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Monday, June 27, 2011

Police Ticket Cars, Citizens Claim Harassment

Police ticket cars, citizens claim harassment
News 10 - WHEC.COM by Ray Levato - June 24, 2011

Rochester, NY- A group of Rochester citizens meeting to show support for a woman arrested while video taping a police traffic stop claim police harassment. Members of the group IndyMedia say several police officers converged on Clarissa Street late Thursday afternoon and began ticketing their parked cars for being more than 12 inches from the curb. A member of the group video taped the incident and posted the video on line. The pictures show police using a pink ruler to measure the distance from the curb to the wheels, and then issuing parking tickets. Spokeswoman Dawn Zuppelli says this was obvious retaliation. "This was a clear intimidation tactic. And I'm outraged about it. It was an appalling use of city (police) resources. They told us it was citizen complaints about how the cars were parked, and I don't believe it for a second. I absolutely think we're being targeted. They're leaving us a message that they are angry about this. It's gotten international coverage at this point, the misconduct of the RPD and they want to let us know that they're not happy about it," Zuppelli said. Zuppleii says their meeting was well publicized on all the social media networks. Four police cars showed up within 20 minutes of the meeting starting. Emily Good was arrested earlier this week while taking pictures of police from her yard using her cell phone. The police officer reportedly instructed Good to go back into her home because he felt his safety was threatened. She's been charged with obstructing governmental administration. Her arrest and video have drawn outrage and national media coverage. Zuppelli said she and other concerned citizens Thursday were simply discussing what she called the the Rochester Police Department's harassment and misconduct surrounding Good's case and other cases in the city. "It's ridiculous and it's going to make more of a mockery of the Rochester Police Department," said Zuppelli. "We're not going to be intimidated by RPD and we're not going to stop organizing around this and bringing these injustices to light." Davy Vara has been critical of the Rochester Police Department in the past. "The officers are rogue. They need to be put on notice that this behavior is not tolerated." And Vara says it goes beyond what happened yesterday. "Our youth especially are being taught when they see incidents such as this clear retaliation and intimidation tactics by Rochester police officers, they're being taught not to respect authority." News 10NBC has put in requests for reaction to the Clarissa Street incident with both Police Chief James Sheppard and Mayor Thomas Richards. A spokesman for Sheppard says the police department is trying to gather all the information. Rochester Police Union President Mike Mazzeo told News 10NBC that he has serious concerns about releasing the names and addresses of the officers online. He wouldn't comment directly on charges police were deliberately intimidating citizens. He says he doesn't want to put more fuel on the fire. Mazzeo says, "City police officers write ticket every night after parking enforcement officers leave for the day. And if there's a parking infraction they come across in their patrol areas, they will write those violations. That's part of their job."

Monday, June 20, 2011

‘We Don’t Know’ Isn’t Good Enough From Justice Department

Editorial: ‘We don’t know’ isn’t good enough from Justice Dept.
The Dallas Morning News - EDITORIAL - June 17, 2011
Federal gun-smuggling surveillance program backfires

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is staffed, for the most part, by the kind of unsung heroes typical to law enforcement. They see their job as catching the bad guys to keep their country safe. By necessity, they do much of that job out of public view. As with other branches of federal law enforcement, they ask only support from their supervisors, a paycheck and maybe a beer at the end of a long shift. Unless you’re moving guns or stockpiling bomb-making equipment, you’re probably happy to let them go about their jobs. But when a federal officer is killed by a military-style assault rifle intentionally allowed to reach the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels, you want answers. Who set this goofy plan in motion? Who approved it? Who knew about it? Who is responsible? These are not unreasonable questions. Project Gunrunner and its Operation Fast and Furious wing sound like B-movie titles, but they had deadly consequences Dec. 14 for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near Nogales, Ariz. The serial numbers of two drug runners’ AK-47s used in that firefight were traced to a smuggler under ATF surveillance. The problem today is that Congress, in its constitutional oversight role, is getting precious little in response from top officials at the Department of Justice, which supervises the ATF. Rep. Darrell Issa , R-Calif., managed to hold a hearing in his Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform. We share his frustration at Justice Department stonewalling then and now. Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, insist the Obama administration is turning a deaf ear to their requests for information on Gunrunner and Fast and Furious. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Welch was typically evasive at Issa’s hearing. Asked directly who authorized the program, Welch said, “We don’t know.” This, despite Issa releasing email from ATF agents-turned-whistleblowers that indicated grave concerns with a program that basically allowed straw purchases of guns in the U.S. and followed them into Mexican cartel hands. These emails also show that the two most senior ATF officials, acting Director Kenneth Melson and acting Deputy Director Bill Hoover, not only were briefed regularly on the program but were overseeing it. Welch’s response? He’s not authorized to say. Has Fast and Furious been halted? Welch can’t say. So Congress, which has oversight responsibilities, has no idea how far into the Justice Department this goes. U.S. taxpayers, who fund the whole thing, are equally in the dark. If Welch, as he says, lacks the authority, doesn’t the Obama administration owe the public something closer to candid responses? During Issa’s hearing, Josephine Terry, Brian’s mother, was asked what she would say to those who approved Operation Fast and Furious. “I don’t know what I would say to them,” she said, “but I would like to know what they would say to me.” Indeed, we all would.
One key exchange: “Who authorized this program that got people killed? Who here in Washington authorized it?” -- U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “We don’t know.”— Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ronald Welch

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lawsuit: Racial Profiling Alive and Well

Harlem teen, son of former NYPD officer, claims white cops handcuffed him in racial profiling: suit
The New York Daily News by Simone Weischselbaum and Rocco Parascandola - June 18, 2011
Merault Almonor and Wilma Dore-Almonor filed federal suit Friday against NYPD cops on behalf of their 13-year-old son, Devin.

