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Monday, April 30, 2012

Mistress Reveals Cop's Overnight Shifts in Her Bed

Under ‘covers’ 
The New York Post by Kieran Crowley  -  April 30, 2012

  • Cop’s overnight shifts in my bed: mistress 
  • Mistress says Nassau cop spent ovenight shifts shacking up at her place and other cops covered for him

The sexy mistress of a Long Island cop says she enjoyed wild romps while he was on duty with his police cruiser parked in her driveway. Nassau Officer Mike Tedesco allegedly would tell other cops to cover for him while he got out of uniform to get intimate with single mom and Wall Street exec Tara Obenauer — who said he’d leave his pistol and gun belt draped over the foot of her bed during their trysts. “He was cheating on the county, and he was cheating on me, and he did the same thing to his own wife and children,’’ said Obenauer, who claimed she’d thought he was divorcing his wife. “He would be at my house for hours during his shift, hanging out in his uniform on the couch, watching TV with my kids, taking a nap,” said Obenauer, who is single. Her children are from a previous relationship; the officer is married with two kids. “He was stealing time from the county for six months. He [would ask his pals to] take his calls.’’ Obenauer, 42, of Massapequa, said Tedesco, 43, got defensive when she confronted him about his no-show work habits. “I did ask him why he wasn’t out working.” Obenauer said. “We argued about it, but I’m not his mother and I’m not his supervisor. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years,” Tedesco bragged, according to Obenauer. a vice president of a global financial firm. “Let the f--king newbies chase these kids from their parties and go to house alarm calls.’’ She said he called the other cops his “assist bitches.” The under-cover operation came to a screeching halt when a suspicious neighbor blew the whistle. Obenauer cooperated with Internal Affairs and says she’s afraid he’ll try to get back at her. She obtained an order of protection to keep him away. Both were in court Friday, where it was renewed. The officer refused to comment when approached in court by a reporter. “I’m very afraid of his retaliation,” Obenauer said. “I’m a prisoner in my own home because of him.’’ Tedesco has filed for retirement while the matter is still under investigation. He has not been charged. Obenauer said the cop had his own key to her lavish waterfront home, where, she said, he’d spend part of his 10-hour shift from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Averaging at least four hours a night for 100 nights at her home, he may have cheated taxpayers out of more than 300 hours’ pay, an estimated $25,000 of his annual $175,000 salary, Obenauer said. Tedesco, who lives with his wife and kids, would use his police car to chauffeur her daughter and deliver ice cream for her kids, she claimed. Tedesco, 43, was suspended after cops compared the neighbor reports with GPS records from his squad car. They showed at least 57 visits, sources said. Obenauer said that when Internal Affairs detectives showed up at her home Feb. 9, she at first though Tedesco had been shot. But the news they delivered was nearly as bad. They said her boyfriend “was a fully married man” with no intention of divorcing his wife. “I was devastated,’’ Obenauer said. “It had been years since I had let a man into our lives. This was an extreme level of betrayal. It was all lies.’’ Tedesco later called her to ask what she told Internal Affairs, she said. “He screamed at me, ‘You f--king tell them that I’m just a friend who stops by once in a while,’ ” Obenauer said. “I told him, ‘They have your GPS records, you moron. I’m not perjuring myself for you. We’re over, and I want my key.’ ” Obenauer said the relationship began last July, while she was struggling with breast-cancer chemotherapy, when another cop came to her home for a routine call and told Tedesco she was good-looking. Later, he allegedly used a story about loud music coming from her house as an excuse to return. About a month later, they began a relationship. Tedesco, who is getting a full pension, was on the Nassau force for 17 years. Before that he had been a New York Housing cop for about four years. 

Corruption Recession

No corruption convictions recorded in Western Massachusetts in past 5 years 
The Republican by Jack Flynn  -  April 29, 2012

Former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, former Holyoke acting Fire Chief William Moran and Springfield police officers Derek Cook and Jeffrey Asher are among public safety officials who have faced criminal charges recently. Of the four, only Fleury was cleared. 

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Call it a corruption recession. Not one mayor, state legislator, housing authority director, police commissioner or homeless shelter director has gone to prison in Hampden, Hampshire or Franklin counties in five years. No politician has even been handcuffed in Springfield since the U.S. Justice Department’s anti-corruption marathon ended in 2006. Compared to 42 defendants convicted in Springfield alone during the five-year municipal corruption probe, just 31 public employees were charged with crimes and ethical violations in Hampden and Hampshire counties since 2007, a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found. Overall, that number represent a small slice of the state’s 250 cases, suggesting that public corruption has retreated, or at least taken a holiday in Greater Springfield. Related link High-profile public servants among hundreds in Massachusetts charged with crimes and ethics violations Instead of public figures charged with bid-rigging and no-show job schemes, the classes of 2007 through 2011 featured teachers, jail guards, police officers and firefighters carrying out a smattering of crimes, from falsifying credentials and Open Meeting Law violations to assault, rape and manslaughter. Two cases featured high-ranking public safety officers accused of endangering the public. In 2008, the accidental shooting death of a 8-year-old at a machine gun show in Westfield led to a manslaughter charge against Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, whose company sponsored the event. A jury acquitted Fleury of all charges in January 2010. In 2011, a fire report made by acting Holyoke Fire Chief William P. Moran led to a four-car accident and the chief being charged with making a false emergency call. In a plea deal this month, Moran was given 30 hours of community service and ordered to pay $500 in restitution after admitting making the false call. In Brimfield, five call firefighters pleaded guilty to torching three vacant homes in 2010 to relieve their boredom and, according to one, “to look cool.” Two were sentenced to three-year jail terms, and ordered to share in making $139,000 in restitution; two others were given three-year suspended sentences and restitution. The disposition of the other fifth cases was not immediately available. Police officers also got into trouble. In February, a jury convicted Springfield patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher in the videotaped flashlight beating of Melvin Jones III in a case that effectively ended Asher’s career and resulted in an 18-month jail sentence. Before a bystander filmed Jones’ arrest in 2009, Asher was perhaps best known for being cleared for kicking a suspect during another videotaped arrest in 1997. In July, Springfield patrolman Derek V. Cook pleaded guilty in Hampden Superior Court to assaulting two superior officers during a station house brawl in 2008. A third former Springfield patrolman was given two consecutive life terms after pleading guilty in 2010 to raping three young girls over a period of years. In sentencing Pedro J. Martinez, who resigned after his arrest in 2009 after two decades on the force, Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty called it “the most sordid case I have ever heard.” Two teachers were also arrested on allegations raping students. In Chicopee, special education math teacher Donald J. Cushing was charged with statutory rape after a 15-year-old student reported having sex with him several times in his classroom closet. A former Greenfield teacher has denied charges alleging he raped a former middle school student between 2004 to 2006. Brendan Kenny, 45, taught computer classes at Greenfield Middle School from 2004 to 2005. Both the cushing and Kenny cases are pending. The job-rigging scandal at the state Probation Department touched down in Northampton in December when Christopher J. Hoffman, acting chief probation officer in Hampshire Superior Court, was charged with intimidating and harassing a witness in the investigation. The 39-year-old Hatfield resident pleaded innocent and is out on leave without pay pending his trial. Several public servants, including Stephen P. Lisauskas, former executive director of the Springfield Finance Control Board, were tagged with ethics violations. In 2010, Lisauskas admitted violating the state’s conflict-of-interest law when by steering millions of dollars in city investments to Merrill Lynch despite having an undisclosed friendship with a company broker. He agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to settle the case. Agawam City Councilor George Bitzas was slapped with a $2,000 fine after suggesting that the owner of John’s Getty Auto on Main Street should take down a sign supporting then-mayoral candidate Susan R. Dawson. Bitzas admitted committing the violation in 2007, and was fined in 2009. Several government bodies – including the Holyoke Soldiers Home’s governing board and selectboards in Granby and Sturbridge – were also cited for violating the state Open Meeting Law, according to the data reviewed by the investigative reporting center.

Attention Focuses on Continuing PD Reform, Without Politics

Experts weigh in on finding a replacement for Indy's public safety director 
The Star by Tim Evans and John Russell  -  April 29, 2012
What should Indy look for in a replacement for Straub?  Experts weigh in on finding someone with the right stuff -  As director of public safety, Frank Straub often encountered opposition to proposed reforms. Experts say that Straub's work may have paved the way for meaningful reforms down the road.

Indianapolis, IN - With Friday's announced resignation of Frank Straub, the city's embattled public safety director soon will be gone. But the reason he was brought here -- to implement serious and necessary reform to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department -- is still very much a priority. So what should Mayor Greg Ballard do? First, he might want to ponder a host of other difficult questions: What lessons can be learned from the Straub experience? How can you create consistent and effective leadership at the top of the police organization? How do you sincerely acknowledge, yet not be undermined by, political, public and internal pressures? And, perhaps most significantly, how do you push reform in the context of an entrenched police culture resistant to change and clearly distrustful of outsiders? The Indianapolis Star posed those questions to various national experts in police reform. While they did not entirely agree on every answer, there was general consensus on some issues: Meaningful reform almost certainly will need to be driven by someone from the outside. The city should take a hard look at the role of the public safety director and ensure that role doesn't diminish the authority of the police chief. The city should welcome the police union and community leaders into the process to create buy-in and earn respect from both the public and the police rank and file. The city needs to find someone with a sincere willingness to reform, but with a less abrasive personality than Straub. Michael S. Scott, a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said the community should consider one more thing: patience. Creating meaningful change, Scott said, is a difficult, often slow and painful process. That will be particularly true with the challenges IMPD faces as it tries to move beyond a legacy of officer misconduct, racial tensions, corruption convictions and a revolving door in the chief's office. And there is another obstacle that must be overcome: IMPD has scant history of leadership or input from outside its own close-knit ranks, a shortcoming exposed by the controversy that surrounded Straub's arrival and push for reforms. But even given those factors, the experts told The Star that meaningful reform is possible.

