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Monday, January 23, 2012

Former Beach Patrol Officer Found Guilty of Perjury

Former Beach Patrol officer found guilty in perjury case
The Daytona Beach News-Journal by Jay Stapleton - January 20, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FL -- A former Volusia County Beach Patrol captain was found guilty Thursday by a jury of solicitation to commit perjury for telling a young woman to lie to authorities during an investigation of sexual activity with teen girls within the agency. The jury took less than two hours to find Jecoa Duane Simmons guilty. He now faces a sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. The state's case against Simmons, 38, focused on deception and betrayal in the intimate sex lives of all involved. A key piece of evidence was a conversation between Simmons and Christie Rancourt, 26, recorded by State Attorney's Office investigators. Rancourt, who was 19 when she said she had sex with Simmons, was contacted in late 2009 by authorities conducting a larger investigation into sexual misdeeds within the agency. Simmons had called Rancourt on the phone after fellow Beach Patrol Officer Robert Tameris was arrested on a charge of having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Robert Taylor, an investigator with the State Attorney's Office, also called Rancourt, who gave a statement. They arranged for her to use a recording device and call Simmons. "You don't have to tell them anything," Simmons told Rancourt in the recorded conversation that was played for the jury on Thursday. "We never had sex, that's all they need to know." Rancourt conceded she was angry at Simmons during the conversation, mostly because he wouldn't "admit" on the phone the details of their relationship. "We were friends with benefits," Rancourt said in court Thursday, explaining the casual nature of their relationship. Simmons never admitted any sexual activity with her, either on the recorded conversation or in court. Simmons lost his job as a Beach Patrol officer in 2009 when he was charged with the third-degree felony. A more serious charge of tampering was dismissed in court last year. Prosecutor Celeste Gagne focused on the recorded conversation to convince the jury of Simmons' efforts to get Rancourt to lie. Defense lawyer Mike Lambert, however, attacked the very fact that charges were pursued. He pointed at a portion of the recorded conversation, in which Rancourt had asked Simmons, "what should I tell them if I'm put under oath?" "If you're under oath, then I wouldn't talk to them," Simmons had told her. "I'd get a lawyer." That, to Lambert, was proof that Simmons did not tell Rancourt to lie. "He told her to get a lawyer," he said. The jury disagreed. Simmons' legal trouble began in 2009, when the State Attorney's Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Volusia County authorities began to look into sexual relationships Beach Patrol officers were accused of having with underage lifeguards. Rancourt was one of several young women who spoke with investigators at the time. She said she'd had sexually intimate relationships with both Simmons and Beach Patrol Officer Bobby Tameris, 46, who was arrested in a separate case alleging sex with underage girls. Tameris, Simmons and lifeguard Christian Duarte, 32, were all fired after the allegations came to light. Duarte was never charged. Tameris, who also is represented by Lambert, is awaiting a separate trial next month. Lambert told the jury the case against Simmons was "generated by the State Attorney's Office." He questioned why the charges were pursued, suggesting the case against Simmons was all about getting people to talk about Tameris. Gagne had the last word. "The defendant is being prosecuted because he violated the law," she said. Simmons was asked to turn over his passport while awaiting sentencing. Simmons also was named as a defendant in a federal civil suit by a former teenage lifeguard, most of which was dismissed Thursday afternoon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Possible Modern-Day Serpico Found in PA

Policing police: Bristol Borough's Serpico?
The Philadelphia Intelligencer - January 18, 2012

What the heck’s been going on in the Bristol Borough Police Department? If the allegations raised in a lawsuit filed by Officer Ritchie Webb are factual, the guy is a modern-day Serpico whose refusal to lie on a fellow officer’s behalf earned him years of harassment and threats. And not just from his colleagues and superiors. In a federal civil lawsuit, Webb named in addition to police officials, the mayor, the council president and a borough attorney. He claims to have been harassed both on and off the job for years as a result of his investigation into allegations that a fellow officer engaged in a sexual encounter with a woman after responding to domestic dispute call. The officer resigned and eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of “official oppression” — using his badge for sex. The woman is suing the borough for $2 million, and Webb was called to testify. Webb claims that within weeks after the incident he was threatened with termination if he spoke about what he knew, that in the ensuing months he was subjected to “retaliation and humiliation” and, most troubling, that when he responded to a call requiring backup, none came. Webb said he had to call neighboring police for help. Wow! Bristol might be a tiny town and its police department a small one, but Webb’s charges are a big deal. Their seriousness cannot be dismissed as just small-town politics, which borough matters too often are. Fortunately, council President Ralph DiGuiseppe Jr., who was named in Webb’s suit, has asked District Attorney Dave Heckler to investigate the allegations. We urge the DA to accept the invitation — without delay. Unfortunately, Heckler didn’t sound enthusiastic. “I am not aware of what exactly he is looking for,” Heckler said of DiGuiseppe’s request, noting that an earlier grand jury probe of Bristol police “did not yield any prosecution.” We’re not sure what the confusion is. Seems pretty clear to us that DiGuiseppe wants the cloud under which borough and police officials must now function lifted. Apparently, DiGuiseppe believes that once revealed, the facts will clear officials of any wrongdoing. Borough residents surely must hope that will be the case. Problem is, right now they just don’t know. Webb’s charges naturally raise suspicion about the folks running the town, including the police department. With their ethics and honesty in question, officials’ moral authority is compromised and their ability to lead eroded. It’s an awful position to be in. And that’s not to mention the personal toll the situation must be taking as reputations are on the line. Again, we implore the district attorney to clear the air. People need to know if Officer Ritchie Webb is a local version of New York City policeman Frank Serpico, who famously went undercover to expose police corruption and was the subject of threats and intimidation and later a hit movie. Or if this whole mess is just small-town politics gone hugely awry.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Officer Pleads Guilty to Extortion in Drug Case

Ark. police officer pleads guilty in 'Delta Blues'
KATV - The Associated Press - January 20, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say an Arkansas police officer indicted on drug-trafficking charges has pleaded guilty to an extortion charge. Prosecutors agreed to drop multiple other charges against Helena-West Helena Police Officer Robert "Bam Bam" Rogers in exchange for Thursday's guilty plea. Neither the Helena-West Helena police chief nor Rogers' attorney immediately responded to phone messages and it wasn't clear whether Rogers was still on unpaid leave as an officer. Rogers was 1 of 5 law enforcement officers arrested in a corruption and drug-trafficking investigation in eastern Arkansas. Seventy-one people were indicted as part of the probe that authorities called "Operation Delta Blues." Two others also pleaded guilty on Thursday in the case. Prosecutors said they're recommending a 16-month prison sentence for Rogers. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cop Arrested, Charged with Harassing Estranged Wife

Memphis police officer arrested, charged with harassing estranged wife
The Commercial Appeal by Sara Patterson - January 19, 2012

A Memphis police officer accused of harassing his estranged wife was arrested Wednesday and relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of an investigation, according to the Memphis Police Department. The same officer, 33-year-old Daniel Dermyer, was involved in a car accident last week that killed a 38-year-old woman. Dermyer was the passenger in a squad car that crashed into another car in Raleigh, killing Mervat Amalhi. Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said the suspension and crash were unrelated. Dermyer's wife alleged in a court affidavit that Dermyer began following her in his truck when she left her apartment the night of Jan. 14. When she tried to lose him on Interstate 40, he sent her text messages stating, "so you have a boyfriend and you are southbound on 40 huh," and "hope someones home watching your kid, cops on the way, charge heard it on the scanner," according to the affidavit. A detective with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, the investigating agency in the case, took photographs of the text messages, according to the affidavit. Dermyer's wife told investigators the couple has been separated since October. She also stated in the court document that the couple's two children, ages 4 and 6, were in Dermyer's Chevrolet Silverado truck with him while he trailed her. Dermyer has been with MPD since Oct. 12, 2009, according to a press release, and is assigned to the Old Allen Station. -- Sara Patterson: (901) 529-2542

ATF Agent Sentenced in Police Corruption Trial Reports To Prison

ATF agent sentenced in police corruption trial reports to prison
Tulsa World by Omer Gillham - January 19, 2012

The last of four law enforcement officers sentenced to prison in December for police corruption has reported to federal prison in Texas, records show. Former Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Brandon McFadden was sentenced Dec. 6 for his part in a police corruption probe involving the Tulsa Police Department. McFadden received 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy in May 2010. McFadden reported Wednesday to Seagoville, a federal facility near Dallas, prison officials said. McFadden and three former Tulsa police officers were sentenced as part of a grand jury investigation of civil rights violations, falsified search warrants, stolen drugs and money, and perjury. The Tulsa police officers sentenced Dec. 6 are John K. “J.J.” Gray, Jeff Henderson and retired Cpl. Harold R. Wells.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Correction Officers Get Short Jail Sentences in Teen's Death

Rikers Island correction officers get short jail terms for role in 18-year-old inmate’s death
The New York Daily News by Henrick Karoliszyn - January 18, 2012
Ran jailhouse shakedown scheme called "The Program."

