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Monday, December 29, 2008

Schenectady cop arrested yet again

The Albany Times Union - December 29, 2008

SCHENECTADY - A city cop already facing charges for allegedly stalking his wife, has been charged with drunken driving after a automobile accident in the city, police said. Detectives from internal affairs arrested 38-year-old John Lewis on Saturday, charging him with driving while intoxicated, aggravated driving while intoxicated, speeding and improper lane use. Lewis has been suspended without pay for 30 days while the department proceeds with its case against him. Lewis was arrested and suspended without pay for 30 days in early November after allegedly stalking and threatening his wife and "whoever she was with." In that case, Lewis is charged with third-degree stalking and second-degree aggravated harassment for allegedly threatening Alison Lewis in person and on the telephone, according to the city court document. Lewis was released without bail after his arrest in that case. The court complaint says Lewis allegedly told his ex-wife he would "kill whoever she was with and kill her" and that he was "never going to let her go and he was never going to let her be with anyone else." Alison Lewis asked for an order of protection against her ex-husband. Those arrests are just the latest controversy for Lewis. Earlier this year, a City Court jury acquitted him of harassment in connection with another case involving his wife. Prosecutors said he pushed wife during a fight over custody of their 3-year-old son. A decade ago, the city fired him after he allegedly used a racial epithet. But in 1998, an arbitrator reversed his firing from the police department.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Former FBI Agent Pleads Guilty

U.S. Department of Justice
Jeffrey A. Taylor, United States Attorney for the District of Columbia
Judiciary Center, 555 4th Street, N.W.,Washington, D.C. 2053
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Monday, December 8, 2008
For Information, Contact Public Affairs Channing Phillips (202) 514-6933

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supervisory Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Criminally Accessing FBI Database

WASHINGTON - Mark T. Rossini, a former Supervisory Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), pled guilty today to five separate counts of criminally accessing a sensitive FBI database for personal purposes, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor and Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn A. Fine announced today. The conviction was the result of investigative efforts that were initiated by a referral from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Rossini, a resident of New York, N.Y., pled guilty to five counts of Criminal Computer Access in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before the Honorable Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, and faces a maximum sentence of up to five years of incarceration and a $500,000 fine. According to the federal sentencing guidelines, Rossini would likely receive a sentence of between zero and 6 months. Rossini, an FBI Special Agent since 1991, has resigned from the FBI. Sentencing has been set for March 13, 2009. According to the Statement of Offense to which Rossini pled guilty, between January 2007 and July 2007, Rossini made over 40 searches of the FBI's Automated Case Support System (ACS), which contains confidential, law-enforcement sensitive information that relates to historic and on-going criminal investigations initiated by, and supported by, the FBI. Each of these searches exceeded the defendant's authorized use of the ACS system, and was not part of any of his assigned work. Many of Rossini's improper searches related to the criminal case of United States v. Anthony Pellicano (Pellicano case), an on-going criminal case that is being prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles). That case is pending sentencing. Rossini was never assigned to work on the Pellicano case, and he had no official reason to search the ACS for these records. By making these searches, and reviewing the result of these searches, Rossini obtained official and confidential information that he was not authorized to obtain. The five charges that Rossini pled guilty to today represent separate and independent criminal acts of criminal computer access of the ACS system.

As set forth in the Statement of Offense, on January 26, 2007, Rossini improperly downloaded a copy of a confidential informant's FBI report the contained information relevant to the Pellicano matter. Rossini provided a copy of the report to X, a person with whom Rossini had a close personal relationship. X also had a previous relationship with Anthony Pellicano, and X provided a copy of the FBI report to an attorney for Anthony Pellicano in San Francisco, California. The FBI report was filed by Mr. Pellicano's attorneys in the Pellicano case to the court that the United States was improperly withholding exculpatory information from the defense in that case. Unbeknownst to Mr. Pellicano's attorneys, in November 2006, the judge in the Pellicano case had previously ruled, ex parte, that the 302 report was not exculpatory to Mr. Pellicano's defense. Despite news coverage of Rossini's possible connection the Pellicano case in July 2007, Rossini consistently informed his supervisors that those news stories were completely false. On February 25, 2008, Rossini was interviewed by agents from the DOJ Office of the Inspector General, and he intentionally lied to these agents. Among his false statements, Rossini falsely denied that he obtained FBI information without authorization, or that he provided any FBI information to persons outside of the FBI, or to X. In announcing today's guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Taylor and Inspector General Fine praised the hard work and persistence of the investigative agents who worked this matter on behalf of the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. In addition, they extended their thanks to the assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, particularly Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Ciaffa, and Investigators Timothy Fitzsimmons and Jeremy Crider. They also acknowledged the efforts of Legal Assistant Lisa Robinson, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla who is prosecuting this matter.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Schenectady cop suspended after DWI ticket

The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - December 11, 2008

SCHENECTADY -- A veteran city police officer has been suspended with pay for allegedly driving drunk while off duty. Joseph A. Peters IV was issued a ticket on Wednesday for driving while intoxicated and another for having a blood alcohol level above 0.08 following an investigation by the police department's Office of Professional Standards. The 10-year veteran, who is 42 years old, was pulled over shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Guilderland Avenue after a motorist reported seeing an erractic driver. He appeared in City Court this morning.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

NYPD Officer Admits Killing Cop Finacee

NBC, New York - December 3, 2008

Alexis Chaparro is accused of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Officer Sonia Garcia, his fiancee. A New York City police instructor has admitted he shot and killed his fiancee, also an NYPD officer, inside their Long Island home in September 2007. Alexis Chaparro pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter Wednesday in the death of Officer Sonia Garcia in state Supreme Court in Riverhead. Chaparro, originally indicted on second-degree murder charges, faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 7. Prosecutor Janet Albertson said recent appeals court decisions have made it difficult to convict suspects in one-on-one shootings like the killing of Garcia, so the decision was made to accept a plea deal to ensure Chaparro spends a "substantial prison sentence." Chaparro contended he was concerned about burglars in his Bay Shore neighborhood and shot and killed the victim after being awakened from a sound sleep.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ex-chief heading to prison

Schenectady's Gregory Kaczmarek admits to drug charge; his wife will spend time in county jail
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - December 3, 2008

SCHENECTADY -  Exactly one year after prosecutors say he consorted with a known drug dealer who was his cocaine supplier, disgraced former Schenectady police chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek could be starting a stint in state prison. Kaczmarek, 56, is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 2, 2009, to two years of prison and a year of postrelease supervision after pleading guilty Tuesday in Schenectady County Court to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He also has agreed to give up his police badge, any weapons he has and his nursing license, but will get to keep his pension, according to court officials and attorneys. His wife, Lisa Kaczmarek, 48, is scheduled to receive six months in county jail and five years' post-release supervision for admitting to a charge of attempted third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, an offense related to the couple's criminal activity on Feb. 2. On his way into court Tuesday, the ex-chief took responsibility for his criminal misdeeds and apologized for any disgrace he may have brought to the profession.

"Anything that I have done should really not have any impact on the Schenectady Police Department or people in law enforcement in general," he told reporters. "There's a lot of men and women in law enforcement working hard to do the right thing, and if my actions have made their job more difficult, I truly and sincerely apologize." Both Kaczmareks remain free on bail until the sentencing. The 13-month state attorney general-led probe, dubbed "Operation Slim Chance," first ensnared Lisa Kaczmarek and her son Miles Smith along with 22 others in May, and Gregory Kaczmarek in September. To build their case, state investigators amassed hours of secretly recorded telephone conversations. In one, Lisa Kaczmarek is heard pleading for a shipment of cocaine with another drug dealer for her husband's upcoming 56th birthday. In another recorded call, she suggested the ex-chief could transport cocaine for the ring and would "flash his badge" if there was trouble. The husband and wife had initially pleaded not guilty to drug charges that could have landed them behind bars for a long time for their role in a large-scale drug distribution ring headed by Kerry "Slim" Kirkem. The drug enterprise funneled heroin and cocaine from Long Island and Manhattan to Schenectady, using mules and threatening violence to would-be interlopers. Kirkem has pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Kaczmarek's attorney, Thomas O'Hern, bemoaned the deal, saying his client essentially took the deal to spare his wife a prison term. Conversely, Kevin Luibrand, who represents Lisa Kaczmarek, said she got a "proper deal" and wants to move on with her life. A spokeswoman with the state Department of Corrections said Tuesday it was too early to say where Kaczmarek might do his time. Linda Foglia said that determination will come after he's screened and evaluated at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, Dutchess County, before being placed at a permanent facility. "Obviously we will take into consideration his former employment and risk and special needs," she added. As for his wife, county jail officials say she must be first be classified before being placed in one of two blocks for female prisoners, or perhaps another nearby jail. "We'll take the appropriate steps to ensure her safety," said Schenectady County Jail Undersheriff Gordon Pollard, adding that there is one floor with two blocks for women at the facility. State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the "convictions show that no one is above the law." "The involvement of a former chief of police in this organized drug ring is an insult to the countless law enforcement officials who risk their lives every day to protect our communities," he added in a prepared statement. "As we did in this case and all others, my office will continue to hold all public servants accountable for their actions."