A federal lawsuit filed Friday claims a pair of white cops stopped, frisked and handcuffed a Harlem teen for six hours - all because he's black. Devin Almonor was walking on W. 141st St. near his home in March 2010. Police said he was one of a group of kids causing a ruckus in the area that prompted six 911 calls. Cops claimed Devin, then 13, reached toward his waistband as if he had a gun. In his first public comments about the frightening encounter, Devin told the Daily News he was just trying to get home when he was stopped by plainclothes cops. "It was surreal," said Devin, a freshman at All Hallows, a Catholic school in the Bronx. "I thought cops were out here to protect us. But they racially profile. They are prejudiced. I don't know what to believe anymore." Police acknowledged Devin didn't have a weapon. And he wasn't charged with a crime. Still, the teen and his parents say he was handcuffed to a bar inside the 30th Precinct stationhouse during a chaotic six hours. The NYPD didn't respond Friday to requests for comment. According to the lawsuit, police officers not only cuffed the teen in a juvenile holding room, they also teased him for crying. The cops told him he was crying like a girl, the suit alleges. When Devin's parents showed up at the police station to pick him up, all hell broke loose. Merault Almonor, a former NYPD cop who retired in 2003 from the 20th Precinct, and Wilma Dore-Almonor, a nursing student, say they were attacked by police, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. "I thought I was in the black-and-white movies like you see in the South," the 52-year-old mom said Friday. "These cops aren't supposed to beat you. I just wanted to pick up my son." Cops at the 30th Precinct said the parents were the aggressors. They accused the dad of punching a cop in the face - a claim he denies. He was charged with assault and acquitted in April. "I can't believe my department did this to me," said Merault Almonor, 50, whose late father-in-law was an NYPD detective who served for 37 years. "We are a family of cops." He's still angry. "I used to look up to cops," he said. "After this, I lost respect for the department." Lawyers Jonathan Moore and Joel Rudin argued in the suit that Devin's run-in with cops was just another example of racially motivated policing under the controversial stop-and-frisk program. Civil libertarians and community activists have long argued that the program targets blacks and Hispanics. The suit also references the "Dirty 30" scandal that rocked the precinct in the early 1990s when 29 officers were busted for faking police radio and 911 calls to cover up illegal raids at drug dealers' apartments. And it lists as exhibits T-shirts that are advertised on the precinct's Facebook page. One labels the precinct the "House of Pain." The precinct culture, the suit says, reflects "a tolerance for excessive force and disrespect for members of the community." The lawsuit names as defendants six individual cops, including Sgt. Jonathan Korabel and Officer Brian Dennis, the two who took Devin into custody.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For Police, a Ticket-Fixing Investigation Stirs Up Fear and Anger

For Police in the Bronx, a Ticket-Fixing Investigation Stirs Up Fear and Anger
The New York Times by Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein - June 15, 2011

A new policy intended to combat ticket-fixing in the Bronx requires that police officers hand their summonses to desk sergeants. But some officers are apparently taking the requirement a step further: they wait to watch the sergeant electronically scan those tickets, and even resist orders to return to patrol until they have seen the entire transaction. Then they mark the moment in their memo books — their proof that the ticket did not disappear on their watch. But that is not the only subtle change occurring around Bronx station houses since a grand jury was empanelled in April to hear evidence against officers fixing traffic tickets for friends and relatives, often with union leaders conveying the requests and making sure the favors were carried out. In another sign of frayed nerves, those same union leaders are suddenly hard to find. Once the “Mr. Fix-Its” for the rank and file — arrangers of shift changes, finders of the right union benefits forms and defenders against excessive force complaints — some union leaders are not picking up their phones when officers call them, several said. But the phone is ringing in the precincts. Residents are calling to heckle officers, demanding their tickets be voided. “All we get all day on the phone is, ‘Why do the cops have to stop me?’ ‘You guys are fixing tickets; can’t you fix this for me?’ ” said one officer assigned to patrol in one of a dozen station houses in the Bronx. Like most others interviewed, the officer insisted on anonymity.

As many as 40 officers could face criminal charges, and hundreds more may face disciplinary proceedings in the department when the grand jury is finished, most likely in July. Since the investigation began, Internal Affairs Bureau detectives and Bronx prosecutors have been treating precincts as if they were organized criminal enterprises, using multiple wiretaps and calling in officers to testify before the grand jury against others. Guessing where and when it will end, or how deep and widespread the misconduct will prove to be, has become something of a police officer parlor game. It has brought a dark mood to the precincts. The absence of information means that layers of emotions fill the vacuum: fear, anger and indignation. In interviews, some officers cited what they felt was an overzealousness by prosecutors. One officer said the scandal had isolated officers. Officers are scared even to talk shop with one another — especially on anything involving traffic tickets, which for many in the current numbers-driven environment is no small part of the measure of an officer’s productivity. “You used to joke: ‘Who did you write today? Which star?’ ” said the officer, describing interactions with colleagues who patrol around Yankee Stadium. “ ‘Did you write them a summons?’ ” Now, the officer said, “you can’t even joke about that.” Feelings about the investigation have cut into conversations among officers across the city, at precinct station houses, on city streets, at 1 Police Plaza, or in the backs of bars or restaurants. “Everybody is on edge,” said Edward D. Mullins, the head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. “They don’t know what is going to happen. They don’t know who is involved. There is all kinds of talk of people wearing wires; up on cellphones.” Referring to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, he said, “The latest rumor is they are sitting up on the phones in the P.B.A. office and the cops can’t even call their own unions.”

