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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Former Georgetown police officer gets 10 years

By: News 8 Austin Staff -- September 26, 2008

AUSTIN, TEXAS-Former Georgetown police officer Jimmy Fennell was sentenced Friday to two years on charges of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and 10 years in prison for kidnapping. Fennell waived a jury trial and pleaded guilty last week. The Williamson County District Attorney said "a rogue officer was punished for serious crimes. He will never again hold a peace officer's license." The judge only took a few minutes to make his decision and tell Fennell he had shamed his department and his family, and he had shaken the public trust in the police department, and therefore he would receive the maximum punishment. Fennell pleaded guilty in May to felony charges of kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

The charges come from an Oct. 26 incident in which Fennell responded to a domestic disturbance call at a woman's home. According to court documents, he forced the woman to go with him in his patrol car, dance for him and have sex with him. In his closing argument, Fennell's attorney reminded the judge that Fennell's convictions were for improper sexual conduct with a person in custody and for kidnapping, implying the sexual conduct was consensual. "You all should stop reporting that Jimmy Fennell was convicted of raping a woman; the rape charge was dismissed today," Fennell's attorney Bob Phillips said. "Within minutes of getting there she decided that maybe this hadn't happened after all and she started recanting." Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said the victim recanted because Fennell was the supervising officer on the scene of his own crime. "Jimmy Fennell orchestrated a situation that put this victim in a position of fear of being killed," Bradley said.

Bradley said this case was not strong enough to undoubtedly win a trial, due to bad investigative work on behalf of the Georgetown Police Department. He hinted at corruption in the department, which led to Fennell being put in charge of his own investigation, allowing him to alter evidence to protect himself. Bradley said Fennell told dispatchers not to make a computer entry on the case, failed to write any reports and consulted officers about speaking with his accuser. "This victim wasn't treated like the victim of a sexual assault, she was treated like someone who needed to shut up and stop complaining," Bradley said. But Fennell's attorney said there's a story behind Fennell that only a trial could have told. "You look at Jimmy Fennell's booking photo; he looks like a monster doesn't he, but when I got to know Jimmy Fennell, is a gentle decent human being," Fennell's attorney said. The victim also filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Minneapolis cop admits sharing confidential info

Minneapolis cop admits sharing confidential info with informant; lawyer alleges entrapment Roberts' lawyer alleges officer was entrapped
By David Hanners -

A Minneapolis policeman admitted to the FBI that he twice provided confidential information to an informant posing as a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, according to a copy of the officer's statement filed in federal court. In the April interview, Michael David Roberts, a 28-year veteran of the police department, told the agents that he knew that what he had done was wrong and illegal — and that it also was wrong to accept $200 the informant offered after Roberts provided the information. "I knew it was stupid, unethical and illegal to take the money," Roberts said in the signed statement. A separate report written by the two FBI agents who questioned Roberts hints at a wider investigation into corruption in the police department and notes Roberts refused to cooperate with any such inquiry.

"Do you guys honestly believe that I would ever give you that type of information?" the agents quote Roberts as telling them. The agents wrote that Roberts claimed he knew of no wrongdoing within the department. Also, "Roberts stated that he would not cooperate with the FBI in wiring up against any other police officers that the FBI believes may be involved in misconduct," the agents wrote in their report. "Wiring up" is law enforcement slang for equipping an informant with a recording device. Roberts' statement and the FBI report were among six exhibits introduced at a pre-trial hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan;they were entered into the court file Wednesday. A federal grand jury indicted Roberts, 58, in July on two counts of deprivation of honest services wire fraud and a single count of unauthorized access to a protected computer. His trial is set to begin Nov. 3.


F. Clayton Tyler, the attorney representing Roberts, said he intends to show that federal agents entrapped the veteran police officer. "The government set this whole thing up, set my client up, lied to him, trapped him, entrapped him," Tyler said. "No matter what they say and what the reports say, and no matter what he said in his statement to them, it doesn't matter. If it wasn't for the government's involvement, he wouldn't be here. It's the government who started this.

"My client didn't look for this guy," Tyler said of the informant. "My client didn't ask for any money. The government set all this up." Working for the FBI, Taylor Winthorpe Trump, 47, posed as a member of the Gangster Disciples and met with Roberts twice in August 2007. At the time, Trump was under federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Less than a year later, federal prosecutors again charged Trump — this time with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Prosecutors say he was the mastermind of a mortgage-fraud scheme that may have defrauded people out of as much as $2.5 million. A week after he was charged in the fraud case, Trump signed a plea deal with prosecutors agreeing to "cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the prosecution of and in the investigation of other suspects." If prosecutors determine Trump has provided "substantial assistance," the government will ask that he get a reduced sentence.

He pleaded guilty to the cocaine charge and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Details of the plea bargain — including whether he agreed to cooperate with authorities — remain under seal in U.S. District Court. A report by FBI Special Agents David Kukura and Brian J. Kinney details the initial questioning of Roberts. The report says they had gotten Minneapolis police inspector Mike Martin to ask Roberts to deliver a package of documents to the FBI's Minneapolis office. When Roberts arrived at the office, though, Kukura took him into a conference room and told him they wanted to ask him about an investigation they were working on. The investigation, however, focused on Roberts himself. The agents said they asked him if he knew Trump, and when he replied that he didn't, Kukura showed him a portion of a video the FBI had secretly recorded Aug. 9, 2007, when Roberts met with Trump. Roberts explained he knew Trump only by the name "Valache," the report said; "Taylor Valachi" is one of the aliases that state records show Trump has used.


Agents filmed the video across the street from Pizza Luce in Minneapolis, where Roberts worked an off-duty job. The agents wrote in their report that the video shows Roberts using his police radio and that they later determined that he'd asked a police dispatcher to determine the owner of a particular car license plate. Roberts admitted making the radio call, but said he did so because Trump had said the owner of the car had tried to kill him, the agents wrote. The policeman said Trump handed him $100 "while telling Roberts to go out to dinner," the agents wrote. "Roberts stated that he did not feel comfortable taking this money from Trump but did not give it back to Trump." Roberts said that Ron Edwards, a longtime community activist who was then co-chair of the Police Community Relations Council, was dining at the restaurant at the time. Roberts spoke to Edwards about the incident and told Edwards that he couldn't keep the money. "Roberts stated that he gave the $100 to Edwards, who took the money and kept it," the FBI report says. Edwards could not be reached for comment Thursday. The agents also showed Roberts part of a video they filmed Aug. 14 in which Roberts used the computer in his squad car to look up a police report, then showed the report to Trump, who was sitting in the car. The report involved a man Trump claimed was trying to kill him. Roberts said that after Trump read the report, Trump handed him another $100.

