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Friday, December 30, 2011

Police Excessive Force Case Moves Forward

Trial to Decide if Officer Used Reasonable Force in Taser Incident
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - December 30, 2011

Saul W. Hollad sufficiently raised triable issues about the actions that culminated in his being tasseled by a Poughkeepsie [New York] policeman to preclude the city's motion for summary judgment on several of Mr. Holland's state common-law claims, a unanimous panel of the Second Department ruled last week.

Holland v. City of Poughkeepsie, 3981/08 - Appellate Division, Second Department - Cite as: Holland v. City of Poughkeepsie, 3981/08, NYLJ 1202536920434, at *1 (App. Div., 2nd, Decided December 20, 2011) Before: Dillon, J.P., Angiolillo, Dickerson, Cohen, JJ. - Decided: December 20, 2011 - 2010-05610, 2010-09699 - ATTORNEYS - For Appellants: McCabe & Mack, LLP, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (David L. Posner of counsel). - For Respondent: Joseph Petito, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

DECISION & ORDER - In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for personal injuries and for civil rights violations pursuant to 42 USC §1983, the defendants City of Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and Michael Labrada appeal (1), as limited by their notice of appeal and brief, from so much of an order of the Supreme Court, Dutchess County (Brands, J.), dated May 19, 2010, as denied those branches of their motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the first, second, fourth, and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada, the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the defendant City of Poughkeepsie, and so much of the third cause of action as alleged state and federal claims based upon false arrest and false imprisonment insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada, and (2), as limited by their brief, from so much of an order of the same court dated September 13, 2010, as, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination in the order dated May 19, 2010, as denied those branches of their motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the first, second, fourth, and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada, the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the defendant City of Poughkeepsie, and so much of the third cause of action as alleged state and federal claims based upon false arrest and false imprisonment insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada. ORDERED that the appeal from the order dated May 19, 2010, is dismissed, without costs or disbursements, as the portions of that order appealed from were superseded by the order dated September 13, 2010, made, in effect, upon reargument; and it is further, ORDERED that the order dated September 13, 2010, is modified, on the law, by deleting the provisions thereof, in effect, upon reargument, adhering to so much of the original determination in the order dated May 19, 2010, as denied those branches of the motion of the defendants City of Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and Michael Labrada which were for summary judgment dismissing so much of the first, third, and fourth causes of action as alleged violations of 42 USC §1983 insofar as asserted against the defendant City of Poughkeepsie, the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the defendant City of Poughkeepsie, and the second and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada, and substituting there for a provision, upon reargument, vacating so much of the order dated May 19, 2010, as denied those branches of the motion of the defendants City of Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and Michael Labrada which were for summary judgment dismissing so much of the first, third, and fourth causes of action as alleged violations of 42 USC §1983 insofar as asserted against the defendant City of Poughkeepsie, the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the City of Poughkeepsie, and the second and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the defendants City of Poughkeepsie and Michael Labrada, and thereupon granting those branches of the motion; as so modified, the order dated September 13, 2010, is affirmed insofar as appealed from, without costs or disbursements. This action to recover damages for personal injuries and civil rights violations arises from an incident involving the plaintiff, an epileptic, who refused transport to the hospital after having suffered four grand mal seizures, two of which were witnessed by a paramedic and an emergency medical technician (hereinafter the EMT). According to deposition testimony, after the paramedic administered valium and the plaintiff partially recovered from his seizures, the paramedic called his supervising physician, who instructed him to transport the plaintiff to the hospital because a narcotic had been administered. When the plaintiff refused to go, the EMT called the defendant City of Poughkeepsie Police Department (hereinafter the police department) for assistance. Upon responding to the scene, the defendant Officer Michael Labrada attempted to convince the plaintiff to go to the hospital. The plaintiff became agitated, pulled the monitor leads off his chest, pulled out his IV, and exited the back of the ambulance while screaming obscenities. Labrada and the EMT testified that the plaintiff "lunged" at Labrada. A struggle ensued, during which Labrada attempted to restrain the plaintiff and warned him that he would be arrested if he did not stop. When the plaintiff failed to respond to these warnings, Labrada used his taser to incapacitate the plaintiff. Additional police officers arrived, the plaintiff was handcuffed, and he was transported to the hospital in custody for, inter alia, disorderly conduct. Labrada testified inconsistently at his deposition as to whether the EMT and paramedic were the only people present in the vicinity while these events were occurring. The plaintiff commenced this action against, among others, the City of Poughkeepsie, the police department, and Labrada (hereinafter collectively the defendants), alleging various New York common-law causes of action and federal civil rights violations under 42 USC §1983. The defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against them. Insofar as relevant to this appeal, the Supreme Court denied those branches of the motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the state and federal claims under the first, second, fourth, and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada, the state and federal claims under the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the City, and so much of the third cause of action as alleged state and federal claims based upon false arrest and false imprisonment insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada. The defendants moved for leave to reargue these branches of their motion, and the Supreme Court, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied these branches of the motion. The defendants appeal, and we modify. The first four causes of action are premised upon allegations of excessive force (first cause of action), violation of the right to "bodily integrity" by the use of excessive force and arrest without just cause (second cause of action), false arrest and false imprisonment (third cause of action), and assault and battery (fourth cause of action). Each of these causes of action alleged that the City and Labrada should be held liable pursuant to both New York common law and 42 USC §1983.