Put another way by a veteran officer in the Bronx: “There are a lot of cops waiting out there for the other shoe to drop. It’s not just a question of you, but your friends. Are you going to find out that the guy next to you is taking bribes?” Nearly all officers interviewed voiced one strong sentiment upfront: anyone who took a bribe to make a summons disappear deserves the worst. Yet that easy answer deflects a question about whether the lesser transgressions — doing the unpaid favor of scrapping a ticket after it is written or taking a dive in traffic court — are corrosive to the department’s legitimacy. On that question, there are deeper divisions. “If someone was taking money, shame on them,” said a current delegate in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “But if someone in my family got a summons, I would try to help them out.” He added, “If one of my cops says to me, ‘My father got a ticket, can you help me out?’ I say, ‘I’ll do what I can.’ ” State Senator Eric Adams, a Democrat from Brooklyn and a former city police captain who has been talking to his friends on the force about the issue, said such professional courtesies did not amount to corruption. He said it was a norm in law-enforcement agencies around the country. “Other states are laughing at us,” Mr. Adams said. “They’re saying, ‘Are you guys kidding me?’ ” But to other officers, those who have tried to steer clear of breaking rules, however small, fixing tickets after they are written represents unfairness. “The city is full of decent people who don’t know cops, and I can only imagine their frustration in learning that the other half of the city that is either related to police or best friends with a cop can get their ticket fixed,” a long-serving officer in the Bronx said. He said the scandal represented a department “lurching toward complete legitimacy.” The scandal has caused divisions between police officers, who expect to be hit the hardest, and superiors, whom many say were often the drivers of the ticket-fixing practices. That has led some to express a feeling of abandonment — a sense that the high-level officials are feigning shock over a system everyone happily embraced. Because some of them were the subject of wiretaps or grand jury proceedings, union officials are offering none of their usual reassurances, adding to officers’ sense of foreboding about what comes next. For one officer, Marco Varela, his unsuccessful campaign for second vice president in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association elections led him to about half the city precincts, though he was getting by far the frostiest receptions in station houses in the Bronx. “When you go in there in a suit, they look at you strange, like you’re part of Internal Affairs,” said Mr. Varela, who is assigned to a patrol car in Upper Manhattan. “The atmosphere in the Bronx makes it the toughest place to work,” he added. “It’s the toughest place to work in the world, moralewise.” At least a few younger officers are rethinking their relationships with the department or with their careers. A cynicism has taken hold as a new generation of officers, many in their late 20s, grapple for the first time with the taint of corruption. For some, the scandal has ironically blunted their willingness to blanket their patrol area with summonses. “People are literally scared to go on patrol or write a summons,” said the officer who is assigned to patrol in the Bronx. “You’re scared to approach someone because you’re not sure what the outcome is.” The numbers support the officer, to a point. The number of summonses for moving violations written by police officers in the Bronx has declined to 63,948 through June 5, compared with 69,987 through the same period a year ago, a 9 percent reduction, according to numbers provided by the department. Citywide, those numbers have dropped to 424,359 this year, compared with 451,494 last year, a 6 percent drop, the numbers show. Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said the decline in traffic and parking summonses was not believed to be attributable to the investigation. “The fact of the matter is, these numbers fluctuate based on observed violations,” he said.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Convicted Officers To Keep Pensions, Despite New Law

Convicted officers to keep pensions, despite new law
The Tulsa World by Ziva Branstetter - June 15, 2011

Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents. Two Tulsa police officers convicted in the federal corruption investigation will get to keep their pensions due to an Aug. 26 effective date on a new state law. Two other officers yet to go to trial in the case would also keep their pensions if convicted unless the trial, which begins July 25, lasted five weeks or more. Senate Bill 347, passed in the last legislative session, prohibits municipal employees convicted of certain felonies from collecting retirement benefits. The law bars police officers and other municipal employees from collecting retirement pay if they plead guilty, no contest or are convicted of a felony for bribery, corruption, forgery, perjury or “any other crime related to their office or employment.” Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, sponsored the legislation after a Tulsa World story revealed a loophole in state law allowing city employees to keep their pensions if they are convicted of felonies. State law only covered county and state employees before Mazzei’s bill passed. Though the bill passed May 9 by a vote of 43-1, its emergency clause earlier failed in the House, meaning it would go into effect three months after being signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. Mazzei agreed Wednesday that the bill would not impact any officers convicted of felonies before Aug. 26. “I do wish that it would have been able to go into effect soon enough to be applicable in this particular case but the legislative cycle can only work in the time frame that it works,” he said. “We really don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers to foot the retirement bill for convicted felons who are municipal employees. We had that in statute for legislators and state and county employees but for some reason the statutes never covered municipal employees,” Mazzei said. Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, was among the 34 lawmakers voting against the bill’s emergency clause. He said he doesn’t recall discussion about the bill’s impact on officers charged in the police corruption case. “I can’t remember why we did that other than they didn’t convince us that it was an emergency,” Ritze said.

Retired Cpl. Harold Wells was found guilty Friday on five of 10 counts, including drug conspiracy, carrying a firearm during drug trafficking and stealing U.S. funds during an FBI sting at the Super 8 hotel in east Tulsa. Wells will collect an estimated $4,240 per month while serving what prosecutors say will be a mandatory 15 years in prison. Sentencing for Wells has not been set and he remains in segregation in the Tulsa Jail. Officers Bruce Bonham and Nick DeBruin were acquitted of all counts against them. The two remain on leave pending an internal affairs investigation but are back on the payroll at annual salaries of $62,783 and $55,830 respectively. Officer John K. “J.J.” Gray pleaded guilty last year to theft of government funds and is cooperating with prosecutors. He also keeps his pension, estimated to be $2,548 per month. Gray has been released on bond and has not been sentenced. Officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton go on trial July 25 in the corruption case. If convicted, they would be eligible to keep their pensions unless the trial is longer than the law’s Aug. 26 effective date, which is unlikely given the speed of the first trial. Yelton would receive an estimated $2,548 per month if convicted. Henderson, with fewer than 20 years of service, would receive an undetermined smaller amount per month beginning in five years. Brandon McFadden, a former agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, pleaded guilty last year to drug conspiracy for his role in the corruption case. He worked for the ATF in Tulsa from 2002 through Sept. 25, 2009, when he resigned. McFadden is expected to testify against Henderson and Yelton next month. Jeff Cochran, resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Tulsa office, said because McFadden worked for the agency less than 10 years, he would not be eligible to collect a pension. Cochran declined to comment additionally on McFadden, saying: “He’s no longer an employee.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Murder-For-Hire Talk at Police Corruption Trial

Witness: Agent asked about murder for hire through informant
The Tulsa World by Ziva Branstetter - June 8, 2011

Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents. A witness in a police corruption trial Tuesday testified that a federal agent sent an informant to ask if she knew someone who could arrange the murder of a decorated Tulsa County sheriff's deputy. The witness, Debra Clayton, testified Tuesday that Brandon McFadden - then an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - sent an informant named Ryan Logsdon to ask her if she knew anyone "who would knock off or murder Lance Ramsey." Ramsey is a Tulsa County Sheriff's Office deputy assigned to the investigations division. He was named the 2009 deputy of the year and has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 1988, said Shannon Clark, a spokesman for the office. "Lance is a very good deputy, a long-term deputy and a decorated deputy," Clark said. He declined to comment on Clayton's testimony related to Ramsey. The testimony came during questioning by Shannon McMurray, a defense attorney for Nick DeBruin, one of three officers charged in the federal corruption case. Clayton did not offer additional details about the conversation. McFadden's attorney, Neal Kirkpatrick said, "The allegation by Debra Clayton that Brandon sought a hit man for anything is totally false." Clayton pleaded guilty March 28 in state court to three drug felonies - possession with intent to distribute and two counts of endeavoring to manufacture controlled drugs - and received seven years in prison, court records show. She testified Tuesday in a black-and-white-striped jail uniform and handcuffs. McFadden was an ATF agent from 2002 through 2009, when he resigned. He pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy May 6, 2010, in federal court and is cooperating with prosecutors. McFadden has been released to his home in Lubbock, Texas, and is expected to be a key witness in the trial next month for officers Jeff Henderson, 38, and Bill Yelton, 50. Henderson was indicted last year on 58 counts involving perjury, civil rights violations, drugs, witness tampering and attempted bribery. Yelton was indicted on seven counts involving civil rights violations, witness tampering and suborning perjury. Both remain in custody pending their trial, scheduled for July 25. McFadden has not been charged with any counts related to threats involving Ramsey. However, the indictment against McFadden states that he contacted a sheriff's deputy in February 2008 to inquire about whether a search warrant had been issued for a person identified only as "Individual 1," who is believed to be Logsdon, a World investigation shows. "Brandon J. McFadden subsequently confirmed to Individual 1 the anticipated execution of a search warrant by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. Individual 1 then contacted the Tulsa County deputy sheriff and stated that Individual 1 'had friends in high places' who had informed Individual 1 that a search warrant was going to be executed on Individual 1's residence, resulting in the cancellation of the impending search warrant," the indictment states. The indictment states that Individual 1 had an ongoing agreement to sell drugs for McFadden without prosecution, sharing some of the profits. During a hearing in March, FBI Agent Kevin Legleiter testified that based on his investigation, Henderson and McFadden allegedly pressured Logsdon into selling stolen drugs for them. McFadden and Henderson allegedly planted a large amount of marijuana on Logsdon in January 2007 and threatened to have his child removed from his custody if he did not cooperate with them, Legleiter said. The description of Individual 1 in the indictment is consistent with Legleiter's testimony about Logsdon. Logsdon later began working for the FBI as part of the corruption investigation. Ziva Branstetter 918-581-8306

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Troubles for NYPD

Bronx Juries: More Woe for the NYPD
The Huffington Post by Len Levitt - June 6, 2011

Long the bane of the NYPD, a Bronx jury spoke last week, raising the bourgeoning Ticketgate police scandal to a new level. The jury acquitted Bronx attorney Stephen LoPresti of drunken-driving charges -- a guy with three prior drunk-driving convictions -- because jurors did not believe the two arresting officers, who admitted fixing tickets in unrelated cases. Officer Harrington Marshall testified that he had asked a police union official to make two tickets of family members vanish. Officer Julissa Goris testified that she had asked her police union delegate to kill a ticket issued to her boyfriend's cousin. Also, when her mother received a ticket, Goris accompanied her to court, spoke to a sergeant, and her mother did not have to pay the fine. "The message is clear," said Adam D. Perlmutter, one LoPresti's defense lawyers. "Corruption won't be tolerated in the Bronx or anywhere." A defense attorney's natural bombast notwithstanding, in this instance Perlmutter seems to have gotten it right -- at least when it comes to fixing tickets. News reports say that up to 300 cops may be involved, including Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegates and a trustee acting as middlemen. In addition, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association says fixing tickets is a wide-ranging and long-standing police courtesy and unstated job benefit. Nobody -- not Mayor Bloomberg who has called the scandal a "black eye" for the police department; not Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has said virtually nothing; maybe not even Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, whose grand jury reportedly has been hearing testimony about ticket-fixing for more than a year -- knows where this is going and what will come out. Some have even suggested, perhaps over-dramatically, that Ticketgate approaches pre-Knapp Commission-era corruption and may warrant an independent commission. Ticketgate's main stage is the Bronx, where more than in any other borough, juries don't trust cops. And cops don't trust Bronx juries. For years, PBA attorneys have opted to have their cases heard by Bronx judges instead of Bronx juries. Most of these judges have been older white men, more sympathetic to cops than most Bronx citizens. Just such a judge acquitted police officer Stephen Sullivan for fatally shooting Eleanor Bumpers during an eviction in 1984. Such a judge acquitted off-duty officer Michael Meyer for fatally shooting an unarmed squeegee man who was soaping up his windshield in 1998. Such a judge acquitted Francis X. Livoti, accused of using a department-banned choke hold that led to the death of asthmatic Anthony Baez in 1994. Then there was the infamous shooting of unarmed Amadou Diallo, killed in a hail of 41 bullets, fired by four officers in 1999. The PBA was so fearful that these four officers would be tried by a Bronx jury (or nearly as bad, by a younger black, female judge, who was supposedly selected at random) that the union pulled off a remarkable piece of legal legerdemain. First, they arranged to move the trial to Albany. Then, the court's chief administrator, Jonathan Lippman -- now the state's chief judge -- handpicked a cop-friendly jurist to preside over the case. The officers were all acquitted. In her salad days, the New York Times columnist Gail Collins coined the phrase, "The Bronx curse," meaning that when something bad happens, it's always worse in the Bronx. Maybe that explains the phenomenon of Larry Davis. In 1986, the drug-dealing, 20-year-old Davis shot six cops, who police said had come to his sister's apartment to question him about the killing of four drug dealers. Davis escaped and led police on a 17-day manhunt. When he gave himself up after cops had cornered him in a Bronx housing project, crowds applauded him. When he pleaded self-defense, a Bronx jury acquitted him. District Attorney Johnson, too, is something of a uniquely Bronx product. Elected in 1988, he is currently the state's only African-American district attorney. Like many of his constituents, he has had issues with the police. Because he opposes the death penalty, some in law enforcement circles have viewed him as anti-cop. After the fatal shooting of Bronx Street Crime cop Kevin Gillespie in 1996, Gov. George Pataki took the extraordinary step of removing the case from Johnson's jurisdiction and appointing a special prosecutor. (Although former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau also opposes the death penalty, Pataki never took a case from him.) The issue became moot when Gillespie's alleged killer hanged himself in prison. Two years later, Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the New York Times that he had "no respect" for Johnson. "No. Not at all," he said to the writer, Jeffrey Goldberg. Safir later said that he was misquoted. More recently, to the horror of many in the department, Johnson prosecuted veteran detective Christopher Perino for perjury after a secretly recorded audio-tape caught him in a lie. A Bronx jury convicted him in 2009 and he was sentenced to four months in prison. All but forgotten is that after Bronx juries acquitted Larry Davis both of shooting the six cops and of killing the four drug dealers, Johnson continued to pursue him. In 1991, his office convicted Davis, who had changed his name to Adam Abdul Hakeem, of murdering another drug dealer, Ramon Vizcaino. The guilty verdict, said Johnson, "means that a very dangerous individual is going to be made to pay for his wanton acts... Because of the nature of his crime and the background of Adam Abdul Hakeem, the people intend to seek the maximum sentence." Davis got the max -- 25 years to life. He died in prison in 2008. At least for a moment, the Bronx curse was lifted.