The Kaczmareks could have faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted at trial of the top count in the indictment, conspiracy. Instead, with time off for good behavior, Kaczmarek could be out in 17 months and his wife could be released in four months. Prosecutors alleged the Kaczmareks met with Kirkem in a Colonie strip club on Feb. 20 after discovering that State Police seized a shipment of drugs from one of the ring's "mules." They allege the former chief urged Kirkem to move his stash house, change his telephone numbers and "fire" Misty Gallo, the woman who had been caught with the drugs. O'Hearn said those allegations are groundless. Kaczmarek has been plagued by rumors for years. Before then-Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski appointed him top cop in 1996, Kaczmarek held a news conference to dispel a whisper campaign about his alleged drug use. Jurczynski did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment. His six years as chief were also marked by controversy. The FBI investigated his department and eventually helped prosecutors convict four officers on drug-related charges. Paul Nelson can be reached at 454-5347 or by e-mail at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NYC policeman accused of road rage attack

The Associated Press - December 2, 2008

NEW YORK - Authorities say a New York City police officer is charged with beating a pedestrian during an off-duty road rage incident. Officer Jamel Dennis faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of second-degree assault. His attorney didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. District Attorney Richard Brown said Dennis was driving along Queens Boulevard on Nov. 17 when he almost hit Geoffrey Hollinden. The pedestrian, who became enraged, hit the rear of Dennis' car. Prosecutors say Dennis got out and grabbed Hollinden, lifted him in the air and then slammed him to the pavement. Hollinden was hospitalized with cranial bleeding and a herniated disc, and received five staples in his head. Dennis' next court date is Jan. 15.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Corruption is common on both sides of the border where cash is king

by Michael Webster, Investigative Reporter - November 23, 2008

Corruption on both sides of the U.S. Mexican border runs deep and can be found in the highest levels of both the Mexican government as well as the U.S. A high ranking member of the Caldron administration who want to remain unknown says, "there is corruption in regards to Narco trafficking in both governments and when there is unlimited cash available that cash finds its way to the powers to be and has no borders when it comes to influence." With an estimated yearly income worldwide of over $300 billion in illegal drug sells, no wonder with that amount of cash it allows for an enormous amount of that cash to be distributed and liberally passed around to make things happen. With cash like that available it should be no surprise that tons of illicit drugs find its way into the U.S. where the very agencies that are charged with stopping that drug flow are often the very ones who the Mexican drug cartels pay off with cash, and lots of it. On March 23, 1983, Vice President George W. Bush took charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System (NNBIS). Bush was put in charge of the entire drug interdiction effort of the United States under the than President Ronald Reagan administration. This is the same Bush who was also the Director of the CIA and the Ambassador to China. All considered very powerful appointments. And he ultimately became the President of the United States. The United Nations Drug Control Program noted the inevitable risk of drug-related corruption "wherever there is a well-organized, illicit drug industry, there is also the danger of corruption." According to the international monitoring group Transparency International, "Mexico's police and armed services are known to be contaminated by multimillion dollar bribes from the transnational Norco-trafficking business. It is widely considered to have attained the status of a national security threat."

One retired border patrol officer with more than 3 decades of experience patrolling the U.S. Mexican border who shall remain anonymous because he fears retaliation says" why do you think the border is so porous with all the manpower of the border patrol, national guard, and with all the latest and most sophisticated technology which include satellite, ariel spy craft ("The Reaper/Predator B UAV´s robotic killing machines are currently in operation with the BP), cameras, and other detection equipment, millions of dollars of drugs still find there way into the United States annually undetected. In addition to all the drugs millions of illegal aliens have crossed into the United States. Ask yourself how is that possible? In my opinion we as a government could stop the flow of drugs and illegal´s if we could just stop the huge amount of money being paid to the powers to be who actually hold the good guys back from enforcing the law and help keep that flow of drugs and illegal´s coming." There seems to be no U.S. Government agency immune from corruption the FBI, DEA, CIA, IRS, DOD, National Guard, Federal Air Marshals, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, U.S Marshalls, ICE, Dept of Commerce, U.S. Justice, U.S. State, and even our state and federal Judiciary and others, many of which are answerable to the top U.S. agency "Homeland Security" This powerful organization was created during the current Bush administration and its power reaches around the world. They all ultimately answer to President Bush and therefore give Bush control over all of them. The Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, heard abundant testimony by drug dealers and pilots about CIA connections to cocaine smuggling. The report concluded that the United States allowed foreign policy objectives to interfere with the War on Drugs.

House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice reported that Bekaa Valley heroin traffickers have close ties to the Syrian government and Army, and that President Bush ignored this problem in his policy towards Syria. Drug-related corruption has plagued federal, state and local law enforcement in many ways. While the United States draws attention to corruption outside our borders, we do not focus enough attention on corruption at home. Just recently Mexico arrested its head of Interpol for allegedly working for a powerful drug cartel. Ricardo Gutierrez was Mexico´s representative to Interpol, the world´s largest international police force, and the latest top police officer to be locked up on suspicion of working for drug traffickers. In October, two leading anti-drug agents were jailed for taking bribes of "up to $450,000 a month" from the Beltran Leyva crime group to leak intelligence about police operations. The Beltran Leyva brothers recently split from the Sinaloa drug cartel run by Mexico´s most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, and also were bribing Gutierrez, prosecutors said. Widespread corruption among Mexico´s badly paid police is undermining President Felipe Calderon´s army-backed war on drug gangs, which has claimed more than 4,300 lives this year.

Police corruption forced Calderon to turn to the army, which is seen as less corrupt, when he launched an all-out crackdown on violent cartels after taking office in 2006. Across the United States, our local communities have felt the burden of law enforcement officials involved in drug corruption scandals. In addition to the corrupt federal agencies, hundreds of local city policemen are also corrupted and take bribes. Many of these officers are assigned to drug details and are operating as special drug enforcement officers dealing with the massive drug problem on a daily bases who´s charge is to stem the flow of illegal drugs in there respective communities. County Sheriff´s and their deputies have run a foul of the law by cooperating with drug traffickers and taking cash from Mexican drug cartels and their gang enforcers. Both Bush administrations have had cozy relationships with Mexico, Columbia and Afghanistan all countries that produce and traffic in billions of dollars in drugs worldwide. Recently the senior ranking and one of the most powerful senators in the U.S. Senate was arrested and convicted for bribes involving refurbishing his cabin in Alaska. Now think about, if a U.S. Politian can be bribed for that puny amount imagine what billions of dollars of dirty cash can buy. Serious questions today still remain about the Bush family starting with George W. Bush - Grandfather involved with German Nazis .

Here is a laundry list of current President Bush corruption allegations. Just stop and realize if this president is involved with the following corruption than it is not much of a stretch to believe his and his families involvement with the billions awarded those involved in global drug trafficking? From Grandfather Bush, to President George W. Bush and all the Bush boys questions of their involvement in shady deals from major league baseball ownership, garbage collecting contracts, savings and loan debacle, too this setting president Bush reflex in the following information gathered by long-time business, finance and political writer and analyst Bob Chapman who publishes the bi-weekly International Forecaster reported that Sue Ann Arrigo as his source was a high-level CIA insider. Her title was Special Operations Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). She also established the Remote Viewing Defense protocols for the Pentagon in her capacity as Remote Viewing Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). It earned her a two-star general rank in the military. She called it a "ploy" so the Pentagon could get more of her time and have her attend monthly Joint Chiefs of Staff meetings. Only high-level types are invited, and she was there from October 2003 to July 2004. Part of her job involved intelligence gathering on Iraq and Afghanistan - until August 2004 when she refused to spread propaganda about a non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons program and left. She followed in the footsteps of others at CIA who resigned for reasons of conscience and became critics - most notably Ambassador Joseph Wilson´s wife and CIA operative Valerie Plame, along with Ray McGovern, Ralph McGehee, and Phil Agee. On May 16, 2008, Arrigo sent extensive government corruption and cover-up information to Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The information provided Waxman is explosive and revealing but just the tip of the iceberg.....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ex Police Chief Expected to Plead Guilty

Ex-Chief Kaczmarek expected to plead guilty, serve prison
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON AND BRENDAN J. LYONS - November 28, 2008

SCHENECTADY — Ex-Schenectady Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek, who took the job denying rumors of drug use, is expected to plead guilty next week to felony drug charges related to a major narcotics ring, according to several people familiar with terms of the deal. Kaczmarek has approved the plea agreement and is expected to formally accept it during a Tuesday morning appearance in Schenectady County Court, those familiar with the deal said. It is the same courtroom where Kaczmarek and his wife, Lisa, were arraigned on conspiracy and drug possession charges that stem from a state investigation into a cocaine and heroin distribution ring that stretched from Long Island to Schenectady.