Invite folks to the table Allowing the community to be deeply involved in the effort, rather than leaving it solely to city officials or national experts, could help the process, said Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska and a longtime advocate of citizen oversight of police. Walker said the mayor should consider assembling a task force to examine the underlying issues. The task force, he said, could include lawyers, church leaders, educators and neighborhood leaders. "The most important thing to take a look at," Walker said, "is what the real problems are before you bring in someone to fix them." Ballard said Straub will stay on as public safety director until August, helping with the process of selecting his replacement. The police union, for its part, said it hopes to have some voice in the transition. "We remain committed to assist in this process if allowed to do so," Bill Owensby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the mayor, the City-County Council and the police department's leadership to make a great department even better through meaningful improvements." Scott, who is a former police chief and officer, said striking the right balance of power between the union and department leadership is crucial. They must work together, he said, not against each other. "A very strong union that essentially dictates what it wants obviously turns basic management principles on their head," Scott said. "That is not a sign of a healthy relationship." On the other hand, Scott said, police management has to treat the union not as an enemy or adversary, but as a collaborative partner. When he was an officer in Madison, Wis., Scott said, the chief made the union president a part of the management team. He said that countered feelings of distrust and powerlessness. Examine the role Indianapolis is required by state and local law to have a public safety director, but the role that person plays can -- and has -- varied greatly. Straub, for instance, played a much more visible and forceful role than most of his predecessors. "I've never been a big fan of the public safety director model. I believe it unnecessarily complicates the process," Scott said. "It builds into the system a great deal of uncertainty over who is running the organization. . . . At the same time, you can end up with a chief perceived (by rank and file) as weak. It creates a lot of uncertainty about accountability." Scott said the city needs to be careful that in its quest for a public safety director that it does not neglect the need for a police chief that has not only the ability but also the authority to lead change. "A strong chief position," he continued, "is absolutely essential for reform and competent management of a police department." But Scott also said that for a chief to have true independence would require changing the system in Indianapolis. The public safety director is appointed by the mayor, which creates a built-in political instability in that position and, by extension, that of the chief. Scott said reform is easier to achieve in places such as California and Wisconsin. "Both states," he said, "have made deliberate and conscious decisions to enact laws that insulate the chief from local, partisan politics. They give the chief a degree of tenure to transcend whoever is holding political office." That approach, he said, has led to apolitical, competent, fair and relatively corruption-free departments. Look outside Scott and other experts think there is merit in looking outside the department for leadership, particularly if officials are truly committed to a culture change. "Imagine a Fortune 500 company that only hires its CEO from within," Scott said. "You instantly limit the pool of talent and almost guarantee you will not get the best person." Another advantage of hiring from the outside, Scott said, is that it tends to reduce politics in the process. Internal candidates, Scott said, might be more focused on creating political allies based on who they already know in the city in positions of power and influence. An outsider who is not solely beholden to a mayor or council, he said, is much more likely to focus on law enforcement ideas and proposals. "To be a chief," Scott said, "you have to know more than just the names" of the local council members or power brokers.

If the chief appointment does become political, he observed, it pretty much ensures the governance of the police department also will be political. Andrew J. Scott, a former police chief in Boca Raton, Fla., who now runs a law enforcement consulting firm, said new police leadership likely will face huge pressures and pushback at almost every turn, from the police union to elected leaders to the public. Dealing with that pressure may be easier, he said, for someone from outside the department with no allegiances, personal ties or other baggage to work around. Scott, who is not related to the Wisconsin law professor, suggested that officials may want to consider looking outside the department for more than just the public safety director and police chief. He said the new leaders will need help from key managers who are on the same page and also not burdened by existing relationships or biases. Alan Kalmanoff, executive director of the Institute for Law & Policy Planning and professor at the University of California-Berkley, agrees. "Of course you need someone from the outside," Kalmanoff said, "if you have a corruption problem." Officials also may want to look outside for another type of help, he said. Enlisting the aid of a state or federal agency to investigate problems within the department can help expedite a culture change. The outside review can help leaders identify unacceptable or illegal conduct and ferret out bad apples. It also shows that leaders are serious about making real improvements. Find the right fit Straub brought a hard-charging East Coast approach to reforming the police department -- a blunt, my-way-or-the-highway push that didn't sit well with many. Even his staunchest supporters and champions of reform say that too often the conversation in the community has been about Straub the person and not the substance of his reform efforts. "If you are coming in as an outside reformer and you have an abrupt and abrasive and challenging personality, one can only expect the tenure is going to be short," explained Michael Scott, the Wisconsin law professor. That is not to say that whoever becomes the next public safety director and chief should be passive or coddling. "It's going to take (guts) and the ability to build credibility within the community," said Kalmanoff, of the Institute for Law & Policy Planning. Kalmanoff also thinks it will take someone with urgency. Unlike Scott, he is not convinced reform has to take a long time. In fact, he said, moving quickly is important because reformers typically have only a small window of opportunity. "If you don't move quickly," Kalmanoff said, "the underground forces that led to all the problems will eventually get you. You can't string things out." But there also is reason for some optimism. Ballard's desire to have Straub play an important role in selecting a successor sends a strong message to the IMPD and the community that the mayor remains committed to reform. And while Straub's tenure certainly didn't go as some hoped, the work he has done so far also might make the job of his successor a little easier. "He at least got a process moving," Scott explained, "even if he didn't survive long enough to see the fruits of his labor." Call Star reporter Tim Evans at (317) 444-6204 and follow him on Twitter @starwatchtim.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Border Corruption Crackdown on the Rise

Government border town crackdowns on the rise
The Associated Press by Jeri Clausing  -  April 29, 2012

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) — While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Juarez. But it's more than the anomalous location that lends to the town's persistent reputation as a self-contained banana republic. When state police descended on the dysfunctional community before the March elections, the reaction wasn't so much surprise as "what now?" And that would be the latest allegations of extortion and financial kickbacks among municipal officials, and, more colorfully, that a mayoral candidate tried to force his opponent out of the race with a secretly recorded video of the other man getting a topless lap dance. But what is relatively new in Sunland Park and in other troubled border cities and towns is the harsh response to such shenanigans. State and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels. "Everyone turned their heads for so long," said Richard Schwein, a former FBI agent in nearby El Paso, Texas, where at least 28 people have either been convicted or indicted recently for voting scandals or awarding fraudulent contracts. Then, when the Department of Justice and the FBI made it a priority, "Bingo!" Another example can be found 70 miles west of El Paso, in tiny Columbus, N.M., where authorities a year ago arrested the mayor, police chief, a town trustee and 11 other people who have since pleaded guilty to charges they helped run guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels. That corruption that seems endemic to the border towns can be blamed on a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash. "If you're (a small town police officer) making $35,000 a year, and someone offers you $5,000 cash ... and next month there's another $5,000 in it for you, you've just (substantially increased) your income by not being on patrol on a given road," said James Phelps, an assistant professor with the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. The U.S. attorney for New Mexico, Kenneth Gonzalez, says more local officials have gotten caught up in scandals as federal authorities put a more intense and sophisticated focus on border towns as part of their attempts to thwart the cartels. "A result of that intense scrutiny is that we more than likely are going to ensnare someone abusing their position," Gonzalez said. In Sunland Park, an inquiry into local elections turned into a major probe by multiple agencies. State auditor Hector Balderas said that broad cooperation among agencies shows that law enforcement is starting to realize that "many crimes are interrelated." "I think law enforcement agencies and other agencies are now learning that these fiscal problems are symptoms of potentially greater corruption," Balderas said. "And a village or municipality can be infiltrated by criminal elements very easily." Dona Ana District Attorney Amy Orlando stated in court that Sunland Park's former mayor pro tem and then mayor-elect, Daniel Salinas, 28, had boasted to his codefendants in the cases there that he had ties to the cartels and could call on them to have people who testify against him killed. Salinas' attorney vehemently denied those allegations. The two dozen felonies filed against Salinas to date focus on corruption of the financial and voting processes. Although he won the mayor's chair, he was barred from taking office by the terms of his bail. So allies on the City Council recently named a political newcomer to the job. The new mayor, 24-year-old Javier Perea, most recently worked as a jewelry store employee at an El Paso mall. He replaces former Mayor Martin Resendiz, who dropped a bid for Congress after admitting in a deposition that he signed nine contracts while drunk. Said Orlando, "Unfortunately I think what is happening down in Sunland Park is that it was being run by a small group of people that were using funds and using the resources there for their own gain, operating it really as just their own little town — not following rules, not following regulations." Incorporated in 1983, Sunland Park could geographically be considered a suburb of El Paso or Las Cruces, N.M., or even an upscale neighborhood in north Juarez. The town has a modern racetrack, replete with casino gambling, on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. There are a few store fronts, churches and even horse stables lining its main road. The residents are friendly, but weary of the attention that they fear has made the town a laughingstock. Salinas has declined to talk about the case, citing advice from his lawyer. But during an encounter outside his house after the second of his three arrests, he seemed at ease for a man facing multiple felony charges and continued investigation. "I could write a book," he said with a wry smile. And the native of the town still has many supporters. "He is a good man, you can see it in his eyes," a man at the senior center said, before rushing off when asked for his name. Besides Salinas, several city workers, including the city manager, the city's public information officer, the public works director and former city councilors and the former police chief, have also been indicted in the three separate criminal cases. In one, Salinas and others are accused of trying to force his mayoral opponent, Gerardo Hernandez, out of the race with the lap dance video. Hernandez, who finished second, told investigators that an unidentified man threatened to blackmail him by producing a still image from the video. Hernandez said he was set up. In another case, Salinas is accused of giving the former acting police chief the job of chief for convincing his sister not to run against a Salinas ally for city council. And in the third, Salinas and others are accused of billing hookers, drinks and campaign videos to a $12 million fund set up for the city by the owner of Sunland Park casino and racetrack to aid the town's ongoing efforts to get a border crossing built there. State auditor Balderas said he's been monitoring the town since 2009. A previous auditor recommended the state take over the town in 2004 after finding scores of violations of state and local laws. "Sunland Park has had a culture that has lacked accountability for many years," Balderas said. "They probably should have been taken over many years ago. They got more brazen when they didn't."

