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Monday, February 28, 2011

Former Deputy Gets 18 Months in Prison

Former deputy gets 18 months in prison
The News Times - February 25, 2011

NEW BERN, NC — Frank Galizia, the former chief deputy of the County Sheriff’s Department, will have to serve 18 months in federal prison for his role in an embezzlement scheme involving four other members of the department. In addition, Mr. Galizia will have to serve three months supervised probation and pay a portion of $84,000. Judge Louise Flanagan sentenced him today. He reports to prison after June 7. Mr. Galizia is the last of the defendants to be sentenced in the scheme, which involved the stealing of federal funds given to the county specifically to be used in covert drug operations. He pleaded guilty in July to aiding and abetting the embezzlement of funds while serving in the sheriff’s department under former sheriff Ralph L. Thomas Jr. Mr. Thomas, who was sentenced in October, is serving a 14-month prison sentence for his part in the scheme. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit an offense against the United States and was admitted to U.S. Penitentiary McCreary in Kentucky on Dec. 2. Boyce Floyd Jr. pleaded guilty to the same charge as Mr. Galizia and was sentenced in January to eight months in prison and $15,260 in restitution. He does not have to start his time until after May 7. Two other former deputies, Chris Cozart and Mark Farlow, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, for knowing about the criminal activity but not reporting it to authorities. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the eastern region of the state, Mr. Galizia, as well as Mr. Floyd, would sign out money from the county and then take it to the Mr. Thomas. The former sheriff would then take a cut for himself. The illegal activity went on for several years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Mr. Galizia has also admitted to taking money, according to prosecutors, though considerably less than Mr. Thomas.

Ex-Police Chief Gets Prison In Gun Probe

Ex-police chief gets prison in gun probe
The Associated Press - February 25, 2011

A former Louisiana police chief who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his department's handling of firearms has been sentenced to six months in prison. A federal judge on Friday also ordered former Vidalia Police Chief Ronnie "Tapper" Hendricks to pay a $3,000 fine and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Hendricks pleaded guilty in November to lying to FBI and ATF agents when he denied transferring a machine gun owned by the Vidalia Police Department to the Rifle Point Hunting Club in Ferriday. Hendricks resigned as part of his plea deal with prosecutors.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cop Indicted on Identity Theft Charges

Montgomery officer indicted on fraud charges
The Montgomery Advertiser by Matt Okarmus - February 25, 2011

Montgomery, AL - A Montgomery Police Department officer was indicted on federal wire fraud and identity theft charges, according to a statement released Friday from U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary. The indictment identifies Bradley Howard Pemberton, 41, a MPD sergeant. It alleges that through his position he was authorized to access the Law Enforcement Tactical System, which is maintained by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. LETS provides law enforcement personnel with Alabama drivers license information, including a driver’s Social Security number, date of birth and home address, the release states. While the information is to be used for law enforcement purposes only, the indictment alleges on Dec. 2, 2008, Pemberton used LETS to obtain the Social Security number and date of birth of an individual with the initials “BNP.” Pemberton applied for a Discover Card credit card over the Internet using his own address, but BNP’s name, Social Security number and date of birth, the release states. Discover Card opened an account based on the application and Pemberton used the account to make payments on a previously fraudulently obtained American Express card account. If convicted on both counts, Pemberton would face a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of two years imprisonment, a maximum sentence of 22 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $500,000, and an order of restitution, the release states. In a statement released from the Department of Public Safety, Director Chris Murphy says the MPD placed Pemberton on mandatory leave with pay effective Feb. 10, 2011. The Department of Public Safety asked the Office of City Investigations to review the matter and after consultation with the attorney assigned, the MPD initiated proceedings to terminate Pemberton’s employment, Murphy said in the statement. Pemberton was employed with MPD in April 1994. He is assigned to the Administrative Division as a police desk sergeant. “Police officers have great authority, and with that authority comes great responsibility,” Murphy said. “In such a position of public trust, there are clear consequences when the high standards the city of Montgomery sets are not met. Mayor (Todd) Strange, Chief (Kevin) Murphy and I are committed to accountability to the people we serve.” At Pemberton’s initial appearance Friday before United States Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer, Pemberton was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond. Arraignment has been set for April 6, 2011. The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, with the cooperation of the MPD.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Police Crime Lab Closed For False Reports

NY gov asks inspector to review troubled crime lab
The Wall Street Journal/The Associated Press - February 25, 2011

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed the state Inspector general to review testing procedures and protocols of a police department crime lab that was closed after revelations that it was generating inaccurate measurements in drug cases. Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said in a statement Friday that Ellen Biben's office has the resources to conduct the review without incurring further taxpayer costs. Nassau County officials closed the crime lab last week after discovering the problems. Police supervisors were aware of the inaccuracies months before a national accrediting agency put the lab on probation in December. The county's district attorney applauded Cuomo's decision to pick the inspector general. The inspector general's office investigates allegations of corruption, fraud, criminal activity and other abuses by state officials and employees.

Friday, February 25, 2011

31 Cops Suspended

Hearings for Balt. officers in corruption case
The Washington Post/The Associated Press - February 25, 2011

With 31 officers suspended, Baltimore police are facing the city's largest alleged police corruption scheme in decades. The 17 officers charged are accused of taking kickbacks for diverting drivers at accident scenes to an unauthorized towing company and repair shop. The department started suspension hearings Thursday for the officers, many of whom were assigned to the northeastern district, according to spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. In response to the staffing gap in that district, the department is moving a 20-officer community stabilization unit to fill in. Personnel statutes bar the release of names of the other suspended officers or the details of the accusations against them, Guglielmi said. The criminal complaint filed Wednesday charges the officers and the owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop in Rosedale with conspiracy to commit extortion in the course of their official duties. Officers are supposed to allow the owner to arrange for a tow, or if the owner declines, to use police communication channels to contact only an authorized towing company. But the complaint alleges owners of Majestic, which wasn't a city-authorized shop, paid officers to arrange for their company to tow vehicles from accident scenes. Officers received $300 for each vehicle they steered to Majestic, and one officer received more than $14,400 over two years, according to the complaint. The officers would tell owners that Majestic could help with the insurance claim and waive the deductible, advising them not to call the insurance company before talking with the repair shop owner, according to the complaint. Police union President Detective Bob Cherry checked with former presidents and commissioners and said this was the largest number of officers charged in one scheme that they could remember. The allegations could hurt the public's trust, but Cherry hopes people realize these officers are just a small segment 2,800-member force. "Officers who work the street feel very strongly about their oath," Cherry said. "If these allegations are proven, we don't want them on the street, either. A good cop is not going to tolerate a bad cop." If the officers want the police union to cover legal costs -- something the union will pay in misdemeanor cases and sometimes in more serious cases -- they will have to appeal to the union's board, because the union doesn't have a prepaid plan that would automatically cover them in felony cases, Cherry said. "This situation is a little different. If you believe the allegations, they aren't really performing their duties, it's a separate enterprise," Cherry said. "This situation is probably going to resonate differently with the board of directors." Officials declined to discuss how investigators learned of the alleged scheme, but one of the incidents that internal affairs investigators looked at was the arrest of Paula Protani of Frankford Towing, Guglielmi said. Protani, who is also a spokeswoman for the group of city-authorized towers, had made several complaints about Majestic, so when she spotted a Majestic truck at a crash in 2009, she went over to take a picture. She told the officer on the scene that Majestic was not allowed to be there and he told her to leave, then arrested her, she said. After spending hours at Central Booking, Protani filed a complaint with the department. Hearing of the charges Wednesday was bittersweet, Protani said. She is pleased that the department was pursuing corruption, but aware that the publicity would not be favorable for the towing industry or police. "I knew there was something fishy going on and I assumed it had something to do with money. I was aware that there was an investigation, but not that big an investigation and not with the FBI," she said. "It gives the towing industry a black eye and it gives the police a black eye that they don't deserve."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of Control Corruption Leads to New Federal Unit

Local U.S. Attorney Forms Civil Rights Unit
The Memphsis by Bill Dries - February 24, 2011

A new civil rights unit in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee will build on a substantial record of official misconduct, civil rights conspiracy, hate crimes and similar cases the office has prosecuted for decades. “The business of civil rights remains the unfinished business of America,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez said this month as he and U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton announced the prosecutors who will work in the unit. It is one of a dozen such dedicated units in the nation. Stanton and Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, announced the formation of the unit this month in the courtyard of the National Civil Rights Museum. “Historically this district ... ranks at the top – in the top five – on an annual basis of prosecutions in civil rights matters,” Stanton said. “It makes sense to streamline those resources and to initiate and launch a dedicated unit to be even more effective and efficient.” Perez said he hopes the unit will remain beyond the Obama administration. “This is about sustainability. ... I want to make sure that we accomplish remarkable feats during our tenure,” he said. “But I want to make sure that when our tenure comes to an end that we have put into place a sustainable infrastructure so that the work will endure. ... That infrastructure is already robust.” Leading the unit will be veteran federal prosecutor Stephen C. Parker, whose caseload has recently included a human trafficking case as well as public corruption cases over the years. The unit will also capitalize on the recent run of federal police corruption cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Coleman will head the part of the civil rights unit that continues to investigate those criminal cases. Jonathan Skrmetti, a Civil Rights Division attorney who came to Memphis to work with Parker on the largest of the police corruption cases involving former MPD officer Arthur Sease, among others, is now an assistant U.S. attorney with the Memphis office. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. met with Perez a year ago this month in Washington during the U.S. Conference of Mayors and used some of the same imagery Perez used last week in Memphis.

