puts others at serious risk. After a summer of DWI-related carnage, New York adopted some of the strictest DWI laws in the country: Ignition locks are now mandatory for anyone convicted of drunken driving, and Leandra's Law makes it a felony punishable with up to four years in jail for anyone to drive drunk with a child 15 or under in a car. But the impact of those tough laws can be undermined with a wink and a nod from a police officer who doesn't apply them equally to all drivers. Cops who enable their brethren to drink and drive are not doing anyone a favor — not the other drivers on the roads, and not the offending officer. The fear of arrest alone is a powerful deterrent to drinking and driving. Knowing they might have to face the legal consequences has doubtless kept many drivers sober — and kept them out of harm and tragedy's way. Giving a drunken driver a pass in situations where an accident hasn't occurred, is more than a wasted opportunity; it is tempting fate. Consider the statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which say that by the time a person is arrested for DWI, he or she has already driven drunk an average of 87 times. Lucky streaks don't last forever. Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said her office was "looking to erode the culture of tolerance and to make sure that all of us in law enforcement are responding in the strong and effective way that we should be." That is essential. Perhaps a new public service campaign, targeted at the law-keepers, is needed, too: "Cops don't let cops drive drunk."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cops Admit Protecting Their Own From DWI

Cops admit protecting their own from DWI
The Journal News by Richard Liebson and Shawn Cohen - January 17, 2010 (

A driver speeding through Tarrytown rolled over and struck a fence and guardrail. Another was accused of running a red light before smashing into a Scarsdale police car. A third hit a Greenburgh ambulance, and a fourth rammed into a truck on Interstate 287. Four accidents involving allegedly drunken drivers within a three-week period is hardly unusual in Westchester. What made these stand out were the drivers: All were off-duty law enforcement officers, and all now face misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated. At a time when police brass are pushing DWI crackdowns, which have led to a record number of arrests, the recent cluster of crashes allegedly by drunken police officers from Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County and White Plains, plus a county correction officer, has been an official embarrassment and a public eye-opener. However, police say it's not completely surprising, given that many in law enforcement quietly turn a blind eye to drunken off-duty officers when they're stopped. "If you can get them a ride home and put their car someplace safe, that's what you do," said one central Westchester patrol officer who agreed to speak anonymously. "It's kind of an unwritten rule. You don't jam up another cop unless you have to." In conversations with 10 police officers who spoke under the condition that their names and departments not be identified, all told The Journal News that off-duty cops are rarely charged with driving while intoxicated unless they were involved in an accident. "That's a situation that you can't hide," said one officer. "I'm not going to risk my career in a case like that." Even when they are arrested, law enforcement officers, familiar with the legal system, do what they can to protect themselves. In the recent cases, White Plains Police Officer Joe Zepeda, county Officer Joseph Kraus, Dobbs Ferry Officer Michael Huffman and Correction Officer Patricia Yancy-Johnson all refused to submit to chemical tests that determine blood-alcohol levels, despite knowing that their driver's licenses could be automatically revoked for a year. "I would never submit to the test, because I wouldn't want to give (prosecutors) any evidence that would help them prosecute me," said one police officer who has made several DWI arrests in the past year. "Better to let my lawyer fight to keep my license." That's exactly what defense lawyer Andrew Quinn did for Huffman, who is accused of losing control of his car and rolling over while speeding down a curvy roadway Dec. 11 in Tarrytown. Huffman handed over his license at his Dec. 16 arraignment in Village Court. A week later, his license was returned to him at a "refusal hearing" required by the Department of Motor Vehicles when someone declines to take a chemical test. Huffman still could lose his license, depending on the outcome of his criminal case. The automatic revocation "was dismissed for lack of evidence," said Quinn. "It's not uncommon for individuals charged with DWI to refuse to take the test." That's because, without chemical proof of drunkenness, the arresting agency has a high burden of proof, particularly before the DMV judge. "There are a series of predicate acts that have to take place before the DMV will take your license," Quinn said. Among other things, prosecutors must demonstrate that the driver was clearly warned that his refusal would lead to revocation and that the driver persistently refused the test. "And all of it has to be testified to by firsthand knowledge," Quinn said. "All of the correct officers have to show up. It may require two or three officers, and a lot of times that doesn't happen." Attorney Harold Dee, a former New York City traffic judge, suggested that police intentionally botch their cases against fellow cops. "They're all in the brotherhood, so I don't imagine all of the prosecuting cops are going to show up," Dee said. "It's the famous blue wall. If they do show up, they're going to 'dump,' say, 'I didn't see this or that.' " It's still rare that police officers even get arrested for DWI, or any other driving infraction, he added. "When did you ever hear of a cop even getting a speeding ticket?" Dee asked. "You don't think cops speed? Who ever writes a cop up? It's the unwritten thing. It's not done. It's the sense of brotherhood they have. They take care of each other. It's only cases like this (crashes) where it comes to the surface. There's no way to cover it up." Even in these cases, Dee said, officers know not to provide any further incriminating evidence. They often refuse to take field sobriety tests, as is their right. They refuse to take breath tests because even a low alcohol reading can lead to a conviction. At 0.05 percent — the equivalent of consuming as little as two drinks — they're guilty of driving while impaired. If they measure 0.18 percent, they would be charged with aggravated DWI. "This is the real world," Dee said. "That's why these guys don't blow, because you've got to be stupid to blow unless you know you've had, say, one glass of wine and a big burger with it, and you know you're not guilty." Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said DWI prosecution has been a priority of her administration. She said her office has "tried to change the culture that has existed around DWI crimes." "We're looking to erode the culture of tolerance and to make sure that all of us in law enforcement are responding in the strong and effective way that we should be," DiFiore said. Told that a number of police officers admitted anonymously that they try to cover for off-duty officers driving drunk, DiFiore said she was "very disappointed" to hear that. "DWI is a very serious crime, no matter who that crime is committed by," she said. "It puts the individual in danger and it puts everyone else and everyone else's family in danger. Am I surprised to hear that? I'm not sure that I'm surprised, but I'm certainly very disappointed." Although she would not comment specifically about the recent cases, DiFiore said chemical test refusals are a major issue in DWI prosecutions. "The refusals are very problematic," she said. "These can be very difficult cases to prove, especially when someone refuses to take the chemical test that gives us the evidence we need to go forward." For that reason, DiFiore said, her office plans to look for ways to strengthen the refusal law. "We're going to be looking (at) the refusal law and the consequences for refusing to take a chemical test," she said. "We want to make certain that we're pushing for consequences that are harsh enough to be a real deterrent. In the meantime, the cases involving the four officers accused of DWI crashes are making their way through local courts The officers have been suspended by their departments — Zepeda without pay — pending the outcome of their criminal cases. Yancy-Johnson, who is accused of striking an ambulance Dec. 27, has been allowed to continue working at the county jail, though her privileges to drive a county vehicle and carry a weapon were suspended pending her case in Greenburgh.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Former Indian Police Chief Charged with Conspiracy to Defraud U.S.