Addressing first the New York common-law claims, the Supreme Court properly, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied those branches of the defendants' motion which were for summary judgment dismissing those claims under the first, third, and fourth causes of action insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada. With respect to the first cause of action, "[c]laims that law enforcement personnel used excessive force in the course of an arrest are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its standard of objective reasonableness" (Ostrander v. State of New York, 289 AD2d 463, 464; see Campagna v. Arleo, 25 AD3d 528, 529). That analysis "requires a careful balancing of the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against the countervailing governmental interests at stake" (Graham v. Connor, 490 US 386, 396 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]). The use of force must be judged "from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight," recognizing that "police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation" (id. at 396-397; see Campagna v. Arleo, 25 AD3d at 529). Because of its intensely factual nature, the question of whether the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances is generally best left for a jury to decide (see Harvey v. Brandt, 254 AD2d 718, 719). If found to be objectively reasonable, the officer's actions are privileged under the doctrine of qualified immunity (see Hayes v. City of Amsterdam, 2 AD3d 1139, 1140; Higgins v. City of Oneonta, 208 AD2d 1067, 1071 n 1). Here, the defendants failed to eliminate a triable issue of fact as to whether Labrada's use of a taser to restrain the plaintiff, either to arrest him or to restrain him for his own safety, was excessive (cf. Draper v. Reynolds, 369 F3d 1270, 1278, cert denied 543 US 988; Diederich v. Nyack Hosp., 49AD3d 491, 494; Gagliano v. County of Nassau, 31 AD3d 375, 376). Moreover, unlike the claims pursuant to 42USC §1983, a municipality may be held vicariously liable for torts committed by its employee while acting within the scope of his or her employment (see Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d 1049, 1051; Ashley v. City of New York, 7 AD3d 742, 743). Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied that branch of the defendants' motion which was for summary judgment dismissing so much of the first cause of action as alleged excessive force pursuant to New York common law insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada (see Harvey v. Brandt, 254 AD2d at 718-719). The third cause of action alleged false arrest and false imprisonment, which are two names for the same tort (see Lee v. City of New York, 272 AD2d 586; Jackson v. Police Dept. of City of N.Y., 86AD2d 860, 860-861). To establish a cause of action alleging false arrest under New York common law, a plaintiff must show that "(1) the defendant intended to confine him [or her], (2) the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not consent to the confinement, and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged" (Lee v. City of New York, 272 AD2d at 586; see Broughton v. State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456, cert denied sub nom. Schanbarger v. Kellogg, 423 US 929). Probable cause to believe that a person committed a crime is a complete defense to a claim of false arrest (see Fortunato v. City of New York, 63 AD3d 880). Where the arrest is made without a warrant, "a presumption arises that it was unlawful, and the burden of proving that the arrest was otherwise privileged is cast upon the defendant" (Tsachalis v. City of Mount Vernon, 293 AD2d 525, 525 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Broughton v. State of New York, 37 NY2d at 458; Gagliano v. County of Nassau, 31 AD3d at 376). In general, the existence or absence of probable cause is a question of fact and "becomes a question of law to be decided by the court only where there is no real dispute as to the facts or the proper inferences to be drawn there from" (Fortunato v. City of New York, 63 AD3d at 880 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see People v. Bigelow, 66 NY2d 417, 420). Here, the plaintiff was charged with disorderly conduct based upon his engagement in "fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior" with "the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof" (Penal Law §240.20[1]). Although he was also charged with obstructing a firefighting operation pursuant to Penal Law §195.15(2), probable cause for that offense was lacking because no firefighting operation was occurring. With respect to disorderly conduct, there was evidence that the plaintiff was engaged in tumultuous behavior, but a triable issue of fact remains as to whether a reasonable officer could interpret the plaintiff's behavior as being motivated by an "intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm" (Penal Law§ 240.20[1]). In addition, although the plaintiff might nevertheless have recklessly caused public inconvenience, the defendants failed to eliminate a triable issue of fact as to whether the "public" was inconvenienced by submitting, in support of their motion, Labrada's deposition testimony, which was equivocal as to the presence or absence of bystanders other than the ambulance crew. These triable issues of fact with respect to whether Labrada's evaluation of probable cause was objectively reasonable preclude an award of summary judgment in favor of Labrada on the ground of qualified immunity (see Malley v. Briggs, 475 US 335, 340; Diederich v. Nyack Hosp., 49 AD3d at 493; Simpkin v. City of Troy, 224 AD2d 897, 898). Moreover, the City may be held vicariously liable under the state law claim for torts committed by Labrada acting within the scope of his employment (see Eckhardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d at 1051; Ashley v. City of New York, 7 AD3d 742, 743). Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly determined that the defendants failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing so much of the third cause of action as alleged a New York common-law claim of false arrest and false imprisonment insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada (see Forrest v. Jewish Guild for the Blind, 3 NY3d 295, 315 [Smith, J., concurring]). The fourth cause of action alleged assault and battery. "To recover damages for battery, a plaintiff must prove that there was bodily contact, that the contact was offensive, i.e., wrongful under all of the circumstances, and intent to make the contact without the plaintiff's consent" (Higgins v. Hamilton, 18 AD3d 436, 436). In light of the defendants' failure to eliminate triable issues of fact as to whether Labrada's use of the taser was excessive or objectively reasonable under the circumstances, the Supreme Court properly, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied that branch of the defendants' motion which was for summary judgment dismissing the New York common-law claims of assault and battery insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada. With respect to the federal claims under the first, third, and fourth causes of action, 42 USC §1983 provides that "[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage…subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States…to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured" (Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d at 1051-1052 [internal quotation marks omitted]; Hudson Val. Mar., Inc. v. Town of Cortlandt, 79 AD3d 700, 703). The Supreme Court properly, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied those branches of the defendants' motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the federal civil rights claims under the first, third, and fourth causes of action insofar as asserted against Labrada because, as noted, the defendants failed to eliminate a triable issue of fact on the issues of excessive force, false arrest, and assault and battery, which may properly form the basis of a claim under 42 USC §1983 (see Hodges v. Stanley, 712 F2d 34, 36; Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d at 1051; Delgado v. City of New York, 86 AD3d 502, 511). The first, third, and fourth causes of action, as well as the seventh cause of action, also asserted federal claims against the City. "A municipality is not liable under 42 USC §1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents" (Hudson Val. Mar., Inc. v. Town of Cortlandt, 79 AD3d at 703; see Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 US 658, 694), or "solely upon the doctrine of respondeat superior or vicarious liability" (Lopez v. Shaughnessy, 260 AD2d 551, 552; see Connick v. Thompson, ___ US ___, ___, 131 S Ct 1350, 1359 [2011]; Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d at 1052; Alex LL. v. Department of Social Servs. of Albany County, 60 AD3d 199, 205). Thus, to the extent that the first, third, fourth, and seventh causes of action sought to impose vicarious liability on the City for the actions of Labrada pursuant to 42 USC §1983, the City is entitled to summary judgment dismissing those portions of the causes of action. To the extent that the first, third, fourth, and seventh causes of action sought to impose liability on the City as an entity for its own alleged violations of the plaintiff's constitutional rights, such liability may be imposed only by establishing "a direct causal link between a municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional deprivation" (Canton v. Harris, 489US 378, 385; see Connick v. Thompson, ___ US at ___, 131 S Ct at 1359 [2011]; Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 US at 694). The plaintiff must show that "the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional either implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers or has occurred pursuant to a practice so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law" (Maio v. Kralik, 70 AD3d 1, 10-11 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87 AD3d at 1052). Applying this principle, the City established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the federal claims asserted against it under the first, third, and fourth causes of action, insofar as such claims were premised upon allegations of Labrada's use of excessive force, false arrest, and assault and battery, respectively. The City adduced evidence sufficient to establish, prima facie, the lack of a causal link between its policies, customs, or practices, and the alleged constitutional violations. In opposition thereto, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The seventh cause of action alleged, inter alia, that the City was negligent in its training of police officers. Under "limited circumstances," proof of a municipality's "failure to train can [be the basis for] liability under §1983" (Canton v. Harris, 489 US at 387, 387 n 6). However, "[o]nly where a municipality's failure to train its employees in a relevant respect evidences a 'deliberate indifference' to the rights of its inhabitants can such a shortcoming be properly thought of as a city 'policy or custom' that is actionable under §1983" (id. at 389; see Connick v. Thompson, ___ US at ___, 131 S Ct at 1359-1360 [2011]; Pendleton v. City of New York, 44 AD3d 733, 736-737). Three requirements must be met before liability may be imposed. First, "the plaintiff must show that a policymaker knows 'to a moral certainty' that [his or] her employees will confront a given situation," for liability will not be imposed based upon failure to train for "rare or unforeseen events" (Walker v. City of New York, 974 F2d 293, 297, cert denied 507 US 961, 507 US 972, quoting Canton v. Harris, 489 US at 390 n 10). In this respect, "[a] pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained employees is 'ordinarily necessary'" (Connick v. Thompson, ___ US at ___, 131 S Ct at 1360, quoting Board of Comm'rs of Bryan Cty. v. Brown, 520 US 397, 409). Second, "the plaintiff must show that the situation either presents the employee with a difficult choice of the sort that training or supervision will make less difficult or that there is a history of employees mishandling the situation" (Walker v. City of New York, 974 F2d at 297). Finally, "the plaintiff must show that the wrong choice by the city employee will frequently cause the deprivation of a citizen's constitutional rights" (id. at 298). Where the plaintiff establishes all three elements, "it can be said with confidence that the policymaker should have known that inadequate training or supervision was 'so likely to result in the violation of constitutional rights, that the policymakers of the city can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent to the need'" (id., quoting Canton v. Harris, 489 US at 390).

Here, municipal officials could certainly expect that police officers would be confronted with individuals who needed medical assistance and could further expect that some individuals would refuse medical assistance. However, a situation such as this — where an individual received some medical assistance, but then violently refused further treatment and transport to the hospital that was needed in light of the treatment already rendered — is the sort of "rare or unforeseen event[]" for which liability under 42USC §1983 does not arise (Walker v. City of New York, 974 F2d at 297; see Connick v. Thompson, ___ US at ___, 131 S Ct at 1360 [2011]). Similarly, while this situation surely presented the police officers with a "difficult choice," it was not "a difficult choice of the sort that training or supervision will make less difficult" (Walker v. City of New York, 974 F2d at 297). In sum, while training in dealing with situations like the one at bar might be desirable, any failure on the part of the City to offer its police officers such training cannot be characterized as "deliberate indifference" (Canton v. Harris, 489 US at 389 [internal quotation marks omitted]; Connick v. Thompson, ___ US at ___, 131 S Ct at 1359 [internal quotation marks omitted]). Thus, the City established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the alleged violation of 42 USC §1983 based upon negligent training of police officers insofar as asserted against it under the seventh cause of action, and the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition thereto. Further, as correctly conceded by the plaintiff, the New York common-law claim of negligent training asserted against the City under the seventh cause of action must also be dismissed. Generally where, as here, the employee was acting within the scope of his employment, the employer may be held liable for the employee's torts under a theory of respondeat superior, and no claim may proceed against the employer for negligent supervision or training under New York common law (see Eckardt v. City of White Plains, 87AD3d at 1051; Talavera v. Arbit, 18 AD3d 738, 738; Karoon v. New York City Tr. Auth., 241 AD2d 323). Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have, upon reargument, vacated so much of the original determination as denied that branch of the defendants' motion which was for summary judgment dismissing both the state and federal claims premised upon allegations of negligent training under the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the City, and thereupon granted that branch of the motion. On appeal, the plaintiff has properly conceded that the thirteenth cause of action to recover damages for negligent assumption of a duty should be dismissed as duplicative insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada. The second cause of action arose from the same facts as the first and third causes of action and did not allege distinct damages; therefore, that cause of action should have been dismissed as duplicative insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada (see Tsafatinos v. Lee David Auerbach, P.C., 80 AD3d 749, 750; Leonard v. Reinhardt, 20 AD3d 510).