“The American dream is turning into the American nightmare and Memphis is a poster child for that,” Wharton told Perez as the two talked specifically about the city’s federal civil lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleging predatory and discriminatory lending practices in minority neighborhoods in Shelby County. The Justice Department had indicated shortly before Wharton’s call on Perez that it would be involved in some of the reverse redlining lawsuits across the country. “It was my feeling that Memphis is a poster child for those lawsuits simply because of the stark difference between the foreclosure rate in loans made to black borrowers and white borrowers,” Wharton said in a cover story that same month in The Daily News’ sister publication, The Memphis News. Wharton didn’t say what Perez’s response or commitment was. The Memphis civil rights unit will include the pursuit of civil cases. “This is not an infusion of new capital coming in from Washington,” Perez said in Memphis this month. “This is a statement of leadership from your U.S. attorney – a statement that we will have a dedicated unit working not only on the critical cases in a criminal context ... but also making sure that we give meaning to our robust docket of cases in the civil context.” Among the general types of civil cases to be pursued, Perez highlighted “making sure we give meaning to the Fair Housing Act protections of equal opportunity to realize the American dream.”

17 Cops Charged in Extortion Scheme

17 Baltimore Police Officers Charged In Extortion Scheme
CBS Maryland - February 23, 2011

ROSEDALE, Md. (WJZ)—An elaborate extortion scheme generated thousands of dollars. Investigators say it was Baltimore City police officers and the owners of a local business who were behind it all. Kelly McPherson explains how investigators say the operation worked. In a two-year investigation, federal authorities claim 17 officers took kickbacks for illegally steering car accident victims to a Rosedale auto body shop. Majestic Auto Repair Shop in Rosedale is at the center of a massive kickback scheme, involving 17 city police officers. A 41-page federal criminal complaint outlines the allegations, claiming the officers would respond to car accidents and convince car owners to have their cars towed and repaired by Majestic rather than a city authorized towing company. In exchange, Majestic paid the officers kickbacks of $300 per vehicle with one officer allegedly making more than $14,000 over two years. According to that complaint, one officer said to the shop owner: “My pay made me cry with that two percent cut, which is less $100 from my check.” Moreno responds, “Keep an eye out for cars. That’s where you’ll make it.”

The following defendants, all from Maryland, are charged in the conspiracy:
Hernan Alexis Moreno Mejia (Moreno), age 30, of Rosedale; Moreno’s brother, Edwin Javier Mejia, age 27, of Middle River; Eddy Arias, age 39, of Catonsville; Eric Ivan Ayala Olivera, age 35, of Edgewood; Rodney Cintron, age 31, of Middle River; Jhonn S. Corona, age 32, of Rosedale; Michael Lee Cross, age 28, of Reisterstown; Jerry Edward Diggs, Jr., age 24, of Baltimore; Rafael Concepcion Feliciano Jr., age 30, of Baltimore; Jaime Luis Lugo Rivera, age 35, of Aberdeen; Kelvin Quade Manrich, age 41, of Gwynn Oak; Luis Nunez, age 33, of Baltimore; Samuel Ocasio, age 35, of Edgewood; David Reeping, age 41, of Baltimore; Jermaine Rice, age 28, of Owings Mills; Leonel Rodriguez Torres, age 31, of Edgewood; Marcos Fernando Urena, age 33, of Baltimore; Osvaldo Valentine, age 38, of Edgewood; and Henry Yambo, age 28, of Reisterstown.

The Baltimore Police Department requires that when police request vehicle towing services, they only use towing companies that are under contract with the city of Baltimore to provide towing services for the Baltimore Police Department. Defendants Moreno and Mejia are brothers who own Majestic Auto Repair Shop LLC (Majestic), located in Rosedale. Majestic provides towing and automobile repair services. Majestic is not an authorized tow company with the city of Baltimore. The remaining defendants are Baltimore police officers. The commissioner set up the sting arrest by bringing the accused officers to the police academy Wednesday. Police commissioner Fred Bealefeld says he purposefully chose to have the officers arrested at the police academy to serve as a reminder to the city and his officers of their commitment to fight corruption. He says the officers were told to report there Wednesday morning for an equipment inspection. “I personally took the badges from every one of those men who were arrested today,” said Commissioner Fred Bealefeld. “There will be important lessons for us to learn from start to finish in this whole thing and I didn’t and don’t want to miss a single opportunity to capitalize on that and that’s why I chose that location. We just can’t give order to corruption. We can’t and won’t and will exhaust every means to eliminating it from our ranks.” The FBI says the investigation began with the city police department and involved wiretaps and electronic surveillance all started by the city police department. “There is absolutely nobody in this police department that should be hanging their heads right now. The police department did a very good job rooting out alleged corruption within their own ranks and they should be very proud of that effort,” said Richard McFeely, FBI. Fifteen of the officers had their first court appearance Wednesday. Police are trying to track down two of the officers who have not yet been arrested because they were on previously scheduled vacation. All of them have been stripped of their police powers and are suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. “When we have a few bad apples, they make it bad for all of them. And the officers that we have in our city make too many sacrifices for that to be the case,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. She also released a statement. “I expect all City employees to serve the public with the highest level of integrity, and I will not tolerate criminal or unethical activity by any city employee. I appreciate the efforts of Commissioner Bealefeld and our federal partners for working closely together to investigate, arrest, and prosecute these individuals. Any criminal activity by a Baltimore police officer dishonors our city and the 3,000 men and women of the Baltimore Police Department who serve with great professionalism and integrity.” Police say the owners of the Majestic Body Shop spent thousands of dollars in exchange for bringing cars to their shop for repair work. Federal agents and officers were at the shop Wednesday for several hours, according to witnesses. They were pulling out boxes, presumably full of evidence from inside the shop. The shop is currently closed. WJZ spoke to a nearby business owner who said sometimes the business at Majestic would get so busy that cars would have to park in the lot across the street. That business owner says he did not suspect anything. “I know them because they are my neighbors,” said Hanrek Singh, Club 7400 owner. “But I don’t know what they’re doing in there.” While Singh says Majestic owners were “good guys,” another neighbor did say that he was not surprised to see police activity, but he was not aware of what was going on.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Police Sergeant Resigns Amid Claims of Sex, Lying

Police Sergeant resigns amid claims of sex, lying
WRCB Eyewitness News by Gordon Boyd - February 22, 2011

LAFAYETTE, WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- An eight-year veteran, the only canine officer on the Lafayette Police force, has been forced to resign after a man accused him of having sex with his wife in his cruiser. Lafayette Public Safety Chief Tommy Freeman says it wasn't the 'he said, she said' that started driving Sgt. Todd Manning's career toward a dead end on Jackson Street last Wednesday morning. "Sgt. Manning and the woman both denied there was any sexual contact," Chief Freeman tells Eyewitness News. "Her story changed a couple of times,and he absolutely denied that occurred." Internal Affairs began investigating the claims Wednesday afternoon. Sgt. Manning resigned Thursday. Chief Freeman will not identify the woman in question. But he confirms that neighbors told Internal Affairs Investigators that they saw her get into Sgt. Freeman's cruiser sometime between 3 and 5AM last Wednesday. Department policy prohibits civilians riding in Lafayette Police cruisers unless that civilian is under arrest or being held for questioning. Eyewitness News canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. No neighbor our crew found would admit to talking to police, nor would they talk on camera. But they confirm that police have been to the woman's home several times to check on the welfare of her four children, and to mediate disputes with her estranged husband. "But Todd Manning was never involved in those situations," Chief Freeman says. "It was always other officers answering calls at her residence." Investigators have concluded that Sgt. Manning didn't drive the woman very far from home; only to the parking lot behind a Post Office only about a quarter mile away. But Chief Freeman has decided that's more than far enough. "We interviewed the woman, and she admitted being in the car," the Chief says. "Sgt. Manning had denied it until then, but then admitted that he told untruths. That's why he was allowed to resign, or he could face termination." Eyewitness News has been unable to reach either the woman or Sgt. Manning. Chief Freeman says he likely would have let Manning remain on the force, had he admitted that he'd allowed the woman into his cruiser. "Problem is with lying, you're digging' a hole. And the more lies you tell, the deeper the hole is," says Chief Freeman. By resigning rather than being fired, Sgt. Manning loses all rights of appeal to regain his job in Lafayette. But he still could be a police officer in Georgia unless the Police Officer Standards and Training Council were to revoke his certification and credentials. Lafayette will report this incident, but Sgt. Manning would be entitled to a hearing should the Council pursue the matter.