The negotiated plea calls for Kaczmarek to serve two years in state prison and surrender his registered nurse's license. Had a jury convicted him of the top felony count, Kaczmarek, 56, would have faced up to 25 years in prison. His September indictment on drug charges stemmed from a state attorney general's probe of the drug ring and its now-admitted leader, Kerry "Slim" Kirkem. Prosecutors alleged the Kaczmareks met with Kirkem in a Colonie strip club on Feb. 20 after discovering that State Police seized a shipment of drugs from one of the ring's "mules." They claimed the ex-chief urged Kirkem to move his stash house, change his telephone numbers and "fire" Misty Gallo, the mule who had been caught with the drugs. On one tape, Lisa Kaczmarek allegedly told Kirkem she needed cocaine for her husband's birthday and that they could use the ex-chief to transport drugs because he could flash his badge if trouble arose. When Kaczmarek's wife was indicted in May, he acknowledged to the Times Union the couple was friends with Kirkem. "I knew we would be targets," he said. Kaczmarek has been plagued by rumors for years. Before then-Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski appointed him top cop in 1996, Kaczmarek held a news conference to dispel a whisper campaign about his alleged drug use. His six years as chief were also marked by controversy. The FBI investigated his department and eventually helped prosecutors convict four officers on drug-related charges.

In May, Lisa Kaczmarek, 48, and the couple's son Miles Smith had been named among two dozen defendants, charged for their alleged role in a well organized drug syndicate that funneled cocaine and heroin from Long Island and threatened violence if anyone got in the way. Infiltration of the ring led to the indictment of more than a dozen people. To date, most of the defendants, including Kirkem and fellow ringleader Oscar "O" Mora, already have pleaded guilty to drug charges. Lisa Kaczmarek remains free on bail while the charges against her are pending. Authorities have portrayed her as a retail-level dealer. The crew peddled drugs out of four apartments in Schenectady and one in Coram on Long Island and utilized a series of safe houses where the drugs, guns and drug proceeds were kept, state investigators say. Police have said the investigation led to the seizure of 58 ounces of cocaine worth $130,000, 1,600 bags of heroin worth $33,000, five cars, two guns and $22,549 in cash. The investigation was dubbed Operation Slim Chance.

Retired NYPD Cop Gets Probation for Fraud

Retired officer from Suffern to serve probation for fraud
The Journal News by Jenna Carlesso - November 20, 2008

A retired New York City police officer from Suffern has been ordered to serve two years' probation for illegally collecting Social Security disability payments. James P. Fox, 58, who originally faced up to 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a fraud charge in August, was spared a prison term Tuesday. Instead, he'll serve the probation, six months of which he is to be confined to his home with an electronic monitoring brace. U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson in White Plains also mandated that Fox pay $150,000 in restitution to the government. Fox became a police officer in 1971 and left the force in 1980 with knee and back injuries, Herbert Hadad, a press officer with the U.S. Attorney's Office, told The Journal News in August. In 1999 he took a job as a security guard in the Nyack school district, but continued to collect Social Security payments. He received $150,316 in total benefits from the government. Hadad said yesterday he was not sure if Fox still works for the school district. It is illegal to collect Social Security disability payments if you make more than a specified maximum income. It was unclear how much money Fox earned as a security guard. Calls to Fox's lawyer, Patrick Burke of Suffern, were not returned yesterday. Fox pleaded guilty in August to Social Security disability fraud, a felony. He initially faced up to 10 years in prison, but Robinson said on Tuesday that the court had been considering a guideline of 12 to 18 months behind bars. He settled for probation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Prosecutor, son hail pardon of ex-cop

Ailing, remorseful former Detroit sergeant nabbed in drug case to be freed after 20 years.
The Detroit News by Paul Egan - November 26, 2008

Detroit Firefighter James C. Harris will never forget the day in 1992 he drove his father, a former Detroit police sergeant, to the federal courthouse in Flint for the final day of his trial in a criminal cocaine conspiracy. He drove home alone after a jury convicted his dad and U.S. marshals took him into custody. News this week that President Bush granted clemency to his father, James Russell "Jimmie" Harris, and commuted the remainder of his 30-year prison sentence, is "the best Thanksgiving present ever," the son said Tuesday. The elder Harris, 62, legally blind and sick with diabetes and hypertension, is to be released Dec. 22 -- more than 10 years ahead of schedule -- from the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. He is one of 14 people who received pardons from President Bush this week.

Snared in a high-profile FBI sting operation that also netted relatives of then-Mayor Coleman A. Young, Harris has no political influence but earned his clemency through his remorse and help he gave to law enforcement after he went to prison, those involved with his case said. 'He's changed for the better' "I think it's great," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Helland, who prosecuted Harris twice after the first trial ended in a hung jury. "He had helped out as much as he can ... central of which was a video he made to dissuade other cops from turning bad." Even to a prosecutor, "the sentence he got, quite frankly, was an extraordinarily long sentence," Helland said. Harris also gave federal agents information several years ago about a 1985 Detroit killing that remains unsolved -- the drug-related drive-by shooting in northwest Detroit of 13-year-old Damion Lucas, said James B. Craven III, a Durham, N.C., attorney who since 2000 has spearheaded Harris' bid for clemency. "I didn't know him 15 years ago, and if I had, I don't think I would have liked him," Craven said of Harris. "He's grown up and changed for the better," he said. "I really came to love the guy." Craven said he spoke by telephone to Harris on Tuesday morning and "he's very, very happy."

FBI catches officers on tape

The FBI arrested Harris in 1991 along with Cathy Volsan Curry, the late Mayor Young's niece; Willie Volsan, Curry's father; and several other Detroit police officers and civilians. Federal agents posing as drug lords seeking police protection paid tens of thousands of dollars to Harris and Volsan, evidence showed. Charges against Curry were later dropped, though Volsan and others were convicted. The FBI secretly shot videotape of Detroit police officers, some in uniform, unloading fake cocaine shipments from a plane at Detroit City Airport and placing the packages in cars they believed belonged to drug lords. Officers sealed the airport perimeter when fake drug shipments arrived to protect the dealers from getting robbed and gave FBI agents who were posing as drug dealers a police radio to help them avoid detection, evidence showed. Harris and Volsan were secretly recorded being entertained by the fake dealers on a luxury yacht in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- the same yacht the FBI used to catch corrupt members of the U.S. Congress and Senate when they posed as Arab businessmen in the Abscam investigation. Former Detroit drug kingpin Richard "White Boy Rick" Wershe Jr., already convicted at the time of the investigation, reportedly helped federal agents by vouching for the FBI agents posing as drug lords.

Harris wins supporters

Craven said a training video featuring Harris -- in which he implores recruits not to make the same mistakes he did -- has been shown to thousands of rookie FBI agents and other officers over the years. Harris' pitch for clemency included supportive letters from the FBI agents who investigated his case, who are now retired; Former Detroit U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy, now a federal judge; Former Detroit U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, now a top official in the U.S. Justice Department; Helland; Alan Gershel, the former head of the U.S. Attorney Office's criminal division in Detroit, and U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, Craven said. Son happy to care for dad. Though many have a cynical view of presidential grants of clemency, "it's refreshing how nonpolitical they can be," said Craven, who specializes in such cases. "Politicians don't like to stick their necks out for cops convicted in public corruption cases and sent to prison," Craven said. "Dirty cops just aren't that popular." For James C. Harris, who was 21 when his dad went behind bars, "words can't even describe" the elation that news of his father's release brought. "I'll get to carve him a turkey as an adult," said Harris' only child, who will take care of his dad after his release. "Some days you get low. You want to give up. I can honestly say I never did." You can reach Paul Egan at (313) 222-2069 or

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Former Prison Guard Gets Life

Former correction officer Everett George, who killed his 2 kids, gets life in prison
The New York Daily News bY JOSE MARTINEZ - November 24, 2008

A deranged former corrections officer who killed his two kids in front of their mother was sentenced to life in prison Monday - the fourth anniversary of the horrific murders. Former jail guard Everett George was expressionless as Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro laid down the harshest sentence possible. "Your parents can talk to you, write you, touch you, even visit you," mom Tishaun Middleton said. "I visit my children at their gravesite. I now kiss their headstone." George shot his 12-year-old son Dominick in the heart and executed 1-year-old daughter Kristina as she sat in a high chair after spraying Middleton with Mace when she walked into her Harlem apartment. Middleton, who wore a T-shirt with her kids' names and pictures, testified during George's trial that he would have killed her too, had his gun not jammed when he pointed it at her. "Your intentions were to annihilate my whole family, but God intervened," she said. George worked a year at Rikers Island as a correction officer before quitting in 1998. When he reapplied in 2000, he was fired days into his training. Defense lawyer George Goltzer disputed a pre-sentencing report that he said portrayed George as a "Charles Mason-type figure." "Mr. George is not Charles Manson," he said. "He is a man who suffers from a mental illness." Goltzer contended George was suffering from an "extreme emotional disturbance" when he killed Dominick, an autistic boy, and Kristina, who was nicknamed Cookie. "This is the saddest case I have ever seen, and I have been doing this a very long time," Goltzer said. George had been hoping for a sentence of 20 years to life. "I don't want you to be able to inflict this type of pain on anyone else," Middleton said. "Now my children, Dominick and Kristina, can rest in peace for what you have done to them."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NYPD SGT Charged With Improper Terrorists List Access



MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, MARK J. MERSHON, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, Police Commissioner of the City of New York ("NYPD"), announced the unsealing of a criminal Complaint against HAYTHAM KHALIL, an NYPD sergeant, charging him with accessing a computer without authorization and as a result obtaining information from the FBI's National Crime Information Center ("NCIC") in December 2007. KHALIL, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, surrendered to federal authorities earlier this morning. According to the criminal Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court: The FBI, which is the federal agency authorized to acquire, collect, classify and preserve identification, criminal identification, crime, and other records and to exchange such information with authorized entities, maintains some of that information in NCIC. NCIC also contains information derived from the FBI's "Terrorist Screening Center" regarding individuals listed on a terrorist watch list. The information is then shared for authorized use by state and local law enforcement authorities throughout the United States. New York State maintains an electronic database system ("E-Justice") that is designed to give users from qualified law enforcement agencies a single point of access to computerized law enforcement information within and beyond New York State. Qualified state and local law enforcement personnel in New York have access to various forms of information maintained in E-Justice including watch list files, such as the terrorist watch list maintained by the FBI and available in NCIC. On April 23, 2008, the FBI legal attaché in Ottawa, Canada, was informed by an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ("RCMP") that the RCMP had come across a Canadian citizen ("Individual-1") who was in possession of a document containing FBI NCIC information. Specifically, the NCIC document identified an individual ("Individual-2") as being on a terrorist watch list. Moreover, the NCIC document showed that the information was accessed on December 6, 2007, from an NYPD-based computer. The RCMP was able to determine that Individual-1 received the NCIC document in December 2007 from an NYPD officer. The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, through a review of NYPD files and an audit of the NYPD E-Justice account, was later able to identify that officer as KHALIL. After being interviewed by the FBI, Individual-1 stated that he/she was acquainted with KHALIL. When KHALIL discovered that Individual-1 was involved in a child custody proceeding against Individual-2, KHALIL informed Individual-1 that he had information pertaining to Individual-2. KHALIL sent the NCIC document to Individual-1, who received it in December 2007. Individual-1 then provided the NCIC document to his/her attorney to be used in relation to the child custody proceeding. KHALIL was charged with one count of accessing a computer without authorization and as a result obtaining information belonging to a department and agency of the United States. If convicted, KHALIL faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Mr. GARCIA praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, NYPD, and RCMP. This case is being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Unit of the United States Attorney's Office. Assistant United States Attorney LOYAAN A. EGAL is in charge of this prosecution. The charges set forth in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty. 08-295 ###

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sheriff OKs $400 Theft by Deputy

Sheriff goes easy on former deputy
The Herald Tribune by Tom Lyons - Novemeber 18, 2008

Sarasota, Florida - Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balk will sees no need to charge a deputy with a crime, though investigators believe the man stole $400 from a prisoner and forged other deputies' names to hide the theft.

I'm amazed at this easygoing attitude that is allowing Deputy Brian Longo to resign without a criminal charge. But, heck, it's a lot of trouble to prosecute cops. The victim was a prisoner, briefly. North Port resident Katherine Davidson was charged with hitting her ex-husband with a belt, in her home. Prosecutors decided not to prosecute. She spent only hours in custody, part of that time in a transport van with other prisoners. The van was driven by Longo. He also had the bag that held cash that Davidson had been allowed to take from her house so no one would steal it while she was in custody. That precaution didn't work so well. When she was released, $400 was missing. Forms signed by two other deputies attesting that the bag held just over $900 had been replaced. The new forms had forged signatures and a figure just over $500. She protested. And after investigators talked to those other cops and to uninvolved prisoners who confirmed that the van had made an unscheduled stop where Longo did paperwork, held the bag and met briefly with someone, investigators soon found probable cause, and lots of it.

Longo and his lawyer soon offered a deal in which he would replace the money and resign, if the sheriff would sign a document saying no crime had taken place. I'm glad to say the sheriff didn't agree to that, but he did agree not to seek charges if Longo resigned and paid back the $400. A few days later, the Sheriff's Office met with Davidson. After a chat, she signed a waiver of prosecution. Balkwill didn't talk to me about this. In his final weeks in office, he's more prone than ever to dodge questions. But Maj. Steve Burns did. He insisted that the important thing is that Longo lost his job and presumably will never again work in law enforcement or corrections. Maybe. But when asked why an alleged crime wouldn't be pursued, Burns said it was because the victim signed that waiver. Oh, come on. Balkwill made that decision, in writing, four days earlier. And besides, the Sheriff's Office is a victim, too. If Balkwill thought going after a dirty cop was important, he'd be nagging witnesses to help. As it is, Davidson is complaining about the lack of prosecution and the sheriff is ignoring her. It is clear the sheriff wanted it this way. Tom Lyons can be contacted at or (941) 361-4964.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police Chief On Hold as FBI Moves In

Canby puts police chief on paid leave while inquiry goes on
The Oregonian by Kathleen Glanville - November 17, 2008 

Michael Lloyd/The Oregonian-FBI agents search the house and vehicles of a Canby businessman in connection with an investigation into steroid abuse by former Canby Officer Jason Deason. Canby's city administrator placed Police Chief Greg Kroeplin on paid leave Monday, a day after an Oregonian story detailed FBI allegations that he concealed or failed to investigate steroid abuse by one of his officers. Canby ordered an "independent, third-party" to carry out a personnel investigation into the federal allegations, the statement says. "The city of Canby takes seriously any allegation of employee misconduct," City Administrator Mark Adcock said in a prepared statement. "The city understands the importance that the community maintains the trust in the integrity of the Canby Police Department that it has worked so long and hard to earn over the years." Canby police Lt. Jorge Tro, 41, will serve as acting chief. The FBI launched a public corruption investigation in February, which led to the resignation of Canby Officer Jason Deason on July 17. Federal authorities allege that a cozy relationship between Kroeplin and Deason enabled Deason to buy steroids on the job, and in uniform, according to multiple search warrant affidavits filed in U.S. District Court. Further, federal agents contend Kroeplin and Canby police supervisors either failed to address the problem or concealed its existence, according to the court documents. In July 2006, a neighboring police agency gave Kroeplin a two-page memo detailing an informant's tip that he saw Deason in uniform, riding his police motorcycle to buy steroids from Brian Jackson, then a strength and conditioning coach for Oregon City High School's girls basketball team.

Kroeplin allegedly brushed off the tip as unsubstantiated rumor. He also didn't mention that Deason, who had just separated from his second wife, was his housemate at the time, according to court documents. In the course of the FBI investigation this summer, federal agents said Kroeplin failed to respond fully to their subpoenas to turn over the entire contents of Deason's personnel file. FBI agents returned to the city of Canby to inquire, and learned from the city's human resources director, Amanda Klock, that the city had turned over all documents kept in City Hall, but that the police chief kept additional documents in his office. At the human resource director's urging, Kroeplin opened a file in his office and started removing more documents, according to a federal affidavit. "On Aug. 4, 2008, six months after CPD Chief Greg Kroeplin pledged his department's full support and cooperation to the FBI in its investigation targeting Deason's alleged criminal activities, Chief Kroeplin surrendered to the FBI a copy of a memorandum written two years earlier, in July 2006, which identified Brian Jackson as Deason's steroid supplier," a federal affidavit says. Kroeplin, 48, did not return calls on Monday. The FBI investigation is continuing. No charges have been filed.