Former Police Chief Gets 1 Year for Theft

Former East St. Louis police chief gets 1 year for theft 
The News-Democrat by Carolyn P. Smith  -  April 27, 2012

A federal judge sentenced former East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Baxton to a year in prison Friday afternoon. Baxton's sentencing stemmed from his conviction for taking five Xbox 360 game consoles from the trunk of a car Oct. 5 and then lying to the FBI. U.S. District Judge David Herndon could have given Baxton probation or up to six months on the theft charge, but instead, he went beyond the federal sentencing guideline. Prosecutors and the defense agreed that the sentence should be "sufficient, but not greater than necessary." They differed, though, in whether Baxton should go to prison or get probation, do community service or get home confinement. Defense attorney John O'Gara argued for probation or community service. He said Baxton lost the opportunity to do police work ever again and will have difficulty getting employment. He said Baxton will face a lifetime of ridicule because he will be remembered as a crooked cop, then discussed Baxton's good years in law enforcement. "He knows what he did. He stole and he lied. He feels it as well," O'Gara said. O'Gara argued that sending Baxton to prison might put him in harm's way at the hands of some of the people or relatives of people he's sent to prison. Herndon gave Baxton an opportunity to speak before he was sentenced. It took Baxton several minutes to compose himself. He was shaking and crying. He was given a glass of water and some tissues, and it still took several more minutes until he gathered himself enough to publicly apologize to his family, the judge and prosecutors for his actions. "I don't blame the prosecutors," he said. In a somewhat choked voice, he apologized to the federal team for having to bring him to court. He said he took full responsibility for his lapse in judgement. U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said he was pleased Baxton will go to prison for as long as prosecutors requested. "I hope that law enforcement officials will understand that there are serious consequences to wrongdoing. Ninety-nine percent of them are good law-abiding people who protect us. Unfortunately there are individuals like Michael Baxton, and when they do wrong there will be consequences," Wigginton said. Herndon gave Baxton a year sentence to make sure he will serve the full sentence. Baxton was police chief in Alorton when he stole the Xbox gaming consoles, valued at about $400 each. When federal agents interviewed him and he lied to them, he was chief of police in East St. Louis. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Weinhoeft said that, after Baxton was caught, he "tried to blame" an undercover officer posing as the new Alorton officer Baxton was training. 

"The chief of police is suppose to be the leader in the department and the community. He sets the tone for the department and the people he supervises," Weinhoeft told Herndon. Baxton's family, including his wife, Williemae Baxton, and son Michael Baxton Jr., were in the courtroom Friday. The FBI and U.S. Attorney targeted Alorton after reports of favoritism, corruption and drug dealing surfaced. Alorton police officers soon reported to federal agents that Baxton was favoring suspects who were family members or associates of a "particular Alorton official" or of Baxton. The local officers also said Baxton and the other Alorton official were stealing and either selling or using evidence from the locked evidence room in the chief's office. On Oct. 5, the FBI tested Baxton's honesty by reporting a car as stolen and loading the trunk with Xbox 360 gaming consoles that they purchased. Baxton told the undercover officer he was training to take one of the game consoles. Baxton gave three others away and kept one. Baxton was unaware that he'd been caught stealing when he left Alorton and took the East St. Louis police chief's job on Nov. 30. Federal officials confronted him Jan. 5 He resigned from the East St. Louis job on Jan. 18 and pleaded guilty the next day to federal charges of theft and lying to federal agents. Federal court records show there was an ongoing covert investigation into the village of Alorton when Baxton was hired as Alorton police chief in May. He replaced Police Chief Robert Cummings after Cummings was convicted of federal tax crimes. In January, federal agents raided Alorton Village Hall and the home of Alorton Mayor Randy McCallum. McCallum said they were investigating village tax increment financing operations and that he'd done nothing wrong. He siad he was "clean as a whistle." That later proved to be untrue, McCallum has since pleaded guilty to corruption charges, including trying to sneak contraband intothe St. Clair County jail, and awaits sentencing in June. Alorton's former street superintendent, Ronnie D. Cummings, 39, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers. He was indicted in January as part of the corruption probe and is awaiting sentencing.
Police Officer Hopeful States Claim for Gender Bias, Federal Judge Says 
The New York Law Journal by John Caher  -  September 26, 2011

An aspiring police officer who claims she was blacklisted after complaining of gender discrimination has stated a "sufficiently plausible" claim of discriminatory retaliation to defeat a motion for dismissal, a federal judge in Rochester has held. Western District Judge Michael A. Telesca said that Edith Jordan can pursue an action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and Title IX in which she alleges she was forced out of the Southern Tier Law Enforcement Academy at Corning Community College because of her gender, and then repeatedly denied opportunities with out-of-state police agencies because she was bad-mouthed by officials in New York. Jordan v. Corning Community College, 11-cv-6182, centers on a woman who has persistently, but unsuccessfully, attempted to pursue a career in law enforcement. According to the complaint, Ms. Jordan enrolled in the police academy in January 2007, when she was the only female cadet. Ms. Jordan alleges she was publicly derided as the "weakest link" in the class, denied opportunities afforded to men to make up missed training sessions and expected to use bathroom and changing facilities 10 miles from the academy. A month after enrolling, Ms. Jordan was terminated. She filed a discrimination charge with the state Division of Human Rights a few months after her ouster, and another in April 2008 when she was rejected by the Myrtle Beach Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the police department in Chesterfield County, Va. She contends that those departments turned her down because of negative reviews provided by officials at the Southern Tier academy. The parties stipulated to a settlement in 2009 in which the defendants agreed to pay Ms. Jordan $1,100 and also agreed to advise prospective future employers that she withdrew from the academy for personal reasons—which, according to Ms. Jordan, is not accurate—and that she had "excelled academically and had been appointed squad leader by her peers." However, according to the complaint, the defendants subsequently criticized her to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, the Spring Garden Township Police Department in York, Pa., and the Baltimore Police Department. Ms. Jordan contends she received a letter from the Metropolitan Police Department rejecting her for giving false statements and for having been thrown out of a law enforcement agency. In addition, she said the Spring Garden department rejected her, claiming that she "was asked to resign and did not leave for personal reasons." Ms. Jordan filed the federal case in November. The defendants sought dismissal, claiming, among other defenses, that the action was time barred since Ms. Jordan was terminated from the academy on Feb. 1, 2007, and did not file her lawsuit until Nov. 22, 2010; that the litigation is barred by the stipulated settlement; and that the Title IX claims are deficient in that they fail to establish a direct, educational relationship with the college since her attendance was prior to the settlement. Judge Telesca rejected those arguments. On the statute of limitations, the judge found that Ms. Jordan had "sufficiently alleged a continued course of discriminatory conduct that, if proven, could constitute a policy or mechanism of gender discrimination sufficient to toll the statute of limitations." He also found that the settlement does not bar the federal action since Ms. Jordan has sufficiently pleaded that the defendants breached the agreement. And the judge said that dismissing the Title IX claim at this time would undermine the thrust of the anti-discrimination law. "Defendants apparently request this court to dismiss plaintiff's claims of discrimination and retaliation because some of their actions took place after she was terminated," Judge Telesca wrote. "Such an interpretation of Title IX would defeat the remedial purpose of the statute." A.J. Bosman of Rome, Oneida County, represents Ms. Jordan. Corning Community College is represented by James F. Young of Sayles & Evans in Elmira. John Caher can be contacted at

Ex-Official Pleads Guilty Amid "Systemic Corruption"

Ex-Alorton official pleads guilty to federal charges 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch - March 24, 2012

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL - Ex-Alorton official pleads guilty to federal charges — The former Alorton street superintendent, Ronnie D. Cummings, 39, pleaded guilty to federal charges Friday and admitted lying to the FBI and unlawfully possessing ammunition. Cummings admitted that he possessed a nearly full ammunition clip for a 9 mm handgun on Jan. 4 despite having a 2001 drug conviction in St. Clair County. He also admitted lying about it when interviewed by an FBI agent the next day. Cummings' plea Friday was open, meaning that there was no agreement or deal prior to the plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced June 25. Cummings was nabbed by a police officer working secretly for the FBI in a wider investigation of 'systemic corruption" in the small Metro East village, officials said earlier this year. Former Mayor Randy McCallum Sr. and former Police Chief Michael Baxton have also entered guilty pleas this year. McCallum pleaded guilty to federal charges that include theft and attempting to distribute cocaine. Baxton, who briefly led the East St. Louis police after he left Alorton, admitted stealing four video game consoles while he was Alorton police chief and lying about it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prostitution Inquiry Is Latest Scandal for State Police