Cop Admits Having Sex With Drunk Teenager

DA: Macon officer admitted having sex with drunk teenager
The Macon Telegraph by Amy Leigh Womack - February 22, 2011

A Macon police officer who resigned this weekend and was charged with rape appeared in Bibb County Superior Court Tuesday morning. Chris Campbell, 29, was on duty early Friday morning when he took a 19-year-old Houston County woman to the Liberty Inn, 4295 Pio Nono Ave., District Attorney Greg Winters said at the hearing. He helped the woman get a room, then had sex with her, Winters said. Later, the woman told authorities she was unconscious when Campbell had sex with her. Campbell has admitted having sex with the woman while she was intoxicated, he said. A bond wasn’t set during the hearing. Lars Anderson, Campbell’s attorney, declined comment other than to say he’s “just getting into the case.” “Obviously the charges are serious. Not only is Mr. Campbell deserving of his day in court, but also a full investigation and discovery.” Macon police have said a criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation were launched during the weekend after the woman reported the incident Friday. Campbell was questioned Saturday and arrested just before 1 a.m. Sunday. He resigned before being charged with rape. Other charges may be pending, according to police. Before his arrest, Campbell had been an officer for three years and had most recently worked in the patrol division. He is being held at the Bibb County jail without bond.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Former Cop Charged With Obtaining Property By Fraud

Former Harahan Police Officer Charged With Obtaining Property By Fraud
WGNO - ABC26 News - February 22, 2011

CAROL NEY , age 63, a resident of Kenner, Louisiana, was charged today in a one-count bill of information with obtaining property by fraud concerning programs receiving federal funds, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten. According to the bill of information, NEY was employed as a police officer by the City of Harahan. During that time, the City of Harahan received a sub-grant from the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice which provided federal funds for overtime costs to provide services to victims of crime. Further, according to the bill, NEY served as both the project director and the victim assistance advocate who was supposed to provide direct services to victims of crime under the grant. It is alleged that during the years 2009 and 2010, NEY submitted payroll forms which had been falsified, either because she did not perform the victim assistance services she claimed, or because she performed them during regular work hours when she already was being compensated by her regular salary from the City of Harahan. Based on these fraudulent payroll forms, NEY was paid a total of $10,840. U. S. Attorney Letten expressed his gratitude to Jacob M. "Mac" Dickinson, Chief of Police, City of Harahan, for his and his agency’s assistance and cooperation in this matter. If she is convicted, NEY faces a possible maximum penalty of ten (10) years imprisonment, three (3) years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that a Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The case is being investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Eileen Gleason.

Monday, February 21, 2011

'Rape' Cop 'Confession'

'Rape' cop in 'confession'
The New York Post by Brad Hamilton - February 20, 2011

An NYPD patrolman accused of raping a drunken woman in her apartment made a chilling confession, apologizing to the victim for "getting really crazy" the night of the alleged 2008 attack, a former Manhattan prosecutor said. A few days after she was allegedly assaulted, the victim secretly recorded East Village cop Kenneth Moreno in a face-to-face encounter on the street in front of the 9th Precinct station house where Moreno worked, the source said. "He tries to deny they had sex, but eventually he admits to it," said the ex-prosecutor, referring to the meeting orchestrated by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. "He says, 'It wasn't done intentionally. I didn't mean to hurt you. I just got caught up. I'm sorry.' " The tape will play a key role in the case against Moreno, 43, and his partner, Franklin Mata, 28, who go on trial next week for rape, burglary and official misconduct and face up to 25 years in prison. While Mata sat nearby, Moreno allegedly forced himself on the passed-out fashion executive, whom the two officers helped up to her apartment on East 13th Street after she got blitzed partying with pals in December 2008. The victim called the Manhattan DA's sex-crimes office, which launched an investigation in conjunction with the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. She wore a wire and confronted Moreno about what he did. She told him she recalled waking up on her bathroom floor, then being in her bed as the cop stripped off her clothes and had his way with her. His explanation: "It turned from us trying to help you to getting really crazy." But after Moreno says he's sorry, he offers to date her. "If you stop drinking, I'll be your boyfriend," he says. Sources familiar with the charges say the trial could last several weeks and involve a slew of witnesses -- people who saw the cops and the victim that night and forensic experts expected to testify about the effects of intoxication as a drunk person can't legally consent to sex. The defense is expected to argue that the sex was consensual and will likely attack the credibility of the cops' accuser, a stunning brunette and successful fashion designer who had recently moved from San Francisco. Moreno and Mata met her about 1 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2008, when a cabdriver called 911 and said his passenger was drunk, had vomited in his taxi and needed help getting into her East 13th Street apartment. Driver Kofi Owusu had picked up the woman in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where she and her friends were partying at music venue Southpaw. She had consumed too much vodka, and her friends sent her off in the cab.

Moreno, then a 17-year veteran, and Mata, with three years on the force, arrived and assisted the woman into the building and up the stairs of the five-story walk-up. The three walked in at 1:10 a.m., according to videotape from a ground-floor bar, Heathers, two doors down, and spent seven minutes inside, during which she continued to vomit. They left, promising to return later to check on her condition. They returned at 1:56 a.m. and were let in by another resident, whom they told they were investigating a noise complaint. They stayed for 17 minutes before being forced to leave to handle a traffic accident at 13th Street and First Avenue. After dealing with the crash, one of them allegedly used a pay phone at the scene to make a 911 call, claiming to be "John Edward." The caller said a homeless man was lurking at an East 13th Street building close to the woman's. A police dispatcher sent them to that location. The two entered the woman's building at 2:59 a.m., using her key, which they'd taken from her earlier, and stayed until 3:33 a.m., according to the bar's video. The footage shows them shielding their faces from a camera they spotted during the second trip. They didn't realize a second camera captured the effort to conceal their identities. Once inside the apartment, Moreno removed the woman's clothing, including her boots and tights, as she floated in and out of consciousness, sources said. Prosecutors say Moreno put on a condom and had sex with the woman as she lay face-down on her bed while Mata sat on a couch in the living room. Later that morning, the victim reached out to friends in the building and to Heather Mill stone, who owns the bar that captured video of the officers. "I've been raped," she told her, according to Millstone. "It was the police." The friends convinced her to seek treatment at Beth Israel Hospital and to contact the Manhattan DA's Office. Investigators uncovered incriminating evidence, including a red Bic lighter that the victim found under her bed and didn't recognize. A search of Moreno's police locker turned up three of the same lighters. Investigators suspect the Bic fell from his pocket while he was assaulting the victim. They also found a packet of heroin in the locker, which Moreno claimed he'd taken from a drug suspect and forgot to voucher, and credit cards and personal IDs of several other women. They later determined that Moreno somehow got the cards but never contacted the women. Prosecutors say the cops also stole the woman's BlackBerry and called her mother and brother in a bid to scare her into keeping quiet. In the taped conversation with the woman, Moreno denies stealing the phone. Prosecutors have been going over the evidence with Moreno's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, and Mata's attorney, Edward Mandery, laying out the bulk of their case. "I'm very confident my client will be acquitted," Tacopina said. Prosecution sources said Mata at one point offered to cooperate and testify against his partner in exchange for a lesser charge -- an offer that was rejected, they said. Mandery denied there was ever any offer to cooperate. Both suspects are free on $175,000 bond. The victim, who has moved back to San Francisco, is trying to rebuild her life, concentrating on a promising career in the fashion trade and getting support from her family. The attack "is always in her mind," said a person who knows her. "But she's strong-willed and very capable, and she's put a lot of time into [her work] while this is pending."

Incriminating words

At the request of investigators, the woman who claims she was raped by cops met with officer Kenneth Moreno outside his Ninth Precinct station house in the East Village a few days after the alleged assault. Here are a few samples of the secretly recorded confrontation, according to a former prosecutor familiar with the case:

Woman: “I woke up and you guys were taking advantage of me.”
Moreno: “Nobody took advantage of you.”
Woman: “You were having sex with me. I was violated.”
Moreno: “No you weren’t — nothing happened.”
Woman: “You’re lying.”
Moreno: “OK. It turned from us trying to help you to getting really crazy.”
Moreno: “What do you remember?”
Woman: “I remember getting up the stairs and waking up on the bathrooom floor. The next thing I know, I’m in my bed, you’re taking off my clothes and having sex with me.”
Moreno: “OK”
Woman: “OK?”
Moreno: “It wasn’t done intentionally. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just got caught up. I’m sorry.”
Woman: “I need to know if I’m OK. Did you wear a condom — yes or no?”
Moreno: “Yes, I did. You don’t have to worry about any diseases or getting pregnant.”
Woman: “Was it only you?”
Moreno: “It was only me.”
Moreno: “If you stop drinking, I’ll be your boyfriend. I’m not a bad man. I’m a good friend to have.”


'Rape' Cops Still Collect Salaries

'Rape' cops still collect salaries
The New York Post by BRAD HAMILTON - February 20, 2011

The cops who allegedly raped a drunken women were slammed by Commissioner Ray Kelly for "outrageous" conduct that was "dispiriting" to the department, but they continue to collect their salaries -- and don't do any work for the money. The two were suspended briefly after being arrested in December 2008, but they've been getting full-time pay since -- about $150,000 for Kenneth Moreno and approximately $110,000 for Franklin Mata over the last two years. All for doing nothing. A source familiar with their situation said they check in each morning at One Police Plaza, then leave. "The PD is so disgusted, they don't want them anywhere near a police facility," the source said. "They're collecting a check, getting paid full-time. They do nothing." The NYPD did not respond to a request to confirm the officers' pay.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Wrong with Pennsylvania's State Police?