In sum, the Supreme Court properly, in effect, upon reargument, adhered to so much of the original determination as denied those branches of the defendants' motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the New York common-law claims insofar as asserted against the City under the first, third, and fourth causes of action, and the New York common law and 42 USC §1983 claims insofar as asserted against Labrada under the first, third, and fourth causes of action. However, the Supreme Court should have, in effect, upon reargument, vacated so much of the original determination as denied those branches of the defendants' motion which were for summary judgment dismissing the second and thirteenth causes of action insofar as asserted against the City and Labrada, so much of the first, third, and fourth causes of action as alleged violations of 42 USC §1983 insofar as asserted against the City, and the seventh cause of action insofar as asserted against the City, and thereupon granted those branches of the motion. DILLON, J.P., ANGIOLILLO, DICKERSON and COHEN, JJ., concur.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Justice Denied and Taxpayers Lose When Bondsmen Abuse Privileges

Editorial: Taxpayers lose when bondsmen abuse privileges
The Dallas Morning News - EDITORIAL - December 26, 2011

A bail bondsman’s operation is one that the general public seems happy to know little about. It’s a world of lowlife situations, jail cells, police and trouble — stuff that most of us try to stay as far away from as possible. But ignorance definitely isn’t bliss when bondsmen’s abuses of the legal system cost taxpayers millions of dollars. As Dallas Morning News staff writers Ed Timms and Kevin Krause reported last week, a powerful lobby representing Texas bail bondsmen has, for years, pushed through legislation in Austin that allows them to artificially manipulate the value of property they use as collateral on bail bonds. This unethical nonsense must stop. Courts typically allow arrested people to get out of jail until trial by posting a bail bond backed by collateral property owned by the bondsman. It’s in the bondsman’s interest to cite the highest valuation possible for this property, since the system allows him to post 10 times that value to cover clients’ bail. And, of course, he profits from the percentage his clients must pay him in return. Higher property values should mean higher taxes for the bondsman. But the bail-bond lobby in Austin, with its generous campaign contributions, has won wide leeway from the Legislature to manipulate the appraisal process. These properties are allowed by law to have two values — one set by a private appraiser hired by the bail bondsman for bail-posting purposes and the other set by the county central appraisal district for taxation. Dallas County is typical of a statewide bail-bond system rife with abuse as bondsmen play both sides. The private appraiser inflates the property value to help the bondsman’s business, but when it comes to the county’s appraisal, unethical bondsmen have histories of filing multiple protests to get the valuation reduced to a fraction of the private appraiser’s estimate. They are gaming the system at your expense, especially because, if the arrested person skips bail or the bondsman goes bankrupt, the collateral becomes the government’s property. What appears on paper to be very valuable can turn out to be junk. You, the taxpayer, wind up footing the bill when the government gets stuck with that property. When bondsmen pay far less than they should in property taxes, you, in effect, pay the difference. Don’t be surprised. This is just the latest in a series of reports by Timms and Krause on how bondsmen are abusing the system while county regulators either look the other way or are legally powerless to take action. It’s doubtful that the bondsmen will grow a conscience and self-correct. The Legislature created this mess, and it’s up to lawmakers to fix it. Among key findings of The Dallas Morning News investigation: In order to avoid forfeiting collateral property, bondsmen falsely claim rearrest of clients who jumped bail; courts do little to verify claims. Current and former bondsmen and attorneys authorized to write bonds owed the county $35 million in unpaid judgments. The county lacks a system to track bond forfeiture cases to make sure final judgments are paid on time. Until recently, Dallas County was charging bondsmen interest-free, bargain rates for fees owed when clients jumped bail. Judges and the district attorney’s office have been letting bondsmen off the hook for court judgments against them, often without explanation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Former Detective Gets 26 Months in Federal Prison

Ex-Washington Park police officer going to prison for fraud, lying - December 9, 2011

EAST ST. LOUIS • Former Washington Park police Det. Kim L. McAfee was ordered Friday to spend 26 months in federal prison and pay more than $73,000 in restitution and court assessments for crimes committed in his private security business and in his official capacity. In addition, his plea agreement bars McAfee, 48, of East St. Louis, from ever working as a police officer again. McAfee also has been the subject of an investigation since a witness in a St. Clair County murder case alleged that he bribed her to lie about seeing him at the scene of the killing of Washington Park's mayor. As owner of KLM Loss Prevention Inc., McAfee paid employees less than he claimed under federally subsidized contracts with East St. Louis School District 189 and the East St. Louis Housing Authority, then pocketed the difference, officials said. He also was accused of under-paying overtime and failing to pay back wages, and telling lies on forms and to investigators. On Sept. 13, U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl accepted McAfee's guilty plea to 16 counts of making false statements, 15 of mail fraud, three each of wire fraud and falsifying records and one count of lying to FBI agents investigating a possible civil rights violation. In Friday's sentencing hearing in court in East St. Louis, Stiehl ordered McAfee to pay $69,274.36 in restitution — $66,928.17 of it to employees — and $3,800 in assessments. The civil rights case involves an incident in which McAfee shot into a vehicle stopped at a BP service station in Washington Park, held the two men who were inside, then released them without charges about 24 hours later. McAfee told the FBI he thought he had seen a drug transaction, ordered the car's driver to stop and fired out of concern for nearby pedestrians if the car kept going. The two men, not seriously hurt, denied drug activity, officials said, and no evidence of it was found. McAfee's sentence includes paying $2,346.19 as compensation for a chipped tooth suffered by one of the men, damage to the car and towing and impound fees. "He operated as a crook with a badge," U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said in a prepared statement. "He violated his oath to uphold the very laws that he flaunted. He cheated low income employees in an economically disadvantaged area. He lied to the FBI agents who were investigating a very troubling shooting incident. "His prosecution should put other police officers, public officials, and business leaders on notice that we will aggressively investigate and charge cases of fraud and corruption." Aaron "Chill" Jackson was on trial in October in the 2010 murder of Washington Park Mayor John Thornton when a key eyewitness, LaQueshia Jackson, told prosecutors outside court that McAfee bribed her to testify that he was not present when Thornton was shot. Officials pledged to investigate. Judge Milton Wharton sent the jury home and ordered a retrial for Jackson, no relation to the witness, in February.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Prosecutors Offer Ticket-Fix Cop 18 Years

Bronx police officer at heart of parking ticket-fixing scandal gets a plea deal offer from district attorney
The New York Daily News by Kevin Deutsch & Erin Durkin - December 9, 2011

Prosecutors offer alleged crooked cop, who'll serve 50 years if convicted, 18 years in jail if he pleads guilty

Ticket-fixing cop suspect Jose Ramos has been offered a plea deal on a slew of charges. Prosecutors offered the Bronx cop at the center of the ticket-fixing scandal a plea deal Friday - 18 years in jail instead of the 50 he faces if convicted on all charges. Officer Jose Ramos is facing 26 counts that include attempted robbery, transporting what he believed to be massive a shipment of heroin in his squad car while in uniform, selling stolen goods andcounterfeit CDs and DVDs, and other crimes. Under the deal, he would also get five years of supervision following his release, prosecutors said. The 17-year veteran, who worked the midnight shift at the 40th precinct, is accused of using the two Bronx barbershops he inherited from his father as a front for drug deals - all the while relying on his badge for protection. Authorities built a case against him by placing in undercover officer trained in cutting hair in one of the shops. He apparently sunk much of the proceeds into illegal gambling, using a bookie to make high-stakes wagers on baseball, football, basketball and hockey - sometimes for several thousand dollars a pop, according to an internal NYPD memo summarizing phone taps. The investigation into the accused crooked cop - in which he was caught on tape discussing fixing summonses in exchange for gifts - triggered a massive NYPD ticket fixing scandal that led to the indictment of Ramos and 15 other cops and has roiled the department. Authorities said the cops would make summonses vanish before they reached court, or lean on Patrolmen's Benevolent Association members to lie in court and get the tickets thrown out. Ramos and the other cops pled not guilty in October. Ramos was held on a hefty $500,000 bail. He will weigh the plea offer with his lawyer before making a decision.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Playing Politics With Police Chiefs A Costly Gamble

Playing Politics With Police Chiefs A Costly Gamble
The Connecticut Law Tribune by Karen Lee Torre - December 5, 2011