Former Officers Take Stand In Corruption Trial

Former Officers Take The Stand In Tulsa Police Corruption Trial by Tara Vreeland - June 6, 2011

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Two former Tulsa Police officers took the stand Monday in the corruption trial of three other TPD officers. Nick DeBruin, Bruce Bonham, and Corporal Harold Wells are accused of stealing money and planting drugs. Former officers Eric Hill and Cal Kaiser both testified Monday. Both officers were granted immunity for their testimony, meaning they can't be prosecuted for their crimes. Hill detailed his involvement with the DeBruin, Bonham and Wells. He admitted that they planted drugs 10 to 12 times over the course of a few years, like in cases where someone swallowed the evidence. Hill said they got the drugs from other suspects. He said it's to keep the guilty guilty. He said he learned about drug planting from fellow officer Cal Kaiser. The defense questioned Hill's integrity and he admitted he lied on a job application and was fired from the Tulsa Police Department. He then testified about the May 2009 FBI sting and admitted he was given $500 in cash taken during the search. Cal Kaiser said Corporal Wells taught him how to plant drugs. He said Corporal Wells would provide crack cocaine for planting from a tackle box that he kept in the trunk of his car. Kaiser admitted accepting money four times. He testified DeBruin told him once, "Thanks for helping, don't say anything." Kaiser said he was scared to take the money and knew it was wrong, but that he was new on the force and didn't know if occasionally taking money was standard procedure. He said the first time, he was given about $500. The last time Kaiser said he took money was in 2008. He was not involved in the FBI May 2009 sting at a Tulsa hotel. The defense challenged Kaiser's integrity, getting him to admit he's lied in the past. Kaiser said when the three officers on trial began to suspect they were being investigated, Corporal Wells met him and asked him not to say anything. Although Kasier admitted taking money and planting drugs, he and former officer Hill have been granted immunity from their crimes in exchange for their testimony.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Police Chief Takes The Stand in Corruption Case

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan Takes The Stand In Corruption Case - June 3, 2011

TULSA, Oklahoma -- On day four of the corruption trial against three Tulsa Police officers, Chief of Police Charles Jordan took the stand and viewed undercover video of a drug bust "sting" from May, 2009. Based on the more than 300 searches Jordan said he has conducted in his career, he was asked to view the video of the sting at a Tulsa Super 8 where an undercover FBI agent called "Joker" posed as a drug dealer. Tulsa police officers Nick DeBruin, Ernest "Bruce" Bonham and Corporal H.R. Wells are accused of stealing money and planting drugs. The tape shows officers pocketing money from the drug bust. The men say they're innocent -- and claim they were separating money for a drug dog to sniff later. "I would not think it would be correct procedure to separate out any money," Jordan said. When crossed examined by the defense, however; Jordan clarified that although separating the money had the "appearance of impropriety" it was not against policy. Jordan also said establishing the chain of evidence - or the money trail - is important because the integrity of evidence collection is often challenged in court. "We know at every point this is where the evidence was - that it wasn't contaminated, and that it is the same evidence," he said. When questioned by defense attorney Shannon McMurray, Jordan said he did not observe Nick DeBruin or Bruce Bonham violate any policies and procedures on the video. He also acknowledged that because drugs weren't found at the scene, establishing the chain of evidence probably wasn't considered as crucial. Jordan was asked about the procedures Corporal H.R. Wells followed in later establishing the undercover FBI agent known as "Joker," as a confidential informant. Wells did not document "Joker" with the Special Investigations Division, Jordan said. "Any person who is paid money or expects to receive prosecutorial consideration needs to be documented," Jordan said. Because Joker was supposed to be an undocumented alien living in the United States, Jordan said his practice would have been to get ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) involved to have as much of a hold as possible on the informant. The chief of police was asked if it is permissible to let a confidential informant sell drugs. "Not at all," Jordan answered. However, Wells' attorney entered into evidence a rule that police officers can overlook some crimes while conducting "an investigation of a more serious nature." Earlier Friday morning, the K9 officer whose dog alerted on the money confiscated at the motel testified that the officers placed almost $10,000 in supposed drug money in an evidence locker for the dog to discover. He said it would have been his preferred procedure to test the cash in the Crown Royal bag where it was found, but that there was no regulation in place that prevented officers bringing the cash into the evidence room for testing. In other witness testimony, Internal Affairs Officer Luther Breshears told the court that Bruce Bonham's time sheet for May 18, 2009, reflected that he was on vacation the day of the sting. He also reviewed a field interview document made by Nick DeBruin documenting a meeting with an OIG agent in the parking lot of the hotel and an Interoffice memorandum written by H.R. Wells after then Chief of Police Ron Palmer asked Wells to write up what happened at the Super 8 motel. Wells did not ask for permission or document a body cavity search of "Joker" as required by police policy, Breshears said. It is considered a more intrusive search than a pat down and so must be authorized and documented. It's important to document the search in case evidence is obtained and if there is any lawsuit against the city, he said.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tapes Reveal Cops' Conversations About Drug Deals

Tapes played at trial reveal officers' conversations about drug deals
The Tulsa World by Ziva Branstetter and Omer Gillham - June 3, 2011