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 20, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Michigan - Contact: (313) 226-9100

Former Chief of Police for Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians Charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

MARQUETTE, MI—Frederick James Paquin, age 52, of St. Ignace, Michigan, the former Chief of Police for the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, was charged by a grand jury with multiple offenses related to a scheme to defraud the United States by dishonest means, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today. In addition, the grand jury charged Paquin and his daughter, Mary Christine Cullen, age 28, also of St. Ignace, with multiple offenses related to an alleged conspiracy to pay Cullen as a full-time employee of the Tribe after she had moved on to a different job and was no longer working for the Tribe as a full-time employee. The charges stem from Paquin’s alleged misuse of federal grant funds awarded to Paquin’s police department under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tribal Resources Grant Program (TRGP) between 2002 and 2008. Grants awarded under the TRGP are intended to help Native American Tribes address their most serious unmet financial needs for law enforcement. This case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Detection Office. U.S. Attorney Davis stated: “The respect and confidence that tribal members place in their tribal institutions is dependant upon receiving honest and faithful services from their tribal officials. This office will aggressively pursue and prosecute tribal officials who violate the law and their solemn oath and duties.” Elise Chawaga, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of the Inspector General Fraud Detection Office, said “the Office of the Inspector General is committed to holding accountable public officials who betray the trust placed in them by using for personal gain Department of Justice grant funds that were intended to benefit the public.” FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena noted that “these charges are examples of corrupt government officials who have abused their positions for personal gain.” He added that “public corruption is a top criminal priority of the FBI and will not be tolerated. This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigating public corruption on every level and bringing those who betray the public’s trust to justice.” The charges in this indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Military Suppliers Arrested in Sting

Military Suppliers Arrested in Sting
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - January 19, 2010

Twenty-two executives and employees of companies that supply the military and law enforcement agencies were arrested on the eve of their industry’s annual trade show in Las Vegas after a two-and-a-half-year sting operation focusing on schemes to bribe a foreign official. The Justice Department called the case the largest single investigation and prosecution of individuals in the history of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Twenty-one of the arrests took place in Las Vegas on the first day of the 2010 Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, a convention with more than 55,000 attendees. The Justice Department said those charged had agreed to pay a 20 percent commission to a federal agent who was pretending to be a representative of the defense minister for an African country.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

US Police Corruption: What the Hell is Going On?