Prostitution Inquiry Is Latest Scandal for State Police
The New York Times by Danny Hakim and Thomas Kaplan  -  April 27, 2012

The State Police is an agency that is no stranger to scandal. Its revelation this week that it had suspended three troopers amid a prostitution investigation produced the most recent suggestion of tarnish. “It’s very disheartening for the rank and file to go through that, especially since the last couple years we have been splashed across the news pages quite a bit,” Thomas H. Mungeer, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, said. In the most recent case, Trooper Titus Taggart, an 18-year veteran assigned to Buffalo, is at the center of an internal investigation and has been suspended without pay. He is “alleged to have organized parties that may have involved the promotion of prostitution, while off-duty,” the agency said in a statement. Two troopers from the Rochester area, Jeremy C. Smith, 34, and Michael L. Petritz, 33, were also suspended without pay for alleged misconduct, but were not accused of being involved in organizing the parties. People with knowledge of the investigation, who insisted on anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said that Trooper Taggart, 41, moonlighted as a party promoter and that the participants in his parties included exotic dancers from Canada, some of whom may have engaged in prostitution. The State Police, prompted by a tip, had been investigating Trooper Taggart since December. The Times Union of Albany, which first reported the suspensions, posted a number of photos from Mr. Taggart’s Facebook page on its Web site, including a picture of him posing out of uniform with a large bottle of expensive liquor. State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, an Erie County Republican who is a former county sheriff and State Police captain, said: “It’s certainly disappointing that the negative actions of an individual adversely affect an entire agency — one that is among the most professional in the nation. But to the State Police’s credit, they’re not avoiding an investigation; they’re fully engaged.” Trooper Taggart could not be reached for comment. His father, Art Taggart, was once a colonel in the State Police and a top aide to former Superintendent Thomas A. Constantine. “The father is a real decent, very religious guy, very dignified man. He’s got to be crushed,” Mr. Constantine said, adding that he did not know Trooper Taggart. He said the latest case was markedly different from others that produced scandals at the agency. “This isn’t systemic behavior at a very high level — it’s troopers with very limited policy responsibility,” he said. “It’s individual wrongdoing.”

Most of the other recent State Police scandals have revolved around the leadership and its intersection with the governor’s office, which has direct control of the agency. During the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki, a top commander, Daniel Wiese, had troopers performing unusual assignments, including investigating a break-in at Mr. Pataki’s campaign headquarters and guarding the baseball star Darryl Strawberry when he was hospitalized, according to a report prepared by Andrew M. Cuomo, who was then attorney general and is now the governor. Mr. Wiese left the State Police to join the state Power Authority, but kept his shield and gun and maintained considerable sway over the agency. During the administration of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a scandal erupted when the State Police prepared documents detailing the travels of the governor’s political rival, Joseph L. Bruno, who was then the State Senate majority leader. And, after news broke that Mr. Spitzer had patronized prostitutes, questions were also raised about what his security detail had known of his behavior. Shortly after Gov. David A. Paterson took office in 2008, he claimed there was a rogue political unit within the State Police, and asked Mr. Cuomo to investigate. But Mr. Paterson’s administration became embroiled in its own scandal after his State Police security detail contacted a woman who reported that one of the governor’s senior advisers had assaulted her. The woman, Sherr-una Booker, said at a court proceeding that she felt harassed. After Mr. Cuomo became governor, he brought in a new superintendent from outside the agency, Joseph A. D’Amico, who had been his chief investigator in the attorney general’s office and a deputy chief in the New York City Police Department. Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat and a former New York City police officer, gave Mr. D’Amico high marks. “I think he has a zero tolerance level for something like this,” Mr. Adams said. “Sometimes you hear someone say they’re conducting an investigation and it goes nowhere, but you’re not going to hear that from him.” But Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, a Democrat from Manhattan, said he believed that the State Police needed more independent oversight. He has introduced legislation that would set up a civilian complaint review board to oversee all police and peace officers who work for the state, including troopers. “Every time a police force is unaccountable to a third independent party,” he said, “it’s a recipe for corruption.”

Proceedings Begin in Police Corruption Case

VAN BUREN TWP.: Preliminary examination begins in police corruption case 
The News-Herald by Jackie Harrison-Martin - April 27, 2012 

Southgate, MI — An aide for a former Romulus police chief who handled expenses testified Tuesday in a preliminary examination of the evidence against him, his wife and several detectives in a corruption case before 33rd District Judge James Kersten. The exam for former Police Chief Michael St. Andre; his wife, Sandra Vlaz-St. Andre; Detective Sgt. Richard Balzer; and Detectives Richard Landry, Donald Hopkins, Jeremy Channells and Larry Droege, who face a collective 22 counts, is expected to last about three weeks. Joyce Clay, an administrative aide who handled expense reports for St. Andre, as well as the department’s special investigation unit, testified that the unit would keep about $2,500 on hand for officers’ expenses, but the amount rose under St. Andre to $10,000, according to published reports. She said she questioned how the department could go through cash so fast and was told they were having larger cases than they had been, reports said. Clay also said a good deal of money was spent on undercover operations and food, and other things such as oil changes. There were expense receipts for deposits under an assumed name for St. Ande and other officers, but the former chief’s attorney argued that the receipts did not prove that St. Andre was reimbursed. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office brought numerous charges against the former members of the department and St. Andre’s wife in September. Charges against the former chief include conducting a criminal enterprise, embezzlement, uttering and publishing, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice, witness bribery, intimidating and interfering in a case, and receiving and concealing stolen property. Charges against Vlaz-St. Andre include acquiring/maintaining a criminal enterprise, filing a false tax return and receiving and concealing stolen property. The counts against the St. Andres, Balzer, Landry and Hopkins include felony racketeering charges that carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Channells and Droege faced various felony charges, including misconduct in office and neglect of duty, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. According to the prosecutor’s office, it is alleged that those charged repeatedly made, or assisted others in making, material misrepresentations of fact in connection with expense reports they submitted in an effort to seek improper reimbursement. It also alleges that they created fraudulent documents to support improper expenditures of drug-forfeiture funds, obstructed justice, made false statements in police reports and ultimately misused city money for personal gain. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy released a statement at that time. “The alleged conduct of the former Romulus police chief, his wife and the five detectives in this case defines a culture of corruption and greed at its core,” she said. “This is not an indictment of the entire Romulus Police Department that has honest, hard-working officers who put their lives on the line to protect us each day.” Contact Staff Writer Jackie Harrison-Martin at 1-734-246-0837 or Follow her on Facebook and @JackieMartin22 on Twitter.

Former Police Chief Loses Suit, Alleges Retaliation for Corruption Inquiries

Former Colton Police Chief Loses Suit 
The Press-Enterprise by Darrell R. Santschi - April 27, 2012 

San Bernardino, CA - Former Colton Police Chief Kenneth Rulon lost in court Thursday on a lawsuit alleging he was wrongfully fired. According to law firms representing the city and Rulon, a San Bernardino County Superior Court jury ruled 10-2 against Rulon. He had served as Colton police chief from June 2003 until April 2007. He claimed that he had investigated allegations of corruption against employees and elected officials and was fired in retaliation for doing so. He said at the time he filed the suit in 2007 that he had turned over information about corruption to the FBI, the state attorney general’s office and the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office. In the suit, he claimed that he had received several significant awards while serving as chief and was rated “exceptional” and “consistently outstanding” in his only job evaluation in 2004. He also said in the suit that he had resisted pressure from former Councilman Ramon Hernandez, who was later convicted of spending taxpayer money to stay at local hotels and call sex hotlines. John Higginbotham, a Riverside attorney who represented Colton in court, argued that Rulon was aware of the corruption “before any of the city’s top officials became aware and … his claims related to such information had nothing to do with his termination.” Higginbotham said in a news release Friday that “Mr. Rulon was fired because the police department and (then-city manager Daryl Parrish) had lost complete confidence in his ability to lead, and not because of anything having to do with former councilman Hernandez.” The attorney said Rulon was an at-will employee who was fired “after all four lieutenants and 83 of 89 employees at the Police Department voted ‘no confidence’ in Rulon’s leadership.” Before the 20-day trial went to the jury, Higginbotham said, seven of Rulon’s eight original claims were dismissed. Among the dismissed claims was one against Parrish, who resigned as Colton city manager in 2009 to become city manager in Covina.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3 State Troopers Suspended in Prostitution Ring Probe

3 state troopers suspended in prostitution ring probe 
The Albany Times Union by Brendan J. Lyons  -  April 27, 2012
Three troopers suspended, including the son of a former high-ranking State Police official 