What's Wrong with Pennsylvania's State Police?
Yahoo Associated Content by Marlin Bressi - February 19, 2011

Over 150 Pennsylvania State Troopers Have Been Arrested Since 1994

Despite three separate incidents in February involving disgraced Pennsylvania state troopers, the public outrage has been minimal. While these troopers are not the first to run afoul of the law in the Keystone State, the short time span between these incidents, as well as several other high-profile incidents in recent years, suggests that there is something most definitely wrong with our state's police force. The PSP's latest woes began on Wednesday, Feb. 2, when the body of suspended state trooper David Alan Lynch was found in a wooded area in Conyngham Township, Columbia County. Lynch's death, which was ruled accidental, took place during the week in which the suspended trooper was scheduled to go on trial for resisting arrest, and a DUI (driving under the influence) charge stemming from a domestic disturbance in 2009. (Shamokin News-Item, Feb. 9, 2011) On the same day, a Cumberland County jury found Trooper Barry Tangert, Jr. guilty of obstructing a child molestation investigation. Tangert is scheduled to be sentenced in March. (Associated Press, Feb. 2, 2011) On Feb. 15, Pennsylvania State Trooper Douglas N. Sversko, of Lewisburg, was arrested after allegedly sending sexually explicit videos to an undercover agent from the Child Predator Unit posing as a 13-year-old girl. Sversko faces at least two felony counts. (Shamokin News-Item, Feb. 17, 2011) The conditions surrounding Sversko's arrest are nearly identical to an incident involving another Pennsylvania state trooper which took place in Delaware County in 2008. Pennsylvania State Trooper Albert Silvari was arrested and convicted of criminal solicitation to rape, statutory sexual assault, and other charges. Silvari was caught in a sting while attempting to solicit two girls, aged 8 and 10. Other incidents involving Pennsylvania troopers include the 2010 arrest of Daniel Freeman, a Washington County trooper involved in an arson plot, and the 2010 arrest of Christopher Miller, a Pennsylvania State Trooper who was caught on tape assaulting a 72-year old man near Greensburg. In 2009, trooper Kevin Foley was arrested and subsequently found guilty of killing a dentist in Blairsville, PA. Shawn Dillard, a state trooper in Harrisburg, was convicted in 2009 for aiding and abetting a child prostitution ring. In 2008, a state trooper named Kevin Coleman faced federal charges for protecting the very same child prostitution ring near Harrisburg. A Philadelphia-area state trooper named John Travis Lane was charged in 2003 with a string of burglaries in Chester County. Lane's arrest in 2003 came a week after a state police report indicated that nearly 100 Pennsylvania state troopers had been arrested over the past decade for crimes ranging from incest to rape. According to the state police study completed in 2003, a whopping 82 state troopers were arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges since 1994. The same report also revealed another 25 state troopers arrested for summary offenses such as disorderly conduct and harassment. After the release of the 2002 report, then-governor Ed Rendell vowed to fix the problem. Perhaps 2011 will be the year current governor Tom Corbett makes the same empty promise. In the meantime, residents of the Keystone State will be left to fend for themselves against the uniformed menace sworn to protect us.

More Than Police Policy Failure

Fruitland Park's Police Department needs to get its house in order
The Orlando Sentinal by Lauren Ritchie - COMMENTARY - February 20, 2011

An audit of the Fruitland Park Police Department's evidence and operations released last week evoked this response: Wooo-hooo! Ride 'em cowboy!

The very politely worded report revealed:

•A full third of the cash used for several years to buy drugs and pay informants — $2,319.65 — is unaccounted for.
•A variety of items, including marijuana and $2,261, were missing from the evidence closet.
•A theft report accusing a secretary of stealing the cash from the evidence closet was dismissed with an explanation equivalent of "Oh, well. It's gone." It seems that a whole bunch of keys to the evidence closet had been issued and some were missing. Anybody or his brother could have been into the evidence.
•And speaking of brothers, the late brother of the former police chief, who owned a towing service, got all the vehicle-seizure business from the department.
•The department's major, who was in charge of evidence, keeps a 4-foot bong filled with flowers in his office. Really? He reported that it wasn't "evidence" anymore, but he had no documentation to prove it. Let's all sniff the daisies and be happy.
•Eight guns around the evidence locker came from, well, someplace. There wasn't any paperwork.
•One of the items in evidence originally thought to be missing was a Sony PlayStation and two controllers. Found! The guys at the fire station were playing with it.

Mount Dora theft case

Dear reader, have you heard enough? It's as if the chimps are handling the banana inventory, and everybody in the jungle is hungry. Years ago, sloppy procedures in handling evidence and cronyism were rampant, and Lake County had its share. But theft? That was a different matter. In 1982, the late Mount Dora police Chief Bobby Locke was arrested on charges of stealing $4,500 from the city department's evidence locker. His four top officers turned him in. The department had taken $4,570 from the body of a 76-year-old man involved in an unrelated criminal case. Lt. Earl Gooden, who later became the city's chief, noticed in the handwritten evidence record that the first two numbers of the sum were blacked, indicating only $70 had been taken into evidence rather than the larger sum. Gooden noticed this because it was his name that had been penciled in as the officer who verified the discrepancy. Locke later told his commanders that he'd returned the money to the dead man's family. Of course, family members said no such thing happened. At the time, the 36-year-old chief was among the most respected lawmen in Lake for his efforts to make law enforcement more professional. He attracted and recruited the most promising young officers of the time. He preached anti-corruption and ethics; he encouraged them to go to college. His colleagues were stunned by his arrest. Locke served a year in the Lake County Jail, mostly working seven days a week at a junkyard in Fruitland Park. A judge ordered him to pay $7 a day of his earnings to defray the cost of his keep in the jail and to remit almost all of the rest to his family.

More than just a 'policy failure'

Compare that to the reaction today in Fruitland Park to news that evidence has mysteriously gone missing. It's way too cavalier. Former police Chief Mark Isom, who retired after it became clear that he lied about having college degrees, conducted an "investigation" in October 2008 when he received a phone call accusing a secretary of having stolen the money. Cash was, indeed, missing. But nothing was done, and the case was closed as a "policy failure." Say what? Policies don't steal cash. People do. Time to start the roundup. The city manager in Fruitland Park has called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the missing money. Being a law-enforcement officer still ought to bring with it an extra expectation of honesty and a heightened responsibility to fulfill the public trust. If you can't trust the cops, who can you trust? Using the excuse that Fruitland Park is a typical small town doesn't wash. Stealing is still wrong, regardless of whether it's here or Miami. Computer software that tracks inventory is available everywhere, and it is idiot-simple to apply it to keeping track of evidence. There aren't any excuses for the behavior and there aren't any for the city's breezy, unconcerned attitude about missing evidence and money. If Fruitland Park cannot run its own little department without making a mess of it, city officials should consider shutting down its operations and contracting with a larger, more professional police agency to regain the trust of its residents. Her blog is online:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Corrupt Ex-Cop Gets 40 Years

Corrupt ex-NYPD Officer Jerry Bowens gets 40 years for killing gal pal
The New York Daily News by Oren Yaniv - February 16, 2011

A corrupt ex-cop who admitted gunning down his girlfriend and wounding her pal got 40 years to life in prison on Tuesday - the sentence his victim's heartbroken relatives had demanded.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus handed down the maximum sentence allowed under a plea deal Jerry Bowens, 45, made for murdering Catherine D'Onofrio, 28, and shooting Melissa Simmons nearly two years ago. "In 28 years of being a judge, this is one of the easiest decisions I've had to make," Marrus said before the sentencing. Brooklyn prosecutor Michelle Kaminsky said the disgraced narcotics officer killed his estranged girlfriend by tricking her into coming to her friend's home, locking the two women in the bathroom and shooting them. " [D'Onofrio] was lying on the floor in her own blood with a hole in her head," a sobbing Simmons told the judge. "I had to sit there with her because I didn't want her to die alone."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Judge Denies Motion to Expunge Records from Police Misconduct

Judge denies motion to expunge case records linked to grand jury police investigation
The Tulsa World by Omer Gillham - February 17, 2011

A federal judge has denied a request by a Tulsa man to have his court record expunged even though the court had previously thrown out his life sentences due to alleged police corruption, records show. DeMarco Deon Williams, 35, was freed from federal prison April 30 as part of a grand jury investigation of police misconduct. Court records show Williams was convicted April 25, 2008, in a federal court in Tulsa of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. Williams received two life sentences in a trial presided over by U.S. Chief District Judge Claire Eagan, of the Northern District. Before being freed, Williams spent about six years in federal prison or in jail awaiting trial. He is represented by attorney Randy Lynn. On Jan. 11, Williams filed a motion in federal court to have his court records expunged involving his federal convictions, records show. Williams said that the convictions, even though thrown out, had subjected him to a social stigmatism. Williams' motion stated that "he has experienced extreme difficulty in finding employment and in generally establishing a life and identity for himself because of the unconstitutional conviction at issue in the case." Eagan denied Williams' request, stating that the court has a competing interest in keeping the records in place so they can be accessible for the criminal trials expected to occur during the prosecution of five Tulsa police officers. Williams also may need the records for a civil suit he is expected to file in the case, Eagan wrote. Eagan also noted that the government states that Williams has three previous convictions in Tulsa County District Court that remain in the record. Jane W. Duke, the U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas, is a special prosecutor overseeing the grand jury investigation of police corruption. The investigation became public Nov. 1, 2009. The World reported that federal prosecutors were investigating alleged police misconduct involving stolen drugs and money, falsified search warrants, nonexistent informants and perjury. Six former and current police officers have been charged in the federal investigation. Thirty-one people have been freed from prison, had charges dismissed or sentences reduced. Omer Gillham 581-8301 -

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Officer Indicted for Theft

Officer indicted for theft
The Times-Journal by Mark Harrison - February 15, 2011

A DeKalb County grand jury indicted a former Powell police officer for theft. Neal Sparks, 36 of Fort Payne, is charged with second-degree theft of property. Sparks turned himself in to deputies Monday. DeKalb County District Attorney Mike O'Dell said a grand jury returned an indictment against Sparks last week. O'Dell said Sparks is accused of stealing a laptop computer from an unnamed person's vehicle during a traffic stop Sparks carried out while working as a police officer in Crossville. In addition to formerly working in Crossville and Collinsville, Sparks was also previously employed as Ider's police chief. It was during Sparks' tenure there that an Ider officer allegedly used a Taser on one of the town's councilmen. The Ider Town Council unanimously voted to fire Sparks from the job last March, following an executive session lasting more than an hour. The Ider council had placed Sparks on administrative leave prior to that after an earlier vote to fire him failed. During the earlier attempt, "citizen complaints" were cited as the reason he should be fired in Ider. Sparks was released Monday on $5,000 bond.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Misconduct by Prosecutors