A pair of rogue Rikers Island correction officers stood silently Tuesday as they were sentenced to short jail terms for running a jailhouse operation that left a teen inmate dead. Officers Michael McKie and Khalid Nelson avoided 50-year jail terms in a sweetheart plea bargain deal for their roles in “The Program.” The sadistic, secret society for inmates led to the death of 18-year-old Christopher Robinson at the hands of other Rikers inmates in October 2008. McKie, who has already spent 21 months behind bars, will serve another three months after receiving a two-year jail term for assault. Nelson was sentenced to a year in prison for attempted murder. Both declined to comment before Bronx Judge Joseph Dawson imposed the terms and the ex-officers were led from the courtroom in handcuffs. The judge ripped the duo as “disgraceful,” condemning their “breach of trust.” The slain teen’s anguished mother said the sentencings were not cause to celebrate. “I’m not happy,” said Charnel Robinson, 38. “It’s not a win for me. My son is gone ... I’m happy for the justice, but I’m still greiving my son. At the end of the day, these people are still able to see their families. “My only child is a sight I’ll never see again.” Attorney Sanford Rubenstein said he was pursuing a civil suit on behalf of the Robinson family. The plea deal for the two correction officers came after a three-year probe by the Bronx district attorney. Prosecutors said the convicted officers turned a blind eye as other inmates belonging to “The Program” killed Robinson. The officers recruited inmates as part of the operation, allowing those who cooperated to extort commissary money, phone privileges and clothes from other inmates. The prisoners who refused to surrender their property were beaten at a time and place authorized by the corrupt guards, prosecutors charged. The motive for letting the inmates run the cellblocks was laziness, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said when the officers were indicted in 2009.

Internal Affairs Probes Conflicting Reports Of Excessive Force

Internal-affairs probe: Police reports at odds over whether excessive force used
The Orlando Sentinel by Rene Stutzman - January 15, 2012

LAKE MARY, FL — Tucked inside the internal-affairs report about Lake Mary police Officer Christopher Dye grabbing a drunk by the neck and throwing him against a truck is another revelation: Another officer wrote up what she saw and was told by managers at the Lake Mary Police Department and Seminole County Sheriff's Office to write a new report that said nothing about excessive force. Seminole County Deputy Celinas Rios did and three days later told a Lake Mary internal-affairs investigator that her second report includes lies. One of the lies, she said, was that Dye had a valid reason to arrest the drunk. Here's what happened: Sean DeSilva, 28, of Orlando, owns Bermuda Triangle Bar in Lake Mary. On Halloween night at closing time, more than a dozen of his customers wound up in the alley. One man had cuts to his face and said he'd been punched by someone inside. Dye, two other Lake Mary officers and Rios tried to sort out what had happened. DeSilva stepped into the bar's back door, blocking it, Dye wrote in his arrest report. DeSilva was belligerent and wouldn't move when ordered, so Dye pushed him, Dye wrote. DeSilva was jailed, accused of resisting arrest without violence and disorderly intoxication, charges that have now been dropped. But Rios told a Lake Mary internal-affairs investigator that DeSilva was not resisting. She had taken his hand and was leading him away when Dye came charging toward them. DeSilva wound up slammed into the side of a pickup, leaving a big dent. Lake Mary police Sgt. Joe Gowen and Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kristen Bates asked Rios to write what happened, but when they saw the details about excessive force, they asked her to write another version without those details. She felt she had no other choice, she told a Lake Mary internal-affairs investigator. Gowen and Bates corroborated Rios' account. Gowen had gone to the bar that night and listened to two of its customers complain that Dye had used excessive force. He wanted the information taken out of the arrest report because he didn't want DeSilva or the general public to read about it, he told the internal-affairs investigator. He did not, however, hide the allegations from Lake Mary police managers. He had already begun gathering evidence for the internal-affairs investigation that he suspected Dye would face, and it began immediately, said Lake Mary police Chief Steve Bracknell. During the internal-affairs investigation's early stages, Lake Mary police Lt. David Prince discovered that Dye had gone into a city-county software program and deleted Rios' first report. He is now awaiting trial on evidence-tampering charges. He was not investigated for the possible assault or battery on DeSilva because DeSilva wasn't willing to cooperate, said Bracknell. Dye told an internal-affairs investigator that he had pushed DeSilva but not wrapped his hands around the man's neck. Dye's lawyer, Kepler Funk, would not talk about the excessive-force allegations but said his client did not tamper with evidence. The Sheriff's Office would not answer questions about why Rios wrote the pared-down report or why her boss, Bates, told her to write it then signed off on the rewritten version. It has an internal-affairs investigation of its own under way, said agency spokeswoman Kim Cannaday. She would not disclose who it involved but said both Rios and Bates were at work at their normal assignments. It is not Sheriff's Office policy to delete from reports information that may be damaging to law-enforcement officers, she wrote in an email. Dye currently is on paid leave. Lake Mary City Manager Jackie Sova is expected to decide soon, perhaps this week, whether to fire him. That is the recommendation of the police chief. or 407-650-6394

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Judge Dumps Case, Says Cops Had Quotas

Judge throws out DUI case, saying police had quotas
The Baltimore Sun by Peter Hermann - January 5, 2012
Howard County police chief calls ruling a bad decision

A Howard County judge threw out charges Thursday that an Ellicott City woman was driving under the influence of alcohol, ruling that they were linked to an illegal quota indicating that officers had to cite two to four motorists every hour. It was unclear how many other county cases might be affected by the ruling, which involved federally funded initiatives that targeted drunk and aggressive drivers from January through April of 2011. At least two other similar cases are pending before the same judge. Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon, in an unusual criticism, called District Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman's decision a "bad ruling" and said an appeal is likely. The police chief said a memo distributed to officers contained, "in retrospect, not the best wording," and conceded that he "could see how it could be misinterpreted." McMahon added, "We don't have quotas. It's against the law, and it's not how we manage the Police Department." Motorists pulled over for traffic stops routinely suspect they're victims of a quota system designed to enhance revenue or build an officer's resume, or both. That perception has been stoked occasionally by leaked memos or emails that supervisors send out to implore officers to work hard. But this is the first time lawyers and police can recall that a judge threw out a criminal case based on such a missive. The driver's attorney, Mark Muffoletto, subpoenaed police memos that served as the crux of his case.

Gary McLhinney, an executive with the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents officers in Howard County, said the issue indicates that "there is a problem with what leadership is doing. The rank and file didn't do anything wrong. But they're suffering the consequences." McLhinney, a former Baltimore police officer and former chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said, "It introduces an unwanted dynamic in every traffic stop. Citizens are not only upset that they get stopped, but now they can question the motives. People of Howard County need to have the confidence that the police are doing the right things for the right reasons." In 2006, then-Howard County Police Chief Wayne Livesay canceled a short-lived policy that some officers perceived as a quota. It called on them to make three traffic stops a shift and an average 11/2 drunken-driving arrests each month. Thursday's case stems from the April 2011 stop of Katie Majorie Quackenbush, 22. Officer Erika Heavner stopped her 2001 Honda on suspicion of driving 38 mph on Ellicott City's Main Street, where the speed limit is 25 mph. McMahon said the woman's blood alcohol content registered 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit, and she was arrested. The officer was working what is called a "saturation patrol" that used overtime funded by a federal grant to target drunk and aggressive drivers. The police chief said that "we have more deaths in traffic incidents than we do in violent crime" and that every officer is pushing to "do everything we can to stop intoxicated drivers and get them off the road." Hantman ruled from the bench and did not issue a written opinion. She is a former prosecutor in Howard County, once served as a Democratic Central Committee chairwoman and in 1994 contemplated a run for Howard County executive. Hantman did not return calls to her chamber seeking comment. Both the defense attorney, Muffoletto, who was in the courtroom, and the police chief, McMahon, confirmed her decision. Electronic court records show that the defendant, Quackenbush, was acquitted of all charges on Thursday. Court records show she faces another speeding case in Howard County, accused of driving 71 mph on U.S. 29. The quota issue arose from the federal grant, which included ways to measure performance. McMahon said the grant "mandated that an average of 2-4 citations must be written per hour on each of these details by each officer or future funding may be withheld." McMahon said an employee who administers the traffic safety program repeated that wording on an internal memorandum distributed to officers on the detail. He said there was no intention to set quotas, and noted they are illegal when linked to employee evaluations — by penalizing officers for failing to meet a benchmark, for example. But McMahon acknowledged that supervisors questioned the memo and it was revised. "I know there was some concern about the wording," McMahon said. "It was a guideline given to the officers. Grants have expectations, and this was a way of explaining that to the officers. … The goal clearly wasn't to set out for X number of citations. It was a well-intended effort to underscore the importance to be active on these details. "All funding is scarce. The public has an expectation that we make good use of these funds. … I acknowledge how this could be misinterpreted. That's why we don't use it anymore." McMahon said it was unfair to judge traffic enforcement efforts by a single instance. But a December 2010 stat sheet obtained by The Baltimore Sun includes a handwritten notation advising county officers of "a prize" for boosting traffic stops 60 percent. This memo was not used in the court case. Muffoletto said the practice is more widespread than the traffic stops made under one grant. He called the ruling from a former prosecutor "courageous" and disputed the police chief's explanation. "It is a quota," he said. "Just because they were caught … doesn't change the fact that it was a quota."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Former Cop Gets, And Appeals, 90-Day Jail Sentence