"After viewing the video clips, Roberts admitted that he did something stupid, and stated, 'If I need to be charged, then charge me,' " the agents' report notes. Roberts said he told a fellow officer that Trump had given him $100, and the officer told him that Trump was a drug dealer and that Roberts would have to write a report about the incident and have the money inventoried in the department's property room. The policeman filed a report about his meeting with Trump but didn't turn in the money. He said that afterwards, he began to suspect that Trump had been working as an informant and was trying to set him up. He told the FBI agents that he considered coming up with five $20 bills to turn in to the property room but didn't because he figured the money Trump had given him had been marked by the FBI so it could be identified later. A week after Roberts gave the statement, Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan put the officer on paid suspension. Police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia III said Thursday the department wouldn't comment on the newly filed documents but said Roberts remained on suspension. David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The New York Post by KATI CORNELL - September 25, 2008

A man charged with selling cocaine in Brooklyn is set to walk free after a federal judge tossed out key evidence against him, finding that law officers lied to cover up an improper arrest and search. "I find the officers' chronicle . . . a complete fabrication," Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote. He signaled he could order a perjury investigation. The two US Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force officers testified that they arrested Edgar Matos after seeing him drop two bags of cocaine. Matos said his apartment was searched without his permission.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New York policeman admits sexual contact with teen

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - September 26, 2008

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - A former police sergeant who is married to a television news anchor admitted in court Friday that he used his authority to have sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl. Ex-Sgt. David Rodriguez pleaded guilty to official misconduct. His wife, Darlene Rodriguez, did not accompany him to court, and was seen on WNBC-TV Friday morning. After her husband was charged in March, she said, "I'm here to support my husband. I believe in him. I love him. He's innocent 100 percent." Rodriguez was among the officers who arrested the girl's boyfriend on a domestic violence charge on Feb. 8. She claimed he returned later, alone and off-duty, and raped her. Rodriguez replied "yes" when asked in court if he used his authority to go to the girl's home to have sexual contact with her. His attorney, Stephen Worth, told reporters afterward: "There was never intercourse." "As we said all along this was never a rape case," said Worth. He said Rodriguez resigned from the New Rochelle force last week. Under the plea bargain, Rodriguez was given a one-year conditional discharge, which is similar to probation, and ordered to stay away from the teen for five years. "Today Mr. Rodriguez did what was best for his family," said Worth, adding that the deal "allows everyone to move on with their lives."

NYPD investigates two cops in Taser death of naked man

NYPD investigates two officers in Taser death of naked Brooklyn man

Two NYPD officers are under investigation in the death of a disturbed Brooklyn man who toppled from a ledge after he was shot with a Taser stun gun. The incident appeared to have violated department guidelines, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said. The lieutenant who ordered the fatal zapping of Inman Morales was stripped of his gun, shield and placed on desk duty Thursday. The police officer who actually fired the Taser was also put on desk duty but kept his gun and badge. Both officers will be interviewed by the Brooklyn District Attorney, a regular part of any police-related shooting or death. Naked and perched on a ledge outside his Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment, Morales was wielding a flourescent light bulb like a Star Wars light sabre when cops confronted him on Wednesday afternoon. "As an ESU officer was in the process of securing himself on the second-floor fire escape, Morales jabbed at him," Browne said. Instead of waiting for backup to arrive with an airbag that would have broken his fall, "an ESU lieutenant directed another ESU officer on the sidewalk to employ a Conducted Energy Device (CED), commonly known as a Taser, against Morales, who fell to the sidewalk, striking his head," Browne said. Browne said police regulations "specifically state that 'when possible, the CED should not be used … in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface.'" Morales, 35, fell 10 feet and landed headfirst on the pavement. He was declared dead at Kings County Hospital. "It just wasn't a smart move. When you Taser someone, they drop like a stone. No muscle control. Under regular circumstances, the (suspect) could have jumped himself and been OK," a police source said. Neighbors said Morales' mother called the cops after her son "freaked out" earlier in the day. When they arrived at his door, he refused to let them in and then crawled naked on to the fire escape and tried to force his way into a neighbor's apartment. When that failed, Morales crawled down the fire escape while screaming "You're gonna kill me!" Finally, Morales stepped onto a 2-foot wide metal top of a rolldown security gate and ripped an 8-foot-long light bulb from the business' sign. When Morales started swinging it at the officers, he was stunned by a 5,000 volt charge of electricity. "He froze and pitched forward," witness Ernestine Croom said. "They didn't put out a mattress or net or anything."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ex-Police Chief and Drug Deals

AG: Kaczmarek talked deals, cover-up with drug dealer
The Albany Times Union by LAUREN STANFORTH , SKIP DICKSTEIN and PAUL NELSON- September 25, 2008

SCHENECTADY -- Ex-Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek used coded messages to discuss deals with the leader of a major drug operation -- and then when police seized a drug shipment from the operation advised the dealer to cover his tracks by getting a new hideout and cell phone number, according to the attorney general's office. Kerry Kirkem, the admitted ringleader, also directed an underling to deliver "good, chunky bags of cocaine,'' to Kaczmarek since the drugs were for "the Chief,'' according to a 12-count indictment accusing Kaczmarek and his wife of involvement in the Long Island-to-Schenectady drug ring.

The indictment, unsealed in Schenectady County court this morning, charges Kaczmarek with second-degree conspiracy, as well as drug possession and intent to sell, four months after his wife, Lisa, was charged with similar crimes in relation to the drug ring. Kaczmarek was arraigned in court this morning, along with his wife on a new indictment, which charges them both six drug-related counts. They face 8 1/2 to 25 years in prison if convicted of the conspiracy charge. Lisa Kaczmarek released on her previous $10,000 cash bail, and the ex-chief immediately posted $10,000 bail. "It is shocking to all of us that a former police chief is alleged to have been intricately involved in a narcotics ring. But no one is above the law,'' said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a statement. The investigation was helmed by the Attorney General's office and and the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team. Four months after bailing his wife out of jail on a similar charge, Kaczmarek faced arraignment in connection with the ring. The Kaczmareks arrrived hand-in-hand at the Schenectady County Courthouse for arraignment in connection with a state drug investigation that has also led to the arrest of his step son, and more than 20 other people. They said nothing as they walked into the courthouse.

Kaczmarek, who served as police chief from 1996 to 2002, has been haunted by charges that he used drugs. When Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski appointed him chief, Kaczmarek met with reporters to refute rumors that he used cocaine. The Kaczmareks have acknowledged being friends with Kerry "Slim" Kirkem, the now admitted co-leader of a Long Island-to-Schenectady drug pipeline smashed by state officials after a 13-month probe into the inner workings of the operation. Kirkem has pleaded guilty, signed a sealed cooperation agreement with investigators and awaits sentencing. His partner, Oscar Mora, is serving time for his role in the drug syndicate. Investigators say the couple met with Kirkem after drug agents secretly removed cocaine and heroin from the trunk of a car driven by Misty Gallo, a drug "mule'' for Kirkem's operation. And telephone calls secretly recorded by the state detail phone calls between Kirkem and Lisa Kaczmarek, with the ex-chief allegedly joking in the background. The New York Attorney General's office largely built its case on hours of wiretap conversations of members of the gang who either ferried, sold, or monitored stash houses where the drugs were kept. In February, Lisa Kaczmarek was allegedly captured on one of those secret recordings pleading with Kirkem to make the trip downstate to get cocaine for her husband's upcoming birthday.

Records show Lisa Kaczmarek used a cellphone registered to her husband to call Kirkem and urge him to drive to Long Island to bring back a shipment of cocaine, according to the wiretap transcripts. Gregory Kaczmarek can be heard in the background joking and joining in the conversation as his wife, in apparent desperation, urged Kirkem to make the trip. "Why we got to wait so long?" Lisa Kaczmarek asked. "Greg's got a birthday Wednesday." At that point, according to state authorities, Gregory Kaczmarek can be heard in the background saying: "That's my birthday present." Four minutes later, at 12:53 p.m., Lisa Kaczmarek dialed Kirkem's number again and State Police investigators monitoring Kirkem's calls listened in as she suggested her husband could make the drive. "Oh, no, he's not gonna see nobody else," Kirkem responded. "Yeah, well, you don't trust Greg?" she asked. "They definitely ain't gonna do that," Kirkem said, as the conversation continued. "This is Long Island we talkin' about, you talking about a white guy going into the black, you buggin'." According to the wiretap documents, Kaczmarek can be heard in the background laughing and stating: "I'll show him the badge."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Easton police: New blood, direction

Rebirth: The force emerges from scandals younger, more determined.
Of The Morning Call by Michael Duck - September 21, 2008

Scandal after scandal has battered Easton's police department in the last decade, from police brutality lawsuits to internal fights and the accidental shooting death of an officer inside headquarters. Now, the department's reputation and future depends on a crew of officers in their 20s. More than a third of Easton's 56 police officers have three years of experience or less, and about half of the department has five years or less, Chief Larry Palmer said. Similar inexperience in Allentown's police force has drawn criticism from Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, who has said the city's young investigations department is taking a longer time to solve crimes. In a July op-ed piece in The Morning Call, he warned of a ''disastrous loss of experience to the police force.'' But in Easton, officials and observers said the city's infusion of young officers has energized the police force while flushing out elements that were poisoning it. ''What I'm seeing is enthusiasm,'' said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli. ''This department is definitely on the rebound.'' Skilled supervisors can use new recruits to help turn a department around, said Doug Ward, director of Johns Hopkins University's academic Division of Public Safety Leadership.