The city of Canby hasn't selected an outside agency to conduct a further investigation. "It's my understanding that the FBI would be involved in a criminal investigation but does not get involved in administrative personnel investigations," Klock said. "We're researching our available options to select someone with no affiliation or relationship with any of the parties involved." Canby police had received complaints about Deason's alleged steroid use as early as 2001, federal documents show. According to interviews, the FBI alleged that Deason was tipped off to a 2001 internal Canby police investigation by his then-sergeant, Kroeplin. Kroeplin has led Canby's 24-member police force since January 2006. He was hired in February 1980 as a patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in April 1997, to lieutenant in November 2001, and named interim chief in January 2006 after former Chief Ken Pagano retired. Adcock, the Canby city administrator, appointed Kroeplin to be Pagano's replacement in February 2006, deciding to forgo outside recruitment. "I'm concerned," Canby Council President Walt Daniels said Monday. "That's why we're having the FBI look into it. It's in the hands of the FBI. I don't want to jeopardize the investigation."-- Maxine Bernstein:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Move to Block Court Corruption

Baltimore police to forbid some off-duty work
The Associated Press - November 8, 2008

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore police department plans to prohibit officers from working off-duty jobs outside businesses with liquor licenses. The move is prompted by concerns that officers are being drawn into a growing number of violent incidents, but it is troubling to the officers' union and business owners. Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld says businesses rely too much on the officers and not enough on private security. "We got into this notion that it made more sense to hire off-duty cops because you'd have more cops all over the city, and ostensibly the city would be safer," Bealefeld said. "It's just not so. What's happened is that the businesses have transferred their responsibility onto the Police Department ... and that's not a responsibility or a liability I'm willing to assume." Officers are already prohibited from working inside businesses where alcohol is served. This arrangement with off-duty officers outside leaves them to handle situations already out of control, Bealefeld said. Businesses in the city will still be allowed to hire retired city officers and police officers from other jurisdictions. But fewer departments in the region are allowing officers to do such work. Baltimore and Howard counties prohibit officers from moonlighting at establishments that serve alcohol. Prince George's County Police and the Maryland State Police are among agencies that allow officers to do such work after hours. In Anne Arundel County, officers are not allowed to work in bars and taverns, but the police union, the police chief and county executive are fighting the county ethics commission to allow officers to work at restaurants with liquor licenses. Bealefeld said he is worried about the potential for corruption when officers are policing an establishment whose owner is paying them. Venues that draw crowds routinely rely on uniformed officers to help keep the peace, said local concert organizer Evan Weinstein. "I wouldn't do it without the police there," he said. "When you see two cop cars and cops sitting around outside, you're less likely to start something. It absolutely creates a safer environment." The change is necessary to ensure businesses take responsibility for security, Bealefeld said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Haines City Police Scandal Triggers Reform

Sheriff's Maj. Mike Pruitt takes helm to serve temporarily as chief
The Ledger by Kevin Bouffard - November 15, 2008 

HAINES CITY, FLORIDA - Officers were afraid to report corruption by the Haines City Police Department's top two leaders for fear of losing their jobs, the acting chief said Friday, and morale and other problems in the department were every bit as bad as detailed in a grand jury report released Thursday.

A Disgraceful Series of Events: Polk Grand Jury Findings on Haines City Polic Department;  Stewart Suspended Without Pay; Review Reveals Problems; Haines City Police Captain Indicted;  Chief Resigns; Polk Grand Jury Findings on Haines City Police Department; Two More Haines City Officers Suspended; Haines City Police Chief Indicted for Prostitution; Haines City Police Lieutenant Resigns

Office Nicole Gusaeff filed a sexual harassment complaint against Stewart in August

"When you have corruption on the top, it creates fear on the bottom," acting Chief Mike Pruitt said, referring to former Chief Morris West, who resigned Oct. 31, and Capt. Mervin Stewart, the second in command until he was suspended Nov. 7. Both West and Stewart were indicted by a grand jury investigating the department. Pruitt, a Haines City native, is a Polk sheriff's major temporarily under contract to run the department, which he took control of Oct. 24, when West was indicted on three misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. West resigned in a settlement with the 10th Judicial Circuit State Attorneys Office, which dropped the charges in return for his resignation and surrendering his law enforcement certification. "What I found (in the first days) was a lack of trust among officers. I found a lack of trust between the citizens and the officers," Pruitt told The Ledger on Friday. "It was pretty much people doing what they can to cover themselves because they don't know if they're on the right side or the wrong side" of West and Stewart.

City Manager Ann Toney-Deal agreed the grand jury report accurately reflected police morale and worried that the report has damaged residents' confidence in the department.  "Accountability is gone, as is policy, from HCPD; however, more importantly, officer morale is almost nonexistent at this time," reported the grand jury, which had been investigating the department since August. "Officers have no role models to follow, as the primary culprits breaking long-standing policy are their chief and captain. The old adage, 'Do as I say, not as I do,' seems to have replaced the professional policy at HCPD."

Although State Attorney Jerry Hill said the report concluded the grand jury's investigation of the department, Pruitt said he will undertake an internal investigation into every allegation raised in the 25-page document. The internal investigation will look into West's and Stewart's actions and anyone else involved. "Anything else we discover, we're going to investigate," Pruitt said. The report disturbed no one more than West's predecessor, former Chief Tom Wheeler, who retired in 2003 after 12 years as Haines City chief. He now works as a recruiter for the Polk County Sheriff's Office. "I am angry at the administration of the police department. I'm not only angry at the police department. The chief has to answer to someone," said Wheeler, referring to Toney-Deal. "The city manager is responsible for all department heads. They answer to her. It seems to me there wasn't proper management from city hall."

Under Wheeler, the department in 1992 was the first in Polk to get accreditation from Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in Fairfax, Va., which certifies standards for agencies worldwide. The department did not reapply for the voluntary accreditation when it expired 2003 - the year West became chief. Toney-Deal accused Wheeler of "Monday-morning quarterbacking." She said she leaves it to department heads to run day-to-day operations. "Our focus is not on yesterday; it's on tomorrow," she said. "Many issues that were brought forward, I did not or could not know about without physically being located at the police department. Had I had knowledge and evidence, my history shows I would have acted accordingly." The grand jury dealt with Toney-Deal's management, stating she was hampered in her oversight by pressure from city commissioners.

"In the case of Haines City, until recently, three of the elected commissioners were very close to Chief West, this being his brother (Horace West) and two close friends," the report said. The report does not identify the other two commissioners, but "until recently" suggests one was former Commissioner Joe Hamilton, who lost his re-election bid in April. And sources said the other appears to be Mayor Roy Tyler, a commissioner since 1991 and a lifelong Haines City resident. Tyler did not return a call from The Ledger on Friday, and Hamilton could not be reached to comment. "Clearly, having Chief West's brother as a commissioner, her boss, puts Ann Toney-Deal in an awkward position," the grand jury report said. "These lifetime relationships between brothers and the other two commissioners who were close friends of Chief West have caused problems. Ms. Toney-Deal is not in a position to adequately discipline Chief West for some of his actions because of the feedback from the commissioners and the community." 

Wheeler disagreed. "If you know something to be wrong, you must stand up and be accountable," he said. "If she faced pressure from the city commission, she needed to stand up." But Commissioner Horace West said no such pressure arose with Toney-Deal's management of the department during his eight years on the commission. "That's a bunch of hogwash," he said. "Ann knows, because it's one of the things I've talked to her about is that I would never interfere with the running of city business." Commissioner West also disagreed that Tyler and Hamilton could be characterized as his brother's close friends, because they are significantly older. City policy calls for written annual evaluations of department heads, the grand jury report said, but West's last three evaluations "were in large part verbal for fear of retribution from the commissioners." Toney-Deal said the report took her testimony "somewhat out of context." She told the grand jury she expounds upon her written comments in face-to-face meetings with department heads over their evaluations, Toney-Deal said. She declined to comment on fearing retribution from commissioners.

The report also quotes Toney-Deal's testimony that "Haines City's chain of command has not been a good system over the last few years, creating problems which have not been experienced in other city departments." Toney-Deal acknowledged that accurately reflects her testimony, but she declined to elaborate on what "chain of command" she was referring to, specifically the chain between her and the chief or between West and other officers. The city commission meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the grand jury report is not on the agenda because it does not call for any action from commissioners, Toney-Deal said. That would not prevent commissioners from raising the issue on their own. Horace West and Commissioner Adam Burgess, who took Hamilton's seat, said it would likely come up Thursday. "I don't believe the commission can avoid it," Burgess said. Kevin Bouffard can be reached at or at 863-422-6800. Visit his blog, Northeast Polk Pickins, at 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crimes by air marshals raise questions about hiring

USA Today by Michael Grabell, ProPublica - November 13, 2008

Shawn Nguyen bragged that he could sneak anything past airport security using his top-secret clearance as a federal air marshal. And for months, he smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was "the man with the golden badge."Michael McGowan used his position as an air marshal to lure a young boy to his hotel room, where he showed him child porn, took pictures of him naked and sexually abused him.

And when Brian "Cooter" Phelps wanted his ex-wife to disappear, he called a fellow air marshal and tried to hire a hit man nicknamed "the Crucifixer." Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by ProPublica, a non-profit journalism organization, has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan. The Federal Air Marshal Service presents the image of an elite undercover force charged with making split-second decisions that could mean the difference between stopping a terrorist and shooting an innocent passenger. But an examination of police reports, court records, government reports, memos and e-mails shows that 18 air marshals have been charged with felonies, including at least three who were hired despite prior criminal records or being fired from law enforcement jobs. A fourth air marshal was hired while under FBI investigation. Another stayed on the job despite alarming a flight attendant with his behavior. This spring, after U.S. embassies, airlines and foreign police agencies complained about air marshal misconduct overseas, the agency director dispatched supervisors on international missions.