East Haven’s (now former) Democratic Mayor April Capone got what was coming to her. Last month, the town’s voters booted her out of office, replacing her with Republican Joseph Maturo. A prominent campaign issue was Capone’s treatment of East Haven Police Chief Lenny Gallo, and her consequent squandering of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on what many believed to be a personal feud. That is hardly uncommon. Police chiefs too often find themselves targeted by newly elected mayors who prefer to award the powerful job to a political crony, one who will of necessity be the mayor’s lapdog. With that, a mayor can more easily get tickets “fixed,” protect a relative, crony, or a friend’s kid from arrest, and worse. Capone did not appoint Gallo; she inherited him. Sometimes, a police or fire chief irks union leaders and members by strictly enforcing work rules, and attempting to reign in sick leave and workers’ compensation abuse. The unions give money to the mayor’s campaign, work the polls, and the mayor agrees to get rid of the chief. It has happened. Long ago, and in the public interest, the Connecticut legislature acted on this problem. State law does not permit chiefs to be employed and dismissed at will. It protects them against politicians by requiring just cause for dismissal. A chief has a right to timely and specific charges, and an opportunity to be heard. To further protect chiefs against trumped-up charges of misconduct or contrived allegations of administrative incompetence, a chief may appeal the discharge to superior court, where an impartial judge can review the matter. Gallo joined other of the state’s police chiefs who fought back, including former New Haven chief Ben DeLieto and Hamden’s former chief, John Ambrogio. New Haven voters, upset with how DeLieto was treated, later elected him mayor. For causing and losing a long, costly personal battle against Ambrogio, former Hamden mayor John Carusone became an ex-mayor. At various picnics, parties and retirement dinners over the past year, I had occasion to talk to a lot of East Haveners about this. To a man and a woman, they thought the racial profiling allegations against their police department were crapola, politically motivated, and contrived, and they were furious at Capone for so quickly and without proof aligning herself with those who would profit from making those allegations, at enormous financial risk to taxpayers. For throwing a chief under the bus in the process, she is now out of a job. Good. She deserves it. At a time of fiscal crisis, Capone was burning public money on this feud. New Mayor Joe Maturo promised voters he would stop the nonsense and pull the plug on paying three police chief salaries, and do it quick. He made good on that promise. Noting that no chief should be kept home for a year and eight months without the letter and spirit of the law being followed, Maturo reinstated Gallo. East Haven voters want the laws enforced, criminals nabbed, motor vehicle offenders cited. They don’t want their cops, and more importantly their police chief, to be afraid to do their jobs because of fear of getting sued, fired or accused of “profiling.” Whether Gallo and his officers will succumb to that fear remains to be seen, but I am sure that those who stand to profit one way or the other from racial profiling charges would rather have a collaborating April Capone and a stooge for a police chief. Politicians are responsible for the emerging populations of illegal aliens in our midst. Mayor John DeStefano declared New Haven a sanctuary city, making it a magnet for thousands of illegals, many of them poor. Now his budget officials acknowledge that the city is crumbling under a financially unsustainable “at risk” population. “Racial profiling” has become a political tool used by ethnic groups to instill a fear in cops of being accused of racism if they stop a minority with an expired or phony plate. We need more Frank Rizzos among the ranks of police chiefs. On my summer reading list was a biography of the legendary Philadelphia chief, a gift from his son, Frank Rizzo Jr., now a Republican councilman in Philly. Rizzo was elected mayor despite the hysteria from left-wingers over his aggressive and no-holds-barred law enforcement as chief, and notwithstanding persistent allegations of racial profiling (which Rizzo of course dismissed as expected rhetoric from the guilty). Rizzo couldn’t care less what the liberals said. “When I’m elected mayor,” Rizzo said, “I’m going to give the Henry Avenue Bridge concession to one of the reporters. He’ll charge six-fifty a head to the liberals who want to jump off. He’ll make a fortune.” But of the many notable quotes Rizzo’s biographers attributed to him, the following is an undeniable truism: “Politicians create the problems then leave them in the laps of the police.” - Karen Lee Torre, a New Haven trial lawyer, litigates civil rights issues in the federal courts. Her e-mail address is

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Cops Outraged By Bad Cops

Good cops outraged by bad apples
The Beacon-News, A Chicago Sun-Times Publication by Kristen Ziman - December 5, 2011

In reference to my column where I talked about the Chicago Police Officer who tarnished our badge and our profession by falsifying an incident, a reader wondered if I get pushback from my fellow officers when I bring these topics to light because I’m supposedly breaking the “blue wall of silence” by illuminating these dark places. The answer is no. I sometimes feel like police officers get painted with a broad brush because the headlines report about corrupt officers leading people to believe that all police officers are dishonest. I can concede to the fact that there are police officers who should have never been allowed to assume the great responsibility that comes with the power they are afforded. I will admit that there are some police officers who use their position of authority in ways that serve themselves. There are police officers who take advantage of sick time and leave the officers who come to work every day to pick up their slack. While they exist, it is in minuscule percentages when compared to those officers who come to work every day and do their jobs with a warrior spirit and a servant heart. The people that disrespect their office and abuse their power exist in every profession. They exist in religious institutions, the medical profession, political office, and most recently, in the locker rooms of prestigious colleges. Give me any profession and I will show you someone who has violated the core principles of humanity and the organization they represent because of their own character flaws. The reason I don’t get any negative feedback on calling out the ones who don’t deserve to wear the badge is because the great majority of our officers are just as angry as the public at large about the lack of respect for the position they hold. In fact, the main reason institutions get into trouble in the first place is by failing to acknowledge when someone in their own organization does something devoid of ethics. Or worse, they cover up the wrong-doing in the hope that no one will find out about it. I don’t think the general public is naive enough to believe that no one will ever abuse their position of influence or office. But we expect that it be dealt with swiftly should it occur. When the Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse allegations against priests, the public was outraged. When Penn State turned a blind eye to the heinous sex acts being committed on young boys by their beloved coach, we took issue. The same goes for the “thin blue line” in policing. In the police departments of old, I can assure you there was cover-up and corruption. But I can tell you with great confidence that the times have changed. In our profession, if you commit an act that is a disgrace to the badge, you stand alone. The thin, blue line of loyalty has dissipated because there are systems and processes in place by which cover-up and deceit only serve to get an officer unemployed. Blind loyalty is no more. Just like the public should be outraged when organizations attempt to cover up wrong-doing for the sake of avoiding a scandal, so should every person who is a part of the disgraced organization. The reason the police officers don’t get upset with my shining the light in dark places is because they don’t want those unworthy to wear the badge either. It takes immense moral courage to stand against a colleague who you know to be engaging in behavior that is destructive or illegal. And it takes even greater mental fortitude as the leaders of organizations where it is occurring to acknowledge it. But it must be done. Kristen Ziman can be reached at

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dirty Cop Now Driving City Bus

Heist cop hired to drive B'klyn bus
The New York Post by Doug Auer and Jeffifer Fermino - December 5, 2011
He’s gone from Butch Cassidy to Ralph Kramden!

An infamous dirty cop — who was caught moonlighting as a bank robber in the 1990s — has a new gig driving a city bus in Brooklyn, The Post has learned. Former Queens cop Paul Voss is now working the night shift driving the B44 bus, some 13 years after his arrest for sticking up five banks — including one when he was on duty. The MTA knew all about his criminal past, but it decided to hire the badge-betraying bandit last April. The now-repentant 44-year-old copped to his unorthodox work history on both sides of the law when he applied to the transit agency and in subsequent employment interviews. But that didn’t preclude him from getting a job, thanks to strict state hiring laws. State agencies are forbidden from using candidates’ criminal histories against them in most cases. “He served a five-year sentence followed by eight consecutive years of gainful employment at a single company,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Mr. Voss further revealed his criminal record and work history to the Background Investigations Unit of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which upheld the hiring decision made by Transit.” After passing the civil-service bus-driver test, Voss was hired by the MTA at $20.38 an hour. That’s pocket change compared to what he was making during his stint as a bandit, when he netted a cool $17,000 for five quick heists in Queens from 1993 to 1997. MTA brass may have shrugged off his felonious past, but some regular riders of the B44 were a little uneasy. “Robbing a bank. That’s a serious charge,’’ said Louis Golden, 57, who rides Voss’ route from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Flatbush. Others were forgiving. “If he acknowledged he made a mistake, why shouldn’t we allow him redemption?” said passenger Teai Reid, 18. Now living in a cookie-cutter single-family home in Lindenhurst, LI, with his wife, the bank-robber-turned-civil servant refused to discuss his new vocation. He was equally taciturn when robbing banks back in the day. His MO involved wordlessly handing over notes demanding cash to terrified tellers. He flashed guns at three of them to show he meant business. At one point, a surveillance photo taken from one of Voss’ robberies was hung in his Queens precinct station house. A fellow cop thought the suspect looked like Voss, but discounted the possibility because it seemed too incredible, The Post reported in 1997. Eventually, Voss was caught in a joint investigation by NYPD Internal Affairs and the Queens DA. Fingerprints left at one of the robberies matched those of the cop. Additional reporting by Julia Marsh -

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cop Tells Federal Judge He Abused His Position of Trust as Cop

Ex-Chicago cop pleads guilty to working for Latin Kings
The Chicago Sun-Times by Teresa Auch Schultz - December 3, 2011

Wearing a black-and-white striped prison outfit, former Chicago police officer Antonio Martinez Jr. admitted Friday morning that he used his badge to help steal drugs, guns and money from people in Illinois and Indiana for the Latin Kings. “Do you agree you abused your position of trust as a Chicago police officer?” U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano asked Martinez in U.S. District Court in Hammond. “Yes, I do, your honor,” Martinez answered. Martinez, 40, described how co-defendant Sisto Bernal would give orders to him and his partner, Alex Guerrero, to shake down competing drug dealers and rival gang members by using their badges to coerce their way into homes and to pull over vehicles under the ruse of a legal traffic stop. Bernal would pay them in return for the stolen goods, Martinez said. Guerrero, 41, who is also charged in the case, and Bernal have both pleaded not guilty. “Yeah, basically my partner and I used our position of authority ... to not only facilitate but conduct various acts of criminal conduct,” he said. The men, along with 18 other defendants, were charged last month with conspiracy to racketeer along with numerous other drug, weapons and murder charges. Martinez reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to one count each of racketeering, conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, using violence to interfere with commerce and carrying a gun during a crime of violence. He faces between 15 years and life in prison on the charges, according to the plea agreement. Prosecutors will recommend, however, that he receive the minimum under federal sentencing guidelines, which will be established later. Martinez has agreed to testify against his co-defendants. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick also described Martinez’s crimes, adding that he at various times collected drugs from Lake County, Ind., and would then give them to Bernal and co-defendant Alexander Vargas, 34, of Highland, Ind. On at least one occasion, Nozick said, Martinez went with Bernal to give the drugs to customers. He also helped steal drugs from a warehouse in Rockford, and rob numerous homes in Lake County, including the home of James Walsh in December 2006. Walsh, who was a leader of the rival Latin Dragons gang, was shot to death outside a Griffith restaurant a few months later. Prosecutors claim Vargas ordered the shooting in retaliation for his brother’s death. Martinez admitted he wore his Chicago Police badge and bulletproof vest, and used his department-issued gun, when committing the crimes, which included the armed robbery of a marijuana trafficker during a Chicago traffic stop; the armed robbery of a drug trafficker in East Chicago, Ind.; the armed robbery of a drug trafficker near South Massasoit Avenue in Chicago; and the armed robbery of a drug trafficker in Chicago while the trafficker and leader of the Latin Kings were conducting a drug deal, prosecutors said. He also admitted to the armed robbery of a woman at her Hammond home during which two guns were stolen. Nozick added that Martinez would often commit his crimes while he was on the clock as a Chicago cop. Lozano set a sentencing date for June 14, although he said it would likely be postponed if the rest of the co-defendants’ cases are not wrapped up by then. - Contributing: Tina Sfondeles