Lawsuit Alleges Misconduct by Brooklyn Prosecutors
The Wall Street Journal by Sean Gardiner - February 16, 2011

A man who spent 16 years in prison for the murder of a Brooklyn rabbi has filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit alleging “blatantly illegal investigative tactics” were used by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to secure his conviction. Last June, Jabbar Collins was released from prison when prosecutors told a federal court judge that they were abandoning their efforts to retry him for the 1994 murder of Rabbi Abram Pollack. The district attorney vacated the murder conviction in May when evidence surfaced that one of the witnesses who implicated Collins had temporarily recanted, and prosecutors failed to inform Collins’s trial lawyer of it. The story of how Collins managed to overturn his murder conviction while in prison was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article in December [SEE BELOW]. On Wednesday, Collins and his attorney, Joel Rudin, filed the lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court naming the city, Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Vecchione and eight other prosecutors and detectives as defendants. Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment. Vecchione led the prosecution during the original Collins murder trial in 1995. Much of the lawsuit concerns Vecchione’s alleged conduct during the murder investigation and that trial. At a hearing in 2010 on a possible retrial for Collins, a witness testified that Vecchione threatened to hit him over the head with a coffee table when he refused to cooperate. Among a long list of allegations of misconduct is a new charge that several notarized or sworn affirmations and affidavits purportedly signed by Vecchione were forged by a paralegal. Vecchione denied at Collins’s state appeal in 2006 that any witness ever recanted or “had to be threatened or forced to testify.” He also swore that claims authorities had either coerced witnesses or failed to turn over potentially exculpatory information “are, without exception, untrue.” At that time, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said, “Michael Vecchione is not guilty of any misconduct.”

The lawsuit claims that Vecchione’s case against Collins began to “evaporate” in the beginning of 1995: One witness recanted his statement; another said he saw Collins running from the shooting and called 911 but there was no recording of that call; and the third witness had fled to Puerto Rico in violation of his probation, according to the complaint. According to the lawsuit, Vecchione employed illegal tactics to coerce his witnesses to give false statements and testify. The lawsuit claims that one of Vecchione’s forged sworn statements was used to gain an order that allowed him to force a witness to be taken to his office against his will. It alleges that the witness was jailed as way to coerce him into making false statements and giving false testimony. The lawsuit claims that Collins subsequent attempts to obtain records were improperly blocked by the Brooklyn Attorney’s office. Collins, who became well versed in public records laws while incarcerated, obtained exculpatory evidence — in one instance by admittedly posing as a prosecutor’s investigator during a recorded phone call. The lawsuit also accuses Hynes, the Brooklyn D.A., of failing to provide proper training and failing to discipline prosecutors who withheld evidence potentially favorable to the defense. “His deliberate indifference to such violations created an ‘anything goes’ atmosphere that caused such violations to continue, including in (Collins’) case,” the lawsuit states.

********************************BACKGROUND/RELATED STORY:

A Solitary Jailhouse Lawyer Argues His Way Out of Prison
The Wall Street Journal by Sean Gardiner - December 24, 2010

Each morning for 5,546 days, Jabbar Collins knew exactly what he'd wear when he awoke: a dark-green shirt with matching dark-green pants. The prison greenies of a convicted murderer, he says, were "overly starched in the beginning, but as time wore on, and after repeated washes, they were worn and dull, like so many other things on the inside." Today, Jabbar Collins works as a paralegal at the Law Offices of Joel B. Rudin in Manhattan. But for 15 years, he sat in prison, convicted of the 1994 murder of Rabbi Abraham Pollack. Mr. Collins, who maintained his innocence, spent much of those 15 years in a computerless prison law library. For most of those 15 years, Mr. Collins, who maintained his innocence, knew the only way his wardrobe would change was if he did something that's indescribably rare. He'd have to lawyer himself out of jail. There was no crusading journalist, no nonprofit group taking up his cause, just Inmate 95A2646, a high-school dropout from Brooklyn, alone in a computerless prison law library. "'Needle in a haystack' doesn't communicate it exactly. Is it more like lightning striking your house?" says Adele Bernard, who runs the Post-Conviction Project at Pace Law School in New York, which investigates claims of wrongful conviction. "It's so unbelievably hard…that it's almost impossible to come up with something that captures that." Mr. Collins pried documents from wary prosecutors, tracked down reluctant witnesses and persuaded them, at least once through trickery, to reveal what allegedly went on before and at the trial where he was convicted of the high-profile 1994 murder of Rabbi Abraham Pollack. The improbable result of that decade-and-a-half struggle was evident on a recent morning in a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper. Mr. Collins sat in a small office he now shares, wearing one of the eight dark suits he owns, a white shirt with French cuffs, a blue-and-gray striped tie and a pair of expensive wingtips. "Every day is beautiful" now, he said, smiling. "I don't have a bad day anymore. I think that my worst bad day out of prison will be better than my greatest good day in prison."

After more than 15 years behind bars and now free after getting his murder conviction overturned, Jabbar Collins starts his day like so many other New Yorkers: He takes the subway to his job in Manhattan. WSJ's Jason Bellini reports. On March 13, 1995, as Mr. Collins was led by officers through a side door of a Brooklyn courtroom to a holding cell, his mother let loose a wailing sound that he'd "never heard before or since." Her son had just been convicted of murder. He was 22, a father of three and facing at least 34 2/3 years behind bars. Three witnesses had implicated him in the midday shooting of Mr. Pollack as the rabbi collected rent in a building at 126 Graham Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Mr. Collins said he was home getting a haircut at the time. To that point in his life, Mr. Collins had been drifting. His father died when he was 12 and his mother worked two jobs while also studying nursing. Under-supervised, he skipped school often, smoked a lot of pot and fathered the first of his children when he was 15. When he was 16, he was arrested for a robbery. He says he was just waiting outside the store where a robbery took place. Mr. Collins accepted a youthful-offender adjudication under which he got probation and the arrest could eventually be purged. Mr. Collins later obtained a general-equivalency diploma and took some classes at Long Island University. He was trying to transfer to John Jay College of Criminal Justice when he was arrested for Mr. Pollack's murder. During his trial, Mr. Collins recalls being mystified. "I felt like a child," he says, "everyone talking over my head." But hearing his mother wailing as he was taken away suddenly cleared his head. "You have a life of misery ahead of you," he remembers telling himself. "The only way you're going to get out is to become your own lawyer."

On returning to Rikers Island, the city jail complex, Mr. Collins headed to the law library. There and later at Green Haven prison north of the city, he spent most of his free time in law libraries, pouring himself into legal books: "Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure," "McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York," "The Legal Research Manual." A thick text for paralegals called "Case Analysis and Fundamentals of Legal Writing" became his bible. He devoted two months to mastering the intricacies of federal and state law on access to public records. Jabbar Collins achieved the rare feat of lawyering himself out of prison, 15 years after he was convicted of murdering a rabbi in Brooklyn, N.Y. Here are some of those involved. Michael Vecchione denied any witnesses were rewarded or pressured. Adrian Diaz testified at trial he saw Collins with a gun. When Collins much later called him, posing as a D.A. investigator, Diaz talked about his route to becoming a witness. Edwin Oliva testified at trial that Collins had said he planned to rob the rabbi. When Collins wrote to Oliva years later, Oliva wrote back describing what lay behind his testimony. Angel Santos testified at trial he had called 911 and said he saw Collins run past. His voice didn't seem to Collins to match any voices on the 911 tape. Joel Rudin helped Collins after his own 10-year legal effort. His first request for trial records under New York's Freedom of Information Law, in July 1995, was denied. He would go on to file six more requests, five more appeals and a lawsuit before a judge gave him some of the records over two years later. Finally succeeding in a request, gaining 239 pages of documents and 94 audio tapes, emboldened him. "It kind of refilled the tanks," he says, "gave me the confidence to fight on."

Over time, Mr. Collins would file a dizzying number of records requests. If they were denied, he appealed. If he lost, he'd add his requests to those he prepared for other inmates. "The mosaic of intelligence gathering," Mr. Collins calls this. "You collect one item at a time and you add to the picture piece by piece until you create what is a stunning mosaic of what really happened." He picked away at his case for eight years, but by the fall of 2003 he had hit a wall. That's when he carried out a ruse to trick Adrian Diaz, who had testified to seeing Mr. Collins tuck a gun in his waistband after the murder, into talking to him. "I became Kevin Beekman, district attorney's investigator, for about 25 minutes," Mr. Collins says. The fictitious Mr. Beekman said he needed to recreate documents lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack. When Mr. Diaz agreed to talk about his testimony, Mr. Collins routed the call through a phone in his mother's home so it could be recorded. Mr. Diaz said that before the trial, he had gone to Puerto Rico, in violation of his probation for marijuana possession. He agreed to return and testify against Mr. Collins, he said, only after prosecutors promised they would make sure his probation wasn't revoked. That account, which Mr. Diaz later attested to in a signed affidavit, wasn't provided by prosecutors to Mr. Collins's defense counsel, who could have used it to undermine the witness by showing he was given an incentive to testify.