Former Hollywood cop gets, and appeals, 90-day jail sentence
The Sun Sentinel by Rafael A. Olmeda - January 13, 2012

Fort Lauderdale, FL - Former Hollywood police officer Dewey Pressley was sentenced to 90 days in jail Friday for doctoring crash and DUI reports to protect a fellow cop who rear-ended a drunk driver almost two years ago. But Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson allowed Pressley to remain out on bond as his attorneys appeal the sentence. A jury on Dec. 6 found Pressley, 45, guilty of two counts of falsifying records related to the Feb. 16, 2009, arrest of a woman who stopped her car in the middle of the road to look for a cat that had jumped out of her car. Another police officer, Joel Francisco, rear-ended the woman's car because he didn't realize she had stopped; he was talking to a friend on his cellphone at the time, prosecutors said. Pressley's report placed all the blame for the crash on the woman, who was legally drunk and failed videotaped field sobriety tests. The same video recording captured Pressley's voice bragging about how he was going to do "a little Walt Disney" in his report to protect Francisco, citing the wayward cat as the reason Francisco got distracted. "I'm gonna put words in his mouth," Pressley said, explaining how he would phrase the report to make it appear that Francisco did nothing wrong. Prosecutor Adriana Alcalde-Padron recommended the maximum possible sentence of almost two years behind bars. "This crime spits in the face of justice," she said. "It cannot go unpunished." Defense attorney Rhea Grossman presented Robinson with a stack of letters from advocates for leniency for Pressley. She asked for a sentence that would erase the convictions and place Pressley on probation. Robinson upheld the convictions and gave Pressley 90 days in jail for each count, to run concurrently. The appeals process could last as long as two years, Grossman said outside court. She also said she was disappointed to see a jail sentence imposed for a misdemeanor first offense. Francisco also is facing charges related to the incident, which took place under the Interstate 95 overpass on Sheridan Street. Francisco's trial will take place at a later date. The jury rejected more serious conspiracy and official misconduct charges against Pressley, a 22-year veteran of the police force. Pressley was the first of two officers found guilty last month of crimes committed in the line of duty. On Dec. 19, Miramar police officer Jean Paul Jacobi was convicted of official misconduct, criminal mischief and falsifying records related to the search of an apartment rented by a drug suspect. The apartment was being used as a grow house, but Jacobi went in without a warrant and without the suspect's permission, witnesses testified. Jacobi faces more than five years in prison when he's sentenced. He's due back in court next week. In both the Hollywood and Miramar cases, prosecutors said police misconduct resulted in the dismissal of charges against defendants who otherwise would likely have been convicted. - 954-356-4457 or Twitter@SSCourts.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cop Suspected of Moonlighting as a Pimp

NYPD suspects veteran officer Monty Green moonlighting as a pimp
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola, Joe Kemp and Larry McShane - January 13, 2012

Exclusive: Internal Affairs reports cop discussed prostitution-related activities on wiretap

A man identifying himself as Monty Green at his Brooklyn home denied being involved in an NYPD wiretap investigation. NYPD Internal Affairs investigators amassed wiretap and surveillance evidence against a seven-year veteran cop suspected of moonlighting as a pimp, the Daily News has learned. Officer Monty Green was taped “discussing prostitution-related activities,” according to an NYPD Internal Affairs investigative report. In a conversation with a suspected pimp, Green admitted having sex with a hooker and said he wanted to pimp the woman out, the report says. Despite the probe, which dates back to 2009, the married cop has stayed on the force. He hasn’t been criminally charged, but the NYPD is going after his job. “It was presented to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for prosecution,” said Deputy Inspector Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman. “The DA said there wasn’t enough evidence.” Law enforcement sources said the suspected prostitutes were intimidated and refused to cooperate with prosecutors. The Sex Trafficking Unit of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office was investigating the case at the time, two sources said. Still, Green sits in the Police Department’s crosshairs. “We are now moving toward filing departmental charges against the officer, and our plan is to terminate him,” Royster said. The 30-year-old cop, in a brief interview at his two-family home on a tree-lined Flatlands street this week, professed his innocence in the prostitution probe. “That’s not me,” a shirtless Green told The News. “I don’t know anything about that.”

The case began in July 2009, when the officer’s name came up in a wiretapped phone call involving Andre Dickenson — later charged with a double murder inside the Long Island condo of ex-Jets star Jonathan Vilma. Green was soon the target of his own wiretaps, including one that captured his conversations with Jason “China” Marshalleck, a man police described as a pimp, the Internal Affairs report indicates. One month after the Green probe began, Marshalleck and his pregnant girlfriend were arrested in a Queens gun case. Marshalleck identified Green, a cop from the 73rd Precinct, as a “good guy” who could help out with traffic tickets. But his girlfriend, then 20, told cops that she believed the man she knew as “Monty” was supposed to receive the seven firearms. The NYPD set up a sting operation against Green at a hotel, according to the Internal Affairs report. He “agreed to bring strippers to the location, but failed to show up at the last minute,” the report says. Green was placed on modified duty in December 2009 over an unrelated menacing case involving an unidentified woman, sources said. He remains in the police Fleet Services Division. The Internal Affairs report shows Green has been the subject of nine department investigations. He’s been accused since 2007 of associating with criminals, menacing and official misconduct. The reports shows all but two were either unsubstantiated or had “no disposition.” The report also shows he’s been the focus of two Civilian Complaint Review Board cases. The dispositions of those complaints were not available.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homeland Agent Nailed on Corruption Charges

TSA Official Nailed on Corruption Charges
The Examiner by Jim Kouri - January 14, 2012
The suspect cooperated with drug smugglers while working to secure the airport.

Minnetta Walker of Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and faces 2 years in federal prison to be followed by one year of supervised released, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police. The 43-year old Walker was employed by the United States Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as a Behavior Detection Officer, assigned to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (Buffalo Airport) in Cheektowaga, New York. Many observers of this case believe her punishment doesn't reflect the seriousness of her crime as a federal enforcement officer. The TSA is responsible for ensuring passenger safety and national security as it relates to the country’s air, rail and public transportation. The defendant’s official position required that she observe, detect, and analyze conduct and behavior in persons throughout the airport, which indicated a particular traveler could be a threat to aviation security. Such activity is known an psychological profiling or behavior analysis. The investigation established that while on official duty, Walker assisted certain individuals in bypassing the normal security procedures, measures, and requirements at the Buffalo Airport. The defendant’s criminal conduct included allowing one suspected narcotics trafficker -- Miguel Guzman -- to travel under a fictitious name, and permitting that individual to bypass the ticket document checker, whose job is to examine persons, property and other articles entering aircraft and the airport area at the Buffalo Airport. Walker also on occasion directed the suspected narcotic trafficker to bypass the body image scanner/pat-down security line and interfered with a screener’s ability to monitor the x-ray of his belongings. In addition, the defendant admitted that she alerted at least one other suspected trafficker to the fact that police officers were conducting undercover surveillance of him. The two suspected narcotics traffickers are pending indictment on unrelated narcotics conspiracy charges. Other individuals convicted to date in the public corruption aspects of the investigation consist of former U.S. Airways employee Tinisha Tucker-Anthony and Regina R. McCullen, a former City of Buffalo employee, both of whom provided one of the suspected narcotics traffickers with fraudulent travel and identification documents, respectively. Miguel Guzman, meanwhile, has been convicted of narcotic conspiracy charges in connection with this case, and is awaiting sentencing. “As a TSA employee, Minetta Walker represented one of the nation’s last lines of defense when it comes to airline safety and national security. In this position, the public had a right to expect from Walker the highest degree of honesty and integrity. By abusing her position of trust, Walker not only dishonored her profession, she permitted illegal narcotics trafficking to continue to the detriment of the Western New York community. Today’s sentence sends a strong message that such behavior will not be permitted by this office,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Two Cops Guilty of Making "Bad Faith" Arrests