A Tulsa police corporal told an FBI agent posing as a drug dealer he could sell methamphetamine to multiple customers in Tulsa and "go on with your life," according to taped phone calls played during a police corruption trial Thursday. "I think part of the deal we made was you keep your expense money, we turn in the profit," Cpl. Harold Wells told the agent. The agent was posing as a Mexican drug dealer nicknamed "Joker" who came to Tulsa monthly to sell methamphetamine. "I don't want to hurt you, but I want to turn something in to make the district attorney happy," Wells said on the telephone call. During the same call, Wells said: "My word's more important to me than any bad guy getting locked up." The call was one of 10 between Wells and the undercover agent, Joe McDoulett, taped by the FBI between July 10, 2009, and Aug. 21, 2009. The call and several others were played by prosecutors during the third day of a police corruption trial in Tulsa's federal court for officers Bruce Bonham, 53, Nick DeBruin, 38, and Wells, 60, who is now retired. Wells' attorney later pointed out that officers often lie to informants during drug investigations. Wells, Bonham and DeBruin are on trial before U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane W. Duke, of eastern Arkansas, is prosecuting the case. The three men are accused of a combined 13 counts including conspiracy, drug possession with intent to distribute and planting drugs on people they had arrested. Wells, DeBruin and Bonham face several charges related to money they allegedly stole during an FBI sting May 18, 2009. Officer John K. "J.J." Gray pleaded guilty last year to theft of government funds for stealing money during the sting and testified Wednesday against the officers. The sting at a Super 8 motel on East Archer involved McDoulett, who officers were told had large amounts of cash and possibly drugs in his room. Wells, Gray, Bonham and DeBruin were among the officers present at the motel. A video played during the trial Wednesday showed Gray, Bonham and DeBruin placing in their pockets items that an FBI agent identified as cash. Wells and other officers had searched the room but were unable to find the methamphetamine an informant had said should be there. McDoulett testified that the conversation turned toward McDoulett "working" for Wells and Gray to provide them with a key drug dealer they could arrest. McDoulett also understood their agreement to mean he would sell meth in Tulsa without being arrested if he provided the officers with one of his customers to arrest. In return, the officers said they would supply him with a new customer, he testified. The officers eventually allowed McDoulett to leave the Super 8 without arresting him and turned in money seized at the hotel. Prosecutors allege the money was turned in after officers stopped a federal agent in the area and became suspicious that a sting had taken place. In the following weeks, McDoulett continued to have contact with Gray and Wells to discuss coming to Tulsa to sell more drugs, the taped calls indicate. During a call with Gray on May 19, 2009, McDoulett said Gray told him the new customer would be named Ryan. When McDoulett asked Gray if he should also talk to Wells, Gray responded: "We share everything. Calling me is like calling H," using Wells' nickname. In a call with McDoulett on July 10, Wells explained he would be in Costa Rica when McDoulett planned to come to town, adding: "You're not going to stop doing business just 'cause I can't play." In a July 25 call, Wells asks McDoulett: "How's business?" "Make it real, real simple," he tells McDoulett. "Plan here so we take off one (customer) and everybody's happy." In a call three days later, Wells tells McDoulett: "I just wanted to uh, run the game plan by you and uh, make sure everybody's on board ... and see how we can use what you normally do and make it easier for us to pick one off and get you on your way."

The FBI arranged for an informant to come to Tulsa and buy 1 pound of methamphetamine from McDoulett, posing as the new customer. McDoulett testified he sold the informant, Ryan Logsdon, the methamphetamine at a hotel near Catoosa on July 29, 2009, and the drugs were turned in to the FBI. After the deal, McDoulett talked to Wells and said he planned to send Logsdon "on his way,'' to which Wells replied, "OK." Logsdon was not arrested. McDoulett testified that later that day, a second FBI agent - posing as the customer Wells would arrest - met with McDoulett at the hotel. McDoulett called Wells to say the customer had not brought enough money to buy the methamphetamine and that he was leaving. Police stopped the undercover agent and seized about $9,000 but did not arrest him because they found no drugs, testimony indicated. Wells told McDoulett in the July 29 call that he had built up a network of trusted informants during his years as a police officer. "If I was to get killed in the line of duty today, I'd have six informants to carry my casket," he said in the taped call. Later in the call, Wells says he can persuade Tulsa judges to be lenient with people accused of crimes if they are helpful as informants. "I can get things dropped or attitudes changed." McDoulett testified he met with Wells in person Aug. 18, 2009, to discuss continuing their arrangement. McDoulett said he wore a wire and the conversation was taped as they sat in Wells' police car. During the meeting, Wells told McDoulett: "When we were selling dope and busting people, they usually pay, uh, a 10 percent back on that." He also said that "the police officer's the most powerful person in the system 'cause he can usually dictate which way the case is going." During cross-examination, Wells' attorney, Warren Gotcher, pointed to grand jury testimony that McDoulett had given earlier. During that testimony, McDoulett said he ended the relationship with Wells in August because "we weren't getting anywhere" and police would continue to turn in the money they seized. Gotcher also pointed out that it was common for police officers to lie to their informants. McDoulett said that occurred sometimes but that his practice was to limit information rather than lie. McDoulett also agreed with Gotcher that despite the fact that officers found no drugs during the May 18 search, they did not plant any drugs on him. During cross-examination by William Lunn, Bonham's attorney, McDoulett said he never saw Bonham that day and that his name never came up in the calls with Wells. McDoulett also said he had no interaction with DeBruin since the sting May 18, 2009. Former Tulsa police officer Bennett Forrest also testified Thursday about the undercover sting. Forrest said at one point, DeBruin said "he had money in his pocket and wanted to find a drug dog" to sniff it. Forrest said it is not a common practice for officers to separate cash they believe could be drug proceeds. He said the officers brought no evidence bags to the scene for placing the cash or drugs they found. Forrest testified about discovering a man driving a car in the area who was acting suspiciously. He said he and DeBruin stopped the man, who identified himself as an agent with the U.S. Office of Inspector General named Roger Bach. "The whole situation just felt odd," Forrest said.

Thursday's developments - Prosecutors played eight taped telephone calls and one taped meeting between Cpl. Harold Wells and an undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer named "Joker." Wells discusses allowing the dealer to come to Tulsa and sell methamphetamine to customers who would not be arrested, provided that the dealer allowed one customer to be arrested.

Interesting moment - In a call July 29, 2009, Wells assures "Joker" he would keep to their arrangement not to arrest his customers. "My word's more important to me than any bad guy getting locked up."

