CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


PRESS RELEASE - United States Attorney - District of Connecticut - April 28, 2008

Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that former New Haven Police Lieutenant WILLIAM B. WHITE, 64, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 38 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release. Judge Arterton also ordered WHITE to pay a fine in the amount of $20,000. On October 26, 2007, WHITE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of theft of government funds.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, from June 2003 to March 13, 2007, WHITE was the Supervisor of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit within the New Haven Police Department. In pleading guilty to the bribery charge, WHITE admitted that he agreed to find fugitives for, and to steer clients to, bailbondsmen in exchange for corrupt payments. Between July 2006 and March 2007, the bailbondsmen provided WHITE and a State law enforcement officer who was cooperating with federal law enforcement and working in an undercover capacity with approximately $24,400 in cash in exchange for WHITE and the undercover officer using their official positions to locate fugitives. WHITE split the cash with the undercover officer, keeping $10,200 for himself.

On November 9, 2006, WHITE, other members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit, and other law enforcement officers executed a warrant to search a premises on Truman Street in New Haven. During the course of the search, WHITE and the undercover officer were searching a bedroom and, without the knowledge of WHITE, the undercover officer placed $2000 in cash, which was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a dresser drawer in the bedroom. The undercover officer then showed the cash to WHITE who directed the undercover officer to take the money. After the search, WHITE and the undercover officer split the cash, each taking $1000.

On January 31, 2007, as part of a “sting” operation, FBI personnel placed $27,500 in funds belonging to the FBI in the trunk of a rental car and placed the car in the Long Wharf area of New Haven. The undercover officer then represented to WHITE that a female informant, who was, in fact, fictitious, had told the undercover officer that a drug dealer had left his car near the Long Wharf area and that the vehicle might contain a large sum of money. After WHITE and the undercover officer eventually located the vehicle, WHITE searched the trunk and removed the bag containing the $27,500 in cash, kept several stacks of money, totaling approximately $5000, and returned the bag and remaining money to the trunk of the vehicle. WHITE and the undercover officer then left the area. After WHITE counted and then split with the undercover officer the approximately $5000, he continued to discuss taking the remainder of the money and expressed concern over whether such actions would get the female informant killed. However, WHITE and the undercover officer returned to the car. WHITE removed the bag, took the remaining cash and put the bag back in the trunk of the car. WHITE then split the money with the undercover officer, taking approximately $14,105 for himself and giving approximately $13,395 to the undercover officer.

Finally, on February 16, 2007, WHITE, the undercover officer and other law enforcement officers executed an arrest warrant in New Haven. The officers located the subject and chased him into a residence located on Starr Street. While in the house, the undercover officer noticed a sum of cash in an open drawer in the bedroom and asked another officer to ask WHITE to come into the room. WHITE entered the room and the undercover officer showed him the money. WHITE indicated to the undercover officer that he should take the money. In response, the undercover officer placed the cash, which later was determined to be $800, in his pocket, while WHITE watched. Later, the undercover met the defendant at the New Haven Police Department parking garage and gave WHITE $400 in cash, which was his half of the $800 that they had stolen earlier in the day. WHITE referred to the cash as “spending money” and placed the $400 in his pocket.

In addition to imposing a fine, Judge Arterton today ordered WHITE to pay restitution in the amount of $15,505, and to forfeit to the Government $10,200. This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Acting United States Attorney Nora R. Dannehy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Times-Picayune EDITORIAL: Keep FBI's focus

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - Jim Bernazzani had a notable tenure as special agent in charge of the FBI in New Orleans -- as memorable perhaps as his abrupt exit last week. Having arrived just months before Katrina, Mr. Bernazzani made it his mission to root out public corruption, overseeing high profile probes including that of former City Council President Oliver Thomas. Mr. Bernazzani also carried out federal efforts to assist local police in their fight against violent crime.

Even in a region known for remarkable and colorful characters, Mr. Bernazzani's tough talk and intensity stood out. Still, it was surprising last week when he publicly indicated his interest in a run for mayor, and he was quickly reassigned to Washington. Dishonest politicians often suggest they are being prosecuted for political reasons. That's one reason why the Hatch Act prohibits FBI agents from engaging in "partisan political activity." Once Mr. Bernazzani spoke of a potential mayoral run, the prudent and appropriate action was removing him from his post.

What's important now is that the FBI's mission in New Orleans continues uninterrupted. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten alluded to this point in a written statement that acknowledged Mr. Bernazzani's service but also noted that hundreds of other law enforcement agents at the federal and local levels will continue to work to make our government more honest and our communities safer.

That's true. But the top FBI agent can set the tone for a field office. As FBI brass in Washington consider a replacement for Mr. Bernazzani, they should look for a seasoned agent who will match his passion and focus in fighting corruption and assisting local agencies. Katrina threw New Orleans' law enforcement and judicial system into chaos. Though some progress has been made -- particularly in the courts -- the city is still in need of the expertise and resources federal law enforcement officials have at their disposal. Mr. Bernazzani understood that -- and we trust the FBI will ensure that his successor does as well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

NYPD Rookie Arrested

Rookie NYPD police officer nabbed in Brooklyn car-vandal spree
New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR - April 26, 2008

A rookie NYPD cop was busted Friday for vandalizing the side-view mirrors of his neighbors' cars in Brooklyn, police sources said. Efren Alvarez, 24, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief after a neighbor spotted him about 3 a.m. fiddling with the side-view mirrors of a car on Troy Ave. in East Flatbush. Alvarez, who graduated from the Police Academy last July was assigned to a housing precinct in Red Hook.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fort Worth police officer arrested

The Star Telegram by DEANNA BOYD - April 7, 2008

BURLESON -- An off-duty Fort Worth police officer was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after he was reportedly found passed out behind the wheel of his marked patrol unit at a Burleson intersection Sunday. Clinton Wyatt, who began with the department in January 2003, was released from the Burleson city jail Sunday after posting a $1,000 bond, said Sally Ellertson, a spokeswoman with the city of Burleson. A patrol officer assigned to the crime response team, Wyatt has been placed on restricted duty and is not allowed to carry a badge or gun pending the outcome of the investigation, said Lt. Paul Henderson, Fort Worth police spokesman.

Wyatt, 32, had been working at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday and had gotten off work about 6 p.m., Henderson said. The officer had apparently been on his way home in his take-home patrol car when he was observed by a Burleson officer asleep behind the wheel in the 100 block of N.W. Burleson Boulevard at the Renfro Street intersection at 3:49 a.m. Sunday. Ellertson said the marked unit was facing southbound about two to three car lengths from a stop light when observed by the Burleson officer. The case will be forwarded to the Johnson County District Attorney's office for prosecution. Henderson said an internal affair investigation is also underway. He said the department is investigating Wyatt’s whereabouts between when he got off work Saturday and his arrest early Sunday.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Police Brutality and the Dead Groom


While there are obviously individual officers who do their jobs and keep the peace, as a group, the police are out of control. They have too much power and we have too little. The range of police problems includes — 1) Excessive use of deadly force. 2) Excessive use of physical force. 3) Discriminatory patterns of arrest. 4) Patterns of harassment of the homeless, youth, racial minorities and gays, including aggressive and discriminatory use of the "stop-and-frisk" and overly harsh enforcement of petty offenses. 5) The "code of silence" and retaliation against officers who report abuse and/or support reforms. 6) Overreaction to gang problems, which is driven by the assumption that those who associate with known gang members must be involved in criminal activity, even in the absence of concrete evidence that this is the case. This includes illegal mass stops and arrests, and demanding photo IDs from young men based on their race and dress instead of on their criminal conduct. 7) The "war on drugs," with its overbroad searches and other tactics that endanger innocent bystanders. This "war" wastes scarce resources on unproductive "buy and bust" operations to the neglect of more promising community-based approaches. 8) Lack of accountability, such as the failure to discipline or prosecute abusive officers, and the failure to deter abuse by denying promotions and/or particular assignments because of prior abusive behavior.