Cops and Crime: What the Hell is Going On?
Criminal Justice Online by Andrew G. Hawkes - January 18, 2010

As I look at law enforcement headlines across the country on a day to day basis I see the same two topics repeatedly coming to the forefront. Number one is story after freaking’ story of cops committing crimes, from dealing drugs to committing burglaries and armed robberies, not to mention the sexual assaults on duty in squad cars. Number two, right after I read how bad the criminal element is that seems to be steadily creeping into our profession, I read how department after department is lowering their hiring standards. “PD to remove entrance exam”, and “past marijuana usage OK for new recruits”, and “bad credit, no problem”. Am I the only one that wants to raise the question as to whether or not these problems correlate? “Chief arrested for selling dope”, “sheriff sentenced in conspiracy”, “off-duty officer commits burglaries”, “DUI’s out of control in law enforcement….The newspaper headlines go on and on about cops committing crimes and becoming part of the criminal element. Yet society still holds us to a “higher standard”. If we are continually held to a higher standard, should we not continue to hire new officers that meet that higher standard? We will never be able to fully stop some bad apples from outsmarting the system, but I don’t think we should be holding the door open for them to step right on in either. Sure it’s tough to find solid recruits, but I think we need to require more than a high school diploma and a driver’s license. The argument about lowering the standards because we cannot get any good qualified candidates because law enforcement doesn’t pay is a bunch of hogwash. Are we underpaid, you’re damn right we are. Would I have become a cop for free? You bet I would have, because I wanted to become a police officer, and I didn’t care how much I made. I believe the “want to” to become a police officer coupled with the desire to do the job no matter what, up to and including laying your life on the line is the intangible trait that we must focus on in the hiring process. The old cliché of “You get what you pay for” is ringing loud and clear here. Sure it’s up to the city councils and the county commissioner’s court to set our salary, and we always hope they will take care of us, but even if they don’t, it’s our duty as cops, our duty as police agencies to still go the extra mile to find the best recruits that we can. When I started in law enforcement it was common knowledge that police officer’s in Mexico were all corrupt. The more and more headlines I see about corrupt police officers are happening right here in the homeland. Let’s take back our profession before it get’s out of hand and we get the same reputation across the globe. This is American, we are the trendsetters globally, and it’s our responsibility to keep our badges shiny and polished, not dirty and tarnished. Is anyone one with me? Andrew G. Hawkes

About the Author
Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes has over 17 years of law enforcement experience. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his master’s degree in Public Administration. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas; has a Master Police Peace Officer Certificate from the State of Texas; and, has a Police Instructor’s Licenses from the State of Texas. Currently, Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes is a member of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office (Texas) where he is a senior sergeant in the patrol operations. Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes is the author of Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction. According to Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes, “After 17 years of highway drug interdiction, 500 felony arrests, 5,100 pounds in drug seizures, and over $20 million (drugs, cash and vehicles), I have learned a lot of drug-busting techniques that I want to share with you.” His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.
You can find out more about Andrew and his book at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eight Encouraging Words:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Starting Anew After Exposing Law Enforcement Corruption

Police, council can start afresh in Shenandoah
The Republican Herald - Editorial - January 16, 2010

Now that the longtime untouchable, insulated fiefdom of the Shenandoah Police Department has been disrupted, it's high time - or more accurately, way past the time - to make something clear: The borough mayor is in charge of the police department. In boroughs the mayor is the boss of the police chief. This duty is one of the relatively few official duties borough mayors have. Police chiefs and officers are not independent lancer corps that need answer to no one. They are subject to civilian control, which is what our system is about. For too long the Shenandoah Police Department had acted as some kind of arrogant independent conclave not to be questioned or challenged in any manner. Those who raised questions could face, well, difficulties. It can be argued that this setup contributed greatly to the current police corruption scandal that has led to the resignations of the chief and three officers, who face federal charges. When former Mayor Thomas O'Neill Sr. tried to exercise his legitimate authority as elected mayor over the police, he was frustrated at every turn. Remember the incidents where his home was vandalized and firecrackers were set off on his porch? No one was ever arrested in those episodes. The tension between O'Neill and other borough officials during municipal meetings, and the penchant for police to ignore his authority over them, became so bad that O'Neill had to resort to legal action. O'Neill eventually resigned as mayor and relocated out of the borough. In his letter of resignation he cited the health and medical needs of his wife, which made it necessary for them to relocate to a handicap-equipped residence. But a secondary reason, he admitted, were the "obvious political conflicts that have led to my decision to spend my retirement in peace." O'Neill had also been at odds with the borough council over a police contract - he thought portions of the contract diluted his lawful authority over the police - and he successfully got court-mandated changes to the pact. But such frustrating and costly dances around the political mulberry bush should not be necessary. Police are under the direction of the mayor and municipal officials are answerable to the citizens they serve. Did you get that? The citizens they serve - not the other way around. The borough council in Shenandoah now has the opportunity to turn things around; to launch a new era where civilian authority over the police department and appointed borough officials is not challenged and where "openness" is the word of the day, every day. The council members - President Leo Pietkiewicz, Vice President Don Segal, Andrew Szczyglak, Paul Holland, Raymond T. Nestor, John Szczyglak and Albert Bernosky - have the opportunity and duty to start afresh and make sure everything in the borough is done right, in line with the letter and spirit of the law. They are in charge. They serve the people of Shenandoah.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Police Corruption Prosecutors Clueless or Helping Cover-Up