The day's testimony - Bennett Forrest, former TPD officer: Testified about the traffic stop of a federal agent, Roger Bach, caught driving through the area during an FBI sting May 18, 2009. Forrest testified he saw no illegal activity by TPD officers during the sting. Chris Claramunt, TPD officer assigned to DEA task force: Testified Officer John K. Gray called him to ask what "OIG," or Office of Inspector General, meant. He also said he had never known Nick DeBruin or Wells to substitute drugs when they found none on suspects. Joe McDoulett, undercover FBI agent: Testified about numerous phone calls and conversations with Wells about allowing McDoulett to sell drugs in Tulsa.

Original Print Headline: Officer makes deals in calls
Ziva Branstetter 918-581-8306 Omer Gillham 918-581-8301
By ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor & OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Youth Officer Charged With Sexting 15-Year-Old Girl

NYPD youth officer Kevin Louther charged with sexting 15-year-old girl
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola, Kerry Wills and Joe Kemp - June 3, 2011
Kevin Louther allegedly sent racy texts to a 15-year-old girl.

A Brooklyn cop was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sending racy texts to a 15-year-old girl who volunteered at his command, sources told the Daily News. Kevin Louther, 30, who works as a youth officer, met the teen in the 70th Precinct stationhouse, where she took part in the NYPD's Explorers program, the sources said. The two began a relationship, which involved erotic texts and emails, sources said. The young girl's mother found out about the pair and reported it to another officer, sources said. "It didn't appear to be anything forced," a source said of Louther's contact with the girl. The Explorers program is designed "to build positive relationships" between men and women ages 14 to 20 and the NYPD, according to their website. Cops confirmed late Thursday - more than a day after his arraignment - that Louther was arrested about 10:30 a.m. and charged with sex abuse, harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $750 bail and suspended from his job without pay. He is due back in court next week. Louther, who has been with the department for almost six years, declined to speak about the charges at his Bedford-Stuyvesant home Thursday night.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cop Among Those Busted in Gambling Ring

NYPD cop, 2 FDNY firefighters busted in illegal gambling ring on Staten Island
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - June 2, 2011

A veteran NYPD detective, two city firefighters and a mortician were charged Thursday with being members of an illegal gambling ring on Staten Island. Detective Richard Palase supervised illegal card games being run at a gym on Arthur Kill Road, according to an indictment unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Palase, a 15-year-veteran of the force, was assisted at the gambling spot by firefighter Michael Bergen, his father James Bergen, who is a retired firefighter, and retired NYPD sergeant Ralph Mastrantonio who were also charged. After Palase was released on $75,000 bail, he was sneaked out through the court basement by the same IAB detectives who had arrested him hours earlier to avoid reporters waiting out front. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne denied that Palase was afforded a special courtesy. "He may have tried to go out the back door, but he was told he could not," Browne said. Also charged were mortician Joseph Fumando, whose nickname on the street is "The Undertaker," and firefighter Gerald Parsons, who served as a card dealer at a Victory Blvd. spot. Authorities said there was no evidence of ties to organized crime. "However, it would be highly unlikely that [an] illegal gambling location would not be paying tribute to organized crime so they could keep on operating," said a source familiar with the probe. Customers received text messages inviting them to gamble at the spots.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lawyer-Prosecutor Beats DWI Because of Corrupt Cops

Ex-Bronx prosecutor beats drunk-driving rap because cops who busted him admitted to fixing tickets
The New York Daily News by Kevin Deutsch - June 2, 2011

Ex-Bronx prosecutor Stephen Lopresti leaves Bronx Supreme Court surounded by lawyers.
A former Bronx prosecutor was acquitted of drunken-driving charges Thursday because the cops who busted him brazenly fixed summonses for family and friends, jurors said. Stephen Lopresti was cleared after the jury deemed Officers Julissa Goris and Harrington Marshall "completely corrupt" based on their ticket-fixing, jurors told the Daily News. "Their corruption was ridiculous," said juror Isaac Johnson, 22. "They have no integrity. They don't even deserve a badge." Goris and Marshall are among hundreds of cops implicated in a massive ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx. The pair defended squashing summonses as a "professional courtesy" while on the stand last week. Jurors said they did not believe a word of the duo's testimony about Lopresti, who was arrested for DWI after a December 2006 crash. "The ticket-fixing shows how crooked and completely corrupt they are," said juror Guadalupe Torres, 58. "They've probably done this so many times. We reached a verdict immediately because it was a clean-cut case." They deliberated just 45 minutes before springing Lopresti. "I'm going to church and thank my Lord," said a teary-eyed Lopresti, a practicing lawyer who would have been disbarred if convicted. His lawyer, Steven Epstein, said the verdict sent a message to cops across the city that "corruption won't be tolerated." The acquittal was also a stinging rebuke to the Bronx district attorney's office, whose prosecutors have been offering sweetheart plea deals to dozens of accused criminals in order to keep ticket-fixing cops off the stand, sources said. Asked whether prosecutors would have to continue to cut more plea deals, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson told The News: "We will weigh the merits of each case individually as they come." Prosecutors have lost both Bronx trials in which cops linked to the scandal testified, including the acquittal of accused attempted murderer Lance Williams . "They conceded a lot of cases because of tainted cops, but figured the ones they took to trial were going to be wins," said a source close to the ticket-fixing investigation. "They badly miscalculated how jurors would react to this. It's an embarrassment." Defense lawyers in the Bronx are salivating over the chance to use what's been dubbed the "ticket-fixing defense." "It's obvious we can get acquittals by hammering away on this issue," one lawyer said. With Bob Kappstatter

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty to Theft and Sex Assault

Ex-police officer pleads guilty in theft and sex assault cases
The Honolulu Star Advertiser by Nelson Daranciang - May 28, 2011
The pleas expose Maui County and police to possible civil liability charges

A former Maui police officer pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to stealing money from a driver at a traffic stop and sexually assaulting a woman after she was released from custody — both times while in uniform and on duty. Kristopher Galon, 37, faces up to a year in jail followed by a year on supervised release and a $100,000 fine when a federal magistrate judge sentences him in September. Galon has also agreed to pay restitution, the amount of which the judge will determine later. He remains free on a $10,000 unsecured signature bond. Galon pleaded guilty to depriving the two people of their constitutional rights under color of law. His pleas expose the Police Department and Maui County to civil liability. The woman sued Galon, the department and the county in March 2010. In his plea agreement, Galon admitted that on Nov. 10, 2007, he stopped a driver for an alleged traffic violation. During the pat-down search Galon seized the man's wallet containing $1,561. Galon removed $1,550 from the wallet, returned to it the man and released him with a warning not to drive because he is in the country illegally. According to the indictment the man is a citizen of Honduras. Galon also admitted that on Aug. 19, 2008, a woman was walking home after her release from custody at the department's Lahaina station when he offered her a ride home. He agreed to help the woman with potential criminal charges against her and then sexually assaulted her.