Frequently, I read about an instance of a police officer shooting or killing someone, and in nearly every instance, the violence was considered justified and the police were cleared of wrong doing. Between 2002 and 2004, for example, more than 10,000 complaints -- many of them involving brutality and assault -- were filed against Chicago police officers. Yet only 18 of them resulted in any meaningful disciplinary action. ( I’m no mathematician, but the ratio of complaints to disciplinary action is ridiculously lopsided. The police protect their own. If I shot somebody in self-defense, there would be a rigorous investigation and it is likely that I'd spend time in jail before and during the trial if I couldn't afford bail. Do cops receive the same scrutiny? I seriously doubt that.

Nowadays, we hear about some person who has been tasered and been seriously injured. Years ago, I was in a grocery store, and a middle-aged woman was caught stealing. She was viciously tasered, even after she was down on the ground, by the police officer on duty for the crime of stealing meat. I occasionally watch the reality show COPS. On several occasions, I've seen police officers on this reality show use their cars to hit and, thereby, take down a suspect running on foot. How is that acceptable? And don’t call the police to solve a problem with someone who is mentally ill or mentally handicapped. That person is likely to get shot.

Police corruption, incompetence, and overreaction do not just affect minorities, though they are far more likely to be the victims of police brutality and misconduct. Here in Chicago, recent incidents in which off-duty officers have been caught on film beating Caucasian women, have stirred a firestorm of controversy. Everyone, but especially anyone who lacks power (uneducated/poor), needs to be concerned about the police. We have an armed police force, which has little community oversight. Complaints about police misconduct are routinely dismissed. Almost any incident in which the police are accused of misconduct is dismissed, even if it was caught on tape. Why the hell shouldn’t the populace be scared of the police? They have too much power, and we have too little.

Under the cut, I have posted summaries of more incidents of police misconduct.

On-duty cops in Nevada show up at a pool hall to rough up a guy who was arguing with one of their buddies. Unfortunately (for them), he wasn’t your typical out-of-town schmoe. He was a federal agent. And now he’s suing.

Police chief in small Wisconsin town asks on-duty detectives to find out the identity of a local anonymous blogger who was criticizing him, the town, and the department.

What do you do when your star witness insists there was no crime? Apparently you harass the hell out of him. Even if he’s a 13-year-old boy with developmental problems.

A 92 year old woman was shot and killed by Atlanta Police officers. Kathryn Johnson was alone in her home waiting with her gun on Tuesday night when a group of plainclothes officers with a warrant knocked down her door searching for drugs, police said. The officers initially claimed that Johnson had a gun and shot all three of them, so they had to kill her in self-defense. It turns out that the police not only had the wrong house, but they actually shot each other in an instance of friendly fire. To cover up their misdeeds and incompetence, they planted marijuana in the house and then told their informant to lie and claim that he’d bought drugs at the house. Then they cooked up the story of Johnson shooing at them. --

Another arrest of a man taking photos of a drug raid. If you’re wondering, yes, think citizens should be free to record and photograph undercover police, too. To give one example, if David Ruttenberg hadn’t recorded the multiple attempts to frame him by undercover Manassas Park police, they’d likely have framed him into several felonies by now. Using the “obstruction” arrest to cover police misbehavior.

Deputy drifts over center line on a hilly road, wipes out a group of bicyclists, killing two and critically wounding another. It’s a terrible story, but note what happens next. Other police show up and tell the deputy to “stop talking” before he further implicates himself. They then escort him from the accident scene before investigators arrive. How many other people would get that kind of treatment?

A California jury awarded a 72-year-old man $90,000 after California Highway Patrol officers entered his house and roughed him up while looking for a stolen motorcycle. They had the wrong house. Which would probably explain why he was described in the police report as “agitated” after they improperly and forcibly entered his home. Here’s the infuriating part: After the jury award, the judge cut the award to around $13,000, just enough to cover medical expenses related to the incident, which included two surgeries. The judge tossed out all punitive damages. Also, per the link above, note that the man was initially arrested for “obstruction,” even though police had the wrong house, and he wasn’t suspected of any crime. Source:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Former Federal Prosecutor to Investigate State Police

The New York Times by TRYMAINE LEE - April 23, 2008

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has appointed Sharon L. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, to oversee an investigation into possible political interference in the New York State Police. Mr. Cuomo’s office was asked by Gov. David A. Paterson to begin an inquiry into whether the state police had a rogue unit or officers who gathered and leaked politically damaging information about public officials. Ms. McCarthy spent 12 years in the United States attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, where as deputy chief of the criminal division and chief of the violent crimes unit, she focused on organized crime and corruption.

She will work exclusively on the state trooper investigation, Mr. Cuomo said in a statement released Tuesday. “I am pleased to have Sharon leading our investigation into this matter,” the statement said. “Having her on our team reinforces the promise I made upon receiving this assignment from Governor Paterson — that we would staff this investigation with a top-notch team of professionals.” About two weeks ago, Mr. Cuomo said that Michael F. Armstrong and Robert B. Fiske Jr. would be special advisers to the investigation. Mr. Fiske, a former United States attorney, was independent counsel in the federal Whitewater investigation. Mr. Armstrong served as chief counsel to the Knapp Commission, which investigated police corruption in New York in the 1970s, and is a former Queens district attorney.

In an unrelated announcement Tuesday, Mr. Paterson announced the appointment of Justice Joseph Fisch of the State Supreme Court as the state’s inspector general, effective May 12. “Judge Fisch is one of New York’s top jurists and I couldn’t be more pleased that a leader of his caliber has decided to take on such a critical watchdog role,” Mr. Paterson said in a statement. “He brings an impressive mix of legal, law enforcement and government experience.” The former state inspector general, Kristine Hamann, resigned last month. She had been heavily criticized by Republicans in the State Senate for cutting short her investigation of the effort by aides of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to tarnish Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader. Dennis E. Martin has been the acting inspector general. Justice Fisch was appointed to the State Supreme Court in 2003 after 13 years in the Court of Claims. He will be responsible for investigation of corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest and abuse of state agencies and other departments headed by appointees of the governor.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Parachute cop arrested for sexual assault

by Troy Hooper, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer - April 22, 2008

A police officer from Parachute was arrested Saturday on suspicion of sexual assault. It was not immediately clear why Kristopher Duncan, 25, was being held in Pitkin County Jail on Monday as opposed to Garfield County Jail, the jurisdiction where he was arrested, although it seems likely it is for his own safety. “Why he is in the Pitkin County Jail, that’s a question for someone else to answer. I suspect it’s for security reasons. Police officers are not the friend of other inmates and they can be treated harshly,” said 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, whose agency handled the arrest, did not return phone messages seeking comment. Jailers in Aspen said Duncan was on a “courtesy hold” but referred questions about the matter to Garfield County. He remained in Pitkin County Jail on a $7,500 bond Monday night. He is charged with class-four felony sexual assault, which carries a possible sentence range of two years to life in prison.

Parachute Town Administrator Robert Knight confirmed Duncan’s arrest and said the officer’s employment was terminated Friday “for violation of code of conduct and this incident (the sexual assault allegation) was related to it.” Knight said that Duncan was hired in February and was an officer in training. He declined to answer further questions. Knight also said that he and other high-level officials in Parachute were unaware that Duncan was being held in Aspen.

Details of the alleged sexual assault were scarce yesterday but prosecutor Gail Nichols, who earlier in the day advised Duncan of the charge against him in the judge’s chambers, said it occurred sometime on April 18 and that the victim was an adult. She declined to provide details about the incident, such as the victim’s sex or age, adding that a heavily redacted arrest affidavit should be available for public inspection today. Duncan is due in Garfield County District Court on April 30 at 1:30 p.m. He has been ordered to stay away from the purported victim should he post bond.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

L.A.'s top federal prosecutor accused of setting quotas

U.S. attorney says he sets goals. Staff lawyers say they are pressured to file relatively minor cases to boost numbers and funding. The Los Angeles Times by Scott Glover - April 18, 2008

U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien is facing sharp criticism from prosecutors within his office who say he is pressuring them to file relatively insignificant criminal cases to drive up statistics that make the office eligible for increased federal funding. The prosecutors said O'Brien's effort to increase filings amounts to a quota system in which lawyers face possible discipline and other career consequences if they fail to achieve their numbers. It also detracts from their traditional mission of prosecuting complex, time-consuming cases that local authorities are unable to pursue, they said. O'Brien acknowledged that he had set "performance goals" to reverse years of declining productivity in the Los Angeles office but denied that the goals were quotas.