''If you have a history of corruption or a history of use-of-force problems -- if those are ingrained into the organizational culture -- one of the best ways to break those is to bring in new blood,'' Ward said. The Easton force's problems have made the department a magnet for lawsuits. The city and its insurance company paid out more than $5 million to settle police brutality lawsuits from 2001 to 2005. Palmer had been the chief from 1997 to 2003, when those incidents happened. Nearly a year ago, two former officers brought sex and race discrimination cases against Easton in federal court -- the city won the race case and agreed to settle the sex discrimination suit last month for $90,000. And earlier this month, another former officer alleged that Easton police used excessive force when arresting him for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. The city is still in talks to settle a $20 million wrongful death suit brought by the widow of officer Jesse Sollman, who was accidentally shot and killed by officer Matthew Renninger in March 2005. Renninger is also suing the city, over his retirement benefits. Amidst the fallout from the shooting, an unidentified Easton officer posted a ''rat list'' of fellow officers in police headquarters in September 2005. Though leaders of the police union dismissed it as locker-room humor, city officials described it as intimidation. ''I call it 'The Dark Ages,''' said Palmer, who was reappointed as chief in 2006. ''You really don't look forward to coming to work'' under those circumstances.

Part of the force's problem was a cadre of veteran officers who protected each other while resisting changes, said Easton resident and activist Dennis Lieb, who had been involved in the Weed and Seed program. ''The sooner they all leave, the better the city will be,'' said Lieb, a frequent critic of city officials. Though Lieb still doesn't count on police to solve the city's crime problems, ''I do feel that the newer cops are better than the ones we had before.'' he said. ''They're more courteous, they seemingly are more interested in the problems I have.'' The four officers who joined the force this year include the department's only current female officer, 25-year-old Jada Roderick, and its only current Hispanic officer, 39-year-old Diego Santiago. The new recruits speak glowingly of their superiors, and though they've only read about the department's problems, they understand they must be part of the solution. ''The department is definitely going for the better,'' said 23-year-old officer Ryan Boorstein. The new officers' energy is also rubbing off on the veterans, said Capt. Michael Vangelo. Unlike in past years, two thirds of the department has used just one or no sick days this year, he said. Morganelli has praised the department's young investigators for turning up new leads in old cases.

''We're training our police officers better than ever now,'' Morganelli said, compared to the training veteran officers received 20 or 30 years ago. ''That makes up for some of the lack of experience.'' Two years after the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association labeled the force an ''agency in crisis,'' the group in 2007 awarded Easton police accreditation. Some Easton veterans began leaving because of early retirement offers in 2005, Palmer said. But unlike Allentown, where a generous retirement plan has prompted 78 officers to leave since 2005, Easton's relatively small department has been building up its numbers slowly. That's allowed officials to be selective in picking new recruits, Palmer said. Still, bad judgment is a risk. Earlier this year, rookie Easton officer John Alestas, 23, slammed his personal car into a convenience store after a night of drinking with fellow off-duty officers. He was fined for speeding and careless driving and later quit. Even when rookie officers are on the job, ''They make more mistakes when they're young, so you need better supervision,'' Ward said, referring especially to their first car chases and major investigations. ''Obviously, it's a balance,'' he added. But ''if you want to change your organizationÂ…you want to bring new people in and keep them wanting to save the world for as long as possible.''

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Agent Seen As Mob Gang Insider

FBI's Connolly Was 'Taking Care Of Us'
By EDMUND H. MAHONY - Courant Staff Writer - September 24, 2008

MIAMI — For 15 years, some of the most feared gangsters in Boston said ex- FBI agent John Connolly took care of them. In fact, they said, he was part of the gang. They said he leaked them law enforcement intelligence that enabled them to kill three potential witnesses — two of whom could have implicated their Winter Hill Gang in a conspiracy to obtain a foothold in the U.S. jai alai gambling industry. It was only fitting, one of those gangsters testified Tuesday, that the Winter Hill Gang do something for Connolly when he retired from the FBI in 1990 and accepted a six-figure position with a Massachusetts utility company. "We gave him a $10,000 retirement bonus," Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi said Tuesday. As it turned out, Connolly's support of the Winter Hill Gang didn't end with his retirement, Flemmi said during his second day as a principal prosecution witness in Connolly's trial on murder and conspiracy charges in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Flemmi said Connolly moved into a condominium next door to James "Whitey" Bulger in the gang's home turf of South Boston and continued to work his network of FBI contacts to the gang's advantage. Connolly kept the gang up-to-date on developments in the jai alai case, Flemmi said, even though the case had been all but dead since August 1982, when the gang, acting on a Connolly tip, killed John B. Callahan, former president of World Jai Alai. Callahan was the last surviving witness likely to have linked Winter Hill to the murder of World Jai Alai president Roger Wheeler Sr. in May 1981. Connolly faces a life sentence if convicted in the Callahan murder. More important, Flemmi said Connolly kept the gang "apprised" of what, in the early 1990s, was an unusually secretive Massachusetts State Police and Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of the Winter Hill Gang. Connolly couldn't kill the investigation, but he could tip gang members in advance to the indictment, enabling them, as Flemmi said, to go "on the lam." It was a service Flemmi said Connolly had provided earlier to one of the gang members who was indicted in an East Coast horse-race-fixing case.

In late December 1994, Flemmi said Connolly alerted Bulger that there would be indictments in January. Bulger ran and remains at large. Despite repeated warnings, Flemmi didn't. He said he was ready; he had money in an account in the Cayman Islands and an apartment rented in Montreal. But he delayed and was arrested on Jan. 5, 1995, and has been in prison since. "I'll never forget the date," he testified Tuesday. Still, he said, Connolly continued to work for him. Flemmi said Connolly became a secret member of his defense team. Much of what Flemmi originally was indicted for in 1995 involved gambling and loan-sharking. Flemmi's lawyer began preparing what he called an authorization and immunity defense. He would argue that he was authorized to commit the crimes as an FBI informant and, therefore, should be given immunity from prosecution. Flemmi said Connolly began leaking FBI records to his defense team that tended to prove that Flemmi, on repeated occasions over a career in crime, was acting on the basis of information provided by the FBI. He also testified that Connolly was the author of a letter, purporting to be from three anonymous Boston detectives, to U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf in Boston, who was presiding over Flemmi's case.

The letter said the 1995 indictment was the result of a conspiracy by corrupt Massachusetts law enforcement officials. Bulger and Flemmi, the letter said, were indicted on the basis of fabricated evidence and illegal wire taps. The letter backfired. It became part of a body of evidence that prompted an extraordinary hearing in federal court in Boston. As a result of the findings from the hearings, gang members negotiated cooperation agreements with prosecutors under which they got relatively lenient sentences in return for their help in closing the books on dozens of unsolved murders. Connolly was charged with murder. Flemmi pleaded guilty to 10 murders and was sentenced to life plus 30 years. Even before the murders became part of the case, Flemmi said that neither Connolly nor any others among a half-dozen agents he said he paid over the years would testify in support of his defense — that many of the crimes he committed were in the service of law enforcement. At that point, Flemmi said his goal became "self-preservation." "John Connolly was aware that we were in business together for many years," Flemmi said. "I expected him to come forward and help me. I'm talking about him coming forward and admitting he was taking care of us for many years. John Connolly had ulterior motives himself. Self-preservation also applies to him. "Everyone was looking out for themselves," Flemmi said.