ALBANY, NY — Three state troopers from western New York were suspended Thursday as part of a State Police investigation into allegations that at least one trooper, and possibly more, were involved in promoting a prostitution ring in which female prostitutes were transported from Canada to the Buffalo area. Two people with knowledge of the case said the investigation involves up to five troopers but is centered on Trooper Titus Z. Taggart, 41, an 18-year veteran and the son of a former State Police colonel. Taggart is assigned to Troop T in Buffalo, a unit that patrols the New York State Thruway. The other two troopers, Jeremy C. Smith, 34, and Michael L. Petritz, 33, were both suspended without pay for misconduct. State Police officials said they were not involved in organizing the alleged prostitution ring. Taggart's father, Arthur L. Taggart, 72, is a retired State Police colonel who was a special assistant to Thomas Constantine, a former State Police superintendent. A State Police spokesman said Taggart was suspended without pay "as a result of an internal investigation that alleges he organized parties that may have involved the promotion of prostitution, while off-duty." The spokesman said there have been no arrests. Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, declined to comment. The investigation began about five months ago as investigators sifted websites with postings that promoted parties where alleged prostitution was being offered, according to a person briefed on the case. State Police investigators have examined allegations that Taggart may have facilitated bringing prostitutes from Canada to the Buffalo area, the person added. Federal law enforcement organizations also are involved in the investigation. New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Mungeer said he was not told of any arrests. "From what I understand there's an investigation into off-duty conduct, and if and when somebody calls for PBA representation for administrative purposes we'll be involved," Mungeer said. "They might have made an arrest. I'm getting kind of hearsay." Titus Taggart could not be reached for comment. He joined the State Police in September 1993. Taggart's Facebook page depicts several photographs in which he is holding what appears to be bottles of alcohol. One photo depicts a sexually charged cartoon rendering of a woman holding a gun and wearing a police uniform augmented with lingerie. The depiction shows the woman standing in front of a heart that is adorned with yellow police tape and the words "busted." In a brief telephone interview Thursday Arthur Taggart said he was unaware his son had been suspended and that he planned to call State Police headquarters for information on his son's case. He declined additional comment and said he would try to reach his son. In December 2010, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped his former chief investigator from the attorney general's office as State Police superintendent. The appointment of Joseph D'Amico, a former New York Police Department deputy chief, followed a series of high-profile political scandals involving the State Police and the governor's office. The first matter involved Gov. Eliot Spitzer's release of information on the use of State Police aircraft by former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, who later resigned from public office in the face of a federal criminal investigation. The second incident centered on allegations a trooper with Gov. David Paterson's security detail had contacted a woman who was involved in a domestic incident with a top Paterson aide. An outside probe found no criminal wrongdoing by State Police in the domestic incident case. • 518-454-5547 • @blyonswriter

Cameraman Files Suit, Claims Police Obstruction

Cameraman Files Suit, Claims Police Obstruction 
The Associated Press  -  April 4, 2012

A freelance videographer arrested last year after a police sergeant ordered him to stop taping the arrest of a suspect filed a civil rights lawsuit on April 11, claiming the Suffolk County Police Department engaged in a pattern of harassing journalists. Philip Datz, who works for Stringer News Service, which sells video to TV stations and other news outlets, claimed in his federal suit that his arrest in July was another instance in which the county obstructed him from doing his job. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on Datz's behalf in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. The complaint cites other occasions in which Datz says he was prevented from videotaping during the course of his work. A police spokeswoman said when asked about the lawsuit that the department does not comment on pending litigation. Datz, who was arrested in Bohemia, claimed he was wearing press credentials and was filming police activity from a sidewalk where bystanders were also watching. He said that when Sergeant Michael Milton saw him, the officer ordered him to stop shooting and to leave. Datz claimed that none of the bystanders were told to leave. Datz moved about a block away and resumed shooting, but Milton pursued him and had him taken into custody, Datz said in the suit. He was given an appearance ticket for obstructing governmental administration. The district attorney's office later dropped an obstruction charge against him. The lawsuit claims Suffolk County "gives officers excessive discretion to prevent such recording," lacks adequate training for officers in dealing with the media, and does not sufficiently discipline officers who obstruct journalists doing their jobs.

State Trooper Arested for Breaking Into Home

New York State Trooper arrested for breaking into Utica home  -  January 4, 2012

A New York State Trooper is under arrest after breaking into a Utica home on New Year's Eve and attacking a man who was living there. Authorities say 31-year-old Jesse Miller was charged yesterday with criminal trespass and assault. He was off-duty when he broke through the front door of the house. Miller then got into a fight with the man inside the home. The man hit Miller in the head with a hammer and Miller bit the man. The fight continued outside, where police found the two.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cop Among Indicted in Corruption Case

6 arrested Miami Beach officials, 1 Miami-Dade cop indicted in corruption case
The Miami Herald by David Smiley - April 25, 2012

 A federal grand jury has indicted six Miami Beach code and fire inspectors accused of shaking down a South Beach nightclub owner, and a Miami-Dade police officer charged with providing protection for fake cocaine runs from the club to Aventura. Miami Beach’s lead code compliance administrator, Jose Alberto, and code officers Willie Grant, Orlando Gonzalez and Ramon Vasallo are charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit extortion. Fire inspectors Henry Bryant and Chai Footman face the same charge. In addition, all six are charged with at least one count of attempted extortion, based on the number of times federal agents say the men took cash bribes — or in one case, a comped bill — from the owner of the nightclub, which is unnamed in the indictment. The indictment was expected following the men’s April 11 arrest by local and federal authorities, who filed criminal complaints detailing a six-month nightclub extortion sting. In the complaints, the FBI said the club’s owner was forced to pay bribes to ensure that the inspectors would allow his club to remain open and turn a blind eye to violations, such as promotional fliers littering the street and roughly $25,000 in outstanding resort taxes the club owed to the city of Miami Beach. The owner reported the shakedowns to the FBI and agreed to work as a paid informant in an undercover operation targeting the employees. According to the indictment, the owner and an undercover FBI agent posing as a club manager paid bribes on 34 occasions to the code and fire inspectors. Federal agents say Alberto, the lead code compliance administrator, initiated the extortion scheme in June and took $16,600 in bribes on 22 occasions. If convicted, each extortion count carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

The grand jury also charged Bryant and Miami-Dade officer Daniel Mack, who are together accused of receiving $25,000 in payments to transport “sham” cocaine for undercover FBI agents, with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and two charges of attempting to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. If the men are convicted, each count carries a maximum life sentence. Alberto, Footman, Grant, Gonzalez and Vasallo all pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Bryant and Mack are expected to enter pleas Thursday. An eighth man arrested, Miami Beach code officer Vicente Santiesteban, who according to court documents accepted a $400 bribe from an undercover agent, also pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Santiesteban, however, has agreed to a plea deal and will admit to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, according to his attorney, Richard Sharpstein. Sharpstein said Santiesteban “made the decision to confront the situation early. He was minimally involved and totally unaware of the overall situation. He made an error in judgment in a brief moment in time and he’ll pay the price.” All those arrested have been suspended without pay. Miami Beach has filed paperwork to fire its accused employees.

Picture of a Troubled Police Department

The Journal & Topics by Todd Wessell  -  April 25, 2012
Fired Cop Filed Complaint in 2009; Paint Picture Of Troubled Department

Des Plaines, IL - Disturbing problems within the Des Plaines Police Dept. go back at least three years and involve allegations of discrimination and the department’s inability to locate the driver of a truck that killed a Maine West High School student in 2010 who was walking home. These new revelations came to light this week following several interviews by the Journal & Topics Newspapers with knowledgeable sources and the obtaining of an official document in which police officer John Bueno charges that he had been the target of discrimination by his superior at the time, Deputy Chief Rich Rozkuszka. Bueno, who was recently fired from his police job that he had held since April 2002, filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Nov. 28, 2011. In that complaint, Bueno charges that Roskuszka on or about November 2009 “started calling me derogatory names related to my Mexican heritage.” Among the names he says he was called was “The dirty Mexican.” Bueno added that Rozkuszka would “make unnecessary physical contact with me in the police station in an attempt to harass and intimidate me.” The discrimination, Bueno added in the complaint, led to a decision to pull him off a special police detail resulting in the loss of valuable overtime pay. Subsequent complaints he made to then Police Chief Jim Prandini did not result in any corrective action, the officer continued, adding that on Oct. 31, 2011 he was notified that he was suspended from the force “relating to allegations that dated as far back as 24 months.” Wrote Bueno in his EEOC complaint, “At the time of this filing, I am currently on suspension for what I believe is discrimination based on my race and retaliation for my oral and written complaints regarding Rozkuszka’s conduct.” According to Mike Earl, Des Plaines’ director of Human Resources, the city has filed a “position statement” to Bueno’s complaint. The Journal & Topics Newspapers yesterday (Tuesday) asked Earl for a copy of that statement. In an email to the Journal & Topics Earl said, “The EEOC is in the process of conducting an investigation into Bueno’s discrimination charges. Once it concludes the investigation, the EEOC could issue a finding of no substantial evidence (that discrimination occurred) or a finding of substantial evidence. If the former, Bueno will be issued a ‘right to sue’ letter and will have 90 days to file suit in federal court if he so chooses.” Bueno was recently fired from his city job allegedly because he beat an individual either inside the downtown police station or in the station’s parking lot, city sources have said. Bueno has appealed his dismissal to a third party arbitrator who is responsible for hearing the case and ruling whether the termination will be upheld. A hearing has not been scheduled. Fellow police officer Andy Contreras is currently serving a four-month suspension. Acting City Manager Jason Slowinski had asked the three-member Board of Police & Fire Commissioners to fire both officers. Slowinski later dropped his request to have Contreras fired but instead to have him suspended with the agreement that he be allowed to return to the force. Sources have said that Contreras either had knowledge of the individual’s beating or did little or nothing to stop it or report it to his superiors. Neither Contreras nor Bueno have commented publicly.