"This office does not and never will have quotas for its criminal prosecutors," O'Brien said. "To suggest that any attorney in this office must charge a certain number of defendants each year or face discipline is simply not true." He added that his lawyers "are continuing to do some of the biggest, most complex cases in the nation."

Quotas are controversial because they call into question whether prosecutors are motivated by the pursuit of justice or are merely trying to "hit a number," said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor in New York. O'Brien and Chief Assistant U.S. Atty. George S. Cardona said they initiated the performance goals last year when Cardona was the acting U.S. attorney and O'Brien was in charge of the office's criminal division. According to several sources, O'Brien spoke passionately at a supervisors' meeting in March 2007 about the need for increased numbers and warned of repercussions for prosecutors who failed to produce. Since then, at least one prosecutor has been transferred against his will and others have received lower performance ratings for failing to meet their numbers, the sources said. O'Brien declined to comment on any individual's case, citing privacy laws regarding personnel issues. But he said productivity is only one of many factors in a person's review. Others include the quality of an employee's work and the employee's ability to interact with law enforcement agencies and court officials.

Increased productivity is important because it can influence funding levels for the office, which are dictated by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Because the numbers in Los Angeles have been on the rise, so has the size of the staff. O'Brien estimates that he has hired 60 new prosecutors over the last year and that the office is approaching its full strength of 267 lawyers for the first time in recent memory. The Times spoke with 11 prosecutors from various enforcement sections of the office, which employs about 180 attorneys in its criminal division. The lawyers spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals from their superiors. Three former prosecutors who recently left the office also asked to remain anonymous because they were not comfortable speaking publicly about internal matters they were privy to while employed there.

The disgruntled prosecutors in Los Angeles say they are now spending an exorbitant amount of time working on less significant cases -- mail theft, smaller drug offenses and illegal immigration -- to reach quotas. They cited the recent disbanding of the office's public integrity and environmental crimes section, a unit with a history of working on complex police corruption and political corruption cases, as evidence of a shift toward high-volume, low-quality prosecutions. "It's all about the numbers," one prosecutor said. One former supervisor put it this way: "I can't remember how they sugarcoated it, but the feeling around the office was, if you got your quota, then you could work on your real cases without being hassled." The decision to set numeric goals appears to be unprecedented in the recent history of the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. U.S. attorneys going back to the early 1990s said they had no such goals.

The move was part of a broader office restructuring to address a severe staffing shortage and steadily declining productivity, which had fallen 30% or 40% from 2001, O'Brien said. He said he wanted to improve service for crime victims and law enforcement agencies, which had grown accustomed to having their cases rejected because of a lack of resources. "We were literally not even taking cases in the door anymore," O'Brien said. "We were almost becoming irrelevant." Historically, routine criminal cases referred by federal agents were handled by lawyers who were relatively new to the office. In fact, the general crimes section is known as Rookie Row.

Traditionally, new lawyers would file and prosecute such cases for a year or two before graduating to a senior section, such as narcotics, fraud or public corruption, O'Brien said. But because of a hiring freeze between September 2005 and June of last year, the office had essentially run out of rookie lawyers. As a result, O'Brien and Cardona encouraged all lawyers to go after cases both big and small. Numeric goals were set out of concern that some prosecutors might tend to ignore more-routine criminal cases. O'Brien said goals were set for each section of the office based on the average number of defendants charged in previous years. He declined through a spokesman to specify what the goals were then or what they are now.

O'Brien's critics question his motives in pushing for increased productivity. They say he wants higher stats to help his chances of remaining in the politically connected post of U.S. attorney regardless of who wins the presidential election in November. O'Brien denied that accusation. "What I'm trying to do is make this community safer by putting more defendants who commit federal crimes in federal prison," he said. O'Brien also has his backers. They say most of the people complaining about the new goals are "slugs" who need to be held accountable. O'Brien's hard-charging style has "sort of fired up a lot of us," one lawyer said. "Even if there is a quota, so what?" said Greg Staples, a veteran prosecutor in the Santa Ana office who has worked on a string of high-profile cases in recent years. "Doing small cases and big cases at the same time is possible. All we're being told is to produce on a regular basis." Timothy J. Searight, who supervises the narcotics section in the L.A. office, said that he recalls "some grumbling" when the goals were introduced but that most his 18 attorneys "didn't really have much to say about it one way or the other." Searight says he records his prosecutors' individual stats on a board in his office for everyone to see.

"But we're not focused on getting the highest stats possible just to get the highest stats," he said. "We're focused on getting the most crime possible off the streets." The board, he said, helps keep some attorneys focused on that objective. Whether it was through quotas or goals, the message delivered last March had immediate results: Case filings in the months after the meeting shot up dramatically. The total for September, the last month of the fiscal year, was more than triple the number of cases filed in the first month of the year, internal statistics show. There was a particularly dramatic increase in the number of cases filed against immigrants with felony convictions who were caught in the country after having been deported. Known colloquially as "1326 cases" in reference to their designation in the federal penal code, such cases are a favorite for meeting quotas because they require little time and effort, according to the prosecutors interviewed by The Times. In the five months of the fiscal year preceding the March meeting, prosecutors filed an average of 17 such cases per month, statistics show. From the time of that meeting through the end of the fiscal year, the number rose to 65 cases per month.

O'Brien attributed the rise in cases, in part, to the newly announced goals. But he said stepped-up efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a relatively new unit in the U.S. attorney's office that specialized in handling immigration cases also contributed to the increase. He said he has begun to bring in lawyers on loan from local prosecutors' offices to help handle the load of immigration cases and free up his prosecutors "to work on bigger cases." Meanwhile, O'Brien's critics say some prosecutors who have failed to meet their alleged quotas have been downgraded in their evaluations and were consequently denied bonuses or were paid less than if they'd received top marks.

One veteran prosecutor in the narcotics section spoke out against the alleged practice, saying it was unethical to link the number of defendants a lawyer charged with that lawyer's evaluation because it would give the lawyer a financial incentive to file cases, according to two sources familiar with the situation. The prosecutor was later transferred out of narcotics against his will.

Monday, April 21, 2008


United States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
Press Release - April 3, 2008 -- Project Safe Childhood:

Kevin J. O'Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced DARREN DEMPSEY, also known as Darren Seligman, 39, of Mansfield, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to one count using an interstate facility to transmit information about a minor.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, DEMPSEY used the Internet to attempt to engage in sexual conduct with an 11-year-old girl. At the time, DEMPSEY was employed as an officer with the East Windsor Police Department. Judge Burns has scheduled sentencing for June 18, 2008, at which time DEMPSEY faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. DEMPSEY has been incarcerated since his arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 29, 2007.

U.S. Attorney O'Connor noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. This case was investigated by the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Avon Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David A. Ring.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Detective faces departmental charges in case of missing money

The Journal News by THERESA JUVA -- March 24, 2008

MAMARONECK - A veteran village detective is facing disciplinary charges, alleged to have taken $23,000 from a safe at police headquarters, according to documents obtained by The Journal News. In a notice of discipline served to Detective Joseph Comblo on Thursday, the Police Department charges him with 25 code-of-conduct violations. He is accused of removing about $23,400 from the safe sometime before Jan. 11, using it for personal spending and lying to investigators when questioned, according to the eight-page document signed by Chief Edward Flynn.

Flynn announced at a Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 25 that the department was investigating the theft of money from a safe on the second floor of headquarters, at 169 Mount Pleasant Ave. The longtime detective and youth officer is not facing criminal charges. Comblo joined the force in 1983 and has received recognition for perfect attendance and assisting in several high-profile arrests. Comblo was suspended without pay March 14, the same day he filed retirement papers, police said last week. No one answered the door at his Larchmont home Friday or Saturday.