Connolly's principal defense lawyer, Manuel Casabielle, tried to pick Flemmi's testimony apart at midday Tuesday, when he began his cross-examination. But it was hard to tell who was ahead at the end of the day. Casabielle succeeded in getting Flemmi to admit that the Winter Hill Gang had dozens of police officers on the payroll, and he implied in his questions that law enforcement information could have been leaked by any of them. Much of the case against Connolly since the trial began Sept. 15 involves allegations that Connolly knew that the gang was using his leaked information to kill witnesses. Tuesday, Casabielle got Flemmi to concede he never discussed the murders with Connolly. Flemmi fired back that he didn't need to. "It was obvious from the information that people were killed," Flemmi said. "He gave us information, and we acted on the information, and we killed people." "Are you saying," Casabielle continued, "that you can read Mr. Connolly's mind?" "If he gives us information on one person," Flemmi said, "and that person gets killed. And if he gives us information on a second person, and that person gets killed. And if he gives us information on a third person, and that person gets killed — I mean, he's in the FBI. He's not a stupid person."  Contact Edmund H. Mahony at

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cops take his pot

Medical marijuana user says police took his pot
Associated Press - September 23, 2008

A medical marijuana user has filed a $1-million lawsuit against Seal Beach police for taking up to 50 of his pot plants and allegedly forcing him to become an informant. The Orange County Superior Court lawsuit filed last month by Bruce Benedict, 43, of Seal Beach, said he's a marijuana patient and caregiver who is allowed by California law to grow and distribute marijuana. Benedict alleged he called police because of illegal construction in his apartment building and officers smelled marijuana. County prosecutors refused to file charges so officers returned to Benedict's apartment later with federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents in tow, according to the suit. The pot was confiscated and Benedict was arrested. California law allows medical marijuana but federal law prohibits it. Benedict's suit said police officers asked him to move out of the city and become an informant in various drug matters. Benedict complied, alleging police told him he would face federal charges if he didn't work for them. The city has declined comment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Police Chief May End Culture of Corruption

Schenectady's first black police chief sworn in
Mark Chaires vows improvements for department
The Albany Times Union by LAUREN STANFORTH - September 18, 2008

SCHENECTADY -- The city's new police chief, Mark Chaires, jumped into his new postion at his swearing-in today, saying he'll begin programs that encourage community outreach preventative policing and faster response times. The 52-year-old city native also rejected the notion that his 19 years in the department mean he won't be able to tackle the corruption that has plagued the force. "The first message I want to tell citizens is we have the makings of an outstanding police department," he said, ``Trust me, I wouldn't lie to you." Mayor Brian U. Stratton administered the oath of office at an 11 a.m. ceremony attended by more than 100 people, including Chaires' mother Dorothy, wife Theresa and his extended family. Chaires' father, the late Arthur Chaires, was Schenectady's first black officer when he joined the department in 1952. The younger Chaires is the first African American to be chief. He served as an assistant chief since 2001. He was hired as a patrolman in 1988, after eight years in the Air Force. He graduated from the University at Albany, earned a master's degree from the Rockefeller College of Criminal Justice and is working toward a doctorate. When asked how he feels about being city's first black chief of police, Chaires, who is known for his dry wit, deadpanned it wasn't his first thought ``What hit me in the face,'' he said, "is that I have a budget due in a couple of weeks." Schenectady police protect a diverse city population, yet the department has struggled to recruit minorities and women.

Over the last 10 months of the candidate search, various community members have debated whether it would be a benefit to hire an outsider, considering the force's continued struggle with scandal. Chaires was up against another assistant chief, Michael Seber, and three outsiders for the job. One, a lieutenant from the Suffolk County Police Department, pulled himself out of contention this summer. The previous chief, Michael Geraci, was an outsider himself as a former Colonie police officer. Geraci, who started in 2002, retired in November, and moved on to a job with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Under Geraci's tenure former vice squad Detective Jeffrey Curtis was found stealing drug evidence. In the wake of Curtis' conviction, a Schenectady County grand jury report in November said the department had a culture of shrugging off supervision that encouraged internal corruption for years. Currently, three police officers are facing a misdemeanor official misconduct charge for not filing appropriate paperwork after being accused of beating a DWI suspect in December.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Police defend deal with hitman witness in Connolly trial

Police defend deal with hitman witness in Connolly trial
The Boston Globe by Shelley Murphy - September 19, 2008

MIAMI -- The former head of the Massachusetts State Police told a Florida jury today that investigators "had sleepless nights" after cutting a deal with a confessed hitman, but insisted it had to be done to solve numerous murders and uncover corruption by former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. and other law enforcement officers. "I don't feel good about it now,'' said Thomas J. Foley, referring to the deal that allowed John Martorano to go free last year after serving just 12 years for 20 murders. But, he said, the deal was necessary because without it, "we wouldn't have solved those homicides. We wouldn't have brought closure to those families'' or rooted out corruption. "If John Connolly and the FBI had done their job, we wouldn't have been in that situation," he later added.

The testimony comes on the fifth day of Connolly's trial on state murder charges that carry a possible life sentence. Connolly, 68, is accused of leaking sensitive information to his longtime informants, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, that prompted them to arrange the murder of Boston business consultant John B. Callahan. Martorano, who carried out the murder, is a key witness in the case. Callahan's bullet-riddled body was found in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami International Airport on Aug. 2, 1982. Yesterday, Martorano offered jurors a chilling account of how he killed his victims, including Callahan. A once-decorated agent, Connolly retired from the FBI in 1990 after 22 years. The jury considering his fate has not been told that Connolly is already serving 10 years in federal prison for his 2002 racketeering conviction for protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution and warning them to flee just before their indictment in 1995. The 79-year-old Bulger, now wanted in 19 murders, remains a fugitive on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, is cooperating with the government and is expected to take the stand against his former handler sometime next week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Austin police shedding tainted culture

Austin police shedding tainted culture
Austin American-Statesman EDITORIAL - September 20, 2008

Chief Acevedo has established higher standards of conduct for officers and is closing loopholes that permit bad officers to exploit the appeals system

When an arbitrator returned a fired Austin police officer to his job, he knowingly reinstated someone who had used excessive force against a mentally ill man at a bus stop. The case involving officer Gary Griffin has raised questions about the extent to which an officer can violate policies, procedures and professional standards and remain on the force. Though this case is surfacing now because Griffin has returned to work and is suing the city, it harks back to an administration and culture that emboldened officers who used force inappropriately and routinely returned them to their jobs when they violated policies. That culture is rapidly changing under Police Chief Art Acevedo. Policies under former chief Stan Knee and acting chief Cathy Ellison that left discipline largely up to the discretion of the chief fueled allegations of favoritism and inequitable treatment. In one situation, an officer who made false statements on official reports might get a slap on the wrist, while someone else who acted similarly might be fired. Hence, uneven discipline became a defense for returning violating officers to the department — even when their misconduct warranted termination.