Around the time that Bueno filed his discrimination charges last fall, Rozkuszka suddenly retired after 29 years on the force. Most police officers try to complete 30 years of police work before retiring because of pension benefits. A planned retirement party for Rozkuzka was suddenly canceled at the time. Since Rozkuszka’s retirement, several other major changes within the department have occurred with little public comment or explanation. Chief Prandini also suddenly retired on Jan. 1 following back surgery ending a career that spanned more than three decades. Several sources have said that Prandini was forced out mainly because he failed to address problems such as the discrimination charges filed by Bueno. A friend of Prandini recently said the retired chief is “bitter” about the way his departure was handled. Another explanation presented to the Journal & Topics this week painted a picture of a police department consumed by internal turmoil that impeded its ability to properly conduct some investigations. One such probe was the highly visible and tragic death of Maine West High School senior Choice Taylor on Nov. 5, 2010. Taylor, 17, died when a truck near the corner of Algonquin Road and Third Avenue struck and killed him as he was walking behind the vehicle. The truck continued west on Algonquin stopping a short distance away. Its driver, who has never been identified, stopped a short distance away to check if he had hit anything. He then left the scene. “They failed to come up with a suspect,” said a knowledgeable city employee. “There were three cars with witnesses behind the truck when Choice Taylor was killed. That was a major disappointment.” As reported in local media at the time, including the Journal & Topics, police spent several weeks searching for the truck driver, looking at video surveillance of the area and interviewing witnesses. Besides the sudden unexplained departures of Rozkuszka and Prandini, longtime police Commander Tim Veit also retired on Apr. 6 after a 31-year career in Des Plaines. As reported in the Wednesday, Apr. 18 Journal & Topics, an internal police probe has been underway for several weeks into allegations that Veit falsified records involving department police traffic safety campaigns in an effort to obtain additional grant money from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) and/other governmental agencies. Veit headed the department’s Traffic Unit. In the matter involving Bueno and Contreras, the city several months ago hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation. That firm has been paid more than $66,000 by the city since last year. It’s possible that the probe involving Veit could also be handed off to a private law firm. City officials have been unusually quiet about the police investigations and retirements. Slowinski, whose last day on the job was last Friday, has repeatedly declined comment. He did however issue a brief written statement about the matter about a month ago. Slowinski left his Des Plaines job to become village administrator in Lake Zurich. He has been replaced by Mike Bartholomew. Mayor Marty Moylan this week did acknowledge “some management problems within the police department, but declined to elaborate on the nature of those problems. “You can’t blame the beat officers,” said Moylan. “We have to give credit to the young guys on the street who are doing their job. When all is resolved we will have a better police department. If there was any wrongdoing, those responsible will be properly reprimanded.”

Federal Judge Cites Police 'Code of Silence'

Judge: Police 'Code of Silence' in Bar Beating
ABC-WLS Chicago by Chuck Goudie  -  February 23, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - A bartender who was beaten by a Chicago police officer will have her day in court, according to a ruling by a federal judge. The federal judge's ruling Thursday in Chicago gives credence to what is known as "the blue curtain," an understanding between police officers that they should cover for each other unconditionally and that testimony against a fellow cop amounts to betrayal of their bond. It is the underbelly of a police subculture that is rarely exposed to the light of day. Read Judge St. Eve's Ruling Five years ago, an off-duty and drunk Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate Jr. went off on the 125-pound bartender who refused to serve him any more alcohol. Video of the barroom attack went viral on the internet. Abbate was convicted of aggravated battery, sentenced to two years probation for the brutal attack and thrown off the police force. The victim, Karolina Obrycka, filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Abbate and the City of Chicago. Obrycka claimed that after being beaten by Abbate she was also victimized by a police code of silence that insulated Abbate. City attorneys moved to have the suit thrown out, but on Thursday, Judge Amy St. Eve ruled the civil case may move forward. In the ruling, Judge St. Eve cites numerous pieces of evidence that a code of silence exists within the Chicago Police Department; including Abbate's phone calls to other officers and detectives after the incident to enlist their help in covering up his misconduct. According to the judge, "there is evidence in the record that Abbate's conduct triggered the code of silence...a reasonable jury could infer that these numerous telephone calls...constituted an effort to protect Abbate from police brutality allegations or to cover-up Abbate's misconduct." While punching and kicking the tiny bartender who had refused his drink order, Officer Abbate said something which characterized the blue curtain he would later try to pull over his misdeed. Abbate said, "Nobody tells me what to do."


Bartender: Officer Who Attacked Was Protected By ‘Code Of Silence’ 
CBS by Mike Krauser - February 2, 2012

CHICAGO, IL (CBS) — The claim that Chicago Police officers practice a code of silence to protect fellow cops is up in federal court again, this time in connection to the infamous case of former officer Anthony Abbate. As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, a federal court jury will hear the allegation from bartender Karolina Obrycka, after Abbate was caught on video brutally beating her back in 2007 at the Northwest Side bar where she worked. Obrycka is now suing Abbate and the City of Chicago. U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve ruled that the jury in her lawsuit will hear the allegation about the code of silence. In an earlier filing, Obrycka said she told officers who responded after the beating that she was attacked by Abbate, and she gave the officers his full name. She said it was all caught on tape. But Obrycka claims the officers officers omitted Abbate’s name from the report because they didn’t want to deal with him. The City of Chicago is disputing that Obyrcka provided Abbate’s name, but acknowledges she did say her attacker was a police officer, and that it was caught on tape. The responding officers later said they couldn’t recall if they knew at the time the attacker was a cop. Both were disciplined, but the city denies they lied so as to protect a fellow police officer. The city did admit that the Independent Police Review Authority did find the officers violated a department rule, but didn’t specify what penalty, if any, they received. Abbate attacked Obrycka, who is half his size, on Feb. 19, 2007, when she refused to serve him more drinks at Jesse’s Shorstop Inn, 5425 W. Belmont Ave. Abbate was initially charged with simple battery, but the charges were upgraded to felony aggravated battery after the surveillance video of the attack went became a national sensation. He was also accused of trying to bribe Obrycka to keep quiet. While Abbate’s actions had few defenders, some, including many rank-and-file police officers, said the attack only constituted simple battery and that the charges were only upgraded because Abbate was a police officer. The fallout from the attack eventually led Supt. Phil Cline to resign. He was replaced by FBI veteran Jody Weis, who in turn was supplanted by current Supt. Garry McCarthy. Observers also complained when Criminal Court Judge John Fleming sentenced Abbate to probation and spared him prison time in 2009. Abbate was fired from the Police Department when he was convicted.

50 Years of Corruption in PD 'Overplayed a Bit'

Mayor Ballard downplays IMPD controversies, uncertified police chief 
Indiana FOX 59 by Russ McQuaid  -  April 25, 2012
 "Overplaying this a bit," Ballard says about Rick Hite, corruption issues

Indianapolis, IN -  Mayor Greg Ballard dismissed critics complaints and reporters' questions about his acting police chief’s lack of Indiana credentials and claims by his public safety director that he’s struggling to clean up “50 years” of corruption in Indianapolis law enforcement. “I think we’re overplaying this one a bit,” said Ballard. Ballard admitted he knew acting chief Rick Hite did not have credentials to be an Indiana police officer the day before Hite was named to replace Police Chief Paul Ciesielski. Ciesielski stepped down because of a controversy in the David Bisard case. “I don’t think we were anticipating this clearly,” said the mayor. “Clearly, we could have done this a year and a half ago. Frankly, we could have.” Hite came to Indianapolis as a deputy to Public Safety Director Frank Straub in the summer of 2010 after 32 years as a police officer in Baltimore, Md. During his tenure in Straub’s office, Hite has not updated his Indiana law enforcement credentials. “It’s a paperwork issue,” said Ballard as Hite is retrieving his personnel records from Maryland, sending them to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and awaiting word on whether he will have to undergo further testing and training to become an Indiana police officer. “We’ll move on.” Ballard refused to say if Hite was a candidate to be named as the permanent chief of IMPD. When asked if the city was conducting a nationwide search for its next permanent chief, Ballard said, “we’re always looking.”

On the day that it was announced Ciesielski was stepping down, Public Safety Director Frank Straub first told reporters and then City-County councilors that he’s fighting against up to 50 years of corruption in Indianapolis law enforcement. “Again, people might be overplaying it a little bit,” said the mayor who agreed that IMPD’s disciplinary problems might be a mixture of corruption and misbehavior. “I don’t think its been that continuous. I think there’s been pieces here and there.” During an appearance before the City-County Council Public Safety Committee, which is holding hearing on his reappointment, Straub referred to newspaper articles that he said detail corruption problems among Indianapolis police dating back to the 1970s. During that tenure, Republican Stephen Goldsmith was either the prosecutor or mayor for 20 years. Republican Scott Newman filled the prosecutor and public safety director positions for 10 years. In March, Straub told councilors that he was facing a $15 million budget deficit and expected to run out of money to pay IMPD’s electricity bill by the end of April. Marion County Sheriff John Layton also announced he was facing a $16 million deficit, nearly half of it due to inmate medical care costs. Straub has since told councilors he has cut his deficit in half by not purchasing 200 new police cars. Instead, federal officials are allowing the city to use unspent grant money to purchase 80 new cars which will be given to officers on special assignments. Their cars will be transferred to patrol officers. “We’re not over budget,” said the mayor of the public safety director’s deficit though Ballard expects a $50-75 million deficit in 2013. “The sheriff’s office is the only one saying they’re over budget and I don’t think they’re over budget anyway. I think they’re overspending.” As part of the consolidation that united the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Indianapolis Police Department several years ago, Indiana code called for three financial audits during the first two years after the merger. Those audits were not conducted under previous Mayor Bart Peterson or the current administration. “That’s before my time,” said Ballard. “I’m going to look at inefficiencies. If there’s an audit afterwards to increase the trust, then maybe. “There’s efficiencies to be had across the board in public safety and you’ll see us here in the near future get to them.” On Tuesday, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86 released a 10-point plan to reduce the IMPD budget and bring about reforms in the department. The mayor agreed with a spokesman who said elements of the plan were undoable, illegal or a smokescreen for law enforcement creep by Sheriff John Layton. “They’re a union representative,” said Ballard, dismissing the FOP’s role as an advocate for the opinions and concerns of its 1600+ IMPD members. “They’re not a police department or the sheriff. They’re a union.” A prominent Republican City-County councilman has considered holding a news conference, possibly with other councilors, calling for the removal of Frank Straub as public safety director. Other councilors were rebuffed in their attempts to speak confidentially as a bi-partisan group with the mayor about their concerns for the direction of public safety and the police department in Indianapolis. When asked if he would be willing to meet with such a group of community leaders, Ballard answered, “certainly we’re open to those conversations.” Within two hours, Ballard’s staff was reaching out to councilors, requesting they schedule one-on-one meetings with the mayor to discuss public safety.