He allegedly failed a polygraph test March 6 and failed to comply with an order to provide documentation of a medical condition, according to the charges. Andrew Quinn, an attorney for the village Police Benevolent Association, said he could not comment on the charges. When reached by phone Friday, Mamaroneck Mayor Kathy Savolt said she "can't comment on personnel matters at all." She declined to comment on whether criminal charges would be pursued, but did say there was "an open police investigation."

Comblo has until March 31 to respond to the charges and is entitled to a hearing in front of the Board of Trustees, which would sit as the Board of Police Commissioners. At the hearing, which could be open or closed, according to Comblo's wishes, he would be required to provide evidence against the disciplinary charges. Comblo could be dismissed or forced to forfeit his last month's pay if found guilty, according to the notice. He is scheduled to retire next month.

Randolph McLaughlin, a Pace University law professor, said criminal charges required a higher standard of evidence than department charges. A polygraph test could not be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding, so financial records, witness accounts and circumstantial evidence would be needed to build such a case, he said. "D.A. offices are historically reluctant to prosecute police officers unless they have a slam-dunk case," McLaughlin said, adding that district attorneys were hesitant to jeopardize relationships with police departments without full confidence in a case.

A spokesman for the Westchester County District Attorney's Office said the office was not actively involved in the investigation of the missing money. Emily DeSantis, spokeswoman for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, said Comblo was not in danger of losing his pension. "His benefit is guaranteed by the state constitution," she said. Reach Theresa Juva at or 914-694-5012.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Malverne police probed for obscure holiday perks


How'd you like to get an extra paid day off for working on Child Health Day? What about for Gerald Ford Day and Gold Star Mother's Day? How about Shirley Chisholm Day? Until recently, you could get almost two dozen additional days off if you were a member of the Village of Malverne Police Department, where the union now is fighting a decision to stop the perk and deny officers hundreds of paid days off. According to a recent investigation ordered by village officials, officers in the 1-square-mile village got time-off credit for work on up to 23 so-called "special days" between 2004 and 2007. This was in addition to their 12 paid holidays, 56 hours of personal time, at least 8.5 sick days, and as many as 18 vacation days.

The list of days included such little-known recognitions as Parents' Day, in July, and Jan. 6, which this year marked the 223rd anniversary of the death of Haym Salomon. "I had to go research Haym Salomon Day," said Police Chief John Aresta, who has benefited from the perk. "I mean, who was Haym Salomon?" Despite the obscurity of the Polish-born Revolutionary War financier, village officials can pinpoint the day the practice began: June 11, 2004, a national day of mourning following the death of Ronald Rea.gan.

Citing an unusual contract provision, the union got permission to credit officers who worked that day with an extra day off. But in the following years, officers began putting in for a growing list of days. The result: more than 3,600 hours of accrued time-off hours, scrambles to fill schedules and increased overtime costs, village officials charge. In December, Aresta told the village board about the perk and abruptly deleted the hours, including time already used. The union cried foul and filed a grievance, claiming breach of contract. The dispute is to be resolved in an arbitration process, now in a preliminary stage, expected to take several months to complete.

Counting quasi-holidays

According to a report presented at a March board meeting, cops got 247 hours in 2004 and 2005 for work on quasi-holidays such as National Katrina Remembrance Day, Armed Forces Day and Nov. 30, which honors former New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm. In 2006, the number jumped to 1,350.5 hours, or 113 extra paid days off. In the first seven months of 2007, officers claimed 2,039 hours -- equal to 170 12-hour shifts in a department of just 24 people, the report states. "It was getting to be a problem, a big problem," Aresta said. "The more time off people get, the more time off they take, but you still have to keep minimum staffing levels." Aresta, who has been chief since late 2006, said department supervisors were responsible for crediting the days, which officers did not have to note on time cards.

Attorneys for the village and the union said they did not know which supervisors were responsible for approving the time-off credit or who decided which days were special days. The Malverne police budget is $3,228,609 this fiscal year, the village's largest single expenditure. Last year, total police expenditures of $3,421,690 included $458,678 for overtime -- more than $100,000 above an anticipated $350,000. In this year's budget, the village again forecast $350,000 in police overtime costs. Officers make $37,791 their first year, compared with the $34,000 earned by Nassau County officers.

Unique union deal

Malverne police union attorney David Davis defended the practice and pointed to the now-expired contract that allowed comp time for work on "special observance" days designated by the president, governor or county executive. Davis, who represents 15 police and other unions, said most contracts with a similar special-days clause only allow the time-off credit for working on "non-working days for the majority of municipal employees." "The difference in the language is the difference in the benefit," he said. Village attorney James Frankie scoffed at the union's position. "Politicians are always saying, 'I'm going to proclaim this 'Special Cereal Day' or whatever it is," he said. "Should we get the day because we like to eat cereal?" Both Davis and Frankie said they knew of no other union that got a similar deal. Union president and Mal.verne patrolman John Cantanno said he was denied permission to speak publicly about the issue.

Unpopular policy

While the issue has riled those attending board meetings, Mayor Patricia McDonald spoke diplomatically about the dispute. "People have a hard time with change," she said. The loss of time off has proved unpopular in the department, where Davis said officers find themselves owing "hundreds of hours" back to the department. "If morale is low ... that doesn't mean they're not doing their jobs," he said. While praising the department's work, Aresta said some officers now avoid speaking to him, and several people familiar with the situation said he is being ostracized within the department. The fact that Aresta himself got credit for at least three days before becoming chief has contributed to the bad feelings.

An order Aresta issued in February that effectively gagged officers from speaking publicly about any police issue also deepened the rift, according to two people who attended the March board meeting. That order, which Aresta said was unrelated to the special days issue, was later "clarified" with a more softly worded confidentiality statement. "It's not the same friendly attitude that it used to be," he said.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rookie cop charged in heists had bank teller accomplice - sources

The New York Daily News by THOMAS ZAMBITO AND TAMER EL-GHOBASHY - April 18, 2008

The NYPD rookie-turned-bank-robber got inside help - a college pal who worked at a Manhattan bank he hit twice, authorities said Thursday. Christina Dasrath told the disgraced transit cop about Sovereign Bank's "lax" security then feigned fear when Christian Torres twice held up the Avenue A branch where she was a teller, authorities said. Torres, 21, allegedly gave Dasrath a cut of the more than $118,000 he stole during two robberies last year. Dasrath, 20, of the Bronx, wept during an appearance at Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday where she was charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank robbery and making false statements to FBI agents. Dasrath, described as a bright girl who is seeking a degree in forensic psychology from Manhattan's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Shortly after she was hired as a bank teller in April 2007, Dasrath told Torres that the bank instructs employees not to resist demands for cash from thieves, authorities said. On the morning of June 8, 2007, she spoke with Torres who told her he planned to rob the bank that day, prosecutors said. Sure enough, he showed up at Dasrath's teller window and passed her a note ordering her to "empty both drawers," court papers said. Torres made off with $16,305 and later met Dasrath in a Bronx parking lot where she got her share of the loot, prosecutors said.

In November, Dasrath allegedly told Torres that as a result of his heist, less cash was being kept in teller drawers. She said the big money was in the vault - then hinted that it might be easiest to gain access early in the morning when only three employees are on hand, authorities said. On Nov. 16, Torres allegedly held up the bank at gunpoint, tying up one employee before Dasrath and another teller led him to the vault where he bagged $102,000. Again, the pair met afterward, and Torres gave her a cut, prosecutors said.

Their conspiracy was uncovered when Torres was nabbed last week in Pennsylvania moments after he held up a Sovereign Bank in Muhlenberg - nearly making off with $113,000. Authorities said the cop began babbling about his previous capers and even told them about an aborted robbery in Reading, Pa. It was unclear if he ratted out Dasrath. Torres used the cash to buy a Toyota Scion and a diamond engagement ring for his aspiring-model fiancée. The petite bank teller was freed Thursday on $250,000 bail. Her lawyer Hugh Mundy said she feared reporting Torres to authorities.