Police corruption prosecutors clueless about West Covina police officer's conduct
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune by Thomas Himes - January 15, 2010

WEST COVINA, CA - An elite unit of Los Angeles County prosecutors that investigates cops was never told that a West Covina sex crimes detective was involved with an alleged victim of sexual assault, authorities said Friday. In November West Covina internal affairs investigators told low-level prosecutors that Officer Tyler Kennedy was seeing an alleged rape victim whose ex-husband Kennedy arrested and testified against, according to documents and officials. But those prosecutors never reported to their superiors that Kennedy was intimately involved with the 39-year-old woman while he investigated allegations of sexual assault she lodged against her ex-husband, Gibbons said. "It's the job of the West Covina Police Department to determine if a crime was committed," Los Angeles County DA spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. "It wasn't reported by (prosecutors in) Pomona or the West Covina PD." West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills said it typically isn't a crime for an investigator to be intimately involved with an alleged sexual assault victim, so long as the contact happened off-duty. "Generally speaking, it's not. But it certainly could be construed as a crime under certain circumstances," Wills said. Kennedy appeared in court on March 20 and testified the alleged victim's ex-husband had forcibly raped her and needed to be held without bail, according to court documents. The man had already been released on his own recognizance, according to court documents. But based on Kennedy's testimony, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lesley Green agreed to set the man's bail at $100,000, according to court documents. The DA's office declined to file forcible rape charges against the man, but did, however, file three misdemeanor charges including sexual battery, invasion of privacy and violating a restraining order against the man, according to court documents. Those charges were dismissed after defense attorneys and prosecutors found out about the relationship between Kennedy and the alleged victim, Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger said. Officials suspended and demoted Kennedy last year after an internal affairs investigation concluded his conduct was unbecoming, sources inside the department who spoke on the condition anonymity said. Kennedy was suspended again on Monday after a different woman came forward and said she was harassed and sexually propositioned by Kennedy. Hearnsberger said prosecutors in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court would re-examine several cases Kennedy handled while a detective.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Nabbed in Teen Sex Sting

Former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter Nabbed in Teen Sex Sting
Fox News.Com by Joshua Rhett Mille - January 14, 2010