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Retired Sheriff Charged in Meth-For-Sex Case, In Jail Named After Him

Ex-Colorado sheriff charged in meth-for-sex case
The Associated Press by P. Solomon Banda - December 2, 2011

DENVER, CO (AP) — A former Colorado lawman who was once named the nation's sheriff of the year was charged Friday with drug and prostitution offenses after authorities said he offered methamphetamine to a man in exchange for sex. Patrick Sullivan Jr., 68, was being held on $500,000 bond in an isolation cell at a jail named in his honor in suburban Denver. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said current or former law enforcement officials are usually kept from the general inmate population for their safety at the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility. Prosecutors charged Sullivan with felony distribution, possession of meth as well as a misdemeanor charge of soliciting prostitution. Authorities say he offered methamphetamine in exchange for sex from a male acquaintance in a sting set up by officers with a drug task force. Sullivan also is charged with attempting to influence a public servant following a Sept. 20 report of an "old man" inside a home that the caller said he wanted to leave. An incident report notes a man at the house reported Sullivan was getting three recovering addicts back into drugs. Sullivan told investigators he was helping them out as part of his work with a law enforcement and state drug rehab program. Officials have no record of Sullivan working for either. Sheriff's officials say Sullivan has declined to grant interviews while incarcerated. Sullivan was sheriff of the suburban Denver county from 1984 until 2002, when he retired. He was hailed as a hero following a daring 1989 rescue in which he crashed a vehicle through a fence to provide cover for two of his deputies who were pinned by gunfire. He was also named Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff's Association and praised by former Rep. Tom Tancredo in 2002. Meanwhile, Robinson said police talked to him in January about Sullivan as part of an investigation into the unsolved drowning death of a man. Robinson said a detective contacted him in January for insight into the personality of Sullivan. "He told me they were interested in interviewing Sullivan," Robinson said. Denver police refuse to say whether they questioned Sullivan or what information they sought in the Jan. 26 drowning death of 27-year-old Sean Moss. An autopsy found intoxication from meth and gamma-hydroxybutryic acid that's a rave drug known by various street names such as "Liquid Ecstasy," that's also a date rape drug, contributed to Moss' death. Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the case remains open because the coroner was unable to determine if Moss' death was accidental, a suicide or homicide. The Denver Post reported that Sullivan had posted bail for Moss after his arrest Jan. 14 in a domestic violence case in Centennial, a suburb of Denver. That case involved a fight that broke out in a car on Interstate 25 between Moss and a man described by investigators as Moss' boyfriend, according to an incident report from the Arapahoe County sheriff's office. The incident report said Moss and the other man were living together at the time. Both men were arrested. Moss was carrying a backpack packed with a denture brush, eight pairs of socks, some clothes, and other personal items when his body was found in the South Platte River southeast of downtown Denver. Robinson said he knew little about the Moss investigation because that was Denver's case. A Denver man remained in custody in a Denver jail Friday over allegations he supplied methamphetamine to Sullivan. Robinson said Timothy Faase, 49, was arrested Tuesday after investigators tailed Sullivan to Faase's Denver apartment. Faase was being held in a Denver jail on suspicion of drug trafficking and possession of more than 2 grams of methamphetamine. His bond was set at $25,000.

Former Cop Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy

FBI: Former Chicago Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Racketeering
ENEWSPF - December 3, 2011

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, a former Chicago police officer, pleaded guilty today to racketeering conspiracy and related charges, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana. Martinez pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano to conspiracy to commit racketeering activity; conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana; robbery; and using a firearm while committing these federal crimes. Martinez was charged, along with 14 additional defendants, in a third superseding indictment unsealed on Nov. 18, 2011. To date, 21 individuals, including Martinez, have been charged for crimes related to their membership or association with the Almighty Latin Kings and Queen Nation (Latin Kings) gang. Martinez admitted that he committed a series of robberies from 2004 to 2006 at the direction of the Latin Kings, using his position as a Chicago police officer to facilitate the robberies. Martinez admitted that he was wearing his Chicago Police Department badge and department-issued weapon when he committed the robberies, which included those of drug traffickers in Rockford, Ill.; Chicago; and East Chicago, Ind. In one instance, Martinez admitted to participating in the armed robbery at the home of a deceased Latin Dragon gang leader in Hammond, Ind. In addition, Martinez admitted that he picked up and delivered packages of cocaine on multiple occasions for two Latin Kings leaders. Sentencing is scheduled for June 14, 2012. At sentencing, Martinez faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. The investigation of Martinez was conducted by the Chicago City Public Corruption Task Force, a Chicago Police Department-Internal Affairs and FBI Chicago law enforcement initiative. The investigation of the remaining defendants was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Immigration and Custom Office of Homeland Security Investigations; the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center; the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the East Chicago Police Department; the Griffith, Ind., Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; the Highland, Ind., Police Department; and the Houston Police Department. The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Nozick of the Northern District of Indiana.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Feds Take Over Syracuse Coach Sex Investigation

Feds take over investigation of fired Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine
The New York Daily News by Chrisitan Red & Teri Thompson - November 28, 2011
Feds move in after feud between local authorities

The Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center at Syracuse University will be combed over by federal agents as they take over Bernie Fine case. Bernie Fine is now a federal case. Apparently seeking broader statutory support and perhaps an end to a bitter feud between local authorities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York took the lead in the investigation into claims that Fine, the former Syracuse assistant basketball coach, sexually abused a former ball boy and two others. Syracuse police chief Frank Fowler issued a statement Monday afternoon saying the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service would head the investigation. “We have now moved into a new phase of the investigation,” the release stated, adding that the Syracuse police department and Chief Frank Fowler are “committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service in this investigation.” A source told the Daily News Monday that the Department of Education is also investigating the university to see if there was a failure to comply with the Clery Act, the federal statute that requires colleges and universities to report sexual abuse crimes. The DOE announced Nov. 9 that it was conducting a similar investigation at Penn State, where former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of minors. Fowler also said Monday his office will hand over information about the case to Onondago County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick from 2002, when former Syracuse ball boy Bobby Davis reported to that city’s police that he had been molested by Fine. Davis was told then that the statute of limitations had run out on the accusations. A dispute had arisen between Fitzpatrick’s and Fowler’s offices over the handling of the explosive case in which Fine, an assistant to Jim Boeheim for 35 years, has been accused by Davis, his stepbrother and a third man, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Me., of abusing them when they were boys. Syracuse police reopened the case on Nov. 17 when Davis again told police he had been molested. This time, Davis’ stepbrother, Mike Lang, told police he, too, had been molested by Fine. Fitzpatrick complained that police had not turned over information from Davis, then accused Fowler of leaking contents of an affidavit provided by Davis’ girlfriend, Danielle Roach, in which Roach said she had left messages with the DA’s office in 2002 to report the abuse but had not been called back by anyone. The two were headed to court Monday to resolve the dispute when Fowler agreed to turn over the information from the investigation.

“The Syracuse Police Department will provide the information requested by the Onandaga County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday,” Fowler’s office said. Fitzpatrick said Monday that he, too, would cooperate fully with the federal investigation, saying he has been “in close contact with the U.S. Attorney.” “We’re acting in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” he said. “I’m not doing anything without checking with them.” Fitzpatrick said the investigation centers on determining if Fine can be prosecuted. “The U.S. Attorney is, as I am, interested in finding out if there are any prosecutable (persons),” Fitzpatrick said. For the feds to assume jurisdiction in the investigation, they would have to rely on statutory authority that could include a range of crimes that wouldn’t violate statute of limitations constraints, including sexual or physical abuse or kidnapping of a child under 18; crossing state lines to commit a crime against a child; or the use of interstate commerce, or the Internet, to commit a crime against a child. Pittsburgh police announced Monday they will open an investigation in conjunction with the existing investigations into Tomaselli’s claims that he was molested by Fine in January 2002 at a Pittsburgh hotel room, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Tomaselli was 13 at the time, and if proven, that alleged abuse might be prosecutable in federal court. “A federal case is difficult to overcome for a defendant,” said Tom Harvey, a New York criminal defense lawyer who is following the case for The News. “Their statutes are more wide-ranging and inclusive and can widen the statute of limitations. For a potential defendant to be under a federal investigation is never a good thing.”