On her page, Dasrath lists the prestigious, all-girls Nightingale-Bamford school on the upper East Side as her alma mater. Her brother, Christopher Dasrath, speaking outside their Castle Hill home, said his sister grew up in a strict home with a good family. "She's not the type to do something like that. She's mature." Christopher, 16, said his sister doesn't spend much money and just recently bought a car. "The only thing she bought recently was a black Toyota for 3 Gs, and it doesn't even have a CD player," he said. With Alison Gendar, Dorian Block and Edgar Sandoval

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nassau police officer charged in 2007 DWI

Newsday bY SOPHIA CHANG - - April 16, 2008

A Nassau County police officer was arrested Wednesday on charges of driving while intoxicated and third-degree assault in connection with a 2007 car accident that happened when he was off-duty, police said Wednesday. Officer Robert Jones, 41, of Huntington, was arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead yesterday. He posted bail of $500 cash and is due back in court on Friday. "I feel that Robert Jones will be vindicated," said his lawyer Robert Brunetti of Garden City. "He's definitely not guilty -- -- one hundred percent not guilty."

Around 5:35 a.m. on April 29, 2007, Jones was driving a Mini Cooper northbound on Main Street near Old Northern Boulevard in Roslyn when he veered out of his lane and struck a parked Jeep Cherokee, according to authorities and court documents. According to court documents, a woman sitting inside the Jeep was hospitalized overnight, suffering injuries to her head, neck and lower back. Calls placed to a listed number for the woman were not returned Wednesday. Neither Brunetti nor police commented on why Jones was arrested nearly a year after the accident.

Jones, a 13-year veteran assigned to the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset, has been suspended for 30 days without pay, said police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted. The Nassau Police Benevolent Association declined to comment on the case Wednesday, as did the department's Internal Affairs Unit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The New York Post by LARRY CELONA

April 14, 2008 -- About 10 cops routinely forged police reports to cover for each other when they weren't at the precinct - and now, dozens of the cases they handled have had to be tossed out, sources have told The Post. The cops, from Manhattan South's vice squad, were recently transferred out of the unit after prosecutors discovered they were filing the doctored reports, all of which involved prostitution, sources told The Post.

The practice came to light when a keen-eyed defense lawyer realized that the initials of different officers used to sign off on depositions in the cases were written in the same handwriting, the sources said. Officers typically initial their reports next to their badge numbers and tax ID. The defense lawyer then consulted with a handwriting expert, who confirmed that a single person had scrawled all the different initials. The lawyer told the Manhattan DA's Office, and that triggered an investigation by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Division.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NYPD rookie cop turned bank robber got 'cold feet' the day before


The NYPD rookie accused in a string of bank robberies not only confessed, but told investigators about a heist he aborted after getting cold feet, court papers show. A day before he stole $113,000 from a Sovereign Bank in Muhlenberg, Pa., last week, Christian Torres donned a blond wig and staked out a nearby branch, a federal complaint filed Monday said. He tried to chat up a female bank employee as she arrived for work at the Temple branch, asking about mortgage rates, but ran off after she told him he was making her uncomfortable, the papers said. "I got cold feet," Torres told investigators after he was arrested April 10 and admitted using his service weapon to rob the Sovereign Bank. He later told NYPD detectives he had also robbed a Sovereign Bank in the East Village in June and again in November - making off with about $118,000.

When cops searched his New York apartment, they found the clothing he wore in the Manhattan bank jobs - as well as the NYPD wanted posters for those heists. Torres, a transit cop with a bright future, appeared in Pennsylvania District Court yesterday. He gazed at his weeping mother during the brief hearing. Federal marshals have a week to take custody of the disgraced cop. He will face federal bank robbery charges in both New York and Pennsylvania, which carry stiffer penalties than state crimes. After his arrest, Torres indicated "that he was responsible" for the heist, said cops, who arrived as Torres left the bank holding a white plastic bag full of cash. He told cops he used the New York loot for a car and for a diamond ring for his fiancée, Jennifer Rivas, an aspiring model. Her family said she was unaware of the crimes. - with Alison Gendar

Monday, April 14, 2008

Report: Officers joked about dying immigrant in NY case

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - January 18, 2008

Police officers were taped joking about a dying, homeless Guatemalan immigrant after he was found on the side of a deserted road in their suburban town, a television station reported. "You wanna hear something really funny? ... He's alive," a Bedford police officer tells a sergeant on a taped phone call aired Thursday on WCBS-TV. The two go on to marvel - with the officer chuckling - that Rene Perez had apparently revived himself temporarily after authorities thought him dead on April 28, 2007. The television station said Perez died an hour after the officers' taped exchange.

Perez had had a series of encounters with police in Bedford and neighboring Mount Kisco that night. A Mount Kisco police officer has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in Perez' death. Prosecutors say the officer drove the drunken Perez to Mount Kisco, dealt him a deadly blow to the abdomen and left him to die. In a later phone call to another Bedford sergeant, after Perez' death, a Bedford officer sings the title line from the 1966 Left Banke single "Walk Away Renee."

Bedford Police Chief Chris Menzel defended the department, telling WCBS, "We are not callous or indifferent." He said he could not comment further on the ongoing case. Fernando Mateo, president of Hispanics Across America, said in a statement Friday that the incidents "show a clear indication that we have troubled and hateful police officers and bosses who clearly don't like Hispanic immigrants." Mateo called for the suspension of the officers involved.

A lawyer for the Mount Kisco officer charged in the case, George Bubaris, did not immediately return a telephone call late Thursday. The lawyer, Edward Hayes, has subpoenaed all Bedford police records about Perez. Prosecutors have called the subpoenas improper and are trying to quash them; a hearing is set next week. Perez, 42, had a history of making drunken 911 calls. He called Mount Kisco police complaining of stomach pain on April 28, and police records show Bubaris reported there was no need for further action.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of Perez' family maintain that Mount Kisco and Bedford made a practice of "dumping" each other's undesirables in the neighboring town. Bedford police had taken Perez into Mount Kisco hours before Bubaris allegedly took him to Bedford. Through a translator, Perez' brother, Anival Perez, called the Bedford officers' taped conversations "unrespectful."

Sunday, April 13, 2008



April 13, 2008 -- A rookie NYPD cop accused of robbing $113,000 from a bank is being handed over to the feds for prosecution, officials said. The US Attorney's Office in eastern Pennsylvania is going to take over the case of Christian Torres, 21, a transit officer from Queens arrested Thursday for allegedly holding up a Sovereign Bank in Muhlenberg, Pa, sources said. A federal detainer was placed on the officer's $1 million bail yesterday, keeping him at the Berks County, Pa., jail even if bail is posted.

Meanwhile, the FBI and NYPD continued to investigate Torres in connection with two bank robberies in the East Village last year, although officials with both agencies said no new charges were filed yesterday. The NYPD said Friday it was investigating whether Torres twice robbed a Sovereign Bank on Avenue A, once in June 2007 before he entered the Police Academy, and once in November, a month before he graduated. The same day as the second robbery, Torres paid $18,500 for a new car. Police said he also bought his fiancée, Jennifer Rivas, 20, of Brooklyn, an engagement ring. Rivas - a stunner pursuing a modeling career - was unavailable for comment yesterday. Her dad refused to comment as he left their home.

A neighbor - retired school custodian John Robidas - called Rivas "sweet" and "a good student." He remembered seeing Torres, and said, "I wouldn't think he would do this. He just became a transit cop. Why would he do it?" Another neighbor, who didn't want to be identified by name, said Torres "started coming around this place last winter," and said, "Damn, if I would have known that s- - -, I would have robbed his ass, cop or no cop." Torres, on suicide watch in jail, declined to speak to reporters yesterday, as did his family.

A woman who answered the phone at his mom's house broke down in tears on the phone, saying, "I don't even want to read the papers." Torres' lawyer, Paul Missan, said: "You have a young man who has never been arrested for anything in his life. He comes from a good family, a religious family . . . This is very sad and tragic for the family. It's hard. "He's doing as well as anybody could be doing under the circumstances," Missan added of his client. "He's looking forward to his day in court." Additional reporting by Angela Montefinise

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Renegade NYPD cop preyed on ladies, DA says

The New York Daily News by Barbara Ross and Adam Nichols - April 12, 2008

A renegade NYPD cop tried to force a teenage girl to perform a sex act after he discovered her in a city park after closing time, prosecutors said Friday. Wilfredo Rosario also sexually assaulted a woman who asked him about applying to be a school crossing guard - and he is believed to have preyed on others, the prosecutors said. Rosario, a 10-year NYPD veteran and former Marine, was arraigned yesterday on charges of misconduct, attempted coercion, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment covering both cases. The officer - whose car license plate reads TRNG DAY after the movie "Training Day," in which Denzel Washington plays a corrupt cop - allegedly approached the 18-year-old in Riverside Park in 2002.