NYPD finds two officers guilty of making arrests 'in bad faith' in department trial
The New York Daily News by Joe Kemp - January 12, 2012
Bronx cops docked 10 vacation days for wrongfully arresting a pedestrian

Officers Richard Rodriguez and Miguel Alvarez were found guilty of wrongfully arresting a pedestrian in 2009. Two cops who were the first to be prosecuted in a departmental trial by lawyers for the Civilian Complaint Review Board were found guilty, officials said. Bronx Police Officers Richard Rodriguez and Miguel Alvarez were docked 10 vacation days for wrongfully arresting a man crossing a street in 2009, officials said. They arrested Julius Lewis, 41, for disorderly conduct after he stepped in front of a police vehicle responding to a burglary in progress on E. Tremont Ave. A trial commissioner found the officers “made the arrest in bad faith,” and there was no evidence Lewis attempted to or actually did impede traffic. The officers were later charged with abuse of authority. Although CCRB has assisted in departmental trials against NYPD cops, this was the first time the board had their own lawyer prosecute a case. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly proposed the idea “because he believed it would give CCRB attorneys crucial insight into how seriously we take such cases, as well as insight into the complexities of the investigations involved,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said when the trial began.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top Sheriff to Face, and Fight, Domestic Violence Charges

Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco Sheriff, To Face Domestic Violence Charges, According To Source
The Associated Press by Terry Collins - January 12, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Prosecutors on Friday charged San Francisco's newly sworn-in sheriff with three misdemeanors, including domestic violence, related to a New Year's Eve incident with his wife. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi faces one count each of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said. "While I do not relish having to bring charges against a San Francisco elected official, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state of California, and as the chief law enforcement official for the city and county of San Francisco, it is my solemn duty to bring criminal charges when the evidence supports such action," Gascon said. "Whether this was the elected sheriff or any other San Francisco resident, this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal and will be prosecuted," the district attorney said. Gascon said the basis for the child endangerment charge was that the couple's son saw the alleged incident occur. Gascon declined to explain the allegation that Mirkarimi influenced a witness. Mirkarimi was booked at San Francisco County Jail, said San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Andraychak. He was released on $35,000 bail. Gascon said prosecutors have also requested an emergency protective order prohibiting Mirkarimi from having contact with his wife and son. He is also ordered to stay away from his home while police investigate other possible domestic violence incidents involving Mirkarimi and Lopez, Gascon said. Mirkarimi could be arraigned as early as Tuesday, Gascon said. The sheriff, 50, vowed to remain in office while he fights the charges. He spoke to a gaggle of reporters camped outside his office Friday afternoon and denied the allegations. "The charges are very unfounded," he said calmly. "We will fight the charges." He also said he wouldn't resign from office and planned to turn himself in for fingerprinting and mugshots later Friday. "We are cooperating," he said. His wife spoke briefly, and much more emotionally. "This is unbelievable," she said. "I don't have any complaint against my husband. This is unbelievable." A neighbor reported that Mirkarimi grabbed and bruised Eliana Lopez's arm during a heated argument at their home, according to a police affidavit. The injury was shown on a video recorded by the neighbor, and a text message conversation between Lopez and the neighbor included details of the incident, according to the affidavit requesting a search warrant to obtain the video camera and phone. Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star, defended her husband in a written statement, saying the episode was "completely taken out of context." The couple was married after having their first child in 2009. Controversy swirled around the investigation from the start. Days after the alleged dispute, Mirkarimi was sworn in as San Francisco sheriff, but a judge had declined to perform the ceremony to avoid a potential conflict if Mirkarimi were charged. Mirkarimi appeared at the ceremony with his wife and son. Asked about the incident, he called it a "private matter, a family matter." But the case prompted newspaper commentary and protests by anti-domestic violence groups. A coalition of them on Thursday urged Mirkarimi to take a leave from his post until the case is resolved. San Francisco's sheriff does not have broad law enforcement powers as sheriffs do in other jurisdictions. The position mostly entails overseeing an organization of more than 800 sworn officers and a civilian staff of about 100. The department runs San Francisco's jails with an average daily inmate population of 2,200, provides City Hall and courtroom security, carries out court-ordered evictions and warrants, and aids San Francisco police in enforcement actions.

Mirkarimi was elected sheriff in November after serving seven years as one of the city's more liberal supervisors. He's been an advocate for legalization of medical marijuana, was a co-founder of the California Green Party before becoming a Democrat in 2010, and led the nation's first successful attempt to ban plastic bags from supermarket chains. If convicted of the misdemeanor charges, Mirkarimi would have to give up his department-issued firearm and possibly be subjected to searches as conditions of probation. He also would be required to attend domestic violence classes, pay a $400 fine and could be put on probation for up to three years or sent to jail for up to a year. That would make him the only elected sheriff in the state forbidden from carrying a gun, said Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, president of the California State Sheriff's Association. Under state law, Mirkarimi could only be automatically removed from office if convicted of a felony. Mayor Ed Lee has the authority to charge Mirkarimi with official misconduct and suspend him from office, according to John St. Croix, executive director of the city's Ethics Commission. Lee issued a statement Friday evening terming the charges "extremely serious and troubling," but did not indicate what actions, if any, he would take. "As mayor, I must now review the facts and options available to me under the city charter, but I must also ensure that we do not take steps that undermine the integrity of the criminal justice proceedings," the statement said. After possible hearings, the commission could make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors about whether to reinstate him or permanently remove him from office. Associated Press writers Beth Duff-Brown and Paul Elias contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

State Trooper Exposes Police Corruption

Trooper exposes police corruption in memoir
THE MOULTRIE NEWS - January 11, 2012
High-profile federal case exposes secret police society named Lords of Discipline.

In 2007 the New York Times article "New Jersey Agrees to Settle Trooper's Harassment Suit" reported on Justin Hopson's federal lawsuit. Hopson claimed to have been hazed and harassed by a secret society of state troopers after refusing to testify in support of an unlawful arrest and false report made by his training officer. Hopson blew the whistle on the unlawful arrest, harassment and the secret society of state troopers known as the Lords of Discipline. Revealing new information and insight about his historic case, Hopson delivers his new memoir "Breaking the Blue Wall: One Man's War Against Police Corruption." "With only 11 days on the job as a New Jersey State Trooper, I witnessed an unlawful arrest and falsified report made by my training officer. I didn't sign up for this," says Hopson. Not compromising himself or his oath to protect and serve, Hopson acted with integrity. "After confronting my training officer and refusing to testify in support of the unlawful arrest," he says, "my life veered into a dangerous journey of hazing and harassment. I was targeted by a secret society of troopers known as the Lords of Discipline (LOD). The LOD bullied and harassed colleagues for decades. I blew the whistle on the LOD, which sparked the largest internal investigation in state police history." Hopson hopes to inspire readers to be catalysts for change. His new book demonstrates how one committed individual can stand up to the social forces of fear, intimidation and corruption. "I was an ordinary cop with an extraordinary cause," says Hopson. Justin Hopson ( holds a Master of Arts degree in management and has a high degree of professional training in such areas as gang awareness, management evaluation and critical first response. He has been certified as a state police instructor and American Heart Association healthcare provider. After retiring as a New Jersey State Trooper in 2007, Hopson founded Hopson Investigations, a state licensed private investigative firm based in Charleston. He was appointed to the Charleston County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Advisory Board in May 2009, and became a member of the South Carolina Association of Legal Investigators in June 2010.