Many of these issues were raised in the wake of last week’s revelations that a key piece of evidence in the criminal trial of an Indianapolis police officer accused of running down a trio of motorcyclists and killing one with his patrol car in August of 2010 may have been mishandled. On April 16, IMPD Sgt. Doug Huestis, the lead investigator in the David Bisard case, confirmed that a vial of the officer’s blood, tagged for examination for the presence of alcohol, had been left unrefrigerated for six months in an auxiliary IMPD property room. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said that evidence may be so degraded it will be useless in the trial. Ciesielski stepped down after the revelations. Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham, who oversaw Professional Standards and the property room, was placed on administrative leave as was a lieutenant and a civilian supervisor. “The supervisory leadership needs to be upgraded a little bit, a little bit more hands on,” said the mayor.” When asked how high the supervisory failure reached, Ballard said, “I’m always worried about, ‘Are people looking at what’s happening below them?’ I’m always worried about that one.” When asked if anyone below him lost control of the investigation, Ballard said, “Clearly on that one, yes.” The mayor refuse to name which supervisor below him lost control of the case and referred to the previous news conference. Special Unit Investigators, working under the direction of a deputy public safety director, have questioned three investigators involved in the oversight of the Bisard blood vial and the IMPD property room to determine their control of the evidence and knowledge of its storage. Investigators are also reexamining the April 13 arrest of IMPD Officer Mort Gallagher who was discovered driving his patrol off duty reportedly under the influence of alcohol. During a recent council committee meeting, Dr. Straub referred to an officer who allegedly ignored Gallagher’s condition that night as an example of the corruption that he said has plagued Indianapolis police for 50 years. Straub’s renomination remains hung up in committee where councilors continue to seek budget information from his department. If the committee approves Straub’s nomination May 16, it would be passed on to the full council for approval. If the full council denies the nomination, Mayor Ballard has indicated Straub will still serve as his public safety director. Straub has denied Fox59 News reports, confirmed by several sources, that he is currently seeking another job.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Police Corruption Testimony Focuses on Alleged False Docs

Romulus police corruption testimony focuses on alleged false receipts, informant 
The Detroit News by Candice William  -  April 24, 2012

Romulus, MI— Allegations of falsified payment receipts for a confidential informant, sex acts during undercover work and fake receipts for Subway sandwiches were the focus Tuesday as a preliminary exam continued on corruption charges for the city's former police chief and five officers of a special investigation unit. Former police chief Michael St. Andre, his wife, Sandra Vlaz-St. Andre, and officers Richard Balzer, Richard Landry, Donald Hopkins, Jeremy Channells and Larry Droege are accused of misusing more than $100,000 in drug forfeiture funds from January 2006 through September 2011. Judge James K. Kersten of 33rd District Court is presiding over the preliminary exam, which was in its second day Tuesday, at Van Buren Township Hall. A confidential informant Tuesday testified that unbeknownst to him, St. Andre and Balzer falsified payment receipts for work he said he didn't perform. St. Andre or Balzer then submitted those receipts for payment, prosecutors alleged. The informant said that he began working with the Romulus Police Department in 2001 as an informant after he was arrested for a federal drug offense. After working with police for a few years, the informant said the charges were dropped against him in December 2005. The informant testified that after the charges were dropped, he continued to work for the Romulus Police Department for pay. He typically signed for his payments, which were of varying amounts, he said. The informant said that in early 2009, he was contacted by Michigan State Police to identify and provide his signature. He said at the time he "wasn't privy what the nature of the investigation being done by the Michigan State Police." The informant testified that two receipts in particular noted dates for days he remembers not working or receiving payments — his wedding day and a day he was in North Carolina for a wedding. He said St. Andre, who was a witness at his wedding, requested payment for $200 for a discussion on a cocaine deal at the Whiskey Bar & Grill. The informant said that he didn't receive any money that day and the visit to the Whiskey Bar & Grill was "to celebrate my marriage that had just occurred."

During a brief portion of the testimony Tuesday, the informant accused Balzer, Landry, Channells and Droege of at least once participating in sex acts with strippers during undercover assignments at the Landing Strip in Romulus or at Subi's Place in Southgate. The informant said St. Andre was aware that the Michigan State Police had contacted him and that in February 2009, St. Andre met with him at the used car dealership where he worked in Ypsilanti and gave him $500. "Mike said, 'Here's $500. You don't have to do anything. We'll mark it down that you went into the Play House (strip club),' " the informant said. "He said I could say I went in the night before." Defense attorney Todd Lanctot pointed out the informant's lack of record-keeping regarding when and how much he was paid for his work with the police department. He asked the informant for the highest sum he had ever made from the department, as well as other questions the informant admitted he couldn't answer with certainty. "You don't know how many times you worked, you don't know how much money you got paid and you don't know how much money you made," Lanctot said. Earlier Tuesday, Mahmoud Farha, manager of a Subway shop in Romulus, testified that in the beginning of 2006, St. Andre asked him to give him a "bigger receipt" after making a purchase. He said the procedure became routine in his dealings with the police department. "Whoever came in, whoever paid, I just gave them a bigger receipt," Farha said. Farha testified that he first began to provide the officers with larger receipts from other customer's transactions and later would create and provide officers with preliminary receipts for larger purchases they did not make. He was asked to stop providing the receipts in 2010, he said. Lanctot took issue with Farha's testimony, pointing out that he could not remember what the officers ordered from the restaurant years ago. St. Andre faces 10 charges, including conducting a criminal enterprise and acquiring or maintaining a criminal enterprise. Vlaz-St. Andre is charged with acquiring or maintaining a criminal enterprise and conspiracy criminal enterprise. St. Andre and Vlaz-St. Andre face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Balzer, Landry and Hopkins face up to 20 years in prison on charges including conducting a criminal enterprise and conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise and embezzlement. Channells and Droege face up to five years on misconduct in office charges. The preliminary exam is expected to include about 20 witnesses and take three weeks to complete. (313) 222-2311

Former Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Conspiracy

Larry J. Davis Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Distribution Charge 
The Riverfront Times by Paul Friswold  -  April 23, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Larry J. Davis, the former St. Louis Police Sergeant who used his official position to run a marijuana distribution operation with his brother Linus Davis, pleaded guilty this morning to one felony count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Linus Davis had already entered his guilty plea to those exact same charges, which come with a maximum five-year sentence per charge. Larry Davis' plea acknowledges that between 2010 and 2012, he used his position as a police officer to seize packages suspected of containing marijuana from area shipping companies. These packages were taken either to his home or to his brother's home, where the pot was repackaged for sale by the brothers. A total of 60 to 80 kilograms of pot were seized by Larry Davis during this period. It should be noted that Larry Davis resigned from the police force upon being indicted. Linus Davis is to be sentenced on June 7; Larry Davis will be sentenced on July 26.


Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Charges 
U.S. Attorney’s Office April 23, 2012  -  Eastern District of Missouri 

ST. LOUIS—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that former police Sergeant Larry J. Davis entered a guilty plea to diverting seized packages containing marijuana for distribution and sale. The total amount of marijuana possessed and intended to be distributed was approximately 60 to 80 kilograms. Larry Davis resigned from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department following his indictment in this case. According to court documents, Larry Davis was assigned as a supervisory Sergeant to the Central Patrol Division-Special Operations Group responsible for conducting investigations into illegal gang activities and illegal drug distribution. Larry Davis admitted with his plea that between October 2010 and January 2012, he visited various package delivery company branch facilities in St. Louis in his official capacity as a police officer and seized packages that were suspected of containing marijuana. Instead of taking the seized packages to the police department or to the police laboratory and unbeknownst to the package delivery companies, Larry Davis took the seized packages to his personal residence on Eichelberger in the city of St. Louis or to his brother’s residence in St. Louis County. He and his brother, co-defendant Linus Davis, opened the packages and removed the concealed marijuana, which they later sold and distributed for their own personal gain. In order to conceal his criminal conduct, Larry Davis failed to submit police reports regarding the package seizures. As part of their guilty pleas, the brothers have agreed to the forfeiture of two vehicles used in their conspiracy, as well as cash seized during the execution of a search warrant at Larry Davis’ residence. Larry J. Davis, 46, pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He appeared before United States District Judge Carol E. Jackson. Sentencing has been set for July 26, 2012. His brother, Linus R. Davis, 43, St. Louis County, pled guilty to the same charges March 9 and is scheduled for sentencing on June 7, 2012. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. This case was investigated by the FBI Public Corruption Task Force, including officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Corruption: a Global Problem

Russia: Police Captain Arrested in Crackdown on Corruption 
The New Times by Glenn Kates  -  April 24, 2012

A police captain in Moscow was arrested over the weekend on charges of accepting a bribe of more than $40,000, according to a police statement released Monday, part of an apparent crackdown on police corruption after several scandals involving law enforcement personnel. The captain, who was not identified, was accused of taking the money from a car salesman in exchange for ignoring legal infractions. The police statement said the captain’s superiors would also be punished. Despite efforts by President Dmitri A. Medvedev to push for police reform, corruption remains widespread and abuse common. In March, a man died in police custody after officers allegedly sodomized him with a bottle. The episode incited national outrage and prompted new calls for reform.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Corrupt Case Shines Light on Police Department