He threatened to give her a summons and tell her parents "unless she agreed to oral sex," Assistant District Attorney Mark Crooks told Manhattan Supreme Court Daniel FitzGerald. The teen refused and made a formal complaint to the NYPD, but no action was taken, Crooks said. This year, while a community affairs officer in Harlem, Rosario lured a woman into his car and molested her after she asked for information about becoming a crossing guard, Crooks said.

When that alleged victim complained to police, the earlier case was revived. The prosecutor added, "There are other victims out there." Investigators are asking other victims to contact them at (212) 335-8905. Rosario's bail was set at $10,000, and he was ordered not to contact his alleged victims. He has been suspended from the NYPD.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rookie NYPD cop busted in $113G Pennsylvania bank heist


An NYPD rookie sworn to enforce the law broke it big-time Thursday, stealing $113,000 from a Pennsylvania bank at gunpoint, authorities said. Cop-turned-robber Christian Torres, 21, of Queens, was collared less than a block away and the loot was recovered, police said.

"I can't believe it happened," said Chris Salcedo, 20, a neighbor who plays football with Torres every week. "He talked a lot about being a cop. He said he wanted to do good stuff for people." The bizarre caper unfolded when the transit officer, dressed in a black suit, marched into the Muhlenberg Sovereign Bank just after opening and flashed a silver Glock handgun, cops said.

He demanded that tellers take him to the vault, where he stuffed a white plastic CVS bag with piles of bills ranging from $10s to $100s, authorities said. During the heist, an employee tripped an alarm, and police arrived as Torres, who had joined the NYPD last July, walked out and hopped into his black Toyota Scion, cops said.

When officers pulled him over moments later, he told them he was a New York City police officer, authorities said. He had the bag of cash on the seat and the gun tucked into his waistband, police said. Torres, who lives in Woodhaven and got engaged earlier this month, was held in the Berks County Jail on $500,000 bail. Bucolic Muhlenberg is about 120 miles west of New York City, near Reading, Pa. The bank is on Muhlenberg's commercial strip.

According to his MySpace page, Torres is an avid in-line skater whose nickname is "The Law." He lists his profession as "OINK" and his income as $30,000 to $45,000, even though rookie cops make just $25,100. His mood on his Web site is "wanted." "No matter what they say, we are getting a lot of losers," said a disgusted NYPD housing officer with 15 years on the force. "Anyone with any other options is taking another job. What's left are thugs and gangbangers who then get busted."

Torres is the latest in a string of young cops charged with crimes - often to pad their paychecks. Many rank-and-file officers have complained that the Police Academy has lowered its standards as the starting pay has dropped. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has denied that, saying recruits are now better educated and more diverse. But in the past two years, at least four cops have been charged with felonies. In July 2006, NYPD recruit Kabeer Din tried to hire an undercover cop posing as a hit man to kill his girlfriend.

Officers Hector Alvarez and Miguel Castillo told New Jersey police they were investigating terrorism when they were caught trying to rob a Bergen County drug den in May 2007, cops said. Four months later, NYPD recruit Claribel Polanco, a mother of two, allegedly committed welfare fraud. Too poor to pay his electric bill, Officer Patrick Venetek of Brooklyn was cleaning his gun in the dark when it accidentally went off in February. The bullet struck an 18-month-old boy in the apartment below. -with Alison Gendar and Kerry Burke in New York and Edgar Sandoval in Muhlenberg, Pa.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The New York Post by FREDRIC U. DICKER, State Editor

April 10, 2008 -- ALBANY - State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo yesterday named former Queens District Attorney Michael Armstrong and former US Attorney Robert Fiske as special advisers in the probe of possible political espionage by the New York State Police.

"They have decades of experience and wisdom investigating corruption at the highest levels of government," said Cuomo, who was tapped by Gov. Paterson last week to conduct a criminal investigation of the State Police. Paterson took his action amid reports that several legislators - and the governor himself - believed they had been the targets of a State Police information-gathering effort and in the wake of new Dirty Tricks Scandal revelations. In that scandal last year, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer authorized the State Police to gather damaging information on Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer).

Paterson fired Acting State Police Superintendent Preston Felton, a Spitzer appointee, within days of taking office last month. Armstrong, chairman of the Commission to Combat Police Corruption, was chief counsel to the Knapp Commission in its probe of tainted NYPD cops in 1970. Fiske, who served as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation involving President Bill Clinton in 1994, headed New York's Southern District from 1976 to 1980.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NYPD won't charge some accused cops

The New York Daily News by TINA MOORE - April 8, 2008

Department records show that of the 296 cases substantiated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, more than a third were closed because police officials refused to file charges. By comparison, just 3.3% of cases were rejected by the department advocate's office of the NYPD in 2006, 2.3% in 2005, 2.9% in 2004, 0.8% in 2003 and 3.9% in 2002, the records show. "This dramatic increase in the cases the NYPD is dumping clearly signals to the public and the CCRB that the department now believes it is free to ignore police misconduct," said Christopher Dunn, associate director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. NYPD officials said the increase could be attributed to more stringent standards when selecting cases to prosecute and the changing nature of the complaints.

"Many times the CCRB will substantiate allegations based solely on the civilian's version without any corroboration," Julie Schwartz, deputy commissioner of the department advocate's office, said in an e-mail. She said a growing number of the complaints were being generated by cops involved in more subjective stop-and-frisk cases. "This coincides with a dramatic decrease in the substantiated allegations of force, less than 2% in 2007, that are easier to prove," Schwartz wrote. One rejected case centered on Abubakar Dukuray, who said he was behind a Brooklyn bakery where he works tinkering with his car in July 2006 when cops pulled up and asked him to prove he owned the vehicle.

The 37-year-old immigrant from Sierra Leone said he displayed his keys and explained that he removed the plates after the 1993 Mitsubishi broke down. He didn't have the registration or title at hand, he said. "I'm not a thief. I work here," Dukuray said he told the cop who wanted to frisk him. "I've been working here 10 years." Minutes later, the cops handcuffed Dukuray and sprayed him in the face with Mace, he alleged later in a complaint. Dukuray was never charged. The civilian review board recommended the cops face discipline for physical force and improper use of pepper spray, a source familiar with the case said. The NYPD didn't prosecute.

Schwartz said since 2005, her office has been pursuing cases with a good chance of being successful. She said that has resulted in "a severe decline in the number of cases that need to be dismissed later or result in not guilty findings." Still, records show the percentage of convictions has dropped. The office won nine guilty verdicts out of 44 cases tried last year.

That 20% success rate was down from about 30% in past years, when roughly twice as many cases were tried. The NYPD data also show that the department meted out less serious discipline last year than in the previous five years. Of 171 cops who were disciplined as a result of CCRB cases last year, 163 were hit with a letter or command discipline - typically a loss of vacation days. Eight received more serious discipline - down from 17 in 2006 and 56 in 2004.

CCRB Chairwoman Franklin Stone said the department should try more cases. "The best way to resolve disputes of fact such as these is to put the case before an administrative judge, rather than dismiss them outright," she said. Dukuray still seethes over his experience. "I never thought something like this would happen to me in America," he said.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Former N.J. Official Charged In Plot To Murder Wife

WNBC.COM by Jonathan Dienst - April 3&4, 2008

NEWARK, N.J. -- A former New Jersey public official serving time for municipal corruption was charged Thursday with trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife, authorities said.

Richard Kaplan, 58, a former city construction inspector and zoning officer for New Brunswick, was accused of trying to orchestrate an elaborate murder-for-hire plot while behind bars. Kaplan allegedly wanted a hitman to kill his wife in a staged car accident where the vehicle would be destroyed, authorities said.