Former Cop Sentenced to 3 Years for Targeting Hispanics

Former Lantana police officer sentenced to 3 years in prison
The Sun Sentinel by Charlie Grau - January 10, 2012
Mark Ott pleads guilty to stealing money from Hispanics during traffic stops

A former Lantana police officer was sentenced to three years in prison after an undercover operation found he was targeting and robbing Hispanics. As part of a plea agreement, Mark Ott pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three felony charges of robbing Hispanics while on duty. Circuit Judge Stephen Rapp Ott also ordered Ott to pay $1,780 restitution to seven of his victims. Ott's attorney Michael Salnick said his client took the deal because he didn't want to drag out the case and embarrass the department or his family. "He had been with Lantana police since he was a dispatcher, and just wanted to move on, get on with his life," Salnick said. Prosecutors found that from February to May, Ott targeted Hispanics he suspected were undocumented. He pulled them over, asked for identification, then stole a portion of their money. According to a probable cause affidavit, Ott took as little as $35 and as much as $400 during the string of robberies. The investigation began when an FBI agent accused Ott, 36, of pulling him over in February and harassing him and his son. The incident was reported to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office. Tips from the FBI about Ott's robberies led to an undercover operation involving the State Attorney's Office, the FBI and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. During the operation, a sheriff's deputy acted as a driver and an "FBI source" acted as a passenger. The deputy was given $400 in marked bills. When Ott pulled them over on May 18, he took the agent's cash and wallet and put it in the front seat of his patrol car, according to the affidavit. Ott let both men go and returned the cash. But the agent later learned that Ott had taken $150. According to the affidavit, Ott was called back to the Lantana Police Department and read his rights. The missing cash was found in his tactical vest and matched through the serial numbers., 561-243-6633 or Twitter @CharlieGrau

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Law Enforcement Bad-Mouthing Games

FBI should partner with the NYPD, not badmouth the police
The New York Daily News - EDITORIAL - December 18, 2011
Agents ignored Mueller orders to stop dissing cops

FBI terror fighters were so determined to denigrate the NYPD’s bust of a homegrown suspect that they ignored direct orders from Director Robert Mueller to keep their mouths shut. The bureau opted out of pursuing self-radicalized alleged pipe-bomb plotter Jose Pimentel, leaving the NYPD to track him alone. Then, he actually started work on a bomb, hoping to target cop cars, post offices and U.S. troops, police said. So they arrested him. And FBI agents launched a whispering campaign, ridiculing the case. They anonymously questioned the role of a confidential informant, leaving the strong implication that they believed a poor dimwit had been entrapped. It became very clear that unacceptable interagency jealousies had come into play. Now, in testimony before a Senate committee, Mueller revealed that he had to order his minions not once but twice to knock off the counterproductive carping about the Police Department’s intelligence unit. “I gave directions that that should not happen,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “and when I saw it happening, again went back to give directions to have it stopped.” That’s two admonitions too many. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but it should never have taken two warnings to convince FBI agents that their duty is to fight terrorism, not other agencies that are also battling it. Least of all, the NYPD, as Mueller made clear. “[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly has done a remarkable job in terms of protecting New York City from terrorist attacks, New York City being a principal target,” he said. In other words, you’re all on the same side, and don’t forget it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NYPD Won’t Divulge Key Crime Stats

NYPD won’t divulge key crime stats
The New York Daily News by Barbara Ross - January 9, 2012

The New York Civil Liberties Union says the NYPD has refused to hand over crime statistics for a Brooklyn precinct mired in a stats-tampering controversy — and they want a judge to intervene. The NYCLU asked the courts to order police brass to release 11 years of statistics for Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 81st Precinct, where the commanding officer was transferred and disciplined and four others hit with departmental charges after a cop alleged stats were manipulated. The litigation is the latest twist in a scandal set off by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who was handcuffed, put into a psychiatric ward for a week and suspended without pay after he claimed his superiors were fudging numbers. He is suing the city for $50 million. In court papers, the NYCLU said the Police Department has released biannual internal “quality assurance” audits since January 2000 for every precinct except the 81st. The NYPD said crime classification complaints for the precinct are “the subject of active and ongoing investigations by several units of the NYPD” — and told the NYCLU their disclosure would “interfere (with) and hamper these ongoing investigations” and judicial proceedings. But the NYCLU said the police department failed to explain how the release would interfere with those investigations. The group's attorney, Christopher Dunn, said "there hasn't been a public peep" in a year from one of those investigations, which is being conducted by a panel of three former prosecutors selected by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. One panel member recently died. There was no immediate reaction from city officials, who have several weeks to respond in court.

Traffic Agent Arrested Over Tow

Traffic Agent With Unpaid Tickets Is Arrested Over Tow
The New York Times by Andy Newman - January 9, 2012

A traffic agent who owed more than $450 in parking tickets was arrested Monday morning in Brooklyn, accused of trying to stop her S.U.V. from being towed, the authorities said. The agent, Olatakumbo Erinosho, 39, was charged with obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the police said. City marshals went to Greene Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant before dawn on Monday to tow Ms. Erinosho’s 2007 Cadillac Escalade, the police said. But she “interfered with and resisted their lawful efforts to seize her personal vehicle” and “subsequently resisted efforts by police who were summoned by marshals to arrest her,” Paul J. Browne, the chief Police Department spokesman, said in a statement. Ms. Erinosho has been a traffic enforcement agent for eight years, the police said. The job’s duties include directing traffic and writing tickets.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cop Resigns After Failing to Report Fiancee's Crash

Hollywood officer resigns after failing to file report in crash involving fiancee
The Sun Sentinel by Tonya Alanez - January 4, 2012

Hollywood, FL - A police officer who failed to complete a traffic-crash report about a possible DUI collision involving his fiancee has resigned in lieu of termination. Derek Albers, 29, was off duty when he responded to the scene of the Sept. 26 crash and struck a deal with the other driver to settle damages among themselves, according to an internal affairs investigation report. Albers' fiancee, Serena Russo, 25, appeared intoxicated and was driving a red 2008 Toyota pick-up truck registered to Albers, the report said. He also failed to conduct a roadside field sobriety test, according to the report. Albers resigned Dec. 6. During his eight-year tenure with the agency, Albers had never before been the subject of an internal affairs investigation. Over the years he had received six commendations touting his teamwork, initiative, investigative and tactical skills, including Officer of the Month in March 2009. Albers could not be reached for comment for this article. According to an internal affairs investigation report obtained by the Sun Sentinel, Albers violated half a dozen department rules, regulations, policies and procedures. The "sustained" violations included misuse of in-car technology, improperly conducting a DUI crash investigation and breaking the rules of professional conduct, according to the Nov. 20 report. "The internal affairs investigation recommended termination," said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. "We were in the process of terminating him and he resigned." Storey declined to speak specifically about Albers misconduct but said: "The police department adheres to very high standards for its officers and won't hesitate to investigate and take the appropriate action if those standards appear to be violated."

When the driver of the vehicle that Russo crashed into called 911 about 8 p.m., he advised that Russo appeared "to be under the influence" of alcohol or drugs. He described her as looking dizzy, having droopy eyelids, talking slowly and repeating herself. His passenger corroborated those observations, according to the report. A community service officer and Albers' supervisor later reported similar observations. According to the report, Albers responded to the crash at North 56th Avenue and McKinley Street in his marked police vehicle, armed and in uniform. He conferred with his fiancee before speaking to the driver of the other vehicle. Albers called Community Service Officer Tina-Marie Gurdak about 8:30 p.m. on her cellphone and told her he had reached an agreement with the other driver to "settle amongst themselves." He told Gurdak to "no report" the call, the report said. The report did not detail the extent of damages. Contrary to department policy, Albers failed to enter license plate numbers of all involved vehicles into a police computer system and failed to obtain a supervisor's approval to not report the incident. Under oath, Gurdak said "she was uncomfortable with Officer Albers' request, especially knowing it was against procedure/policy" and immediately called her supervisor Sgt. Stephanie Szeto. Szeto instructed Gurdak to begin a traffic-crash report. When Szeto met Russo at the apartment she shared with Albers at 9:30 p.m., Russo smelled heavily of mouthwash and perfume, was unsteady on her feet, stuttered and repeated herself and had jittery eyes, Szeto said. Szeto later concluded: "I was pretty confident that she was impaired that night." The next day Russo was ticketed for failing to yield right of way while making a left turn. She was fined $165. Russo's eventual sworn statement "drastically conflicts" with statements made by Szeto, Gurdak, the other driver, his passenger and Albers, the report said. "I feel I have a complete understanding of the seriousness and consequences of the action I feel compelled to take in this matter," Police Chief Chad Wagner wrote in a Dec. 5 letter. "It is my decision to terminate your employment from the City of Hollywood Police Department." Albers resigned the next day. By resigning, Albers gave up his rights to formally dispute the termination and try to regain his job through arbitration. Among Albers commendations was a nod for spending his own money to help an elderly woman who had run out of gas and praise for helping to save a life when he quickly responded to a house fire where an elderly man was trapped inside. or 954-356-4542

Police Captain Ousted Over Sexual Harassment Charges

Seneca police captain demoted, officers ousted over sexual harassment charges
The Independent Mail by Ray Chandler - January 8, 2012