Federal Judge Denies Bail to Accused Corrupt Cop

Federal judge denies bond request by Arkansas police officer accused in corruption scheme
The Associated Press - November 28, 2011

LITTLE ROCK, AK — A federal judge has denied a motion to allow a Helena-West Helena police officer to post bond while he awaits trial for his alleged role in a drug-trafficking and corruption scheme in eastern Arkansas. U.S. District Judge James Moody wrote in an order issued Monday that there is evidence that Robert Rogers is a danger to the community, and that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of (the defendant) as required and the safety of any other person and the community." U.S. District Judge James Moody wrote in an order issued Monday that there is evidence that Robert Rogers is a danger to the community, and that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of (the defendant) as required and the safety of any other person and the community." Rogers and four other officers are accused of taking bribes to protect drug shipments and overlook offenses in a four-year investigation dubbed "Operation Delta Blues." Seventy people have been indicted. Assistant Federal Public Defender Justin Eisele didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ticket-Fix Witness Warned to Leave Town

Ticket-fix witness warned to leave NY
The New York Post by Jamie Schram and Jeane MacIntosh - November 28, 2011

Authorities have told a key informant in the Bronx ticket-fixing scandal to stay out of town for a while, The Post has learned. But the investigators have not told the witness, who helped build Bronx DA Robert Johnson’s case against alleged dirty cop José Ramos, why he should make himself scarce — or even whether he’s the target of threats, sources said. The informant just got a call telling him to keep away at least a week, the sources said. A Johnson spokesman declined comment. The witness helped cops target the 18-year NYPD veteran, whose reputed ties to Bronx drug dealer Lee King sparked the ticket-fixing probe. According to details obtained by The Post, the informant, working with undercover cops, helped lure Ramos to an uptown hotel, where the rogue officer planned to steal what he thought was $60,000 in drug money, sources said. Video surveillance had been set up in the room. The informant went in first, after which Ramos strolled in and took all the cash he could find — $20,000, the sources said. The development came as a trio of police-union honchos indicted in the scandal prepared to fight for their right to continue to be paid while doing union work. The officers — Brian McGuckin, Michael Hernandez and Joseph Anthony — had been suspended for 30 days after being accused of official misconduct and tampering with public records. Their suspension expires today — and the Police Department has indicated it will send them back to a regular department assignment. But their lawyers are set to argue in Manhattan Supreme Court tomorrow that they should be allowed to return to their union duties on the NYPD’s dime, as per their contract.

Police Chief Arrested on Embezzlement and ID Theft

Platteville police chief arrested on embezzlement and ID theft charges
The Greeley Tribune by Nate A. Miller - November 30, 2011
Authorities: Chief used officers’ info to steal funds for gas

Platteville’s police chief has resigned after being accused of using the Social Security numbers of his fellow officers to illegally use police department fuel cards to buy gas for his own vehicle. Scott Alan Smith, 47, surrendered to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office deputies and was released Monday night, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Tuesday. He was accused of one count of embezzlement and two counts of identity theft, both felonies. At his rural Eaton home Tuesday, Smith declined to comment about the accusations. According to an arrest affidavit from the Weld District Attorney’s Office, investigators identified 14 suspicious gasoline purchases between March 3 and Sept. 19 that totaled $392.40. The affidavit stated that each officer is assigned a personal identification number — the last four digits of the officer’s Social Security number — for the fuel cards. Smith is accused of tapping into the Colorado Crime Information Center to obtain driver’s license information on police officers, which included the Social Security numbers. The affidavit also stated the Platteville Police Department has a small fleet of police vehicles, which officers fuel at area gas stations and convenience stores. Each car is assigned a unique fuel card. According to the affidavit, after being confronted with the accusations, Smith told an investigator he violated department policy by taking patrol cars home. “He also stated he had used police department fuel cards to put gas into his personal vehicle,” the affidavit stated. “He stated he knew this was wrong. He stated he had permission to take a ‘gas allowance’ from two of the town board members.” Smith told the investigator he had been at the home of one of the board members for a party. “A discussion was held regarding the defendant not being paid what he and they believed he should be paid,” the affidavit stated. When Smith “mentioned a gas allowance would help, he was told by one of the town board members to go ahead and take such an allowance.” In the affidavit, Smith identified the town board trustees as Bonnie Dunston and Joe Rudd. Dunston told The Tribune she couldn’t comment about the case because it was under investigation. However, in the affidavit, she told an investigator she does not have the authority to approve such a request, and she would be opposed to an employee paying for personal gas with the town’s money. Rudd, who did not return phone calls from The Tribune seeking comment, told the investigator “he would not authorize such transactions, nor did he have the authority to do so,” the affidavit stated. Town Manager Troy Renken said Smith submitted a letter of resignation Nov. 9 and made his resignation effective Nov. 11. Renken said the town had just begun advertising the open police chief position, and the department’s sergeants and Renken — a former Platteville police chief — would handle the chief’s duties while the search for a replacement was conducted. “It will go for several weeks now and then a hiring committee will be formed to fill that position,” he said. Renken said he did not think the town needed to adjust what it pays the chief. “I think the salary is pretty competitive with other agencies our size,” he said. “I think all of us would like to make more money than we do.” NMILLER@GREELEYTRIBUNE.COM

Police Captain Voids Ticket to Lieutenant

Concord Cop Gives Off-Duty Police Lieutenant a Ticket, Captain Voids it “In the Interest of Justice” - November 28, 2011

On October 7th at 8:37am, an off-duty Concord Police Lieutenant was issued a citation by a Concord Police Officer for the Lieutenant’s role in a traffic collision on Galindo Street, directly in front of the Concord Police Department. The off-duty Lieutenant, identified by the City of Concord as Robin Heinemann, was responsible for the collision, according to the City Attorney’s Office. The collision report states, according to sources, that Lt. Heinemann was making a left turn into the Police Department’s Driveway from Galindo when she failed to yield to oncoming traffic, causing a two-vehicle collision. Lt. Heinemann was then issued a citation by Officer Ron Bruckert for violating vehicle code section 21801a (failure to yield to oncoming traffic during a left turn movement). Ten days after the citation was issued to Lt. Heinemann, it was voided by Concord Police Captain David Downing. In a supplemental report, which was viewed by, Downing states “After conducting a review with Off. Bruckert, Sgt. Nunes, Lt. Graham & Lt. Heinemann concerning the accident, I decided to rescind the citation (#32-669043) to driver #1 in the interest of justice.” Captain David Downing was asked what he meant by “in the interest of justice“, and although he acknowledged our request for a comment, he did not answer the question. also tried to obtain the full report and the voided citation, but was denied by the Concord City Attorney’s Office. Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger was also contacted, but claimed the City Attorney’s Office had already answered our question. According to the California Courts website, the fine for a failure to yield to oncoming traffic citation is about $234.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jail Deputy Arrested for Smuggling Cell Phones

Orleans Parish deputy booked with smuggling cell phones into jail
The Times-Picayune by
Laura Maggi - November 28, 2011

A deputy who worked at the Orleans Parish jail was arrested Saturday and booked with several counts of smuggling cell phones into the facility where he worked. An Orleans Parish deputy has been charged with smuggling cell phones to prisoners. Other deputies with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office discovered a cell phone in a jacket belonging to Michael Conerly, 24, according to a brief police report written by Deputy Ernest Newman. The jacket had been left by Conerly at the control office of the House of Detention, one of the jail's facilities. A supervisor, Sgt. Nicole Harris, told Newman that she confiscated the jacket from Conerly after he arrived for his shift because it did not conform to departmental regulations. When later questioned about the cell phone and charger found in his jacket pocket, Conerly confessed that the phone was for an inmate. Conerly also told Newman that he had smuggled phones into the jail twice before, according to the report, which was posted on the website of The Lens. Conerly told investigators that the smuggled cell phone that they discovered Saturday was intended for inmate Larenzo "Woodie" Peters, according to the report. But the Sheriff's Office later clarified that the inmate was Alonzo Peters, 21, who records show is jailed on a charge of heroin possession with intent to distribute. The report by the Sheriff's Office did not name the other two inmates to whom Conerly allegedly provided phones in the past.The Sheriff's Office booked Conerly with three counts of malfeasance in office and three counts of contraband possession at a correctional institution. He bonded out of jail early Monday morning. The incident comes amid questions about the security of the jail -- in particular, about the ability of some inmates to communicate with the outside world. Last month, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said that high-profile inmate Telly Hankton was moved out of the Orleans Parish jail in late 2010 because of the FBI's concerns that he was too easily able to get messages to people outside the jail while awaiting trial on a murder charge. The move came shortly after John Matthews, who was preparing to give eyewitness testimony in Hankton's murder trial, was shot at his eastern New Orleans home -- allegedly by a cousin of Hankton's. At the time, a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman called Cannizzaro's claim "irresponsible" and said the DA had never reported a concern that Hankton was getting messages to the outside. In a statement released on Monday, Sheriff's Office spokesman Marc Ehrhardt said the office has a "zero-tolerance policy" about guards engaging in illegal conduct, adding that the agency searches for contraband on a daily basis. "This individual was arrested because OPSO deputies were vigilant in their duties and followed standard procedures to stop this illegal activity," Ehrhardt said in the statement. The office declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation. Laura Maggi can be reached at or 504.826.3316.