Corruption case shines light on NYPD
The Associated Press by Tom Hays  -  April 23, 2012
$1 million warehouse robbery among cases examined 

NEW YORK — NYPD badges out, Kelvin Jones and the other armed men turned up out of nowhere at a New Jersey warehouse and began barking orders. Jones told startled workers that the New York Police Department had sent the team there to inspect for counterfeit goods — even though the wholesale dealer of Prada, Versace and other fragrances was legitimate. The men herded about a dozen employees into a tiny back office and tied them up. By then, it was obvious something was amiss. "We were kind of shocked," one worker recalled. "We were like, why is the NYPD coming in here like this?" Another blurted: "You're not cops." But Jones was indeed an NYPD officer. In fact, he had held an elite undercover position. Two with him were also part of the NYPD. A third was a former officer. But these were hardly "New York's Finest." What they'd set up to look like a police raid was instead a brazen, $1 million robbery. Eventually, the 30-year-old Jones would face trial. And his case, though largely overlooked, isn't isolated. In the past two years, prosecutors have accused officers of planting evidence in drug investigations, of running illegal guns, of robbing drug dealers, of routinely fixing traffic tickets as favors. Still, Jones stands out because of his background as an undercover operative for the NYPD's Intelligence Division. The department credits the unit with thwarting numerous terror and other threats against New Yorkers.

Recent stories by The Associated Press have detailed how the unit also sought to infiltrate and monitor mosques, Muslim student organizations and left-wing political organizations — even beyond city limits — using methods that critics say infringe on civil rights, though the department denies it. How Jones became an undercover and the exact nature of his assignment weren't made public at his trial in Newark in 2010, and police officials won't discuss it. But court documents offer hints: They show the NYPD authorized the Caribbean-born Jones to use the aliases Michael Kingston and Kelvin Johns. And in a handwritten journal, he made cryptic references to assignments in cities far from New York. That was before he was demoted to ordinary patrol — a transfer that still gave him access to an internal police database he used to help hatch the warehouse holdup. Jones "abused his authority for his own personal gain," Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Gramiccioni told jurors. "Instead of protecting and serving the citizens, he decided to rob them and hold them hostage." While not commenting directly on Jones, the NYPD insists it carefully vets candidates for undercover work, especially those assigned to Intelligence Division. Some are chosen because they speak Arabic or other languages needed to make their undercover roles convincing, or because they've demonstrated a mental toughness needed to withstand the rigors of leading a double life. Jones' demeanor would have made him a good choice, said his attorney, Michael Orozco. "For that kind of work," Orozco said, "you'd obviously want to have someone who's cool, calm and collected — and that's him." But a rambling journal entry addressing his girlfriend reveals that the duality was difficult for Jones. "I never told you I was cop," he wrote, "because I was in too DEEP." ___

Back in 2003, Kelvin Jones was listed in the media guide for the Southeast Missouri Redhawks as a 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker, a "hard hitter" with "a good nose for the football." Originally from the island of Grenada, Jones had grown up in Brooklyn, the son of a contractor and a dietitian. In his last season at the college in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the Redhawks finished with a forgettable 5-7 record. But Jones stuck to his studies and graduated with a degree in criminal justice. He played professionally in the now-defunct National Indoor Football League, leading the Fayetteville Guard in tackles and interceptions in 2006, according to a league blog, but he quit the team before a playoff game. The reason? To enter the police academy in New York City. On his NYPD application, Jones listed his criminal justice degree and his gridiron work. And to a question about distinguishing markings on his body, he responded, "I got a tattoo on the right side of my back ... Lord's Prayer on a scroll." The application offers nothing especially remarkable, nothing to explain Jones' next move. Orozco believes Jones went to work for the Intelligence Division "right out the academy." Jones declined to be interviewed. His family declined comment as well. NYPD supervisors have at times plucked recruits out of the police academy and given them special training to become undercover investigators. But police officials, citing privacy rules, declined to discuss his employment history. In court documents, the NYPD confirmed only that Jones had been an Intelligence Division undercover who used aliases. His defense claimed that he also had permission to get a New Jersey driver's license using a fake name.

Two former NYPD officials familiar with Jones told The Associated Press that one of his assignments was to monitor the Nation of Islam — part of the Intelligence Division's effort to monitor groups considered to have extreme political agendas. Since the ex-officials weren't authorized to speak about the case, both spoke only on condition of anonymity. Jones' journal offered murky clues. He described having "orders from my captain not to let anyone know I was in Las Vegas" — but no clue what for. Another time, he was on the road because "we got a lead from an informant that someone we were investigating would be in the LA area." Still another trip took him to Miami. At a nightclub there, he wrote, he introduced his girlfriend to a "friend" — actually another undercover on assignment with him. "I didn't pay for my flight to Miami," he said. "It was paid for by the unit." The girlfriend, he wrote knew him only as Kelvin Johns — not Jones 3 and the deceit was not his only regret. He worried that someday he was "going to get shot." Still, he reasoned, "This NYPD career is just a stepping stone for me." He saw it leading to future job in federal law enforcement. Though Jones told his lawyer that his supervisors "loved him," one of the former police officials who spoke to the AP said Jones proved unreliable and difficult to supervise. And at some point, the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau began investigating allegations he gave protection to drug dealers in exchange for cash or narcotics, court records say. Internal investigators noted his lifestyle, flashy for someone on an officer's salary. Witnesses described how he drove a BMW sedan, wore expensive clothes, owned a condo and, according to his girlfriend, Sahar Saidi, bankrolled her Spanish studies in South America. "This is the kind of person I know Kelvin to be — thoughtful, considerate and generous," she wrote in a letter of support to the court. The NYPD revealed a different view when it reassigned him from Intelligence to regular duty. But if the idea was to neutralize him, it didn't work.

In his new assignment, Jones met officers already making a mockery of the department's "New York's Finest" moniker. He learned that two patrolmen were routinely robbing prostitutes and brothels, according to trial testimony. Jones sought out one, Brian Checo, to get in on the action. "I told him it's not worth it because it's not a lot of money," recalled Checo, who pleaded guilty and agreed to become a government witness. "And that's when he said he is going to have something for us and he is going to let us know." About two months later, Jones let Checo know he wanted help robbing a warehouse. This one was in Brooklyn, and it stored counterfeit clothing. Checo and two others 3 patrolman Richard LeBlanca and ex-officer Orlando Garcia — signed on. Jones "had been sitting on a spot" — police slang for reconnaissance — "for a while and that if I was interested ...he would be paying us $4,000 each," Garcia testified. The plan called for them to wear NYPD raid jackets, bulletproof vests and badges. "We were going to try to make it seem like an official NYPD raid. ... Just make it look like, you know, a sting," Garcia said. Converging on the Brooklyn warehouse, the officers used a broom to knock out a security camera. Jones shouted out the names of the employees before the men handcuffed them and trucks began showing up to haul merchandise away. He told his crew the goods would be sold to a fence. Word later came that the same fence had made Jones an offer he couldn't refuse, this time regarding a perfume warehouse in Carlstadt, N.J.: If he and his cohorts could "get four trucks of perfumes, he will give them $500,000." Jones had learned the other side of the law from his police work. He was always careful to use prepaid cell phones. "You gotta change it up," he told Checa. Also, Jones' black BMW had South Carolina plates. Another tactic came straight out of the surveillance playbook: He had gone to the New Jersey warehouse before that heist to photograph the cars outside. Plugging license plate numbers into NYPD computers, he called up the vehicle registrations and made printouts of names and other information on employees.

On the day of the robbery in 2010, Jones, using the name Mike Smith, went with the others to rent two 24-foot trucks. LeBlanca maxed out his debit card renting one, and Garcia had to use his card, too. Both, incredibly, used their real names — a mistake that would come back to haunt them. It was still daylight when they arrived at the In Style, USA warehouse. Jones led the fake raid wearing a hat and a hoodie that obscured his face. A police badge hung from his thick neck. "We have papers, documentation," Jones told them, reading names from his printouts. He told employees they were suspected of selling knockoff merchandise, and accused their boss of hiring undocumented workers and not paying taxes. The robber-cops used plastic ties to bind the employees. "We were tied up for three hours," one said later. "It was really bad for everyone." But fear did not silence everyone. The warehouse owner spoke out at one point, saying, according to police testimony: "You're not cops." The helpless hostages heard the beeping noise of trucks backing up. Day laborers hired by the holdup crew did the loading. There were six trucks in all. Four carrying hundreds of boxes of perfume and other merchandise valued at $1 million got away, but the two 24-foot trucks rented earlier that day were left behind after someone called the police. Afterward, panic set in. Jones advised his cohorts to report that cards used at the truck rental office had been stolen. But when it dawned on Checo that Jones had made himself a "ghost" — with the prepaid phones, the alias, the out-of-state plates, he lashed out. "If I get arrested and lose my job, I'm going to rat you out," he recalled telling Jones. Tension only grew when Jones paid the men $2,000 apiece, half of what they were promised. "They are coming," Checo told Jones, referring to police investigators. And he was right. Police and federal agents arrested the officers. The owner of the truck rental agency picked Jones out of a photo array. Checo, as promised, flipped, and the other two robbers also cooperated. Jones was convicted at a federal trial in Newark in December 2010. At sentencing, he claimed, "I was framed," but the judge was unmoved. The former NYPD undercover is serving a 16-year sentence in an Ohio prison. Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.