Acevedo has established higher standards of conduct for officers and is closing loopholes that permit bad officers to exploit the appeals system. He has put into place a discipline matrix that spells out consequences for violations. Officers are required to attend training to ensure that they have read and understand disciplinary standards. He still has discretion, but punishment is consistent. Ultimately, that approach should reduce or eliminate reinstatements based on favoritism. Another factor that emboldened offending officers was a resistance by Knee to fire officers who used force inappropriately. In Griffin's case, the arbitrator concluded that Griffin's encounter with Joseph Cruz in 2006 did "momentarily cross the line into the use of excessive force." There was a financial cost to the City of Austin, which paid Cruz's family $55,000 to settle the civil rights lawsuit against Griffin. Cruz, 24 at the time, suffered a broken nose and cuts and bruises in his encounter with Griffin. Somewhere along the line, Griffin should have accepted responsibility for his unprofessional conduct. Exposing the city to that kind of liability should have chastened him. Instead, he is suing the city, alleging that his termination by Ellison, who is black, was racially motivated. Griffin is white.

By contrast, Acevedo has not hesitated to terminate officers for a range of conduct, from lying and criminal misconduct to using force inappropriately. Since taking over as chief in July 2007, Acevedo has fired 12 officers and pressured others to resign. Just one has gotten his job back through arbitration. But no chief could reform a department without help from officers. "Our officers by and large support the direction in which we're headed," Acevedo said. "They are dedicated professionals who appreciate it when the department stands up to misconduct and corruption because they understand that is the way to protect the organization they love." There will be times when cases, such as Griffin's, surface. Those cases will trigger questions about whether certain officers are fit to serve. But the public should not judge the department by those hangovers from the past. There are good things happening as the police department transitions from the past to the present.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tennessee Officers Arrested on Drug Charges

Knoxville News-Sentinel by J.J. Stambaugh - September 8, 2008

Two Campbell County law enforcement offi cers were arrested Fridayand charged with allegedly stealing drugs from the Jacksboro Police Department and swapping them for prescription drugs, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Ancil Brian Parker, 39, of Lafollette, and Tonya Robinson, 34, of Jacksboro, both were named in indictments returned by a Campbell County grand jury, a TBI press release said. They were each charged with delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and official misconduct; Robinson also was charged with one count of theft under $500. Parker was a Jacksboro police officer, and Robinson was a corrections officer at the Campbell County Jail, which is operated by the Campbell County Sheriff's Office.

The two officers had a personal relationship, according to the TBI. In April and May of last year, both marijuana and cocaine that had been seized as evidence in drug investigations were stolen from the police department, the release said. "The stolen marijuana and cocaine was then given to a third person in exchange for prescription drugs," the release said. "Robinson's theft charge stems from stealing from a prisoner at the jail." Parker was held on $10,000 bond, while Robinson's bond was set at $50,000, the release said. It wasn't immediately clear if the two suspects were still employed as law enforcement personnel. A third Campbell County lawman was indicted earlier this week for allegedly raping a female motorist during a traffi c stop two months ago. Jeremy Cross was a LaFollette police officer when he stopped the female motorist on July 5 and "sex acts were performed in exchange for the victim not going to jail," according to the TBI. He has been charged with one count of aggravated rape, two counts of offi cial misconduct and one count of offi cial oppression. He has been released from jail pending trial after posting a $50,000 bond, the release said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Police more likely to sleep with than arrest prostitutes by Ted Frank

The Venkatesh-Levitt paper on the economics of prostitution in Chicago shows that prostitutes are arrested about one out of every 450 tricks—but are forced to give “freebies” to police for about 3% of their tricks to avoid arrest. On the one hand, I’m appalled at the utter corruption exhibited by law enforcement here, and wonder to what extent this illegal “perk” acts as a public-choice rationale for law enforcement to oppose legalization and regulation of brothels. On the other hand, that 3% of labor extorted by the police is a heck of a better rate than the 30% or so tax rate various governments make me pay…

To see the Report, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ex-FBI Agent Goes To Trial

In Miami, Prosecutor Tells Story Of Murder And Corruption; Defense Rejects Claims

The Hartford Courant by EDMUND H. MAHONY - September 16, 2008

MIAMI — Former star FBI agent John J. Connolly is accused of one notorious murder, but before prosecutors finished their opening statement to jurors at his trial Monday, they promised to link him to three more and an audacious plot by Boston gangsters to muscle their way into the jai alai industry. It seemed, as prosecutor Fred Wyshak led the jury through about three decades of crimes, that Connolly was at the periphery of all of them. Connolly, accused of murder and conspiracy for setting up the 1982 assassination of former World Jai Alai president John B. Callahan, is corrupt and self-serving, Wyshak said. More to the point, he said, Connolly spent a career working in secret for the criminals he was sworn to stop.

"You have heard that the defendant was an FBI agent," Wyshak said. "You will hear that he was a corrupt FBI agent. You will hear that he gave information to gangsters who used that information to protect themselves and to kill people. And one of those people was John Callahan." Connolly "was just another member" of the Winter Hill Gang, Wyshak said. He hung out with gang leaders James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. He vacationed with them. Over the years, they paid him about $250,000, Wyshak said. "If the gang made a big score, the defendant got a cut," Wyshak told the jury.

Manuel Casabielle, Connolly's lead defense lawyer, dismissed the argument and repeated Connolly's claim that he is a victim of misinformed prosecutors and gangster-witnesses who will say anything for a break on their own sentences. He accused prosecutors of hitting Connolly with just about every major felony in Boston over more than a quarter century in the hope that something sticks. Connolly never told Bulger and Flemmi who in the underworld was informing against them. Connolly didn't have to, Casabielle said, because the two gangsters invariably learned on their own. When one of the victims mentioned by Wyshak became an informant in the early 1980s, Casabielle called it "the worst kept secret in Boston."

The defense lawyer said Connolly recruited Bulger and Flemmi as informants and used them to "decimate" the Italian mafia in New England. Connolly is looking at life in prison, his lawyer said, in part because he has been caught in a political and law enforcement dispute over whether multiple murderers like Bulger and Flemmi should be used as informants against other criminals. "It's not fair to take a bunch of mud and throw it at an individual and hope some of it sticks," he said. "And that's exactly what they are doing in this case." Wyshak called Connolly the Winter Hill Gang's informant. He said whatever information gang members gave Connolly was designed to eliminate their competition for drugs, gambling and extortion in New England.

If Connolly was bothered by what Wyshak said, he didn't show it. He listened without expression. Sometimes he glanced at the jurors, who looked as if they were intrigued by him. Mostly, he bent over a legal pad and took notes. About two years in solitary confinement in a Miami prison while awaiting trial for his life seems to have taken a toll on the previously gregarious and outgoing Connolly. His complexion is pasty. In Boston, during the 1980s, Connolly the FBI agent cultivated the image of a star mob buster. He wore French cuffs and socialized with Boston's most influential political figures. On Monday, prison guards led him into the fortress-like Miami-Dade criminal courts building in chains and a red jump suit. He was allowed to change to street clothes before being presented to the jury.

Wyshak told jurors that the prosecution case centers on the claim that Connolly, as an influential member of the FBI's organized crime team in Boston from roughly 1976 to 1990, fed Bulger, Flemmi and other Winter Hill gangsters the information they needed to avoid prosecution. In four cases that information enabled the gangsters to kill men who were informing against them or might be persuaded to do so. Three of those killings arose from efforts by Callahan, an accountant and Winter Hill financial adviser, to buy World Jai Alai, the company that operated jai alai gambling venues in Hartford and in South Florida. When World owner Roger Wheeler wouldn't sell, Wyshak said Callahan got frustrated and persuaded the Winter Hill Gang leaders to kill Wheeler. In return, Callahan promised Winter Hill a cut of his anticipated jai alai profits.