In 2005 Mr. Collins wrote to another witness, Edwin Oliva, who had testified that before the murder, Mr. Collins said he was going to rob the rabbi. "I really need to know what happened between you and the District Attorney's Office," Mr. Collins wrote. "I always knew I was going to hear from you sooner or later," Mr. Oliva wrote back. "And to tell you the truth, I am glad you wrote, now once and for all I can settle the record." Mr. Oliva wrote that he had been arrested a few weeks after the Pollack murder for a robbery he pulled in the building. He said the police asked about the rabbi's killing and he told them all he knew was that Mr. Collins had been arrested. Detectives threatened to charge Mr. Oliva as an accessory, he wrote, and then made up a statement implicating Mr. Collins. Mr. Oliva wrote that he was so strung out and sleepy from a month-long run of "smoking & sniffin' dope" that he signed the statement, adding he "didn't even know what...I was signing." But now, Mr. Oliva added, he wanted to help Mr. Collins, "because I know you got a rotten deal." Mr. Oliva granted access to his records. They included a Legal Aid document that referenced, without elaborating, a "deal" being discussed between the judge, a prosecutor and Mr. Oliva's attorney. Mr. Oliva was allowed to plead to a lesser felony than he had been indicted for. He received a sentence of up to three years. The other charge could have kept him in prison longer.

At the trial, lead prosecutor Michael Vecchione stated that no key witnesses had received anything for testifying. "Oliva's motive is simple," the prosecutor said. "Just like all the rest of the witnesses, he saw something, he heard something, someone asked him about it, and he is telling what he saw and he is telling what he heard. Nothing else." Mr. Vecchione declined requests for comment. Mr. Collins, though a skilled jailhouse lawyer who helped many other inmates, could take his own appeal only so far without help. In late 2005, after 10 years working alone, he contacted Joel Rudin, a civil-rights attorney known for winning what was then the largest wrongful-conviction settlement in New York, $5 million. "I was amazed" at Mr. Collins's file, Mr. Rudin says. "I've never seen anything like this. There was so much documentation." As the lawyer began reworking the appeal, Mr. Collins gathered another piece of his mosaic. He obtained a tape of calls to 911 after the killing. A witness had testified he called 911 and told of seeing Mr. Collins run past. But when Mr. Collins listened to the tape of 911 calls, none of the voices sounded like what he recalled this witness sounding like at the trial. Mr. Collins obtained a tape of a prosecution interview with this witness, Angel Santos. He hired a voice expert to compare the interview tape with the tape of people calling 911. No matches. Mr. Santos and the other two main witnesses, Messrs. Diaz and Oliva, couldn't be reached for comment. Michael Harrison, Mr. Collins's court-appointed trial lawyer, said he couldn't remember whether he ever received the 911 tape because it was so long ago.

In March 2006, Mr. Rudin asked a state judge to overturn Mr. Collins's murder conviction on the grounds of newly discovered information the defense should have been given. Mr. Vecchione, the prosecutor, swore that claims authorities had either coerced witnesses or failed to turn over potentially exculpatory information "are, without exception, untrue." Then the roof crashed down. Learning of Mr. Collins's impersonation of an investigator, state Justice Robert Holdman dismissed the appeal, declaring it to be "wholly without merit, conclusory, incredible, unsubstantiated, and, in significant part, to be predicated on a foundation of fraud." For good measure, he barred Mr. Collins from filing future requests for information. "Just devastating," Mr. Collins says. "This had been my life's work for the last 10 years." He didn't have the luxury of wallowing. State law allows only 30 days to appeal such a ruling. As he wrote his appeal, he couldn't keep out his bitterness, and Mr. Rudin had to redo it. The state appeal failed.

In what amounted to their last shot, they filed a motion in federal court in Brooklyn seeking to overturn the conviction based on prosecutors' "knowing presentation, at trial, of false or misleading testimony" and withholding of evidence that might have been used to discredit the main witnesses. This March, after two years of legal wrangling, federal Judge Dora Irizarry approved Mr. Rudin's request for additional material from prosecutors. Information Mr. Collins had spent more than a decade trying to get his hands on suddenly began pouring in. One document concerned Mr. Oliva, the witness who wrote that under police pressure he signed a statement implicating Mr. Collins in the murder, even though he knew nothing about it. The document suggested that as the murder trial neared, Mr. Oliva had balked at cooperating. It said his work release for a robbery conviction was revoked "after he failed to cooperate with D.A.'s office regarding a homicide." Other newly discovered information suggested Mr. Oliva had briefly recanted his statement implicating Mr. Collins. A prosecutor preparing to fight Mr. Collins's appeal learned this from a retired detective, who said that Mr. Oliva recanted, then changed his mind again and stuck to his statement after the detective and several prosecutors spoke with him at the Brooklyn D.A.'s office. This prosecutor turned that information over to Judge Irizarry, acknowledging it should have been provided to Mr. Collins's murder-trial defense. (Mr. Vecchione had denied at Mr. Collins's state appeal that any witness ever recanted or "had to be threatened or forced to testify.") Four days before a scheduled hearing in Judge Irizarry's federal court, the D.A.'s office offered to reduce the charge against Mr. Collins to manslaughter, allowing his immediate release. Mr. Collins rejected the offer.

Later the same day, prosecutors informed the court that they wouldn't fight Mr. Collins's effort to overturn his conviction, but said they planned to retry him. A retrial would move the case back to state court, a venue where prosecutors had known nothing but success against Mr. Collins. Mr. Rudin, desperate to keep the case in federal court, persuaded Judge Irizarry to hold a rare hearing on whether the D.A. should be barred from retrying Mr. Collins because its misconduct had been so pervasive. The hearing's first witness was Mr. Santos, the man who had testified about making a 911 call after the murder, but whose voice didn't seem to match any of the voices on the 911 tape. Mr. Santos told the hearing that in the period when the murder occurred, he was using drugs "every day. Twenty-four hours." He said that as the murder trial neared a year later, he told Mr. Vecchione he didn't want to testify, but Mr. Vecchione began "yelling at me and telling me he was going to hit me over the head with some coffee table." He said he was threatened with prosecution, then locked up for a week as a material witness. When he agreed to testify, he said, he was taken from jail to a Holiday Inn, which he described as "paradise."

The federal hearing was due to resume a week later with testimony from Mr. Vecchione and other prosecutors. Instead, the D.A.'s office gave up. It said its decision was "based upon the weaknesses that now exist with the witnesses," but added that its "position, then and now, was that we believe in this defendant's guilt." Judge Irizarry was not pleased. "It's really sad that the D.A.'s office persists in standing firm and saying they did nothing wrong here," she said. "It is, indeed, sad." Judge Irizarry declined to be interviewed; the judge who turned down Mr. Collins's state appeal didn't return a call seeking comment. Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes stood firm. "Michael Vecchione is not guilty of any misconduct," Mr. Hynes said at the time. He, Mr. Vecchione—who is now chief of the rackets division—and a spokesman for the D.A.'s office all declined to comment, citing likely litigation by Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins walked out of prison on June 9, to an emotional welcome from his family. He has had many Rip Van Winkle moments. Swipe cards have replaced tokens on the subway; coffee shops called Starbucks are everywhere; there are these devices called iPhones. But some things haven't changed. Mr. Collins is back in a law library. His attorney, Mr. Rudin, has hired him as a paralegal. Mr. Collins is first concentrating on his own case. He has filed "notices of claim" announcing an intention to sue the city and state for $60 million. As a paralegal, he can't give legal advice to the many inmates who have written seeking it. He hopes one day to change that, by becoming an attorney. Write to Sean Gardiner at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Family of Man Shot Dead Sues Cops and Town

Family of armed man shot dead by Ramapo officer sues cops, town
The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - February 15, 2011

The family of a man armed with a knife who was shot dead by a Ramapo police officer has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers involved in the December 2008 shooting that a Rockland grand jury found justifiable. Ramapo's attorney denied the allegations in the federal lawsuit seeking $25 million and will ask U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas to dismiss the legal action. William Jackson claims in the lawsuit that Officer Edward Pascocello used excessive force when he shot his son Thomas on Dec. 24, 2008, and the younger Jackson never threatened the officer's life. The contentions accusing the police of negligence are based on Jackson's live-in girlfriend of eight years, Barbara Jean Nesi, who was inside the house at 96 Hempstead Road with Jackson and the two officers. Ramapo is accused of not properly training the officers in the lawsuit filed by Amy Bellantoni, a former Rockland prosecutor who is part of the Westchester law firm of Jonathan Lovett and her husband, Rory Bellantoni. Ramapo Town Attorney Michael Klein said Pascocello and Officer Monika Sitarz acted properly and Pascocello defended himself against a knife attack by Jackson. Nesi called the police and told them that Jackson had locked himself inside the bathroom with a knife and was suicidal, Klein said. Jackson also had a history of substance abuse and mental health issues. Ramapo police Capt. Brad Weidel said Tuesday that the department cannot comment on legal actions. On Christmas Day 2008 after the shooting, Weidel said at a news conference that Jackson "was coming at one of our officers with a knife. The act of shooting we consider an appropriate use of deadly force to defend himself." SLIEBERM@LOHUD.COM

Monday, February 14, 2011

Campus Police Under Investigation for Hiring Local Cops

Morris Brown Campus Police Under Investigation - February 8, 2011
Local Police Department Under Investigation