Police Corruption Trial Opens With Jury Picks in Federal Court

Police corruption trial opens with jury picks in federal court
The Tulsa World by Omer Gillham and Ziva Bransttetter - June 1, 2011

U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico listens to opening statements Tuesday in a police corruption trial in federal court.

Attorneys finished opening statements Tuesday in the corruption trial of three Tulsa police officers, with the prosecution reminding jurors the Tulsa Police Department is not on trial. The trial began Tuesday for officers Bruce Bonham, 53, Nick DeBruin, 38, and retired officer Harold Wells, 60. U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico is presiding. Six current and former Tulsa police officers and one former agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been charged in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. Thirty-three people have been freed from prison or have had cases dismissed or modified as a result of the federal probe. Before the jury was selected, Black addressed several pretrial items, including lengthy witness lists submitted by defense attorneys. Each list contained more than 60 names with many of the names expected to be character witnesses for the indicted officers, records show. Black trimmed the lists by saying he would allow only one character witness per officer. "This is not a trial about character. It's a trial about the acts committed," Black told defense attorneys. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane W. Duke of eastern Arkansas is prosecuting the case. In quick order, 12 jurors and two alternates were selected by early afternoon.

During opening statements, Duke said the case is not intended to be an indictment of the Tulsa Police Department. "TPD remains a fine upstanding law enforcement organization with scores of dedicated officers on the streets to keep Tulsa safe. On trial this week are only three officers," she said. Duke noted that the 13 counts charge the defendants with various crimes spanning 2006-2010. "As you hear the testimony and receive the evidence in this case, the truth will be that these three defendants are guilty of the crimes for which they have been charged," Duke said. Meanwhile, defense attorney Shannon McMurray said the government's case is built on the expected testimony of former police officers who have cut deals with the government to avoid prison time. McMurray represents DeBruin. Wells' attorney, Warren Gotcher, said the FBI set up two stings trying to determine if Wells would take drug money during a search. "At no time did he take any money during this period of time," Gotcher said. Gotcher said Wells retired in 2010 after more than 34 years on the force to take advantage of retirement benefits. He said Wells had been assigned to the Special Investigations Division and later became a corporal assigned to the patrol division. "The Tulsa Police Department allows patrol officers to handle all sorts of investigations," Gotcher said. He said agreements with would-be informants are supposed to be approved by the District Attorney's Office "but most of the time they are not." McMurray said the case is really about the illegal conduct of four officers: former Tulsa police burglary detective John K. Gray, former ATF Agent Brandon McFadden, Callison Kaiser and Eric Hill. Kaiser and Hill are former Tulsa police officers cooperating with the prosecution. Gray retired last year and pleaded guilty to stealing government funds during an FBI sting at a Tulsa Super 8 Motel on May 18, 2009. Most of the charges against Wells, DeBruin and Bonham concern their alleged actions during that sting. An FBI agent posing as a drug dealer with large amounts of drugs and cash was at the motel. Though it was DeBruin's day off, he was called in "like any other day to work a case," McMurray said.

Bill Lunn, Bonham's attorney, said Bonham was called to the sting on his day off because "he had the largest pair of binoculars on the squad and that is why he is seated at this table." "In all the telephone calls that take place in this May period, and there's probably close to a dozen, Bruce Bonham's name never comes up," Lunn said. Duke's office is expected to offer FBI surveillance video and witness statements alleging that Wells, DeBruin and Bonham stole money during the sting. McMurray told the jury that the undercover video will show Wells asking Gray to "take care of me" as they entered the hotel room. "You will hear this 'take care of me' and you will hear a perfectly plausible explanation of what 'take care of me' means," McMurray said. McMurray said the statement means officers want to be added to the list of officers subpoenaed for court, allowing them to make extra money. Duke's office alleges that Wells, DeBruin and Bonham stole $5,000 during the sting but returned the money once they realized a possible FBI sting was occurring, their indictment states. That occurred after a Tulsa police officer conducting surveillance pulled over an agent for the U.S. Office of Inspector General, who was driving his car in the area. Meanwhile, more than 100 potential jurors were questioned Tuesday in preparation for the trial. A jury of seven men and seven women was selected, though two of the jurors will serve as alternates. The trial could last two to three weeks, Black said. During jury questioning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Harris explained that Northern Oklahoma District prosecutors recused themselves because the case involves local law enforcement. She said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Harris asked jurors whether they would have a problem with voting to convict police officers if the prosecution meets its burden of proof. Jurors were asked whether they could find witnesses credible even if they had committed crimes or if they were undocumented residents. She noted that one of the government's witnesses was an illegal immigrant, prompting two potential jurors to say they had strong opinions on the issue and would give such a witness less credibility. Harris said the witness would be deported after he testified in the case. Duke also challenged defense attempts to dismiss a black woman from the jury pool. Gotcher said the juror could be biased because "she lives on the north side where a lot of this occurred." After the hearing, McMurray told the World: "We weren't trying to keep a black juror off the jury. We are trying to get the best jury possible regardless of color." The judge sustained the challenge and left the woman on the jury as the only black member of the pool. Most of the 33 people who have had charges dismissed or been freed from prison as a result of the corruption investigation are black or Hispanic, records show. Hill and Kaiser are expected to testify that the three indicted officers planted drugs on individuals to gain convictions. Gray is expected to testify about the officers allegedly stealing money from the sting. Defense attorneys for Wells and DeBruin argued they should be allowed to introduce evidence that Gray participated in a burglary ring. Black said unless defense attorneys have evidence that Gray took part in the burglary ring, he is not inclined to allow such testimony. "We're not going to be trying two cases in this trial," Black said. Defense attorneys have listed as a witness convicted burglar Jerry Clyde Stephenson, who has alleged that Gray took merchandise from a burglary and tipped off Stephenson about an ongoing investigation. A second trial of officers Jeff Henderson, 38, and Bill Yelton, 50, is scheduled to begin July 25. Henderson is charged with 58 counts while Yelton is charged with eight counts.