SENECA, SC — A sexual harassment complaint filed in early December by a female Seneca police officer resulted in a captain’s demotion and the departure of several other officers, Seneca Police Chief John Covington said Monday. Covington released the information Monday in response to a freedom of information request filed by the Independent Mail. A copy of the demotion form was included in the response but in an accompanying letter Covington said the city would decline to release the personnel records of the former police department employees. “We believe the release of information concerning former employees is not a matter of public or general interest and would constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy,” Covington said. The South Carolina Court of Appeals in 2004 allowed limited public access to law enforcement officers personnel files in the ruling of Burton vs York County, but the information sought in that case involved York County sheriff’s deputies still employed by the agency. The records indicate that an unidentified female police officer filed a report on Dec. 1 in which she alleged numerous instances of advances by another officer. The advances included two reported direct propositions of a sexual relationship and instances of touching that the female officer reported made her uncomfortable. She also reported instances of comments by other officers. “At times there have been other officers that made unwanted comments, but not so severe that I have felt so uncomfortable that I have to avoid them,” the officer reported. The names of all officers involved, including the name of the officer filing the report, were redacted from the information released Monday. As a result of the ensuing investigation, Dean Awalt was demoted from captain to corporal, effective Dec. 10, in addition to the other officers involved leaving city employment. In discussions of the matter with the Independent Mail leading up to Monday’s release, Covington reiterated that behavior as reported in this case would not be tolerated in the police department.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Former Deputy Investigated for Not Reporting Seized Drugs

Fmr. McMinn Co. deputy investigated for seizing drugs, not reporting them
WVLT-TV - January 8, 2012

Former McMinn Co. sheriff's deputy Justin Hester stands accused of seizing prescription medication and not properly registering them as evidence, according to Sheriff Joe Guy.

ATHENS, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Former McMinn Co. sheriff's deputy Justin Hester stands accused of seizing prescription medication and not properly registering them as evidence, according to Sheriff Joe Guy, who said he handed over the investigation to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A complaint filed in early November alleged Hester may have taken the medications during traffic stops, Guy explained. He added that though it is department policy to document all evidence and property seized, Hester did not note taking any items. “We occasionally receive unfounded complaints against officers,” said Sheriff Guy. “But these allegations were serious enough that I immediately contacted the TBI.” Although Hester did not resign until December, after the complaint was lodged, Guy stated he had already indicated his desire to quit law enforcement before then. “Justin was a good officer while he was employed here, and we are disappointed any time such allegations are made," said Guy. "But our officers know we have high ethical and professional standards that will be adhered to. Misconduct and criminal activity will not be tolerated by our administration.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

CT State Police Investigating Possible PD Corruption

State police investigating possible corruption in New London department
The Day - January 6, 2012

State police today seized a police vehicle and several pieces of evidence as part of an ongoing investigation into possible corruption in the New London Police Department, according to a press release from New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. In a press conference Friday, the mayor announced that Officer Joshua Bergeson had been fired after a hearing to review his role in the Dec. 14 beating of Reuben Miller outside the Southeastern Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency facility on Coit Street. Finizio also announced that K-9 Officer Roger Newton has been placed on paid administrative leave as federal, state and local agencies investigate a city man's allegations that Newton planted drugs at the scene during his arrest on drug-dealing charges in October 2010. According to today's release, Finizio said he, Police Chief Margaret Ackley and State's Attorney Michael Regan requested the assistance of the Connecticut State Police Central Division in an ongoing investigation into possible police department corruption. "The City of New London is grateful for the support of the Connecticut State Police as we continue an ongoing and expanding probe into possible corruption in the New London Police Department," Finizio said. "I also have complete confidence in the good men and women of the New London Police Department, who represent the overwhelming majority of members in the department, to cooperate fully with this ongoing investigation," Finizio said.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Former Officer Begins Four-Month Prison Sentence

Ex-officer begins four-month prison sentence
The Tulsa World by Omer Gillham - January 5, 2012

A former Tulsa police officer who admitted stealing money during an FBI sting has reported to prison and begun serving time in a federal facility in Louisiana, records show. John K. “J.J.” Gray, 45, was charged in June 2010 with stealing more than $1,000 during an FBI sting in May 2009 at a local motel. Gray, a former burglary detective, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tulsa and cooperated with special prosecutors investigating police corruption within the Tulsa Police Department. Gray was sentenced to four months in prison Dec. 6 by U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico. Gray retired from the police department shortly before he was charged. He is one of three former Tulsa police officers to be sentenced Dec. 6. The officers are Jeff Henderson, retired Cpl. Harold R. Wells and Gray. Henderson served in the Tulsa Police Department’s Special Investigations Division. Additionally former Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Brandon McFadden was sentenced Dec. 6 for his part in the scheme. McFadden and Henderson weren’t involved in the FBI sting. In Gray’s case, three other Tulsa police officers were charged with stealing money during the sting. Two of the officers — Nick DeBruin and Bruce Bonham — were acquitted in June of all charges against them. Wells was convicted of drug conspiracy, stealing money during the sting and other crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prisons. Wells and Henderson were previously transferred to federal prison to begin their sentences. Henderson received a 42-month prison sentence for perjury and civil rights violations. Gray was ordered to report to prison within 90 days. Federal prison records show that he is being held in federal prison in Pollock, La. McFadden received 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy. Black ordered McFadden to report to federal prison by Jan. 18. McFadden has requested Seagoville, a federal facility 11 miles southeast of Dallas. Federal prison officials interviewed by the Tulsa World said police officers or other similarly identified inmates are monitored for safety and are not placed in harm’s way with inmates who might be hostile to an officer. Although officers generally are kept in the open population for access to prison programs, they can request protective custody if they feel threatened, the World has reported. In total, 11 police officers were named in a two-year corruption probe that involved allegations of falsified search warrants, nonexistent informants, perjury and stolen drugs and money, a World investigation showed. Omer Gillham 918-581-8301 -

Ex-Deputy Pleads in DUI, Loses Job

Ex-deputy accepts plea agreement
The McCook Gazette - January 5, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska - A former sheriff's deputy admitted guilt to first offense refusal to submit to a chemical test in exchange for dismissal of charges of drunk driving and driving left of center.
The defendant, Amber D. Hiatt, will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. Cambridge attorney Eric Eisenhart served as the Red Willow County prosecutor in the case and said during the December hearing that possible penalties for the refusal charge were essentially the same as DUI first offense. District 10 Judge Robert Ide presided over the case, after County Court Judge Anne Paine recused herself in July. During is recount of the factual basis for the case Eisenhart said that at approximately 1:45 a.m. on June 12, 2011, a McCook police officer saw Hiatt's vehicle driving in a manner that attracted his attention. He pulled the vehicle over without knowing who was driving. The officer found Hiatt driving the vehicle, accompanied by a male companion, who turned out to be another deputy. According to Eisenhart, Hiatt was subsequently arrested and taken to the McCook jail, where she refused chemical tests of her blood, breath and urine. Hiatt, a 28-year-old Red Willow County Sheriff at the time of her arrest, was originally cited with DUI, driving left of center, refusal to submit to a chemical test and for not having her driver's license on her person. The June 2011 traffic stop occurred near the 300 block of West Third Street in McCook. Hiatt pleaded not guilty to the charges in July, in addition to submitting her resignation to the Red Willow County Sheriff's Department, before accepting the plea agreement during the December hearing. Prior to scheduling sentencing in the case, Ide ordered a pre-sentence investigation which included a drug and alcohol evaluation of Hiatt. Ide said then that statistics showed that 80 percent of first-offense drunk drivers would not be seen in court again, but 50 percent of fatal accidents were alcohol related.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Senior Citizen Claims Cops Tackled Him

Senior citizen claims in lawsuit city police tackled him
The Connecticut Post by Tom Cleary - January 4, 2012

BRIDGEPORT, CT -- A 76-year-old city man has filed a federal lawsuit against nine Bridgeport police officers claiming his constitutional rights were violated when he was injured during a raid on a Washington Terrace residence in 2008. George Brown, who lives in the Washington Terrace house that was raided, was tackled to the ground by Officer Ivan J. Clayton while sitting in a lawn chair outside the house, according to the complaint filed in federal court in May. According to the police report, Brown attempted to block entry to the officers and "took a boxer's stance," against Clayton. After Brown was tossed from the chair, face-first onto concrete, the complaint says Clayton put his knee in the elderly man's back and handcuffed him. Brown suffered a right wrist contusion, head contusion, shock to his nervous system and a torn left rotator cuff in his shoulder that required surgery. "This is a wonderful case of Grandpa George, frail and elderly, sitting on a lawn chair when the Bridgeport Tactical Narcotics squad shows up, in full regalia -- for a raid on the home -- and all the drug-dealing kids and various assorted relatives," said Sally A. Roberts, a New Britain-based attorney who is representing Brown pro bono, in an email. "Grandpa George was probably trying to protect the homefront, but in his frail state cannot reasonably be said to pose a threat with his `boxer stance.' "