ATLANTA, GA -- The president of Morris Brown College says he's launching a full investigation into alleged wrongdoing uncovered by Channel 2 Action News. Channel 2 Action News has learned that the college's police department is under state investigation, accused of employing officers just to work off-duty jobs. Local Police Department Under Investigation. Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer found many of those officers have troubled pasts, or may not even be real officers at all. The Morris Brown College campus only spans about three blocks and enrollment has dwindled to just 63 students. But according to Georgia’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, the campus police department employs 27 certified police officers. Fleischer found several more working at the school's police headquarters who are not on that list. “That’s way out of line,” said POST Director Ken Vance. "For 60 something students, they ought to have one walking hand in hand with them from class to class." POST launched an investigation, and Vance said the agency hopes to seek a Cease and Desist Order against the school’s police department. "It's about money. It's about money and using Morris Brown College to run a security agency that operates in metro Atlanta," said Vance. It isn't unusual for officers to work off-duty jobs to supplement their police income. But in most departments, they spend more time working on-duty, protecting the public. POST investigative documents show the school only requires an officer work 16 hours each month to remain on the police roster. That makes them eligible to work lucrative off-duty security jobs. Channel 2 obtained internal e-mails from Cobb County police confirming an investigation into two Morris Brown police officers caught working an off-duty job in Smyrna. Both were in uniform and their cars had blue lights. One had no identification, but told the officer he was Ali Bashir, date of birth 4/20/62. The only Morris Brown officer with that last name and birthday had his police certification revoked a decade ago. Fleischer asked if he could face charges for impersonating an officer. “Absolutely,” said Vance. “And you're going to see some serious looks in that direction." POST investigators are also taking a serious look at three fake identification cards seized while questioning Morris Brown Police Chief Jabir Bashir. They were signed by the current assistant chief, Daymond Langford, before he was demoted from the chief’s job. The cards call his employees "duly sworn police officers" authorized to perform law enforcement duties. But they are not POST certified. “I'm a PSO, public safety officer, not a police officer," said Sgt. Maurice Campbell. One of the three seized cards has Campbell’s Social Security number on it. Fleischer found many of the officers who are properly certified have troubling records also. Of the 27 on the roster, POST has publicly reprimanded, placed on probation, or otherwise investigated 17 of them. "It looks like it's someone that can't get hired anywhere else," said Vance. On three separate days, Fleischer tried to track down Bashir for answers. "He said, 'You could leave a card and he would be available tomorrow,'" said a student and part-time public safety officer. The next day, Fleischer returned. “Yeah, he probably, he will be here today,” said Public Safety Officer Henry Johnson. Johnson called Chief Bashir, who by phone told Fleischer he was out of town for training but would not disclose the nature of the training or the location. He said he would return Monday. On Monday, Fleischer found the doors locked and Public Safety Officer Johnson refused to open them. Investigators from Georgia’s Department of Public Safety also visited the Morris Brown Police Department to revoke the blue light permits from all of its unmarked vehicles. "We opened the case on one afternoon, and retrieved the permits by the close of business the next. It's a very serious matter," said DPS spokesman Gordy Wright. “Something is really, really wrong here,” said Vance. "I wouldn't even classify it as a police agency right now."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cop Suspended After Being Accused of Rape While On Duty

Cop suspended after being accused of rape
Fox5SanDiego - February 7, 2011

EL CAJON, Calif. -- A San Diego police officer was on compulsory unpaid leave Monday as detectives investigated a woman's accusation that he raped her at an East County home. "The El Cajon Police Department notified us on Thursday that they were investigating a case," said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. "It was my decision to place that officer on unpaid administrative leave and remove his police powers by taking away his badge and his weapon." Late last Wednesday, a woman being treated at a hospital told a physician that the officer and a woman had sexually assaulted her at a residence in El Cajon earlier that evening, and medical staffers then notified the police, El Cajon Police Department Lt. Mark Coit said. There have been no arrests in the case, according to Coit. "If the person is in law enforcement and he's been listed as a suspect, he's gonna be treated the same as we would any other investigation," Coit said. The officer, who was off duty at the time of the alleged assault, has not been named. The alleged assailants and victim are acquaintances, the lieutenant said.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Video Shows Cops Punching Student While Being Placed Under Arrest

YouTube video shows cops punching unruly Rutgers University student while trying to arrest him
The New York Daily News by Bill Hutchinson - February 8, 2011

Video shows Elliott Marx, 20, of Lindenhurst being punched as five New Brunswick, N.J., police arrest him.

A YouTube video showing cops punching an unruly Rutgers University student from Long Island was burning up the Internet on Monday night. The minute and 43 second video, taken by a witness viewing the incident from a perch above the scene, shows Elliott Marx, 20, of Lindenhurst being punched as five New Brunswick, N.J., police arrest him. Police officials said the incident stemmed from a parking lot fight early Saturday morning near the New Brunswick campus. Lt. J.T. Miller told that Marx was one of up 50 people involved in the 1 a.m. brawl. "Stop resisting! Give me your hand!" one cop is heard shouting at Marx in the video. When Marx continued to resist, an officer is seen punching the suspect at least four times. Marx, a Rutgers sophomore, was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, obstruction, aggravated assault and having a fake ID. Miller said Marx jumped on an officer's back before he was arrested. Defense attorney John Koufos said Marx suffered cuts and bruises to his face. Marx claimed that his friend was jumped when they tried to get into a house party. He was trying to help his friend when people attacked him. He claimed he didn't realized he was struggling with cops until they ordered him to stop resisting, Koufos told the news web site. New Brunswick Police Director Peter Mangarella said Internal Affairs has launched an investigators. "My first take is that I see somebody resisting arrest," Mangarella said. "Was the force justified? That's what our guys are trying to determine."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Park Police Sergeant Accused of Sexually Abusing Teen Girl

Park police sergeant accused of sexually abusing teen girl
The Democrat and Chronicle by Victoria E. Freile - February 10, 2011

A sergeant with the New York State Park Police has been accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in Greece. Todd M. Johnson, 41, of Mount Vernon, Westchester County, was charged Tuesday with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, both misdemeanors, Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said today. Greece police officers started investigating the case last month after they learned of the alleged sexual abuse ,which reportedly occurred in Greece late last year, Chatterton said. The victim is younger than 16. Further details of the incident were not released. While investigating the case, officers learned that Johnson is a state park police sergeant downstate. Chatterton said Johnson was not on duty when the alleged abuse occurred. Greece Police said the arrest was not related to Johnson’s job. Johnson was suspended without pay from his job as of Tuesday, said Dan Keefe, spokesman for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Keefe said Johnson is facing disciplinary action, but declined to say where in the state park system Johnson was stationed, or how long he worked as a parks patrol officer. Johnson pleaded not guilty in Greece Town Court and was remanded to the Monroe County Jail. He posted $1,000 bail and is scheduled return to court on at 1 p.m. Feb. 23.

Trooper Charged With Sex Assault

Trooper charged with sex assault
The Journal Sentinel by Don Behm - February 6, 2011
Attacks on teenage girl continued over 2 years, complaint alleges

A 48-year-old Wisconsin state patrolman has been charged in Green County Circuit Court with three felony counts of sexual assault of a child who was placed in his Town of Clarno home for foster care in November 2008, a criminal complaint says. James M. Norquay was suspended without pay indefinitely, pending an independent administrative investigation of the allegations, State Patrol Capt. Charles Teasdale said. Norquay is a trooper with the patrol's Southwest Region. The child was 15 years old at the time of the first assault, according to the criminal complaint filed by special prosecutor Dennis Krueger, an assistant attorney general. She is now 18. The assaults continued until the child was removed from the home on Jan. 2 of this year, the complaint says. Norquay is scheduled to make an initial appearance Monday on the charges in Green County Circuit Court, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years' imprisonment and a fine of $100,000. The charges against Norquay resulted from an investigation by the Justice Department's Division of Criminal Investigation. "Investigation and prosecution of cases involving those who prey on children are a high priority of the Department of Justice and we will continue to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors in child maltreatment investigations," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in the release. Individuals with information about this case can contact agent Lourdes Fernandez of the Division of Criminal Investigation at (608) 266-1671.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Former Sheriff's Deputy Pleads Guilty to Extortion Charges

Former sheriff's deputy pleads guilty to extortion charges
The Houston Chronicle by James Pinkerton - February 7, 2011

A former Harris County sheriff’s deputy suspected of using his badge and gun to stop drug dealers and steal their loads pleaded guilty Monday to federal extortion charges. Richard Bryan Nutt Jr., 43, entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore on Monday, admitting his role in an undercover sting set up in December by Houston police and FBI agents. Nutt, wearing his sheriff’s uniform and carrying his gun, and four Houston men were arrested Dec. 15 after Nutt followed an SUV driven by an HPD officer posing as a Mexican drug courier. One of the men, Nathaniel House, 37, entered the SUV and retrieved a package containing a 2-kilogram load of fake cocaine. The HPD undercover officer left the SUV and walked into a sporting store. Nutt and two other men were stopped as they left with the contraband. Houston police set up the undercover sting operation after obtaining "information that members of law enforcement were robbing shipments of narcotics,’’ according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Nutt, who is free on bond, faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, and a $250,000 fine. A co-defendant in the case, House, also pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced with Nutt in June. The former lawman’s attorney, Mark Thering, said Nutt was told the courier would be carrying $500,000 in drug proceeds — not drugs. The officer’s cut was supposed to be $100,000. Thering said Nutt regrets his behavior. "This is the first time he’s done this," Thering said. "Others can differ with that, but there has to be a first time for everyone and this truly was Mr. Nutt’s first time to engage in any criminal activity." Thering said Nutt did not know any of the four men he was arrested with, adding the ex-deputy was recruited by a man he met while working security at a local nightclub. "Why does any law-abiding citizen delve into criminal activity — I’m thinking it’s a question of easy money,’’ Thering said. "I don’t want to trivialize what he did, because he broke the law and expects to go to prison. He regrets with every fiber of his being making that decision. He’s disappointed his family, and put a black mark on the quality of people who work for the sheriff department.’’ Nutt was separated from his wife at the time of his arrest, and was under financial strain, Thering said. "He hadn’t done it before and this was going to be the proceeds of money, and money only. But when he got down to it he ended up sitting on two kilos of cocaine,’’ Thering said. Thering said his client elected to plead relatively quickly because of the videotaped evidence against him, as well getting favorable consideration at sentencing for taking early responsibility for his crime. "Sheriff Garcia and his almost 4,000 employees have worked hard to restore public trust in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office," said Alan Bernstein, director of public affairs for Sheriff Adrian Garcia. "In the thankfully rare cases where that effort involves holding current and former employees responsible for breaking the law, the justice system at multiple levels is once more demonstrating that it works. In addition, Mr. Nutt was dismissed from his job as a deputy soon after charges were filed against him."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ex-Girlfriend of Cop Recalls Terror of Gun Threat