Former chief United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter was arrested in a Pennsylvania sex sting in November on a litany of charges involving a lewd Internet conversation with a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Ritter, 48, allegedly masturbated in front of a Web camera while he was engaged in conversation in an Internet chat room with an undercover cop posing as the teenage girl. He declined to discuss the charges Thursday when reporters visited his New York residence. "I said there would be no comment," Ritter said, according to the Albany Times Union. "Why don't you guys just go away?" The chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-98 and harsh critic of the war in Iraq, Ritter is accused of contacting the "girl" while using the handle "delmarm4fun" last February. Ritter, of Delmar, N.Y., allegedly told the girl, "Emily," that he was a 44-year-old man from Albany, N.Y., according to an affidavit of probable cause. The undercover officer then told Ritter he was a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos region of Pennsylvania, at which point Ritter asked for a picture in addition to one "Emily" had posted on her account, according to the affidavit prepared by Barrett Township Police Det. Ryan Venneman. Ritter then sent a link to his Web camera and began to masturbate while it was focused on his genitals, according to the affidavit. The former U.N. official then allegedly provided his cell phone number. "He then continued to masturbate on web cam and he again asked how old I was," the affidavit continued. "He was advised again that I was 15 years old. He said he didn't realize that I was 15 years old and turned off his web camera. He stated that he didn't want to get in trouble." Ritter then allegedly told the "girl" that he fantasized about having sex with her, to which the officer replied, "guess u turned it off [no problem]." Ritter then asked the girl if she "want[ed] to see it finish" before reactivating his Web camera and ejaculating, the affidavit read. The conversation with the girl allegedly took place on Feb. 7, 2009, but the police investigation investigation lasted until November. Ritter was arrested on Nov. 9 and charged with unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a communications facility, corruption of minors, indecent exposure, possessing instruments of crime, criminal attempt and criminal solicitation. Ritter appeared for his preliminary hearing on Dec. 17 and waived the felony charge of unlawful contact with a minor. He remains free on $25,000 bail. Ritter's attorney, Todd Henry, of Philadelphia, did not return several calls seeking comment Thursday. Ritter — born William Scott Ritter Jr. — is a former Marine who reportedly met his second wife, Marina, while working as a counterintelligence officer in the former Soviet Union. "I came to Delmar ... to put roots down, to raise a family and live a normal middle-class American life," Ritter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2002. A press conference on the matter to be held by the Barrett Township Police Department is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday. Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski will prosecute the case. A press release issued in November by the Barrett Township police noted that the incident wasn't the first time Ritter had been arrested on similar charges, but that he had not been formally charged. Ritter was reportedly charged in a June 2001 sex sting in New York, but the case was dismissed. He had been charged with attempted child endangerment after arranging to meet a person he thought was a 16-year-old girl at a fast-food restaurant. The girl was actually an undercover police officer. The New York Post reported Ritter was caught in a similar case in April 2001 involving a 14-year-old girl, but he was never charged.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ex-Cop Charged With Lying to Feds

Ex-Stoughton cop charged with lying to feds
The Associated Press - January 13, 2010

STOUGHTON, MA — Charges have been filed against another former member of the beleaguered Stoughton police department. Anthony Bickerton, a detective who retired in September, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with making false statements to FBI agents investigating corruption in the department. Bickerton was released on $50,000 bond following an initial appearance on Wednesday in U.S. District Court. An FBI affidavit says a cooperating witness claims to have provided Bickerton with stolen electronic equipment and gift cards. The witness also said Bickerton occasionally provided him access to sensitive law enforcement databases. Bickerton’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, said he was reviewing the case but had no further comment. Another former Stoughton police officer, Arlindo Romeiro, pleaded guilty last week to making false statements to the FBI.

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 13, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
District of Massachusetts
Contact: (617) 748-3100

Former Stoughton Police Detective Charged in Corruption Matter

BOSTON, MA—A recently retired veteran detective of the Stoughton Police Department, who also currently serves on the Stoughton School Committee, was arrested yesterday pursuant to a criminal Complaint charging him with making false statements and representations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an ongoing public corruption matter. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division, announced that ANTHONY BICKERTON, age 60, of Stoughton, a former veteran Stoughton Police detective, has been charged with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding an alleged corrupt relationship with a convicted felon. The Complaint alleges that BICKERTON made these false statements during the course of an interview on July 15, 2009, in which the Federal Bureau of Investigations was probing corruption in the Stoughton Police Department. “The Complaint alleges that an active Stoughton Police Department detective engaged in a longstanding corrupt relationship with a convicted criminal and then lied about that relationship to the FBI,” said U.S. Attorney Ortiz. “Allegation such as this, if ultimately proven, undermine the public’s faith in law enforcement and the administration of justice. My office remains committed to ensuring the rule of law through uncovering and prosecuting police corruption.” If convicted of the crime charged in the Complaint, BICKERTON faces up to five years' imprisonment, to be followed by three years' supervised release and a $250,000 fine. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian T. Kelly, Chief of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit. The details contained in the Complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Corruption: The Most Underrated Crime

Corruption: The Most Underrated Crime
MaltaGreenYouth by Robert Callus - January 12, 2010

