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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fiends armed with badge of shame

The New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR - DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF - August 12, 2008

Fake badges were allegedly obtained by felons, including accused murderer Darryl Littlejohn.
It's the dis-honor roll. Accused murderer Darryl Littlejohn. Gunpoint robber Israel Suarez. Molester Darryl Rich.

Those are just some of the criminals who graduated from a bounty hunter school accused of aiding and abetting felons by putting fake NYPD and federal badges in their hands. Students of U.S. Recovery Bureau schools paid $860 to learn how to wield a baton and subdue "fugitives" with pepper spray and cuffs. They were also equipped with realistic-looking badges - design knockoffs of shields from the Police Department and various federal agencies. "The badge has been a symbol of the lawman for hundreds of years," said John Ulianko, regional director for the Federal Protective Service, which helped expose the U.S. Recovery Bureau badge mill. "People see a badge and they think, this person is here to help. Instead, fake badges are landing in the hands of criminals. This school is just a tiny tip of the problem," said Ulianko, whose agency safeguards federal buildings. When his agents and the NYPD's police impersonation squad busted the U.S. Recovery Bureau's founders last month, they seized lists of the school's graduates - a real-life rogues' gallery. There was Littlejohn, also known as Johnny Handsome, an ex-con later accused of raping and killing graduate student Imette St. Guillen in 2006.

Littlejohn met St. Guillen at a Manhattan bar where he worked as a bouncer. He was hired because the owners bought his story that he was a "fugitive enforcement agent" with federal training and a shiny badge. He also posed as a law enforcer on Oct. 19, 2005, when he allegedly kidnapped a 19-year-old York College student as she walked home in Queens. The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office charged school founders Ralph Rios and Robert Neves, an ex-NYPD detective, with conspiring to dole out the phony badges at their schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Passaic, N.J. Of the schools' 943 graduates, 78 were convicted felons, authorities said. One diploma recipient was Suarez, a professional "bounty hunter" who robbed New Jersey gas stations at gunpoint in his spare time. Then there was Rich, of Jamaica, Queens, who graduated from the U.S. Recovery Bureau in spite of a 1995 sodomy arrest. Another happy customer was Michael Quinones of Brooklyn, who was busted in 2006 after he manhandled a customer at the clothing warehouse where he worked security. "You can't do this to me! I just came into the store," the hapless customer said as Quinones grabbed him around the neck and slammed him against a gate. "I can do whatever I want," Quinones said, according to court records, as he lifted his shirt to display a "Fugitive Recovery Bureau" badge and what the victim thought was a gun. "I am a f---ing cop!"

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