"I cannot wait to present this case to a jury -- there is a certain hilarious element to it," Roberts said. "I will ask Grandpa George to get off the stand, assisted by his cane, and assume the threatening `boxer stance' for the court and jury. I would not be surprised if some of the jury start laughing so hard they nearly fall out of their seats." Brown was charged with interfering with a police officer, but the charges were later dropped, according to Roberts. Three others were charged with various drug offenses as a result of the raid and more than four grams of cocaine were seized, according to court records. The suit is requesting compensatory findings, and money to pay for medical bills, including future bills that will occur as a result of lasting injuries from the incident, according to the complaint. In addition to Clayton, the lawsuit names officers Carl Bergquist, Edward Rivera, Ricardo Vargas, Walberto Cotto Jr., Miguel Perez, Jose Bahr, Gregory Iamartino and William Simpson. The complaint claims the eight officers "had reasonable opportunity to prevent (Clayton) from violating the plaintiff's rights." The officers are being represented by city attorney Betsy Edwards, who couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. Brown also filed a citizen's complaint with the police department's internal affairs office, but it was rejected by Lt. Rebecca Garcia because it wasn't submitted within 60 days of the incident. Roberts, who took Brown's case in late December, is also representing city resident Kelly Smith in her lawsuit against a civilian booking officer who is accused of violating her constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force during an arrest. Smith had been arrested after she was involved in a domestic dispute with her husband. Keila Farmer, the civilian officer, has been terminated by the city. Officers Michael Dos Santos, Omar Jimenez, Edwin Rivera and Michael Sigrist, all of whom were present during the incident, have also been named in that lawsuit. Surveillance footage of the incident was obtained and distributed to media outlets by Roberts. In a third federal lawsuit filed against the police department, William Feliciano, is seeking $3.5 million from the city. In that suit, which names Sgt. Ronald Mercado and police officers Joseph Lawlor, James Hanley Jr., Christina Arroyo, Jose Sepulveda, Elizabeth Santora and Christopher Martin, as defendants, Feliciano claims he was ordered onto the ground at gunpoint, handcuffed and then repeatedly kicked and punched. The suit claims Feliciano's jaw was broken in three places and he suffered broken teeth and concussion-like symptoms. Feliciano had been involved in a high-speed chase in 2010 that began on Fairfield Avenue and ended in the city's East Side. Reach Tom Cleary at 203-540-9827 or Follow him on Twitter @tomwcleary.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fellow Cops Asking Why Training Officer is Still on Job

Police officer caught photographing exam still on force
Fox 4 by Mike Mason - January 3, 2012
Sergeant used iPhone to photograph exam

FORT MYERS, FL - He's taken a vow to serve with honor but a Fort Myers police Sergeant caught photographing an exam seems to be getting away with it. Now some of his fellow officers want to know why! Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason finding out why this Sergeant is still on the job and in charge of training other officers! We have the internal affairs investigation tonight and fellow officers are outraged.The sergeant who trains them and serves as their role model is caught taking a picture of exam materials but some say he only got a slap on the wrist. Police officers are held to a higher standard. So when word got out that Fort Myers police Sergeant Roger Valdivia photographed his Lieutenant's exam against policy, many officers were outraged. Investigators found when the test was given out last September, Valdivia brought in his iPhone during the process where candidates can contest the grading of the exam and snapped pictures of the testing materials, which violates the department and testing policy. While Valdivia's actions did not affect his score on that test, some fellow officers were concerned he could have had an unfair advantage on subsequent tests. However, the department says that is not the case because the test is changed each time. When questioned, Valdivia told investigators quote: "It's a smart phone, I use it for everything. Uh, obviously I wasn't smart enough to make a good decision, so I apologize." Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason spoke with the Director of the police training academy, Tim Day. Mike asked, "Why is integrity so important when you're a police officer?” Day replied, “I just think the public wants to be able to trust their law enforcement people." One of Tim Day’s duties at the training academy includes testing potential police recruits. "Well certainly that would be a problem. I judge things by what we do here at the academy, that would be removal from the academy on the examination," said Day. Valdivia works at the police training center five days a week training existing Fort Myers police officers and now some of them feel he is not setting a very good example. Day wouldn't comment specifically about this case but officers we spoke with say Valdivia should have been fired. At the very least he shouldn’t be allowed to continue training officers. We wanted to speak with Chief Doug Baker but instead he released a statement saying in part, "We will not be participating in interviews to avoid any further embarrassment to the employee involved." Valdivia says he deleted the photos of the exam. He received written counseling and will not be considered for a promotion to Lieutenant this year or next.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Police Chief Defends Handling of Evidence in Video

Police chief defends handling of evidence in video
The Utica Observer-Dispatch by Rocco LaDuca - January 2, 2012
NAACP still sees proof of UPD wrongdoing during traffic stop

UTICA, NY - Local police officials say its acceptable practice for officers to place drug evidence in their pockets while searching a suspect. A local NAACP official, however, questions whether such methods create the potential for tampering. Just 24 hours after a video titled “Utica, NY police planting evidence” went viral across the Internet, Utica police Chief Mark Williams was forced to explain the ambiguous actions of one officer caught on tape during traffic stop in February 2011. As the public has reacted with outcries of corruption since Monday, Williams released the entire 30-minute recording to show all of the circumstances surrounding an incident in which he believes no wrong occurred. The earlier online video snippet – lasting 1 minute and 40 seconds – shows Utica police Officer Paul Paladino pull a full, clear plastic baggie from his pocket before leaning into a vehicle stopped at the intersection of Clinton and Kemble streets. After about 25 seconds, Paladino walks away from the vehicle with similar-looking baggies in his hand, according to footage from the dash-cam of Paladino’s police vehicle.

NAACP official concerned

Venice Ervin, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the NAACP in Utica and Oneida County, said he is convinced this footage caught Paladino in the act of planting evidence. “We do feel there is concern that some wrongdoing has been done because police officers don’t place evidence in their back pocket and then take it out and climb into a suspect’s car, and then exit with the drugs unrolled,” Ervin said Tuesday. Williams and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara, however, say officers sometimes have no choice but to put recovered evidence in their pockets while searching a suspect on the street. “You can put the evidence on your person to maintain custody of it until you have a chance to store it,” Williams said. “Where else are you going to put it, on the ground? In the course of searching someone, sometimes the only thing you’ve got is your pockets until a short time later you can put it all together.” And that’s what Paladino did in this case, Williams said. But, Williams added, the briefer portion of video that was first posted Monday on YouTube fails to show everything that happened at the stop. Minutes before Paladino enters the rear passenger side of the vehicle, the footage shows him removing similar looking baggies from the pockets of handcuffed suspect Grady Jones, 51. The search of Jones’ passenger, Ameya Hunt, 38, was not recorded on film. But Williams said seven baggies of marijuana were recovered from her purse, in addition to 10 baggies of marijuana from Jones. The scent of burnt marijuana also could be smelled coming from the vehicle, and a blunt cigarette was found, police said. The shorter controversial segment of the footage, Williams said, actually shows Paladino later removing those same baggies of marijuana from his pocket so that he could separate them in the backseat of Jones’ vehicle. Under the driver and passenger seats, Paladino also recovered other plastic baggies that contained a small residue of cocaine, resulting in misdemeanor charges, Williams said.

Planting evidence?