As young boy I remember my father mentioning the word korrotti (corrupt). I used to laugh at him thinking he was saying karrotti (carrots) in slang. I was too innocent to realise he was talking about a heinous crime that has become so much socially accepted we’ve learn to live with. A crime which has different implications according to the merits for each situation. Nearly always they are dead serious. A crime that makes trafficking of drugs as well as humans across borders possible, that is the main cause for famine in third world countries as well as being usually implicated in projects ruining the environment. An act so powerful than was not only one of the main factors of bringing down the USSR, but together with fanatic Nationalism is the reason why neither Russia nor most of its former satellite states ever really recovered. (A saying in Russia goes: After Lenin we had de-intellectualisation; after Stalin de-stalinisation; but after Brezhnev we never had any de-corruptisation). Corruption has such a devastating effect because it infiltrates every sector of society, and hinders law enforcement as well as any real reform, be it economic, legal or environmental. How can one, for example stop human trafficking when the traffickers move innocent people across borders for purposes of slavery if the former haven’t got protection from some of those who are meant to be there to protect the victims? Why would dictators leave thousands of overworked humans live with less than 2$ a day if multinationals were not pumping them millions to turn a blind eye? Despite all this, compared to other crimes, on both a local and international level we rarely see people convicted of corruption, and when we do they rarely get serious penalties. I attribute this to mainly two reasons. First of all, corruption is invisible. Unlike a small time thief or even a bank robber, those most responsible do not break into houses themselves, or hold a gun towards a person’s head. Though they might be responsible for thousands of deaths, they are rarely if ever seen with blood on their hands. Due to this, their crime seems a minor one. It rarely creates public outrage. It has become socially acceptable. Lately we’ve seen the violent attack on Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi. The perpetrator, Massimo Tartaglia, a person with mental health problems, is seen as one of the most dangerous people in Italy. We’ve all seen the blood on Berlusconi’s face. Yet, in reality, Tartaglia’s crime is a minor one compared to the six charges against the same leader. The latter’s charges of bribery are easily forgivable. They left no blood or broken noses. At least not directly. The second reason while corruption rarely sees the light of day is that the corrupt are usually wiser than the common thief. We believe that a person bribes another for only one reason – getting from him the particular thing he wants. Yet there is another, less obvious albeit more sinister reason. The big time corrupter not only gives a bribe to the small time corrupt, but knows it. Now that you’ve taken your bribe you are an accomplice. Maybe you accepted a small cheque to close your eyes for a seemingly innocent deviation from the law. However if the person who bribed you is making big dirty money, from say drug trafficking, you are afraid to report him. If you do so, that little cheque you accepted will come to light. And the higher he is, the more he can harm you for your little escapade. You are now under his thumb. You might be disgusted with what he is doing, your guilt feelings might be killing you, yet you have to remain silent. Otherwise he’ll ruin you. If we, as a society make a genuine effort against corruption we might not stop it, but we could give it a very significant blow. I suggest three simple steps: (1) Realise and convince ourselves this is a serious crime hurting ourselves and our society from every angle possible. The aim of this article is towards this step. (2) Refuse it. Many of us will have one or more opportunities to accept bribes, no matter how small they are. If we categorically decide to refuse any bribe we will not only doing what is legally and morally right but we are free. We are under no ones thumb. (3) Enforce the law and increase punishment. This is only possible if the first two steps are accomplished. If we as a society realise how serious this is, even to the extent of letting its crackdown affect our voting in elections, rather than run after the Party leader that makes the most charismatic speeches, the law makers will start putting it on their agenda. We can only do this if we are free from it ourselves. (While following these steps will definitely harm this malady, other measures have to be taken. A case in point is a clear and enforceable Whistleblower Act.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

FBI: What We Investigate

The FBI works around the globe to combat the most dangerous criminal and security threats facing our country—from international and domestic terrorists to spies on U.S. soil…from cyber villains to corrupt government officials…from mobsters to violent street thugs…from child predators to serial killers. The squads generally fall under three national security priorities and five criminal priorities as follows:

National Security Priorities:

1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes

Criminal Priorities:

4. Combat public corruption at all levels
5. Protect civil rights
6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
7. Combat major white-collar crime
8. Combat significant violent crime