Police Chief Knew About Claims of Rape Against Cops

Cleveland Police Chief Wes Snyder knew about claims of statutory rape against officers
The Chattanooga Times Free Press by Todd South - November 29, 2011

Recent court testimony indicates that Cleveland, Tenn., Police Chief Wes Snyder knew of allegations of statutory rape and drug abuse against some of his officers in 2008 but did not launch a direct investigation into the claims. The officers later were arrested, fired and pleaded guilty to sex acts with teenage girls. Testifying Nov. 17 in an employment lawsuit filed by former Cleveland detective Duff Brumley, Cleveland Assistant Police Chief Gary Hicks described a hostile work climate and said Snyder showed animosity toward Brumley leading up to the officer's 2010 firing. While testifying about events in the department connected to Snyder, Hicks said that, before May 2008, the department had received complaints that some of its officers were having sex with teenage girls and providing them alcohol. The complaints also said the officers illegally were abusing prescription medications such as hydrocodone, Hicks testified. Snyder told him to have a meeting with the accused officers and "get their attention," Hicks said. In May 2008, Hicks said, he called the officers and their supervisors into the department training room and wrote on the board that the conduct had to stop or they would be fired. He said those in the room nodded their heads, but no one spoke of details. No official investigation into the allegations ever was launched. Snyder did not respond to questions related to Hick's testimony. Instead, at the request of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he produced internal affairs records from an investigation into a separate incident involving the officers. Nearly seven months after Hicks' meeting with the officers, off-duty officer Dennis Hughes shot officer Chris Mason in the hand while Mason and Officer John Hammons were at Hughes' home on duty. An investigation into the shooting revealed that officers Nathan Thomas and Hammons were using pills without a prescription. Thomas was suspended. But the pill investigation revealed other issues. Police charged Hughes and Thomas with having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls in November 2008 and again on Jan. 4, 2009. In July 2010, Thomas pleaded guilty to drug, forgery and statutory rape charges. The 14-year police veteran was sentenced to six years in prison and is eligible for parole after two years, records show. Hughes pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape and received probation, according to the Bradley County Court clerk's office. City Manager Janice Casteel said she wasn't present at any of the meetings and directed questions to Snyder.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Police Major Suspended in Traffic Fix

Atlanta police major suspended in Tracy Reed traffic case
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jeremiah McWilliams - November 28, 2011

An Atlanta police major faces a 15-day suspension without pay after a city law department investigation of two traffic stops involving Mayor Kasim Reed’s older brother. The disciplinary action against Maj. Rodney Bryant was announced on Monday, the same day the city released results of its investigations. Mayor Reed’s brother, Tracy F. Reed, kept his city job and continued driving -- sometimes in a city-owned vehicle -- after he was detained in May for driving on a suspended license. When a local television station aired footage of another traffic stop in late October, the city launched two separate investigations and he resigned from his job in the Office of Contract Compliance. The city law department focused on whether Tracy Reed received preferential treatment from police during the traffic stops on May 4 and Oct. 28. Bryant, a precinct commander, intervened during both incidents, according to the investigation. The investigation found that, after being stopped in October for an expired tag, Tracy Reed called Police Chief George Turner, who then called Bryant, a precinct commander, and told him to go to the scene. Turner told investigators that Reed told him there was “an identity issue” but that he did not know other details. The investigation found that Bryant failed to get all the information available before allowing Tracy Reed to drive away with an expired and suspended license. At that time, there was a bench warrant out for his arrest, issued in Atlanta Municipal Court on Oct. 6 after Reed failed to appear to answer a charge of driving on a suspended license. It was the latest of several failures to appear, according to police reports. But the law department’s investigation found that the officers at the scene did not know about the warrant because such warrants are not included in the Atlanta Criminal Information Center database. In an interview earlier this month, Mayor Kasim Reed said footage of the October stop, showing Bryant returning Tracy Reed’s license and letting him drive off in a black Lexus, “certainly shows that he was treated differently.”

“I did not request that anyone provide special treatment for my brother,” the mayor said in the interview. In the May incident, an officer was going to take Tracy Reed to jail after he stopped Reed in southwest Atlanta while driving another person’s black Chevrolet Suburban. The officer, running what was described as a random vehicle registration check, found that the tags were for a Honda Accord. Reed told the officer he didn’t have his license with him, but the officer ran a search and found that Reed’s license had been suspended in January 2006 for failure to appear in court. In any case, Reed’s license had expired in September 2006, according to the police report. Bryant told the responding officer to give Reed a copy of charges and then release him, which the officer did, according to the law department’s investigation. The decision to suspend Bryant was consistent with previous disciplinary action imposed on police officers for similar violations, Mayor Reed’s office said in a statement. Bryant declined to comment through a police department spokesman. Meanwhile, the city’s human resources department, which conducted a separate investigation, said it will change the policy governing the use of city vehicles. All employees who operate city vehicles will be required to provide consent for review of their motor vehicle records. Departments that have vehicles will be required to maintain logs and will be audited twice a year by the office of Fleet Services. The human resources department called for a city-wide review of all employees who are authorized to take vehicles home overnight to make sure they are complying with the the vehicle use policy. And there will be a city-wide review of departments to determine whether or not they need to have assigned vehicles. Atlanta has a motorized equipment fleet totaling about 4,700 units, according to the city’s most recent budget.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cop Suspected of Having Sex With High School Girl

NPD cop suspected of having sex with high school girl
Nogales International by Manuel C. Coppola - November 25, 2011

A 24-year-old Nogales police officer is under investigation for sexual conduct with a minor after officials at Nogales High School tipped off the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office about talk heard on campus. Authorities withheld the officer’s name pending formal charges. He has been placed on suspension. “Our officers take an oath, and if they violate that oath, they will be held accountable,” said Nogales Police Chief Jeffrey Kirkham. In May 2010, 29-year-old NPD Officer Mariano Garibay was arrested after authorities learned that he had been having sex with a 16-year-old member of the department’s Explorers program. Garibay eventually pleaded guilty to three of 11 counts of sexual conduct with a minor, and in February 2011, Judge James A. Soto sentenced him to two years and three months in prison. “It’s the same thing over again,” said County Attorney George Silva. “You would think that after the Garibay prosecution and subsequent prison sentence that (law enforcement officers) would get the message. “It’s hard to understand. Otherwise this young officer seemed to be coming along and doing all the right things” on the police force, Silva said. He explained that the 17-year-old alleged victim spoke to other students about the affair and eventually, word reached school officials. By law, they are required to inform law enforcement. Silva said sheriff investigators have served a warrant on the officer’s home and conducted other aspects of the investigation. But because they were called out to a triple homicide in the Tumacacori Mountains, they have been unavailable to brief him on their findings. “Our office needs to know all the particulars,” he said. “In sex crimes, the specific acts committed determine what kinds of charges are filed. But once we have all of that, I can assure you he will be charged.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ACLU Sues Sheriff's Office Over Complaining Prisoners

ACLU sues Canyon County sheriff, alleging jail punished prisoners who file grievances
The Idaho Statesman by Kristin Rodine - November 23, 2011

The civil rights organization, which had previously sued Canyon County in 2009 over conditions caused by chronic jail overcrowding, raised new allegations Wednesday in a federal lawsuit that targets Sheriff Chris Smith and his chief deputy. The complaint contends that Chief Deputy Gary Deulen ordered that a prisoner be transferred to a different facility in retaliation for the prisoner filing numerous complaints and keeping in contact with the ACLU. The suit also alleges that Smith and Deulen “maintain a policy and practice of retaliating against prisoners who file grievances that allege unconstitutional conditions of confinement.” Smith and Deulen could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The ACLU sent out a news release about the lawsuit after business hours Wednesday. The suit, filed on behalf of present and future Canyon County jail inmates, has two named plaintiffs who remain in the jail and also details the story of inmate Dana Harris, who was transferred out of the jail after repeatedly complaining about what he considered unsanitary conditions. The plaintiffs contend the only reason Harris was sent to another jail Oct. 25 “was to prevent him from notifying the ACLU about further deficiencies in the jail and to hinder his right of access to the courts.” The complaint quotes an email from Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Carl Ericson, who responded to a query from an ACLU attorney by stating Deulen decided to transfer the inmate to the Payette County Jail because Harris “did not appear to like being in our jail based on the large number of grievances and complaints that had been submitted.” “There was no retaliation against Harris,” Ericson wrote. “He had major issues with being in our jail so he was sent to a jail that would be more acceptable to him.” The Sheriff’s Office often transfers inmates to jails in surrounding counties to keep inmate numbers down to levels required by an agreement with the ACLU that at least temporarily resolved the organization’s previous lawsuit, filed in January 2009 alleging “indecent, cruel and inhumane conditions” in the jail. Lorraine Scott, one of the named plaintiffs, complained to jail staff she was being threatened by another prisoner. The lawsuit contends that staff placed Scott in solitary rather than respond to her grievances. “Threats and retaliation put a chill upon the exercise of rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the Idaho ACLU. “In a facility known for having many significant problems, it is essential that prisoners are able to lodge grievances without fear of retaliation.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Police Captain Denied Bail in Federal Drug-Trafficking Case