From 33 to 3,000

Before 9/11, the Air Marshal Service was a nearly forgotten force of 33 agents with a $4.4 million annual budget. Now housed in the Transportation Security Administration, the agency has a $786 million budget and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 air marshals, although the official number is classified. Only a fraction of them have been charged with crimes, and some degree of misconduct occurs at all law enforcement agencies. But for air marshals, the stakes are uniquely high. Their beat is a confined cabin with hundreds of passengers in firing range. There are no calls for backup at 30,000 feet, putting a premium on sound judgment and swift action.

Since 9/11, air marshals have taken bribes, committed bank fraud, hired an escort while on layover and doctored hotel receipts to pad expenses, records show. They've been found sleeping on planes and lost the travel documents of U.S. diplomats while on a whiskey-tasting trip in Scotland. The Air Marshal Service says it has the highest firearms qualification standard among federal law enforcement agencies. Yet police and court records show some marshals have used their weapons imprudently: In 2003, a New York air marshal pulled his gun in a dispute over a parking space. Another failed to turn over his ammunition on an international trip, as required by diplomatic agreements, and was detained by Israeli airport security in 2004. That same year, a Las Vegas air marshal "discharged" his gun in a hotel room, penetrating a wall and shattering a mirror. In April, a Phoenix air marshal fired his during a fight outside a bar. Still another left his handgun in the plane's lavatory in 2001, according to court papers. He realized it was missing only after a teenager found it. Robert Bray, director of the Air Marshal Service, says the misconduct cases don't represent the exemplary work done by the vast majority of air marshals.

"We can reassure the public that these dedicated professionals go out there every day and put their lives on the line to make sure that everyone is safe," Bray says. "I don't want them to be tarred by … a few allegations from a few years ago." Bray and other officials declined to discuss specific cases, citing privacy laws. Under government policies, air marshals found guilty of felonies were fired or forced to resign. But 10 air marshals convicted of misdemeanors, mostly drunken driving, were allowed to keep their jobs. And even after notice that background checks were poor, the agency failed to root out air marshals with troubled pasts before they committed felonies. Current and former air marshals say the misconduct cases show that the agency continues to struggle with policing its own ranks, a problem that surfaced in its post-9/11 buildup. Since then, the service has had three leaders, been moved four times to different parent agencies and been blasted by Congress for, among other things, failing to cover enough flights and enforcing a dress code that many air marshals felt blew their cover. Don Strange, the former special agent in charge of the Atlanta office and a finalist to lead the agency in 2006, says turmoil and low morale have led good air marshals to quit and made it harder for managers to maintain the highest standards. "It starts with the urgency (to hire and train recruits) in a ridiculous amount of time," he says. "Things start to spin out of control."

Recruiting rush

Under heavy congressional pressure, the government rushed to hire thousands of air marshals after 9/11. Partly motivated by enduring images of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the Pentagon aflame and a charred Pennsylvania field, 200,000 applied. With limited spots, the Air Marshal Service had an acceptance rate of about one in 40 — four times as tough as Harvard's. "We're getting the cream of the crop," then-TSA spokesman David Steigman told reporters. "The people who are going into the air marshal program are the best of the best." But that wasn't necessarily the case. Shortly after joining the agency, three air marshals were indicted in corruption investigations at their former police departments. One, Louis Pirani, had been hired in early 2002, despite being under FBI investigation for months on suspicion of skimming profits from drug couriers as a sheriff's deputy in Arkansas. He eventually was convicted and went to prison for lying to investigators. Just two weeks after joining the air marshals in April 2002, Shawn Nguyen filed for bankruptcy, claiming $200,000 in debts. Three years later, the former narcotics officer began carrying cash and cocaine past airport security for a man he knew as a drug trafficker, but who'd already turned to the FBI. "I don't care what's in the [expletive] package, you know what I mean? Just tell me how much it is and what I'm getting in money," Nguyen told the informant in a recorded conversation recounted in court records. "I'm the man with the golden badge." Nguyen was sentenced to seven years in prison. Before becoming an air marshal, Brian Phelps had worked at five small police departments in Alabama, but none for more than a year. He was fired from the job he held longest for losing his temper and acting "irrationally" before thinking things through, prosecutors said. He quit another job in lieu of being fired for misconduct while on duty, says Mayor Paula Phillips of Douglas, Ala.

In 2005, Phelps, known as "Cooter" among fellow air marshals, told a colleague that he wanted to see his wife's picture on a milk carton, court transcripts say. He asked the air marshal, who'd worked in Chicago's housing projects, whether he knew of anyone who could help. The colleague said he did: The Crucifixer. The colleague told the Air Marshal Service, and after numerous contacts with FBI agents posing as hit men, Phelps was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Another air marshal, David Kellerman, was arrested on felony charges for dealing in stolen property in 1983 and for carrying a concealed weapon in 1990. Although judgment was withheld in both cases, Kellerman was sentenced each time to probation, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. In September, Kellerman — a Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient — was sentenced to 27 months in prison after being caught hiding a cache of weapons that included AK-47s and a grenade launcher stolen while he was on leave for a military tour in Afghanistan. Kellerman told investigators he was bringing back training aids for his job as an air marshal firearms instructor.

Background checks

Because air marshals receive top-secret security clearances, background checks are supposed to include criminal history searches going back 10 years, credit reports and interviews with relatives, neighbors and employers. Checks are conducted by the federal Office of Personnel Management, a separate agency, which forwards results to the Air Marshal Service. Kellerman's charges predated the 10-year check period. But in Phelps' case, three officials — Justice Ashley, former assistant police chief in Guntersville, Ala.; Chad Long, the current Douglas police chief, and Phillips — say they couldn't recall the air marshals contacting anyone to make a background check. It's unclear whether Pirani's FBI scrutiny and Nguyen's bankruptcy were missed or disregarded. A 2004 report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general also flagged gaps in the background checks. The report cited 504 applicants who were recommended for hire and awaiting offers, noting that nearly a third had potentially disqualifying problems, including past arrests, bankruptcies or disciplinary problems. "Many (air marshals) were granted access to classified information after displaying questionable judgment, irresponsibility and emotionally unstable behavior," the report said. This summer, after a Houston TV station reported that three air marshals had been charged with drunken driving, including one with a prior DWI conviction, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, grilled TSA Administrator Kip Hawley at a congressional hearing.

In a subsequent letter to Poe, Hawley said that 28 air marshals had been hired with misdemeanors on their records, and nine more kept their jobs after a drunken-driving conviction. TSA policies state that employees who drive drunk "demonstrate a disregard for TSA's mission" and raise questions about their ability to deal with security threats. Yet the policy allows drunken driving to be punished with a letter of reprimand, one of the lowest penalties. By comparison, the FBI mandates at least a 30-day suspension without pay for drunken driving. Although other federal police agencies generally allow for flexibility in discipline, many big-city departments, such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, mandate a suspension or loss of pay for a first offense. "It's more serious than a letter saying, 'Don't do it again, try to do better,' " Poe said in an interview. "I don't think a person should have a criminal record and keep their job with the Air Marshal Service — including a DWI." The flying public agrees. In a national survey for ProPublica conducted by Harris Interactive, 86% of those who'd taken a commercial flight in the past year said it was unacceptable for someone convicted of driving under the influence to become an air marshal.

No office compiles uniform statistics on arrests of federal law officers, making it difficult to compare agencies. The 2004 inspector general's report found 753 documented cases of misconduct by air marshals over 20 months, with offenses from sleeping on duty to flunking drug tests. After the report, the agency said it tightened its background procedures. When misconduct occurred, the agency said, it had acted "swiftly and decisively," terminating 101 air marshals over two years and taking resignations from 32 others. But problems continued — Kellerman, Phelps and Nguyen all committed their crimes after the 2004 report. The service declined to say what's been done since to check for cases that fell through the cracks.

Hiring standards erode

Over the years, the service has loosened some hiring practices:

• In 2002, the agency decided that recruits no longer had to pass a rigorous firearms test requiring them to prove speed and accuracy in close quarters similar to an airplane. The test is still used in training but is no longer a hiring qualification.

• In late 2005, the agency began hiring TSA screeners, new college grads and others with no law enforcement experience. The change departed from practice during the 9/11 ramp-up, when air marshals almost uniformly were chosen from law enforcement, such as the Border Patrol, federal Bureau of Prisons and police and sheriff's departments.

• Two years ago, officials suspended a requirement that air marshals pass a written psychological test and an interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Bray, the director, says the changes did not lower hiring standards and that it's unfair to suggest a TSA screener or a recent college grad could not be up to par after training. The Air Marshal Service still has the highest standard for shooting accuracy among federal police agencies, he says. In the ProPublica survey, 87% said air marshals should be required to pass a psychological stress test, and 77% said they should have prior experience in law enforcement.