Three more killings followed, all designed to prevent authorities from linking Wheeler's 1981 death to Callahan and the Winter Hill gang, the prosecutor said. The last to die was Callahan himself. Wyshak told the jury that Connolly provided Bulger the information that led to all three killings. In Callahan's case, Wyshak said Connolly told Bulger that Callahan was a weakling and likely to confess under law enforcement pressure. The fourth murder that Wyshak said prosecutors could attribute to Connolly was the 1976 shooting of Boston area gambler and bookmaker Richard Castucci. Wyshak said prosecution witnesses will testify at trial that Castucci was an FBI informant who provided information about two fugitive gang members. Contact Edmund H. Mahony at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Former LaFollette officer charged with rape

Knoxville News Sentinel staff - September 3, 2008

JACKSBORO, Tenn. — A former LaFollette police officer faces charges of raping a woman at gunpoint during a traffic stop. A Campbell County grand jury indicted Jeremy S. Cross last week on charges of aggravated rape, official oppression and two counts of official misconduct. The charges stem from July 5, when Cross would have been on duty, said Mike Ripley, an assistant district attorney general. He wouldn’t give any other details about the case. “These are the charges, and that’s all I can say,” Ripley said. Cross resigned after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking into the case in July. He could make his first court appearance Sept. 8. More details as they develop online and in Thursday’s News Sentinel.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Memphis police officer charged in slaying

Admits to shooting death of woman, investigators say
The Commercial Appeal by Lawrence Buser - September 10, 2008

A Memphis police officer was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday after a short-term affair with a woman ended with multiple gunshots. Chancy K. Jones, 37, was charged in the killing of Phyllis Malone, 31, who was found slumped at the wheel of her 2004 blue Chevrolet Impala at about 6 a.m. Tuesday near the Back Yard Burgers restaurant at 1709 Whitten. Jones has admitted to the shooting, according to court documents. Police said the couple had arranged to meet at the restaurant and that it appeared Malone was shot in her car. She apparently had been shot in the head, although an autopsy report is not complete. Jones, who is married, was arrested in middle of his shift Tuesday evening and charged. He has been suspended with pay pending an administrative hearing. "He didn't act any differently when he came to work," Police Director Larry Godwin said. "When we got the information (about his possible involvement), we acted as soon as we had it. We acted immediately. "The relationship had been going on for weeks rather than months. It evidently became troubled rather quickly. We're trying to determine the how and the why." Jones, who is being held without bond, has a video arraignment set for today in General Sessions Criminal Court. Godwin said Jones joined the police department in July 2005 and that he has neither disciplinary action nor commendations on his record. "There's nothing in his file other than he went to work and did his job," the director said. "It's a sad day when it's one of your own (charged with a crime.)" Jones worked as a Shelby County corrections officer from 1998 until 2005, when he was fired for abandoning his post. According to county disciplinary records, Jones agreed to work overtime but then left before finishing his shift.

The county Civil Service Merit Board modified Jones' termination to a 90-day suspension without pay and six months of probation beginning on the date of his reinstatement. By then, however, Jones was an MPD recruit. Since Shelby County requires all employees to hold the county as their primary employee, Jones had to choose between the two jobs. He resigned from the division of corrections a day after accepting reinstatement. During his years as a corrections officer, Jones had multiple disciplinary actions against him beginning in 2001. Those included warning letters, counseling and a five-day suspension without pay for violations ranging from habitual tardiness and unexcused absences to failure to carry out instructions and refusing to work a particular assignment. Police said Malone has been both a complainant and a defendant in orders of protection filed in recent years, though none involved Jones. Records show Malone pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2002 and to arson in 1990, serving portions of prison sentences for both. -- Lawrence Buser: 529-2385 - Staff reporter Kristina Goetz contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Raleigh police officer charged with DWI

WRAL: September 8, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. - Authorities arrested a Raleigh police officer early Monday and charged him with DWI. A state trooper arrested Christopher Harmon around 2 a.m. on Glenwood Avenue near Interstate 540, where he was stopped for traveling 66 in a 45 mph zone. A state highway patrol spokesman said the arresting trooper smelled alcohol on Harmon's breath, and a test showed he had .11 blood alcohol concentration. In North Carolina, anything above .08 is illegal. Harmon was charged with DWI, speeding and operating a motocycle without the proper endorsement. A court hearing on the charges was set for Oct. 13.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chicago cop charged with aiding in frame job

The Chicago Tribune by Angela Rozas and Matthew Walberg - September 9, 2008

A Crystal Lake man didn't like his wife's parenting skills or her spending habits, and that's why he got a Chicago police officer to help him frame her with drugs and a gun, Cook County prosecutors said. The prosecutors said the man gave them another reason, too: He wanted her money. Bogdan Mazur, who is in the midst of a divorce, tried to set up his estranged wife by planting cocaine, marijuana and a gun in her vehicle in April 2007 and having Grand-Central District Officer Slawomir Plewa arrest her, according to Assistant State's Atty. Lynn McCarthy.

Plewa, 30, was arrested Monday and charged with official misconduct, perjury, obstruction of justice, unlawful restraint and false reporting. Mazur of the 900 block of Wedgewood Drive in Crystal Lake was arrested Monday on charges of filing a false police report, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to manufacture or deliver cocaine and cannabis, and conspiracy to commit unlawful use of a weapon. Court testimony Tuesday indicated Mazur is 48, though police records indicate he is 47. Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. ordered both men held in lieu of $250,000 bail. McCarthy said Mazur told police that he met Plewa met through a mutual friend in early 2007 and they planned the false arrest with an uncharged co-conspirator. On April 1, 2007, Mazur met with several police officers, included Plewa, at a parking garage near Belmont and Central Avenues, McCarthy said. There, Mazur told the officers he was certain drugs were in his wife's vehicle. Mazur then called his wife in the officers' presence and told her his car wouldn't start and she needed to come pick up their two young children, who were with him, McCarthy said. Mazur and the uncharged co-conspirator had put a .22-caliber pistol, cocaine and cannabis in the spare-tire compartment, McCarthy said. When the woman arrived, Plewa stopped her and asked if he could search her vehicle, McCarthy said. She said yes. Police found the plastic bag, which contained 44.5 grams of cocaine, 62 grams of cannabis and a gun, McCarthy said. The woman was arrested and charged with gun and drug offenses.

Mazur told police he was angry with his wife and some of her "spending choices and disagreed with some of her parenting decisions," McCarthy said. He planned to split his estranged wife's assets with the co-conspirator after she was convicted. The co-conspirator also was going to help him with Immigration problems. Mazur is a Polish citizen in the United States illegally, McCarthy said. Plewa said in police reports, before the grand jury and in the woman's trial that an anonymous person gave him information that led to her arrest. The woman was acquitted of the charges in January. After the acquittal, the woman's attorney, Steven Messner, said he told Assistant State's Atty. Bob Milan he suspected the case was phony. Plewa had admitted he never made note of the meeting with the informant nor tried to verify the information with anyone else, Messner said. And a fingerprint taken from the packaging around the gun and drugs did not match the estranged wife's, Messner said. Plewa is a seven-year veteran of the department, assigned to the gang-narcotics team for much of that time, and has never before been disciplined, said Dan Herbert, Plewa's attorney. "Officer Plewa did nothing wrong in this case," Herbert told the judge during the bond hearing. "Officer Plewa received information from a confidential informant, and that confidential informant turned out to be Mr. Bogdan [Mazur]." As Herbert extolled the virtues of his client, the judge interrupted him. "These allegations strike at the heart of what we do here every day," Bourgeois said. "George Orwell wrote a book about this."

The judge ordered Plewa to turn in any guns he owns. After the hearing, Herbert said Plewa had already done so. Herbert said Plewa was an aggressive police officer who trusted the word of someone he considered a confidential informant. Plewa was stripped of police powers Aug. 22 and is not being paid, police said. Chicago police said Plewa was the subject of an internal investigation that resulted in his arrest. He was the third officer arrested this year based on an internal investigation. "The actions of this officer do not represent the vast majority of honorable, hard-working police officers who risk their lives everyday," Deputy Supt. Peter Brust said in a statement. In 2006, Plewa was sued in federal court by a mentally handicapped man who claimed that the officer and others pulled him from a parked vehicle, beat him and dragged him in the street. In March 2007, the city settled the suit for $50,000. and

Thursday, September 11, 2008

LA Times: Policing the Police

Mexico safety chief’s tough job: policing the police
Drug money and corruption have long tainted law enforcement. But Genaro Garcia Luna may succeed with the backing of President Calderon and the aid of technology, analysts say.