Police capt. denied bond in federal court
WSVN - November 19, 2011

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A police officer accused of covering up a crime appeared in federal court Friday and was denied bond. During the hearing, as the indictment against Opa-Locka Police Captain Arthur Balom, 44, and seven others was unsealed, new disturbing details came to light about Balom's alleged role in a deadly armored car ambush. A federal judge denied Balom's bond, saying he poses a danger to the community. Defense Attorney Michael Cornley said, "I'm a little disappointed the court did not release him today. I think he is a fine man. I think a lot of these charges are a result of him not totally cooperating with the federal government." A two-year investigation ended the Police Captain cuffed. He and several other men were placed in handcuffs Thursday for allegedly being involved in a drug ring. The FBI carried out evidence from the Opa-Locka Police Department, including the captain's personnel file. North Miami Beach City Manager Bryan Finnie said, "Today is a sad day for the City of Opa-Locka. As you know, it appears that one of our officers was indicted and arrested on conspiracy charges. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, and we are shocked and dismayed and very concerned about the outcome." But the alleged corruption does not stop there. Some members of this alleged drug ring were already arrested, accused of taking part in a Brinks armored truck robbery in Miramar last year, including accused ring-leader Toriano Johnson. In that robbery, 48-year-old Alejandro Arencibia was shot and killed. In federal court Friday, the U.S. District attorney's office claimed Balom not only aided and abetted drug deals, but that he also provided Johnson, his friend and partner in crime, information that helped Johnson elude police for more than a year. Possibly most shocking, the prosecution claims, Balom sold several bulletproof vests to Toriano, one of which may have been used during the armored truck heist. Balom's family left federal court after hearing that he will remain behind bars until his trial. Balom's attorney said his client was only doing his job. "The evidence is going to show that, at one time, he was involved in a crime task force, and he was asked, asked to have contact with these people." The prosecution says this is only the first wave of indictments and more arrests are coming. Balom will be back in federal court on Nov. 28 for his arraignment.


Opa-locka officer arrested in drug-trafficking case
The Miami Herald by Michael Vasquez - November 18, 2011

Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced criminal charges against eight men allegedly running an Opa-locka drug-dealing ring — and one of the accused is a longtime Opa-locka police officer. Capt. Arthur Balom, a 12-year veteran of the department, was among those charged in the four-count federal indictment. Balom, along with the seven other defendants, faces various counts of drug distribution and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The drug ring distributed cocaine, Ecstasy, and Oxycodone, according to prosecutors. The charges are the culmination of a two-year multi-agency investigation. If convicted, the defendants face up to 40 years in prison, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In that statement, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer called drug trafficking “a scourge on our communities.” “Its effects are even worse when, as in this case, we find police officers, who are sworn to protect and serve our community, instead abuse the public trust and engage in drug trafficking to line their pockets,” Ferrer said. Balom, who lives in Miramar, is accused of using his position to help the drug-trafficking organization, though the specifics of this allegation were unclear late Thursday. Balom and the other defendants are scheduled to make their initial court appearance Friday. “We’re just shocked and dismayed,” Opa-locka City Manager Bryan Finnie said. Finnie said FBI investigators visited Opa-locka police headquarters Thursday to view Balom’s personnel file. The other defendants charged in the indictment are Toriano Johnson, 36, of Opa-locka; Terrence Johnson, 38, of Miramar; Dwayne Miller, 27, of Opa-locka; Jermaine Parrish, 29, of Miami; Antwan Davis, 29, of Miami; Lawrence Benbow, 35, of Miami Gardens; and Justin Jean, 27, of Opa-locka. Although not outlined in the indictment information released by prosecutors on Thursday, Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reported that Balom may have also been involved with last year’s robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Miramar — a robbery in which one Brinks guard was killed. CBS4 reported that Balom allegedly provided the robbers with assistance.

Police Overtime Scrutinized

Police overtime scrutinized
The Albany Times Union by Kenneth C. Crowe II - November 18, 2011
Authorities looking into allegations involving five Troy sergeants

TROY, NY -- Five police sergeants are under investigation for allegedly taking sick time to boost each other's overtime income, police and city officials said Friday. The state Attorney General's office has participated in the ongoing investigation, Chief John Tedesco said. The alleged overtime padding involving five of the department's 27 sergeants came to light as the city prepares its defense in a federal lawsuit brought by 16 police officers for nonpayment of overtime for a week in November 2010. The alleged overtime scheme occurs as the city administration has tightened payments for officers working overtime. In 2010, the city paid $500,000 less in overtime for the 125-member department than the year before, according to city budget reports. As city payroll records were reviewed in January for the court case, the five sergeants came under suspicion of calling in sick so that other sergeants would take their place while being paid overtime, Tedesco said Friday following a departmental promotional ceremony. Overtime payments are included in calculations to determine a police officer's retirement pay.

In 2010, 13 of the top 25 overtime earners in the city were police officers, according to city records obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request by the Times Union. The records also showed that 97 of the city's 708 employees made $10,000 or more in overtime that year. A detailed audit of department payroll records has so far uncovered no evidence of the swap, according to City Council members briefed on the investigation in an executive session during Thursday night Finance Committee meeting. The council members asked not to be identified because of the confidential nature of the investigation. The council members approved a budget transfer of $5,700 to pay for the forensic audit by a private firm. Officer Robert Fitzgerald, president of the Troy Police Benevolent Association, said he does not know what the audit has uncovered. He said he has not seen the audit. Tedesco said the audit is part of an ongoing internal department investigation and would not be made public. The identities of the five sergeants have not been released. Tedesco declined to provide additional details of the investigation. When Tedesco was promoted to chief in 2010, he was ordered by Mayor Harry Tutunjian to reduce police overtime costs. Tutunjian also declined to comment on the investigation. The police department paid $1.38 million in overtime in 2009, which dropped to $838,513 in 2010, according to city budgets. Tedesco said he anticipates another $250,000 reduction in overtime when the year is over. Reach Kenneth C. Crowe II at 454-5084 or

Retired Cop Facing Sex Charges

Retired cop facing sex charges
The Albany Times Union by Bob Gardinier - November 18, 2011

TROY, NY -- A retired Albany police detective already arraigned in Albany and Warren counties on charges he sodomized a teenage boy was indicted Friday in Rensselaer County on the same charges. Paul Pierce, 58, of East Greenbush allegedly victimized the 16-year-old boy at his home from spring through December 2010, according to the indictment. Pierce, in handcuffs and street clothes after being picked up Friday, appeared before Judge Robert Jacon and pleaded not guilty to charges in the sealed indictment of third-degree criminal sexual act, a felony, and misdemeanor charges of forcible touching, third-degree sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the indictment. Jacon continued Pierce's $30,000 bail set in Albany and ordered the man to appear weekly at the probation department for drug and alcohol testing. Jacon also said he was going to make arrangements to have Pierce evaluated by a psychologist. In September, Pierce was arraigned on the same charges in Albany County Court relating to contact with the same boy in an Albany home. On Oct. 31, he was indicted in Warren County and pleaded not guilty to the same charges accusing him of molesting the same boy and a 16-year-old girl at a residence in Chestertown in 2009 and 2010, according to that indictment. That indictment charges Pierce with have oral and anal sex with the teens. The third-degree charge, a low-level felony, carries up to four years in prison. The misdemeanor brings up to one year behind bars. Court papers allege Pierce, a one-time DARE officer in the Albany school district, subjected the boy to "deviate sexual contact." The allegations are based on conversations between State Police and the victims. State Police encouraged parents of children who knew Pierce to talk to their children and contact investigators if they believe any youths were victimized. Reach Troop G headquarters at 783-3211.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cop Charged With Promoting Prostitution

Cop charged with promoting prostitution
KRQE by Alex Tomlin - November 18, 2011
New charges for Matt Kindle

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) - He's the same cop who was fired after he was charged with trying to bribe a prostitute for sex. Now, he's accused of being a pimp while he was on the force, and the new charges may be connected to a high-profile case. Albuquerque police said Matt Kindle was literally caught with his pants down in August, but an indictment handed up Thursday alleges Kindle may have been involved in much more long before that. The indictment charges Kindle with taking bribes and promoting prostitution between 2004 to 2008. Those are new charges, piled on top of the August incident when police say Kindle, who was on duty and in uniform, met with what he thought was a prostitute at a hotel near Interstate 40 and Carlisle Boulevard NE. Cops said he was caught on tape offering to help the woman out in a criminal case in exchange for sex, and offered to give her tips on how to avoid the vice squad while working as a prostitute in the city. The whole thing was really an undercover sting. Kindle was charged that night and fired from the Albuquerque Police Department three weeks later. APD isn't saying what the new charges are for. But News 13 has learned Kindle's new charges are connected to an Albuquerque prostitution ring. In the original criminal complaint from August, an officer noted that Kindle had been investigated for playing a part in “Private Ice,” a high-priced online hooker ring operating out of an Albuquerque business front that was busted in 2008. The complaint said Kindle's involvement couldn't be substantiated back then, and no one is saying yet if his new charges for promoting prostitution during the same years mean he has now been linked to “Private Ice”. It's unclear if Kindle was on duty at the time he's accused of making money on the side off prostitutes a few years ago. “Private Ice” was a big takedown for APD and then-Mayor Martin Chavez. Bobbie McMullin is spending the next decade in prison for masterminding the operation. McMullin also owned "The Ice House", an all-nude strip club downtown that closed in 2006. The strip club was a thorn in the side of the mayor because of the racy murals painted on the outside of the building. It's now a youth center.