Two cases show why psychological testing might be valuable. Orlando air marshal Marcus Rogozinski was on a mission from New York to Dallas in 2006 when he walked to the galley and showed a flight attendant a book with some pictures of blue crystals, his supervisor, Richard Lozada, wrote in an e-mail introduced at a competency hearing If she had good thoughts, Rogozinski told her, the water could be turned clear, Lozada recounted. But if she had bad thoughts, it would turn murky. When Rogozinski went to the lavatory, the alarmed flight attendant walked back to his partner, Paul Steward. "I can't believe he is able to carry a gun!" she said, according to an account written by Steward. In 2007, another flight attendant complained that Rogozinski "was talking about all kinds of crazy stuff like outer space," according to a memo from air marshal David Cameron. "No (air marshal) should have to pay more attention to their partner than to the passengers," Cameron wrote. Afterward, Rogozinski failed a psych exam and was put on leave. In June, Rogozinski was convicted of bank fraud for trying to cash a $10.9 million check from a woman he said he believed was Cambodian royalty. The money, he told prosecutors, was partial settlement for a "personal lawsuit" after he was scratched by the woman's cat.

Then there's the case of Michael McGowan, who joined the air marshals after 9/11. Before he was sentenced to a sex-offenders unit in 2006, his lawyer pleaded with a judge for help for his client. "He is taking the position 'I have a serious problem, I'm sick,' " said attorney Joel Weiss, according to a court transcript. McGowan had been caught two years earlier trying to buy pornography of children as young as 7 over the Internet. Investigators discovered he'd been molesting a Texas boy since 2002 and had enticed the boy by saying he was staying at a nearby hotel on air marshal business. Even after his conviction, court records show, McGowan called the boy from prison and engaged him in sexual conversations. 'Impact on our reputation' Earlier this year, a rash of complaints about air marshal misconduct on overseas missions set off new alarms.

The agency would not provide details of the incidents. But ProPublica obtained an April 15 internal memo from Dana Brown, then director of the Air Marshal Service, warning the rank and file that the behavior threatened to create diplomatic problems for the agency on international routes, "some of the most important we fly." "In foreign countries, some have behaved in a manner that may jeopardize our ability to continue to operate effectively," Brown wrote. "The negative impact on our reputation and that of the American government has the potential to cause significant harm." To put a stop to it, Brown ordered "Quality Assurance Teams" of supervisors to monitor air marshals on international missions and act as liaisons with host countries. "These are highly trained federal air marshals with guns on planes. If they need chaperones, then we're all in serious trouble," says P. Jeffrey Black, a Las Vegas air marshal who in the past has testified before Congress about agency policies. Bray says the agency was not able to substantiate the allegations of overseas misconduct and that Brown was simply being proactive. Black says the job shouldn't be entry-level. New hires need the experience and judgment learned from making decisions on the street, he says. Poe, a former judge and prosecutor who sits on the House aviation subcommittee, says the unique nature of the job demands the highest recruiting standards. He says he wants to address the issue of air marshal misconduct further when the new Congress is seated next year. Air marshals "all have to be of high quality, not most of them," Poe says. "We can't take a chance that they will make a mistake."

Six of Cincinnati air marshal David Slaughter's colleagues wrote character references for him after his arrest in 2006, according to court records. "A man of impeccable character," wrote one. "An outstanding employee." "Polite," wrote another. "His character around the office is one of example." "Dave's demeanor and professionalism reflect favorably on the field office as well as the agency as a whole." Slaughter was convicted of abducting a female escort during a July 2006 layover in the Washington, D.C., area. In an interview, he said he hired the escort because he was having marital problems and wanted a woman's perspective. As they talked about how to spend their time, he went into the bedroom of his hotel suite and returned with his gun and handcuffs. The woman tried to flee, but he prevented her from leaving and unplugged the phone, prosecutors said. The two struggled, and when the woman got the door open, Slaughter pinned her to the ground, held her in a chokehold and handcuffed her, according to prosecutors and the woman, Cherith Zorbas. Despite his colleagues' support, Slaughter lost his job and got 15 days in jail. Zorbas called the outcome "horrific" and said the public should be scared. "He's the only one on an airplane with a freakin' weapon," she said, "and he's supposed to have it to be protecting us." Contributing: Jamie Wilson of ProPublica

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prosecutor Wants Stiff Sentence for Former Sheriff

Humble Says Long Deserves Stiff Sentence
The Chattanoogan - November 12, 2008

Prosecutor Gary Humble, in a new 10-page motion, says former Sheriff Billy Long should not receive leniency at his sentencing next Wednesday. He said his action that led to his arrest by the FBI revealed "his avarice, selfishness, disregard for sacred oaths, exploitation of the weak, and supreme arrogance." Judge Sandy Mattice will set the sentence. Previously, "New Charge Brought Against Sheriff Billy Long - Agents Say He Was Helping With "Cocaine Deal" At Time Of Arrest from February 4, 2008: A fourth charge has been brought against Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long, prosecutors said Monday. The sheriff was out helping with what he believed was a sale of 10 kilograms of cocaine on Saturday morning when he was arrested, prosecutor Gary Humble said. After he was arrested, Sheriff Long told federal agents “he had made bad choices for which he was sorry," the new complaint says. The prosecutor said Sheriff Long on Saturday went to the business of a man described as a cooperating witness (CW). He said 10 kilograms of cocaine were loaded into the trunk of the CW's vehicle, and the sheriff was told it was being dropped off at another location. Sheriff Long followed the CW to the "drop" and then gave him a ride back to the business. Then he took a split of $48,000 from the alleged drug deal, prosecutor Humble said. He said the CW told the sheriff that he had to dispose of a gun the sheriff had given him earlier. He said Sheriff Long told him he had "done the right thing" and said he would get him another gun. Sheriff Long is also charged with providing a gun to a felon, with bribery and with money laundering. He made a brief court appearance on Monday afternoon before Magistrate Bill Carter and was again handcuffed and wearing the same jeans jacket as he did Saturday afternoon. A detention hearing and preliminary hearing were delayed to allow attorney Jerry Summers to talk with Sheriff Long and to study the new charges.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Border Cop OK's 3,000 Pounds of Cocaine into US

Border Inspector Accused of Allowing 3,000 Pounds of Cocaine Into U.S. Over 5 Years
The New York Times by ANDREW BECKER - November 10, 2008

A veteran customs inspector recently arrested in Texas on drug charges helped traffickers smuggle about 3,000 pounds of cocaine into the country over five years, according to a court document filed last week. The inspector, Jorge A. Leija, 43, allowed smugglers to drive cars loaded with cocaine through his entry lane at the Eagle Pass border crossing, about 140 miles southwest of San Antonio, without inspection, according to testimony by an unnamed Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Mr. Leija was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from January 2001 to October 2006, the agent said at a bail hearing on Thursday in Federal District Court in Del Rio, Tex. Court documents said Mr. Leija was also paid $30,000 to make false statements on an application he submitted in September 2003 to obtain an American passport for another person.

Mr. Leija worked as an inspector for 11 years, said Rick Pauza, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Laredo, Tex. Late last month, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Leija on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and making a false statement. He was arrested on Oct. 30. Mr. Leija had been placed on administrative duty more than two years before his arrest and assigned to a desk job, said his lawyer, Richard F. Gutierrez. Mr. Leija’s arrest is the latest in scores of corruption cases the past few years involving agents along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico. The cases have come as the Border Patrol and other agencies that police the border have significantly increased their ranks. Internal affairs investigators are being added to address corruption, but the problem, officials have said, could get worse before it gets better. Ronald D. Moore, the special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general’s office in Houston, which helped investigate the Leija case, said the office “takes very seriously allegations of public corruption involving Homeland Security employees and works with other law enforcement agencies to ensure that those who violate the public trust are brought to justice.” Based on the drug enforcement agent’s testimony, Magistrate Judge Dennis G. Green ordered Mr. Leija held without bail, citing his frequent travel to Mexico and “the huge amount of cocaine involved.” Mr. Leija, a naturalized American citizen born in the Mexican state of Coahuila, told investigators that he traveled to Mexico three or four times a week to visit his children. He earned an annual salary of nearly $62,000 at the time of his arrest, according to the detention order, but owed more than $50,000 in credit card debt and car payments. Mr. Leija faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million if convicted. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 20.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Police Officer Arrested for Third Time

Schenectady police officer arrested for third time - Stalking, threats, more are alleged
The Daily Gazette by Steven Cook - -November 11, 2008

SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK — Schenectady Police Officer John W. Lewis was arrested Monday for the third time in seven months, this time accused of threatening to kill his ex-wife. Lewis, 39, of Oregon Avenue, was charged with third-degree stalking and second-degree aggravated harassment, both misdemeanors. He is accused of threatening Allison Fitz Lewis, his former wife, three times last week and a fourth time in August, each alleged incident spelled out in court papers. In a telephone conversation with his ex-wife Saturday, Lewis allegedly told her he would be at her house every night and, if she were not there, he would go looking for her. “He further stated that if he found her with someone, he was going to kill whoever she was with and kill her,” the court paperwork reads. Each of Lewis’ three arrests since April have come as his marriage dissolved. The divorce was final in September, county records show. After each arrest, he has been suspended without pay for 30 days, as he was Monday. Between the suspensions he returned to the payroll, but not to work. Lewis was arraigned Monday and released to return to court Nov. 24. His listed attorney, Michael Horan, did not return a call for comment. Police union President Lt. Robert Hamilton also did not return a call. Lewis was first charged in April, accused of the violation of harassment of his estranged wife. The case stemmed from allegations that he grabbed and pushed his wife during a dispute over their child. He was acquitted of that in June in a City Court trial. In the meantime, however, he was also charged with a more serious count of criminal contempt, accused of violating an order of protection issued in the harassment case. In that case, he is accused of phoning the woman several times, driving by her and going to her work. The contempt case remains pending. The latest allegations are more explicit, including direct threats. Papers reference four separate alleged incidents, one each Nov. 4, 7, and 8 and one Aug. 13.