"That's the end of that. ... So I'm killing two birds with one stone," Kaplan allegedly said, according to the FBI. Among the evidence against Kaplan, said the FBI, are an informant, handwritten letters and tapes showing his attempts to hire a killer.

"If we had not been tipped to this and had not pursued it aggressively, this is someone who was doing everything he could to try to find someone on the outside to kill his wife," said U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

While serving a 30-month prison sentence for accepting more than $30,000 in bribes, Kaplan allegedly asked a fellow inmate at the federal prison in Cumberland County to find someone to kill his wife, who was trying to divorce him, Christie said. The alleged hit man turned out to be an undercover federal agent, officials said.

They said Kaplan instructed his accountant in a letter to withdraw $2,000 -- an alleged down payment for the hitman, authorities said. He reputedly told his accountant, "I hire a private investigator to check up on my wife in case I need something on her for my divorce."

Longtime neighbors, who were already surprised by his corruption, are now stunned to hear of his latest alleged crime. "I'm shaky. I can't believe Richard would do this," said neighbor Martha McCormick.

Kaplan did not enter a plea when he appeared in Newark Federal Court and U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk ordered him held without bail. If convicted in this murder-for-hire scheme, Kaplan could face up to a decade more in prison, authorities said. His wife was not seen in the courtroom and could not be reached for comment.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


The New York Post by SUSAN EDELMAN

April 6, 2008 -- An ex-cop sold his old memo books on eBay - acknowledging that the daily logs may contain "sensitive information" on witnesses and crime victims. Retired Sgt. James Giordonello charged $30 or more for his official diaries, which he brashly touted as containing "the good, the bad, and . . . oh yeah, the ugly" of police work. "They capture all the details of all the events of a typical day at the office, except the cop's office is the street," Giordonello said in his sales pitch. "From shootings to missing children, car chases that end in crashes followed by foot pursuits . . . you can read all about it in THE MEMO BOOK," he wrote.

"If you are looking for a unique piece of NYPD memorabilia, you can't go wrong." "No two are exactly the same . . . Extremely rare: More rare than a lottery ticket!!!" A memo book purchased by The Post was a dry, cursory compilation of Giordonello's activities, down to his lunch breaks, in the 41st Precinct in The Bronx between Feb. 27 and June 13, 1990. The log lists the date, military time and a brief notation about the activity, using police codes such as "10-92" for arrest or "10-98" for resuming patrol. Most of the entries do not read like an episode of "NYPD Blue." A typical notation reads, "Visited 886 Home St. - padlocked."

Another entry reports "shots fired" at an address. He notes, "2 under," and "2 guns, spent shells & round & bulletproof vest recovered at scene. Area search for injured persons and damaged property; negative results." As a sergeant, Giordonello mainly names other cops he supervised. But several entries give names and addresses of citizens, including a woman and child "removed from intoxicated parent." The NYPD last week sent a "cease and desist" letter to eBay demanding it stop posting the NYPD logs, said spokesman Paul Browne. The auction site quickly complied, he said.

Browne said the NYPD forbids active officers to sell their memo books. State law also bans the dissemination of information obtained in the course of official duties, he said. The NYPD has not yet notified Giordonello directly that it had stopped the eBay sales. And Giordonello, 50, who lives in upstate Garrison, is still selling the books when asked directly. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Glenville police: 1 resigned, 1 charged

Glenville police: 1 resigned, 1 charged - Chief releases no details of what precipitated discipline
The Albany TImes Union by LAUREN STANFORTH - April 4, 2008

GLENVILLE -- A Glenville police officer has been charged with criminal mischief and another has resigned after an internal probe begun about three weeks ago by town police Chief Michael D. Ranalli.

Officer Chris Charnews was arrested by the department Thursday on one felony count of third-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. He allegedly shot out a streetlight with a "potato gun" and lit two boxes of road flairs on fire in the department parking lot.

Police said the two incidents did not involve members of the public. The department is seeking Charnews' termination. Officer Ed Casey quit Wednesday and no further action is pending, Ranalli said. "This administration has set a standard of respect and professionalism that must be adhered to at all times and if members fall below that standard they will be dealt with accordingly," according to a news release issued today.

"The current dispositions were not taken lightly but were made with the best interest of both the taxpayers of the town of Glenville and the Glenville Police Department in mind," the release states. "The integrity and professionalism of our department is of paramount importance and acts of misconduct will be handled aggressively and decisively."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Albany police probe sought

Council members urge state commission to look into department issues
The Albany Times Union by BRENDAN J. LYONS and TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writers - April 4, 2008

ALBANY -- Six members of the city Common Council have asked a state oversight commission to investigate a series of controversies involving allegations of misconduct and cover-ups within the Albany police force. In a letter dated March 17 that was received last week by the state Commission on Investigation (SIC), the council members, including President Shawn Morris, cited a "disturbing trend of improper behavior by some members of the Albany Police Department with inadequate or insufficient responses by police administration."

The letter was not presented to the entire 16-member council for endorsement because of concerns it would become mired in politics and never released, some members who signed it said. The six-member commission, headquartered in New York City, investigates allegations of public corruption, including misconduct within police forces statewide.

"The commission has received the letter and is reviewing it," said Steven A. Greenberg, a spokesman for the SIC. The timing of a decision on whether to take on the case "really depends on the complexity of the investigation, how much cooperation the commission receives or doesn't receive, and where the investigation leads," he added. The letter was signed by Morris and council members Dominick Calsolaro, Corey Ellis, Catherine Fahey, Carolyn McLaughlin and Barbara Smith.

Some of the cases cited by the elected leaders were gleaned from reports in the Times Union over the past eight months. They include the illegal purchase of dozens of machine guns by officers; the handling of an internal affairs investigation into the alleged cavity search of a Ravena woman during a traffic stop; and the discovery that misconduct complaints have been routinely withheld from a Citizens' Police Review Board. Police Chief James W. Tuffey said the department will cooperate with the SIC if it launches an investigation. "I do think there's a tinge of political thing here, but I'm bigger than that obviously," Tuffey said. "I don't think that politics and police mesh."

Tuffey said that he has not evaded the council's inquiries regarding the controversies. Still, some members have questioned the veracity of his statements. For instance, several council members said Tuffey wrongly led them to believe the department had recovered and destroyed all of the machine guns secretly purchased by officers years ago. The city has gone to court to prevent the Times Union from reviewing records related to the gun purchases. The chief said the council misunderstood his statements, and he has since acknowledged several of the guns are missing.

Tuffey said that despite those controversial incidents, he has made great strides in his first two years, including the impending installation of cameras in police cars, declining crime rates, a publicly accessible crime mapping system and a sharp increase in discipline of rogue officers. "These are good things that have made this organization more accountable," Tuffey said. Council President Pro Tempore Richard Conti said he respects the council members' decision to seek an outside review. But he cautioned that the council has a responsibility to conduct its own oversight of the department.

Last month, Conti and other council members challenged assertions by Tuffey and Mayor Jerry Jennings that the department may withhold certain internal affairs complaints from the police review board. Tuffey has since proposed a measure to allow the board to contact complainants who may not want review board oversight of their case. Some council members said he doesn't have that authority. "As one of the council members who participated in drafting the 2000 law, I have been clear in my position that this interpretation is contrary to the plain meaning of the law," Conti said. "I urge city officials to comply with the law as enacted."

The Common Council has authority to conduct investigations of Police Department issues, including subpoena power to solicit sworn testimony and obtain internal police documents. But the council has never mustered enough votes to invoke its subpoena powers because of political allegiances to the mayor's administration, several council members said. Jennings did not respond to requests for comment.

Smith, who represents part of Arbor Hill and is vice chair of the council's Public Safety Committee, characterized the request for an outside investigation as a way to obtain answers and not a slap at Tuffey. "Chief Tuffey has made vast improvements to the department," Smith said. "But there's something historically systematic and bigger than any one individual because it's about a kind of system failure as far as what does the department do in response to issues of misconduct." Ellis said there is a perception that the department's internal affairs investigations are not objective.