Criminal Priorities

4. Combat public corruption at all levels

Public corruption is a breach of the public's trust by government officials—whether elected, appointed, or under contract—and/or private individuals who use their public office for personal gain. It is a violation of federal law for any federal or state government official to ask for or receive anything of value for or because of any official act. Under federal law, the person who offers or pays a bribe is also guilty. These crimes are the result of deals sealed with whispered conversations, quick handshakes, and "under-the-table" money. Because of the secretive nature of bribes, such crimes are often difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove without the assistance of concerned citizens. Types of public corruption include: Law Enforcement corruption at the state or local level typically involves the payment of bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official actions or inaction. It also includes any violation of law not necessarily connected to the official duties of law enforcement personnel, such as stealing drugs; tipping criminals to investigations; escorting deliveries of drugs or other contraband; protecting criminal enterprises, including drug organizations; embezzling funds; and releasing law enforcement records without authorization. Legislative corruption at the state or local level usually involves payment of bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official action or inaction. These bribes or kickbacks can be received by the legislators themselves, by aides, by staff persons, and/or by outside parties doing business with the government. Municipal corruption involves illegal activities similar to legislative corruption. Common corruption schemes at a local level include bribes or kickbacks in exchange for: supporting local ordinances, approving local government bond issuance, reducing taxes unlawfully, fraudulently manipulating probate assets, and conspiring with others to rezone property or to influence land-use proposals. Judicial corruption typically arises out of the corrupt influencing of state or local judges, juries, or court personnel (clerks, bailiffs, probation officials, and other administrative staff). Common corrupt schemes include: payments to judiciary personnel in exchange for dismissal of charges; reduction of charges, bonds, or sentences; waiver of fines; return of forfeitable property; and favorable probation conditions. Contract corruption usually involves the payment of bribes or kickbacks to local or state officials in exchange for favorable treatment on government contracts. Potential subjects are private contractors, anyone acting on their behalf, and public officials involved in the contracting process (procurement officers, purchasing agents, city councilpersons, and county commissioners). Favorable treatment includes: improper disclosure of bid information; narrow tailoring of contracts to benefit a certain company (sole source contracts); improper disqualification of competitors from the bid process; support or voting for the bribing contractor; and approval of false invoices, improper change orders, or cost overruns on behalf of the bribing contractor. Regulatory corruption involves payment to local, state, or federal officials in exchange for favorable action or inaction pertaining to identification documents, licensing, and inspection and zoning variances. Unlawful payments (bribes and kickbacks) can be paid to: inspectors for non-enforcement of violations or extortion for false violations; planning and zoning officials for improperly reclassifying property; public officials for fraudulent documents, such as driver’s licenses and passports; and licensing officials for fraudulent issuance of licenses to construction contractors, subcontractors, and other regulated industries. Prison corruption involves corrections officers taking unlawful payment for acts directly or indirectly related to their job. Common schemes include: smuggling contraband into the facility, granting unlawful privileges, and prematurely releasing inmates.

5. Protect civil rights

We conduct investigations of allegations regarding violations of applicable federal laws that protect the civil rights of U.S. citizens and inhabitants. Any attempted or actual curtailment of constitutional or federally-protected rights possessed by citizens and inhabitants of the U.S. falls within the jurisdiction of the FBI. Investigations are conducted under guidelines established in cooperation with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. For more information, see the Department of Justice Civil Rights Frequently Asked Questions.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

Criminal organizations—from mob families to street gangs to drug trafficking outfits—sow violence and crime in our communities and create underground economies that undercut free enterprise. We investigate both domestic and international drug trafficking, including the laundering of illegal proceeds and acts of violence associated with narcotics trafficking.

7. Combat major white-collar crime

Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term "white-collar crime" was reportedly coined in 1939 and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Today's con artists are more savvy and sophisticated than ever, engineering everything from slick online scams to complex stock and health care frauds. The white-collar crime program is divided into the following investigative areas: Economic crime investigations involve telemarketing fraud, securities and commodities fraud, and investment fraud. Financial institution fraud investigations involve federal crimes against financial institutions and money laundering, including check kiting schemes, bank embezzlement, counterfeit check scams, wire transfer and loan frauds, and the bribery of bank officials. Governmental fraud investigations involve cases of fraud against the government, environmental crime, bankruptcy fraud, and antitrust matters. Healthcare fraud investigations involve fraud perpetrated against Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. These types of fraud include illegal kickbacks, billing for services not rendered, and filing false claims. Public corruption investigations involve the corruption of federal, state, and local public officials, including law enforcement officers, judiciary and executive department employees, administrators, and others in public positions of trust. See Priority #4 above for more information. Mortgage fraud investigations involve making false statements about income, assets, debt, or matters of identification or willfully overvaluing any land or property in a loan and credit application for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of a financial institution.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trail Begins in Drug Agent Charged With Framing the Innocent

Ohio drug agent charged with framing people alternately called a liar, honest
The Associated Press - January 7, 2010

CLEVELAND, OH (AP) — While the prosecution describes a federal drug agent charged with framing 17 people in a cocaine sting as a liar trying to polish his conviction record, the defense says Lee Lucas is an honest and tough crime-fighting legend. A U.S. District Court jury in Cleveland heard both sides in opening statements Thursday in Lucas' trial. The 19-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who fought drug traffickers in Miami and Bolivia, faces charges including obstruction of justice, making a false statement, perjury and violating civil rights. His co-defendant and former informant is expected to testify against him. Lucas is on administrative leave from the DEA. The trial could take weeks.