The Los Angeles times by Ken Ellingwood - September 11, 2008

Federal police in the northern state of Coahuila had seven drug suspects in hand this week when they met a caravan of gun-toting men apparently intent on freeing the arrestees. The highway standoff quickly turned nasty, and bullets began to fly. When the shooting stopped, one of the would-be rescuers was dead and two were wounded. The federal police arrested 33 people. But these were no ordinary gunmen. They were police officers from the city of Torreon, in uniform and aboard official police pickups. In the trenches of the drug war, cops were fighting cops. The shootout Monday underscores the grave troubles facing Mexico’s top police official, Genaro Garcia Luna, as he seeks to overhaul his nation’s law enforcement system.

As field marshal in the government’s 21-month-old offensive against drug traffickers, the former intelligence specialist has begun trying to turn Mexico’s police into a modern, trustworthy and well-equipped force. His task amounts to fixing a broken army in the midst of a war – a conflict that has killed 2,700 people this year. More than 500 police officers and soldiers have died since the government campaign began in December 2006. The weaknesses of Mexican police are vast. Most officers have at most a grade school education. They often have to buy their own guns on wages equal to those of a supermarket cashier. Many times, the average cop has his hand out for a bribe, in part to pay off bosses for the privilege of a job he probably will not hold for more than a few years. Problems are worst at the local levels. And as often as this country changes presidents (every six years), it seems to reshuffle its sprawling patchwork of police agencies. Today’s crusader can be tomorrow’s convict, as Mexicans learned bitterly in 1997 when the nation’s touted drug czar, Army Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, was arrested on charges of working with traffickers. It’s anybody’s guess where Garcia Luna, 40, will be a year from now. Many Mexicans complain that they see little to show for his efforts. But analysts say new conditions may allow Garcia Luna to overcome Mexico’s disappointing track record on police.

Most important, President Felipe Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, has made the anti-crime campaign a centerpiece of his administration. The president has backed his rhetoric by dispatching 40,000 soldiers and 5,000 federal police officers to drug-smuggling hot spots nationwide. He also has expressed support for consolidating the ungainly jumble of overlapping agencies into a centrally controlled national force. But that idea is politically explosive because the constitution gives states considerable autonomy, including controlling their own security forces. “If Genaro Garcia Luna can do this, it’s because Calderon is behind him,” said Ernesto Lopez Portillo, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Security, a Mexico City-based think tank. Since becoming public safety secretary in December 2006, Garcia Luna has shaken up federal police agencies, whose staff totals nearly 25,000. He put Mexico’s version of the FBI, which he once ran, under the same roof as the Federal Preventive Police (itself expanded to incorporate the Federal Highway Patrol). The result is a consolidated Federal Police.Garcia Luna has purged 284 federal officers, promoted 1,600 others and added 3,000 positions. He has more than doubled pay for federal officers to $1,200 a month and recruited aggressively at universities to lure the best and brightest to work he views as increasingly sophisticated.

Garcia Luna has sent officers back to class and imposed strict new professional standards. Eventually, those standards will apply to all of Mexico’s more than 300,000 state and local police officers, whose long tradition of corruption has made them a weak link in fighting crime. The military has assumed anti-drug patrols in some spots because local police are considered unreliable.Garcia Luna asserts that decades of neglect, mainly under the once-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, left police 30 years behind in training, equipment and behavior. Now, he contends, it is time to catch up and clean up. “The corruption in law enforcement agencies helped crime expand and began the evolution of the criminal and crime,” Garcia Luna said during a recent appearance before Congress. “Police fell further behind and lost effectiveness.” A key part of the strategy is technology. Garcia Luna, who served as intelligence chief in the Federal Preventive Police and later founded the Mexican FBI under former President Vicente Fox, is fond of saying that Mexico will prevail against drug gangs through brain work, not bullets. “His gun was the computer, from the beginning,” Lopez Portillo of the security institute said. On the ground floor of a gleaming police campus in the capital, rows of uniformed federal police tap at computers linked to bases nationwide. Above them, oversize screens receive images from cameras posted in drug-smuggling hot spots, such as Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, and along the U.S. border. The network will eventually give police in Mexico City quick access to fingerprints and other crime data from every town in the country.

U.S. officials praise Garcia Luna with a notable lack of reserve, given past letdowns. “He wants to create – clean the slate and create an entirely new professional force that will take the Mexican security apparatus into the 21st century,” said a senior U.S. law enforcement official. “I think he’s the real deal.” Most everyone agrees that Mexico cannot win the war it has declared against powerful crime organizations unless it cleans up its police, whose members often work on their behalf. But even a determined push probably will take years to succeed. “The problem is, they’re getting started very late,” said Bruce Bagley, an international studies professor at the University of Miami. “We will not see the results for five to 10 years.” Some critics see the effort as a lot of media spin by Garcia Luna, who they say is out mainly to expand his authority. Javier Herrera Valles, a high-ranking federal police official, was stripped of his duties this year after openly criticizing Garcia. “There is no strategy. There is no planning work. There is no intelligence,” said Herrera, who had been responsible for overseeing the crime fight around the country. “The only strategy is increasing the number of personnel.” That, he and other critics say, has thrust the 5,000 federal police officers into risky operations for which they are not prepared and in which they are often outgunned. In May, eight federal officers died in Culiacan during a lengthy shootout with more powerfully armed gunmen.

An authentic effort to clean up corruption probably would please ordinary Mexicans, who tend to view the police as little more than criminals with badges. That sentiment was captured neatly in a recent cartoon in the Reforma newspaper: Two officers, guns drawn, are poised outside a front door. One asks his partner, “Is this a rescue operation or a kidnapping?” Officers now have to pass lie detector and psychological tests and undergo reviews of their personal finances, criminal records and family ties. Those sorts of checks are de rigueur for candidates trying to get hired in agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department. Those tests are fine by Gerardo Avila, a 28-year-old medical school graduate who was recently interviewing for a job in the Federal Police. Avila said he wanted to put his expertise as a surgeon to work as a police trainer. Wearing neatly gelled hair and a dark-blue suit, Avila said the image of police could use some reconstructive surgery. “It’s an image of distrust,” he said outside a recruiting tent on the new federal police campus. “This is what you have to change so people have trust, whether it be to report a crime or even to help.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We must watch the watchmen, police or politician

Who watches the watchmen?
New by Thurman Hart September 02, 2008

Last week, I denounced the faux protesters in Denver. This week, in Minneapolis, the false protesters turned to violence. It was a very small number of people who did so, but that is always the case. It is why security zones now have to be set up around the perimeter of legal gatherings. While the police moved to disperse the faux protests, they know they are being watched. Numerous television cameras, and thousands of cellphone cameras, are hoping to catch an over-reaction. Despite their professionalism and training, the police are human beings and there is always a chance that they will abuse their authority. So we watch the watchmen of our freedoms.