"There is no other option but for there to be an outside agency looking at the many concerns surrounding our Police Department," he said. "The Police Department should not be investigating itself." Council member Michael O'Brien, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said he declined to sign the letter.

"I think Tuffey inherited a bad situation from (former Chief) John Nielsen," he said. "My bottom line is I was more inclined to give the chief some more time. I think he is a reformer. I think he's got a big can of worms to reform.... I think he is trying to make the Police Department more professional and trying to address the problem children in it." Council member James Sano said he was not asked to sign the letter, even though the council met in caucus Wednesday night. "Right now it seems premature and political," he said. "There are issues there, and I think the chief is addressing them. It's all disturbing stuff that has to be dealt with."

Asking for an outside investigation indicates a lack of confidence in both the city's Citizens' Police Review Board and the council's Public Safety Committee, Sano said. "The Citizens' Police Review Board is supposed to be the body. Have we thrown that to the wind now?" he said. "A couple of months down the road, if it seems like we're getting nowhere and nothing is happening, I could understand."

Brendan J. Lyons can be reached at 454-5547 or by e-mail at

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The New York Post by FREDRIC U. DICKER

April 3, 2008 -- ALBANY - Investigators for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo have been inundated with "dozens and dozens" of tips alleging a wide range of improper conduct - including political spying - by renegade members of the State Police, it was learned yesterday.

Among the tips were claims that members of a special State Police squad that guarded then-Govs. George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer carried out personal missions for high-level state officials - including the transportation of private cars, relatives and private supplies, a source said.

Such private services for public officials could be "imputed income" for income-tax purposes and could form the basis of tax-evasion charges, the source said. Other tips focused on the Dirty Tricks Scandal, in which Spitzer and several top aides used the State Police to dig up dirt on Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer). "There are so many tips that it's going to take quite awhile to sort them out ," said a source.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


The New York Post by KENNETH LOVETT, Post Correspondent - April 2, 2008

ALBANY - In another bizarre twist to the Dirty Tricks Scandal, a state commission yesterday announced it will "investigate the investigations" - including those by Albany DA David Soares - into whether Gov. Spitzer and his top aides misused the State Police to smear a political rival.

The State Investigations Commission said it will look into the handling of the different probes by Soares, who has been heavily criticized for issuing two contradictory reports, as well as the Spitzer-controlled state Public Integrity Commission and Spitzer-appointed state Inspector General Kristine Hamann. Armed with subpoena power, the commission will seek to talk directly with Soares, who was a Democratic political ally of Spitzer, Hamann and Public Integrity Commission Executive Director Herb Teitelbaum, SIC Chairman Alfred Lerner said. All three have come under varying degrees of criticism for possibly looking to protect Spitzer.

"The commission is not investigating the events concerning Troopergate . . . rather, the commission is investigating the investigations. We are seeking to determine the efficacy of the various investigatory efforts." Soares originally did not put anyone under oath and last September came out with a report clearing Spitzer and his aides of any criminal or ethical wrongdoing in trying to smear Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. But last week Soares released another report that contradicted the previous one by showing that Spitzer and his aides plotted against Bruno.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chicago's crooked cop


On a gloomy winter day in 1983, two gunmen ambushed a businessman named Allen Dorfman as he walked across a hotel parking lot in suburban Chicago. The city's infamous Outfit mob might as well have left a calling card. The killers pumped seven shots into Dorfman's head. It was a classic gangland whacking.

Dorfman, 60, had been a lieutenant of International Brotherhood of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. He got rich as proprietor of the union's murky pension funds but had been convicted of bribery a month before his murder. Facing life in prison, he was rumored to be cutting a deal to implicate both Teamsters and gangsters.

Chicago gumshoes stifled a yawn over the rubout. It was an occupational hazard murder, like a drug deal gone bad. But one detail stopped cops cold. In Dorfman's little black book, investigators found the name of Bill Hanhardt, chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department. Hanhardt was a Windy City legend for his devilish ability to think like a criminal. He had collared dozens of hard-to-find perps, including several cop killers.

A Chicago cop since 1953, Hanhardt was seen as a bridge between old-school, sap-carrying policing and more enlightened modern methods. By reputation, he was as brainy as Inspector Morse, as leathery as Kojak, as passionate as Detective Sipowicz. But was he honest? Questions about mob connections had dogged Hanhardt for much of his career, even as he was being promoted to sensitive command positions.

Disgrace? What disgrace?

In 1979, Hanhardt was booted down to the traffic squad after he was accused of playing footsy with mobsters who ruled the city's corrupt downtown ward. Yet, just months later, he was promoted to being chief of detectives by Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek after the election of Mayor Jane Byrne. Even after his name turned up in Dorfman's black book, Hanhardt was allowed to enjoy the twilight of his police career as a district commander.

In 1986, while still on the job, he acted as a defense witness in the Nevada conspiracy trial of Anthony Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit's man in Las Vegas. Hanhardt's testimony helped discredit one of the mobster's key accusers. A few months later, he was feted by Byrne and hundreds of others at an elaborate retirement banquet. Hanhardt seemed to ride off into the sunset with a wink and a snicker. He was hired as a consultant to the TV drama "Crime Story." In 1995, author Richard Lindberg asked him to ruminate on his career as a cop. His reply dripped with cynicism.

"You knew that you're going to get screwed over eventually, so you went into the game with that thought in mind," Hanhardt said. "You got a wife. You got kids. So you got to think about the future, right? But I never liked thinking about the future. I liked to live for the moment."

Retired cop, active thief

Hanhardt retired to a handsome home in the suburbs, but he stayed busy in his dotage. In October 2000, he was indicted as the leader of a band of thieves who stole $5 million in jewelry over 12 years beginning in 1984, while he was still a top cop. Hanhardt fenced the goods through friends in the outfit.

His gang "surpasses in duration and sophistication just about any other jewelry theft ring we've seen," said prosecutor Scott Lassar. It seemed Hanhardt was able to think like a criminal because he was one.

He used techniques he learned as commander of the police burglary squad to devise diabolically clever thefts. He tapped active cop friends and private detectives for leads on potential victims, targeting gem salesmen traveling with valises of valuable samples.

In some cases they simply tailed a salesman and broke into his vehicle: such jobs included a $300,000 gem theft in Wisconsin in 1984, $500,000 worth of Rolex watches in California in 1986, and jewelry thefts of $125,000 in Ohio in 1989, and $1 million in Michigan and $240,000 in Minnesota in 1993.

Unsafe deposit boxes

The gang sometimes used the old spy scam of swapping identical bags with a salesman - a trick that netted $1 million worth of diamonds in Dallas in 1992 from a representative of J. Schliff and Son, a W. 48th St. jeweler.

Hanhardt's biggest score came in 1994. For two months before a gem wholesalers show at a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, a gang member checked in under the name Sol Gold and asked to store valuables in the hotel's safe-deposit boxes, which were in a secure room behind the front desk.

He systematically copied the keys until Hanhardt was able to create a master passkey. One night during the gem show, a desk clerk allowed "Mrs. Sol Gold" unsupervised access to the room. The safe-deposit boxes of eight gem dealers were relieved of some $2 million in valuables. The jig was up when the woman went from accomplice to spurned wife and informed on the gang to the FBI. City officials stammered to explain how Hanhardt managed to prosper as a cop and crook.

"The only thing I ever heard about him was good things," ex-Mayor Byrne told reporters. "I know that he had an illustrious career," said his ex-police boss Brzeczek. "A lot of people knew him. He knew a lot of people. But I don't have any evidence whatsoever of him being mob-connected."

But the federal government had plenty of evidence, including 1,307 incriminating phone calls collected during a yearlong wiretap on his home phone. For two years, cops and mobsters wondered whether Hanhardt would go to trial and give a public airing to his double life.

Bad cop, good cop. But he pleaded guilty in 2002. He was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and packed away to a Minnesota prison for a 12-year sentence.

As they waved goodbye, Hanhardt's kin still viewed him as his good-cop mirage. His son-in-law, Michael Kertez, called Hanhardt "probably the most wonderful detective in the history of Chicago." Now 79, the disgraced top snoop faces a life behind bars until at least 2012.