The cocaine allegations prompted the defendants to question whether evidence had been planted, Williams said. Those misdemeanor charges were dropped in Utica City Court when Jones pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor marijuana possession and Hunt pleaded to a marijuana violation, police said. One of the suspects, however, forwarded a recording of the stop to the NAACP and the FBI, which prompted Utica police in October to conduct an internal investigation, officials said. After the limited portion was posted on YouTube Monday, it was only a matter of hours before the footage spread across the Internet through various websites. On one site,, more than 1,200 public comments were posted below the video in 11 hours. “I’m pretty sure it’s part of their training not to do the things they did in the video,” Ervin said of the police. “That makes it very suspect when you see something like that.” DA McNamara disagreed Tuesday, and he believes Paladino did nothing wrong. “The way I look at this is: It’s easy to second guess, and it’s even easier to say ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda,’” McNamara said. “However, in our community that has lost three police officers to gunshot wounds, I’m never going to second guess a police officer who feels the safest, most appropriate thing to do is to secure the evidence on his person, where he knows where it is.” If any questionable issues do arise later, they will then be dealt with in a courtroom, McNamara said. Williams said the department’s Office of Professional Standards has nearly completed its own internal investigation and has found that Paladino did not plant evidence. The FBI, Williams said, has asked to review Utica’s findings. Williams said this incident will lead department officials to discuss whether there is a better way to handle drug evidence “so it doesn’t look so bad to the eyes of the public.” But Williams also wanted to assure the public that any officer who does plant evidence would be fired. “I just hope people are open-minded and realize that it’s in my best interest, if I have a dirty road cop, to get rid of him, not defend him,” Williams said.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie, Unless Those Numbers Fudged

Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books
The New York Times by Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein - December 30, 2011

Jill Korber walked into a drab police station in Queens in July to report that a passing bicyclist had groped her two days in a row. She left in tears, frustrated, she said, by the response of the first officer she encountered. “He told me it would be a waste of time, because I didn’t know who the guy was or where he worked or anything,” said Ms. Korber, 34, a schoolteacher. “His words to me were, ‘These things happen.’ He said those words.” Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low. While it is difficult to say how often crime complaints are not officially recorded, the Police Department is conscious of the potential problem, trying to ferret out unreported crimes through audits of emergency calls and of any resulting paperwork. As concerns grew about the integrity of the data, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, appointed a panel of former federal prosecutors in January to study the crime-reporting system. The move was unusual for Mr. Kelly, who is normally reluctant to invite outside scrutiny. The panel, which has not yet released its findings, was expected to focus on the downgrading of crimes, in which officers improperly classify felonies as misdemeanors. But of nearly as much concern to people in law enforcement are crimes that officers simply failed to record, which one high-ranking police commander in Manhattan suggested was “the newest evolution in this numbers game.” It is not unusual for detectives, who handle telephone calls from victims inquiring about the status of their cases, to learn that no paperwork exists. Detectives said it was hard to tell if those were administrative mix-ups or something deliberate. But they noted their skepticism that some complaints could simply vanish in the digital age. Detective Louis A. Molina, president of the National Latino Officers Association, said that for some officers, the desire of supervisors to keep recorded crime levels low was “going to be on your mind,” and that it “can play a role in your decision making.” “For police officers,” he added, “it’s gotten to the point of what’s the most diplomatic way to discourage a crime report from being taken.”

Some public officials have said they have received more complaints from constituents that their reports of crime were not being recorded. State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn said his office had to contact “local precincts directly to make sure that criminal complaints were filed and processed appropriately.” In the case of Ms. Korber, the police did eventually take a report of her being groped, but only after her city councilman, Peter F. Vallone Jr., intervened, she and Mr. Vallone said. In fact, Mr. Vallone said that he had grown so alarmed over how many women were being groped in his district that he contacted the 114th Precinct; his staff then asked Ms. Korber to go there again. Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said each precinct must audit police responses to radio dispatches four times a month “to assure that crime complaints are taken when necessary and prepared accurately.” “Alleged failures to take a report of a crime are investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau and, if corroborated, the officer is subject to disciplinary action,” Mr. Browne said. Additionally, Mr. Browne said the department conducted frequent audits of written reports to ensure that officers were properly classifying crimes. The most recent of those audits have found an error rate of 1.5 percent, down from 4.4 percent in 2000, he said. The reasons for not taking a report, police officials said, can vary. Some officers seek to avoid the dull task of preparing reports; others may fear discipline for errors in paperwork. Sometimes officers run out of time because they are directed to another job. There are certainly calls that do not merit a crime report: a victim’s account of an alleged crime can be deemed dubious, for example. However, some commanders said, officers sometimes bend to pressure by supervisors to eschew report-taking. “Cops don’t want a bad reputation, and stigma,” one commander said. “They know they have to please the sergeants.” Like several other officers and supervisors, he spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. The sergeants, in turn, are acting on the wishes of higher-ups to keep crime statistics down, a desire that is usually communicated stealthily, the commander said. As an era of low crime continues, and as 2011 draws to a close with felony numbers running virtually even with last year’s figures, any new felony is a significant event in a precinct and a source of consternation to commanders.

On the Upper West Side in July, a man in red shorts climbed through a window into the living room where Katherine Davis, 65, was reading the paper. She ran, a few steps ahead of him, and locked herself in an adjacent apartment, where she watched through the peephole as the man searched for her before he left. Officers drove her around to look for the intruder, unsuccessfully. Ms. Davis asked if they could take fingerprints. But the officers said, “Oh, no, that’s only if you have a detective, or investigation,” she recalled. She asked for a case number. “They said, ‘There is no case number,’ ” she said. No one came to interview her or to seek videotape from the numerous surveillance cameras nearby, she said. That is where things ended. “I just assumed it was laziness,” Ms. Davis said. “Why bother to take a report?” Even when New Yorkers follow up, they are sometimes surprised to learn that their complaints were never classified as a crime. In one case, Sandra Ung, 37, went to the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown after her wallet disappeared at a Starbucks. “I had it and then it was gone,” she said of the Feb. 23 episode. She said she believed her wallet had been stolen, but could not prove it. She assumed the police had recorded it as pickpocketing, but when she retrieved a copy of the report days later, she saw it was recorded not as a crime, but as lost property that had gone “missing in an unknown manner.” That report also reflects the line of questioning Ms. Ung faced; it noted that “she wasn’t bumped nor jostled.” In June, the Police Department issued a guidebook that instructed officers how to categorize all imaginable variations of crimes — including 24 situations involving identity theft and 3 types of strangulation. Its section on pickpockets could be viewed as a rebuke to how officers handled Ms. Ung’s case and possibly others like it. The guidelines focused on the very words that the police used to discount her suspicions: “The victim does not need to have witnessed, felt or otherwise been aware of being bumped or jostled in order to properly record the occurrence as grand larceny.” Despite the new guidelines, some critics say subtle tweaks in police protocol offer opportunities to avoid taking reports. In 2009, the department came up with a new policy that might seem inconsequential: Robbery victims would have to go to the station house to give their reports directly to a detective or patrol supervisor. The intent was to get an investigator on the case as quickly as possible, but one police commander said supervisors were aware that another consequence could be that fewer crimes would be reported. The policy was restored to its original form last year, with uniformed officers once again allowed to take the initial report of a robbery. “A police report wouldn’t get made because they make you wait in the police station for hours,” one commander said. Eventually, he added, the crime victim would give up and leave.

Justice Story: How ‘French Connection’ Heroin Went Missing

Justice Story: How ‘French Connection’ heroin went missing from NYPD Property Clerk’s Office
The New York Daily News by David J. Krajicek - January 1, 2012
$70 million drug theft rocked city police department in 1972

Policeman works at NYPD property desk where more than $70 million in "French Connection" heroin was slowly stolen from evidence between 1969 and early 1972. Forty years ago this week, a cop scratched a name into the ledger at a chaotic warren stuffed with police evidence at 400 Broome St. and walked out lugging nearly $25 million worth of heroin, no questions asked. The Property Clerk’s Office was the police department’s Fort Knox, with bomb-proof walls and castle-strength doors. It was impregnable, unless you were a cop — or were posing as one. That is how “Nunziata,” shield number 3496, managed to leave those premises on Jan. 4, 1972, with nearly 100 pounds of smack, enough to keep every doper in the city high for months. The shield number was bogus. The name was questionable. The only certain fact in the ledger was the time: 12:25 p.m., lunch hour. This would prove to be the final withdrawal by a cabal of corrupt cops and mobsters of at least $70 million worth of “French Connection” heroin, which had been sitting in evidence for a decade following its seizure 50 years ago, in 1962. In every detail, the plundering of the evidence illuminated the pervasive police corruption of that era. “It is tragically apparent that the department’s procedures for the control of confiscated narcotics have been totally inadequate,” admitted Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy. Just how inadequate? It was considered revolutionary on Broome St. when Murphy ordered an inventory of the 135,000 parcels of narcotics stored there. Until then, inventory control was based on the honor system. “You have to rely basically on the honesty of your employees,” the boss of the property office said. That didn’t work out so well. And the narcotics thefts came to light only because of another police scandal that became incidental by comparison. In October 1972, cops identified one of their own, Patrolman James Farley, 29, as a serial rapist who had targeted perhaps a dozen women in the city and suburbs. He was arrested by detectives tailing him as he talked his way into a woman’s house not far from his own home in Holbrook, Long Island. When they searched Farley’s place, cops found a collection of manila envelopes from drug evidence signed out of the Property Clerk’s Office. This prompted a search on Broome St., where officials discovered that the French Connection heroin, stored in suitcases, was infested with red beetles. Someone had replaced 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine with flour.