DEA Agent Lee Lucas indicted on perjury, civil rights charges; pleads not guilty
The Plain Dealer by John Caniglia - May 13, 2009

CLEVELAND, OH — Lee Lucas, the federal drug agent whose full-throttle approach led to major convictions and questions about his credibility, faced the toughest court appearance of his 19-year career Wednesday. His own. A federal grand jury in Cleveland charged Lucas, 41, of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in an 18-count indictment that accuses him of perjury, making false statements and violating three people's civil rights. The charges stem from a bungled drug sting in Mansfield that led to the arrests of 26 people in 2005. Lucas led a DEA task force that used informant Jerrell Bray to make undercover drug buys and help scoop up drug dealers. But Bray lied his way through the probe. Seventeen people were wrongly charged, according to the indictment, as Bray intentionally misidentified people he bought drugs from and purposely staged scripted phone calls with friends, making the conversations sound as if he was setting up drug deals. Of those 17 people, 12 were collectively sentenced to about 70 years in prison. Four were acquitted, and one spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial. Thirteen of the 15 drug buys Bray made were bogus, prosecutors said. The indictment says Lucas failed to monitor Bray during the two-month investigation. He also concealed evidence from federal prosecutors who tried the cases and lied on the stand at two trials to convict people, according to the charges. He is also accused of making false and misleading statements in his internal DEA reports that summarized details of investigations. "Are you serious? Is this for real? I can't believe it," said Lowestco Ballard, one of the people Lucas arrested and who was later acquitted at trial. "It's wonderful how the inconsistencies finally came out." At a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver asked Lucas for his plea. The agent said in a strong voice: "I am not guilty, sir, of every count." Former U.S. Attorney Greg White, whose office prosecuted the Mansfield case, said Wednesday marked a sad day for federal agents. "Any time you have those types of allegations against a law enforcement officer, it's a sad state of circumstances," said White, now a federal magistrate. "It's a breakdown of the way things are supposed to work." White has previously said he moved quickly to withdraw the charges and convictions once they learned about problems with Bray.

The prosecutor who handled the case, 22-year veteran Blas Serrano, is expected to be a key witness against Lucas and how the DEA agent investigated the case. Lucas' career was larger than life before the Mansfield case collapsed. He began with the DEA right out of Baldwin-Wallace College in 1990. He worked in Miami and Bolivia before returning to his hometown of Cleveland, where he continued to work around the clock and snag major drug dealers. But along the way, attorneys questioned his truthfulness. In lawsuits, they said he lied to strengthen weak cases. The indictment comes nearly two years to the day after Bray broke down and admitted to authorities that he set up people in Mansfield to go to prison, officials said. One of them was Geneva France, a mother of three small children who was convicted of dealing drugs and spent 16 months in prison based on lies by Lucas and Bray, according to the charges. When France was released from prison in 2007, her small daughters didn't recognize her. Other Mansfield defendants said they pleaded guilty under the threat of major prison time after seeing France go to trial and lose. The case against Lucas crawled through the grand jury because it had to be built on evidence independent of Bray, a convicted killer who pleaded guilty to perjury for his role in the Mansfield case and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to interviews and court records. Since Bray could not be completely trusted, federal investigators had to corroborate his statements, interview scores of residents from Mansfield, question Lucas' fellow task force members and review thousands of pages of testimony to link Lucas' to the allegations.

Specifically, the indictment says:

Lucas lied during testimony in a February 2007 trial, telling jurors he verified a phone number Bray called to a suspected drug dealer named Ronald Davis to set up a cocaine buy. The indictment said Lucas never checked the records. Lucas lied at the July 2006 trial of Dwayne Nabors, who ran a successful car detail shop in Mansfield. Lucas testified that he identified Nabors as the driver of a Cadillac agents followed. He also said that he and another officer, Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Charles Metcalf, pulled their undercover car alongside the Cadillac before a purported sale Sept. 20, 2005. The indictment says the officers' car never pulled up next to Nabors, that Lucas and Metcalf were not in the same car and that Lucas, in fact, did not identify Nabors. Lucas lied about seeing Ballard make a drug deal Sept. 9, 2005. He testified that he looked directly at Ballard, telling a jury: "I was closer to him than myself to the judge, and I looked him right in the face." The indictment said Lucas was never that close to Ballard and never saw him. In court Wednesday, Lucas appeared relaxed. The courtroom was packed with friends from Cleveland police and the DEA. Minutes before the hearing, he thanked his friends for their support. "That's what real policemen do; they stand up for each other," said a uniformed Cleveland officer. Lucas was given a personal bond, and the judge set a trial date of January. Lucas is expected to be placed on leave until his case is finished. An hour after the hearing, Lucas slowly walked out of the courthouse, shaking hands with the security guards he joked with for years when he was bringing major cases to prosecutors and sending people to prison. Now, prosecutors are trying to send him to prison.