Ex-girlfriend of Albany cop recalls terror of gun threat
The Albany Times Union by Brendan J. Lyons - February 9, 2011
Former girlfriend of Albany cop recalls terror of gun threat

ALBANY, NY -- The former girlfriend of an Albany police officer testified Tuesday that he held her face down on the floor of his Albany residence two years ago and threatened to kill her while grinding the barrel of a loaded handgun against her skull. Barbara Waters said her former boyfriend, Officer Robert L. Schunk, later threatened in a voicemail message to kill her and her young son if she told anyone about the incident or jeopardized his job. Waters cried while recounting the alleged assault during the first day of testimony at Schunk's criminal trial in Albany County Court. Schunk, 39, a 12-year veteran of the Albany police force, is on trial for felony and misdemeanor charges as the department seeks to fire him. He is accused of assaulting Waters with his departmental handgun, holding her against her will and shoving her down a flight of stairs as she tried to end their relationship on Jan. 4, 2009. Waters, 37, said Schunk held her on the floor with his knee in her back and she prayed for help from her father, who had recently died. "He told me he was going to kill me," she said. "He kept calling me whore, bitch .... I don't even know if I could hear what he was completely saying the whole time. I was praying to my dad to stop him." Schunk sat motionless at the defense table as Waters spoke. His neck and head flushed bright red as Waters' voice cracked and she described a terrifying ordeal that she said lasted about 90 minutes. The encounter turned violent, Waters said, when Schunk shoved her down a flight of stairs as she started to leave without the belongings she had gone to his residence to retrieve. She had gone there to break up with Schunk as a result of his jealousy and rage, she said. Schunk's attorney, Cheryl Coleman, during a grueling cross-examination that lasted almost two hours, questioned Waters about why she had waited more than a year to report the incident, and only after her own arrest in Albany last April on charges she "trashed" Schunk's residence. Coleman, through questioning, suggested Waters and her estranged husband, Steven, had concocted the story so Waters could get out of her criminal case. But Waters corrected Coleman when the defense attorney noted Waters had never told police about the incident until last year. Waters said a female Glenville police officer came to her home a couple days after the 2009 incident and that Waters told her what happened. The Glenville officer responded to the residence after Steven Waters called 911 in a panic because his wife, who was in a bath, would not answer the telephone. Waters testified that she and Schunk reunited after the gun incident and entered therapy. "I loved him," she testified.

Steven Waters, the last of five witnesses called by special prosecutor Lyn A. Murphy, testified that his wife called him on her cell phone minutes after she bolted from Schunk's house the night of the incident and that she was extremely distraught. When Waters arrived home, he said, "she was shaking, kind of in a rocking motion. ... I felt on her right side of her head, slightly towards the back, a lump." He said his wife's legs and arms were covered with bruises. Ten days later, Waters went to a doctor's office and reported her injuries and what happened to a physician's assistant, Karen Kasarda, who testified about treating Waters for the injuries. Waters testified that at one point during the incident she fled into the bedroom of Schunk's daughter, who was not home, and tried to escape out a window while screaming for help. Schunk pulled her back, she said, and placed his handgun, which was loaded, on the daughter's dresser. "I was petrified," she testified. "I thought he was going to kill me. ... He just kept saying you're never going to leave me." Officer Christian Mesley, president of the Albany Police Officers Union, testified that he drove Schunk home to meet with Waters the night of the incident. Mesley said that before leaving, and while Schunk and Waters argued in a car outside, he took Schunk's loaded service weapon off a kitchen counter and disabled it by removing internal parts. Mesley said he put the magazine back in the weapon, with 11 rounds inside, and placed the gun back on the counter after hiding the gun parts in the house. Schunk did not know the weapon was inoperable when he held it to Waters' head, the prosecutor said. Murphy, a Saratoga County assistant district attorney, told jurors in her opening statement to listen carefully to Waters' testimony about how Schunk allegedly looked curiously at the weapon before "putting it back to her head." "Draw your own conclusions as to what was going on there," Murphy told the panel. "The defendant let Ms. Waters up and said do what you got to do. She fled for her life." Judge Stephen W. Herrick is presiding. Coleman, the defense attorney, said she will call several Albany officers to testify Wednesday. Three of the officers were involved in arresting Waters last April. Herrick has not allowed the jury to hear evidence about other documented domestic violence incidents involving Schunk. That includes criminal charges filed against him last April for allegations he attacked Waters at her Halfmoon apartment in a jealous rage. Hours later, Waters was arrested in Albany after breaking into Schunk's residence to retrieve belongings and allegedly damaging his property. James Lyman, a former Albany detective and executive director of Council 82, which is the umbrella union for the Albany police union, also testified Tuesday. Lyman said he went to Mesley's house the night of the incident when Schunk showed up there emotionally distressed and that he had been drinking. Lyman said he and Mesley drove Schunk home and that he saw Mesley disable Schunk's gun before they left as the couple argued. Brendan J. Lyons can be reached at 454-5547 or by e-mail at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Judge Denies Request to Release Jailed Officers

Judge denies request to release jailed Tulsa officers
The Tulsa World by Omer Gillham - February 7, 2011

Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents. A federal judge has denied a request by two suspended Tulsa police officers to release them from jail while they await trial on numerous counts in a police corruption case. U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico denied the request to release officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton following a hearing today. Former federal agent Brandon McFadden testified during the hearing about threats that Henderson and Yelton had made against him. McFadden is a key witness in the case. Henderson and Yelton have been jailed since July 20, the day five Tulsa police officers were indicted on alleged civil rights violations, perjury and other various crimes. The other officers have been released on bond. McFadden testified that Henderson and Yelton allegedly threatened him on three different occasions, with the first incident allegedly occurring during the fall of 2007. During one alleged incident in the summer of 2008, McFadden said Henderson and Yelton threatened him at a waste water treatment plant in Tulsa. During the alleged incident, while the three were sitting in Henderson’s car with McFadden in the back seat, Yelton removed his gun from the holster and racked the slide. The gun ejected what appeared to be a bullet, which hit against a window or another part of the interior of the car, he said. Yelton allegedly said, “Get back to Lubbock and keep your mouth shut,” McFadden testified. McFadden testified about another incident in which he said Yelton showed him the state Department of Corrections mugshot of a former Tulsa police officer convicted in a crossbow killing. In that case, former officer Jimmie Dean Stohler was convicted in the 1982 contract killing death of Michelle Powers. Under cross examination by defense attorney Stephen Jones, McFadden said he told no one of the alleged threats by Henderson and Yelton. McFadden said he had not seen Yelton pull his gun out at the waste water treatment plant. Yet, he reaffirmed he heard what he believed to be a gun and a round of ammunition being ejected. Questioned by U.S. Assistant Attorney Pat Harris, McFadden said he told no one about the alleged threats because to do so would implicate him. McFadden said he, Henderson and Yelton were involved in stealing money and falsifying search warrants, and he had witnessed Henderson and Yelton allegedly beating and assaulting drug defendants. “I took the threats seriously from them,” McFadden said. “These guys are pretty smart. They don’t mess around.” Henderson took the stand in his own defense and denied ever threatening McFadden and said Yelton also did not threaten him.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cop Charged with Felony Theft

Officer Charged with Felony Theft by Damali Keieth - February 7, 2011

HOUSTON, TX - An area police officer is finding himself on the wrong side of the law. The Stafford Police Officer is now indicted on two felony counts. Paul Kevin Germany worked for the Stafford Police Department for 19.5 years. A department spokesperson says Germany was in charge of the property room since 1994. Germany is now accused of stealing more than $14,000 from the very evidence room he was supposed to guard. "He was the only person that actually maintained custody and preservation of the evidence that was submitted during the course of all the investigations," Fort Bend County Deputy District Attorney Scott Carpenter said. The veteran police officer has been indicted on charges of theft by a public servant and abuse of office. They are third-degree felonies. "It's totally unacceptable as far as law enforcement is concerned. It's totally unacceptable for the citizens of Fort Bend County," Carpenter said about Germany's alleged wrongdoing. Carpenter, who is prosecuting the case against Germany, said the officer was stealing from the property room from 2005 to 2010. The prosecutor said Germany was only caught after he accidentally shot himself in the leg at the shooting range last summer and had to miss work. Germany recovered from the injury. Those missed days, however, seemed to have killed Germany's career after Carpenter says another officer discovered the missing money. "We're, kind of, really somewhat surprised that it went criminal," a member of Germany's legal team, David Donahue, said. "Yes we definitely feel Paul is not guilty on this." Defense attorneys plan to prove what they call possible mismanagement in the property room. "Paul's been an outstanding law enforcement officer. He's highly respected in law enforcement and the community and it's really been hard on him that this has happened. It's really been hard on him and his family," Donahue said. If convicted of the charges Paul Germany faces two to ten years behind bars and a $10,000 fine. Germany has been fired from the Stafford Police Department.