In the August incident, Lewis allegedly told his ex-wife he was coming to her new boyfriend’s house to talk to her. Lewis also allegedly told her he would never let her be with anyone else. The divorce was final in late September. On Nov. 4, Lewis allegedly told his ex-wife personal items from her e-mail. Three days later, at about 4:30 a.m., Lewis repeatedly rang her door bell, asking whom she was with, according to papers. It was on Saturday that Lewis allegedly told her he would keep coming over to her house, and then threatened to kill her. Monday’s charges did not include a new contempt charge. The previous order of protection expired with the June acquittal. A new order, however, was issued Monday. Lewis in July filed a notice of claim against the city, alleging that the city Police Department worked with his ex-wife to force him from his job, publicly embarrass him and create a hostile work environment, according to the notice. He also alleged that police refused to accept an application for a warrant in which Lewis was the victim and to acknowledge his status as a victim of his ex-wife and another woman. City officials tried to get Lewis fired 10 years ago over accusations that he used a racial slur during an off-duty incident on Feb. 27, 1998, behind the city police headquarters on Liberty Street. Several people overheard the remark. Lewis kept his job after an arbitrator ruled that the city was “unduly harsh” in firing him. Kevin Luibrand, Lewis’ attorney in the claim against the city, said Monday his client has since gone on disability for an undisclosed ailment. Nothing new has happened with the possible lawsuit, Luibrand said. He said it would be inappropriate for him to comment further.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lawsuit filed over police corruption in New Haven

Associated Press -November 10, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A New Haven resident has filed a lawsuit blaming the former police chief and others for creating the conditions that led to his false arrest on drug charges. Norval Falconer filed the $10 million lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in New Haven against former Chief Francisco Ortiz and former detectives William White, Justen Kasperzyk and Jose Silva. White, Silva and Kasperzyk were sentenced to prison for corruption. Telephone messages were left Monday for Ortiz. Falconer, 27, says he was falsely arrested on drug charges two years ago at an apartment after former detectives planted drugs. The lawsuit claims Ortiz and the city gave tacit approval to the conduct of the officers by failing to supervise them and putting pressure on them to make arrests at any cost.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Does Free Lunch Exist For Law Enforcement?

The Tamba Tribune - Hernando Today- by KYLE MARTIN - November 9, 2008

Not that long ago, it was common practice for a neighborhood to take care of the police officer walking their streets. The local grocery helped out with staples, the diner a hot meal, the cafe a cup of Joe. But while a surging population has made the beat cop an endangered species, the gratuity tradition is alive and well. Advocates say it's the right thing to do for public servants who put their lives on the line every day. Critics argue that it's tantamount to bribery and places an unspoken obligation on the officer to let certain things slip - speeding tickets, for instance. A quick poll of the fast food restaurants on State Road 50 in the area of Mariner Boulevard showed that most managers offer discounted food and beverages to uniformed law enforcement. At Chik-fil-A, the offer extends to firefighters and service men and women, too. "Mostly it's for their service to our community," said Bill Abitz, manager. Across the street at McDonald's, a meal and a drink are always on the house for deputies. General Manager Liz Miller said she appreciates the "free security."

Most deputies drop by while doing monthly traffic control in the area. Quarter-pounders and salads are the most popular entrees, Miller said. Anecdotally, there is evidence to support both sides of the argument. In Las Vegas, a sports bar owner earned a reputation as a "cop bar" by offering free lunches to uniformed officers. On Dec. 5, 1999, three armed robbers burst into the bar while it was jammed with off-duty cops enjoying a concert. A firefight ensued and one of the suspects was killed. But one of the drawbacks of discounted food is that it breeds a sense of entitlement, said Tim Dees, a retired officer and editor-in-chief of "They believe that this is my due" because of the uniform, Dees said. Over this summer, there were two instances of officers abusing their free coffee privileges, both times at Starbucks. A Chicago police veteran was reportedly suspended for 18 months after she flashed her badge and gun to intimidate employees into giving her coffee.

Closer to home, a lieutenant in Daytona Beach was stopping by six times per shift to gulp down a Frappuccino. When a new manager challenged him, the lieutenant reportedly replied that he had control over whether cops would show up in three minutes or 15 to an emergency. The lieutenant was fired after the manager complained to authorities. Extreme examples, but Dees and others say accepting gratuities can be the first step on a "slippery slope" toward corruption for some officers. Somewhere in between the extremes is the best solution, Detective Joseph Petrocelli writes for While there shouldn't be police protection rackets, neither should an officer be prevented from taking a brownie after changing a flat tire, Petrocelli writes. "... Rather than the zero tolerance policy that is in effect in many places, a reasonable policy of tolerance that recognizes and respects the integrity and good judgment of law enforcement officers is probably the better way," Petrocelli writes.

At the Brooksville Police Department, policy states that officers cannot solicit or accept any gift - including food or beverages - if it's believed that the giver's intent is to affect performance or nonperformance by an officer. But if there's no implied quid pro quo, Police Chief George Turner doesn't have a problem with his officers accepting drinks or food. Turner couldn't explain how officers know when strings are attached, but he added that cops go to places where they feel comfortable. "I can't say police officers don't appreciate that," he said. It's expressly forbidden by policy for police officers to ask for a handout, which mirrors the policy at the sheriff's office. But while the sheriff's policy forbids deputies to "solicit" free food or drink, it doesn't say anything about accepting free food. Sgt. Donna Black, spokeswoman, said the department stands by its policy and that any complaints would be investigated. When asked to elaborate on whether deputies were allowed to accept food, Black replied, "We're not going to 'what if it.'"Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or

Three juries impaneled in slay of NYPD Cop

Three juries impaneled in slay of NYPD Officer Russel Timoshenko
The New York Daily News by SCOTT SHIFREL - November 8, 2008

Three juries are picked and ready to start hearing the case Monday against three men charged with killing a Brooklyn cop in cold blood and wounding another. Prosecutors will give three separate opening statements in what will be a courtroom packed with Officer Russel Timoshenko's family, fellow officers and journalists, as well as family members of the three defendants. Dexter Bostic, 36, Robert Ellis, 35, and Lee Woods, 30, require separate juries since they implicated each other in the first degree murder case for killing Timoshenko and attempted murder for wounding his partner, Herman Yan, on July 9, 2007, in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Each 12-person jury has six alternates for the expected four-week-long trial that will be full of forensic evidence - including DNA, fingerprints and videotaped statements from the three defendants - and lots of tears.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Drug Cop Broke Into Apartment

Drug-rap cop Jorge Arbaje-Diaz broke into Washington Heights flat, video shows
The New York Daily News by THOMAS ZAMBITO - November 8, 2008

The former NYPD cop arrested last week for robbing drug dealers was caught on a surveillance tape breaking into a Washington Heights apartment building this summer. Manhattan federal prosecutors Friday added a new set of robbery charges to at least 100 others that Jorge Arbaje-Diaz is facing. Arbaje-Diaz, 30, is accused of being part of a gang that made $20 million by shaking down drug dealers for cash and drugs. The feds say that in August Arbaje-Diaz and six others were videotaped going into a 183rd St. apartment building to rob a drug dealer of $25,000 in cash, cocaine and other drugs. Their plan was to show the victim law enforcement credentials to get inside his apartment but decided to use a hydraulic pump to blast out the door when no one answered, prosecutors say. As the gang was about to break in, the victim arrived home, opened the door with a key and was abruptly hog-tied to the floor, prosecutors added. No drugs were found inside the apartment but Arbaje-Diaz was caught on video leaving the building carrying a laptop computer, prosecutors say. Arbaje-Diaz had been with the NYPD for three years when he allegedly committed the robbery. Most recently he was assigned to a transit division in the Bronx.