But not all problems are so easily seen. Tucked away in a story about John Crowley's ambition is a story about the ambition of other men. Specifically: As Crowley welcomed these Republicans who might have backed him in a bid for U.S. Senate, others - state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), U.S. Attorney Chris Christie's brother Todd, GOP power player Bill Palatucci and more Republicans - huddled in a St. Paul restaurant discussing their own plans - apparently - for a Christie gubernatorial candidacy. These men are free to speak however they want about whatever they want. But, despite Bill Palatucci's warning that I should not speak ill of Chris Christie in this space, there is the potential for serious legal issues in their meeting. So long as it is just power brokers talking strategy about a future campaign, it is fine. But if Chris Christie is represented in the discussion - and Bill Palatucci is his buddy and Todd Christie is his brother - then the potential for Hatch Act violations looms in the background. The Hatch Act is a federal measure that is aimed at protecting specific government offices, like the US Attorneys' offices, from partisan influence. So US Attorneys, as part of their job description, are prohibited from doing things like fund-raising and running for public office. That is why Chris Christie avoided the Republican convention all together. But he did reportedly send his brother Todd to represent him.

While this is not an overt violation of the Hatch Act, it does appear to be an attempt to circumvent the spirit of the law. Regardless of one's thoughts on Christie's supposed non-partisanship to this point, any attempt to position himself for a 2009 gubernatorial run introduces the very political forces the Hatch Act was written to ban from federal law enforcement. It stands to reason that a person trying to win the Republican nomination for Governor in 2009 would not spend the last few months of his term in office bringing charges against Republican power brokers. Given the lead time on investigations and court proceedings, any investigations into Democratic power brokers, on the other hand, would lead to indictments, arrests, and court proceedings - including convictions - during the 2009 campaign season. If you're like me, you don't mind it so much to see crooked Democratic power brokers getting thrown in the hoosegow. But you'd kind of like to see crooked Republican power brokers in an adjoining cell. After all, this is Jersey, and it isn't like either side is exempt from taking a few easy dollars when the opportunity presents itself. But the pressure can work the other way, as well. Perhaps, sensitive to such accusations, Chris Christie simply decides that he is better off not to pursue any corruption charges during the next six months. How does that serve the interests of New Jersey? Perhaps he looks at a file for some anonymous Hudson County Democrat and says, "There's a case here, but I can't be seen to be only chasing Democrats. We have to let this one go."

The truth, though, is that Christie has racked up quite the partisan record. While he took down a couple of big-time Republicans early, his targets since that time have mostly been Democrats. Of course, corruption is not spread evenly and since more Democrats hold office in New Jersey, it is possible that his record speaks only of opportunity. But there has been nothing but silence from the US Attorney's office on known corruption in the Republican organizations in Somerset and Burlington Counties. Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for it - I just haven't heard it. The point is not to demonize Chris Christie. His focus on corruption has helped clean up New Jersey politics immeasurably. If he wants to return to politics in the future, I'd welcome him as a worthy candidate. But his current position demands that future political considerations be set aside completely - and sending your brother to represent your interests at a meeting that sets out campaign strategy is not doing that. It may technically be legal, but it remains unethical. Chris Christie has, for the past seven years or so, been the watchman of New Jersey politics. Even if he hasn't cleaned up every inch of the sewer, it is a bit cleaner for his having held his current office. If he is to be Governor in the future, then he needs to protect his reputation as being above politics by remaining removed from politics as long as he holds his office. Otherwise, he is not a public crusader who represents our interests in removing corruption, but simply yet another Jersey politician who represents his own ambition in removing the competition. Christie is not incorruptable - no man is. A democracy flourishes only when we keep a careful eye on those who would lead us. We must watch the watchmen, whether they be police or politician, or we will have nothing worth watching.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

San Diego officer accused of helping drug traffickers

Federal officials say Juan Hurtado Tapia shared information about drug investigations with traffickers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Los Angeles Times by Tony Perry - September 4, 2008

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego police officer has been arraigned in federal court on charges of passing information about drug investigations to drug traffickers. Juan Hurtado Tapia, 38 was arrested Tuesday by agents of the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration and remains in the federal prison in downtown San Diego pending a bail hearing. While corruption of law enforcement by drug gangs is common in Tijuana, Tapia's arrest represents a rare allegation of corruption against a San Diego officer. Tapia has been a member of the San Diego Police Department for seven years and was most recently a patrol officer assigned to the area that includes the border. Wiretaps revealed that Tapia was using his authority as a police officer to conduct background checks on drug traffickers and drug investigations and then passing the information to people involved in drug crimes along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Tapia was charged Wednesday with obstructing an official proceeding, computer fraud and making a false statement to law enforcement officials. He was immediately suspended without pay from the San Diego department.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Indictment targets police corruption

Indictment targets police corruption
The Albany Times Union, by Rex Smith, editor - September 6, 2008

The trial was at a crucial point with the prosecution's best witness. A detective who had interrogated the suspect was on the stand. Why, the prosecutor asked, did the suspect confess? The cop shrugged. "I think he wanted to get it off his chest," he said. For years after that, a hulking detective, a partner of the cop on the witness stand, became known as "Detective It." What the suspect really had wanted to get off his chest, another cop confided, was that "Detective It" had a habit of kneeling on bad guys until they confessed. That was long ago, when I was a young reporter. Whether the story was one of those legends that grow up around cops remains a mystery, because that police department, like many, didn't tape what went on in interrogation rooms.

Memories of "Detective It" came to me Friday when Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced the indictment of three Schenectady police officers in connection with an arrest Dec. 7 of Donald Randolph on a drunk driving charge. Randolph has claimed Officers Eric Reyell, Gregory Hafensteiner and Andrew Karaskiewicz beat him up in the McDonald's parking lot on Union Street, then again on the way to police headquarters for booking. Note that the cops weren't charged with attacking Randolph. Instead, Cuomo brought misdemeanor "official misconduct" charges against them for this: Reyell allegedly didn't turn on the camera in his squad car at the arrest scene or during the drive to headquarters, and none of the three filed "Use of Force" forms that the department now requires. You may quickly jump to the conclusion that cops who beat up a guy are getting away with a slap on the wrist. Or maybe you figure this is an unfair intrusion by lawyers who don't understand the street, where dedicated officers routinely confront jerks who can turn a quiet night into a nightmare. Reyell, Hafensteiner and Karaskiewicz have pleaded not guilty.

In fact, we don't know what happened at the McDonald's parking lot, any more than I know whether "Detective It" squashed confessions out of people. But make no mistake: Cuomo's case is a direct assault on a police union-dominated environment that has tolerated unprofessional behavior and, sometimes, outright criminality by people with badges. Wayne Bennett, a former superintendent of State Police, became Schenectady's public safety commissioner 16 months ago with a mandate from Mayor Brian U. Stratton to clean up an agency long unable to escape the taint of corruption. He has a tough job. Eleven Schenectady officers have been arrested in less than a decade; six have gone to prison. Cops have been convicted of tipping off suspects in a gambling investigation, stealing drugs from evidence lockers and warning drug dealers they were being watched. Ex-Chief Gregory Kaczmarek's name is all over wiretap tapes from Cuomo's probe of a narcotics ring; he's not charged, but his wife faces up to 25 years in prison if she is convicted. And who can forget the Schenectady cops who got roaring drunk at a bachelor party more than a decade ago and threw eggs at passing cars? What fun guys! Bennett has instituted reforms to attack this sort of misconduct. Friday's indictment, far from overlooking the bad behavior, underscores the state's support for Bennett's crackdown.

One guard against what cops call "bad arrests" is the installation of cameras in squad cars. If the camera is turned on, it will produce evidence that can either convict a brutal cop or clear an unfairly charged officer of baseless allegations. And those forms officers are required to fill out after using force are similarly crucial. Officers lie on those forms at risk of being charged with perjury. But when officers don't turn on the cameras, or "forget" to file the forms, they enshroud their arrests in secrecy. Corruption thrives in such darkness. That's why the indictment Cuomo announced goes to the heart of the problem in Schenectady. Cuomo doesn't have the evidence to either charge or clear the officers of the brutality allegation — because the officers involved apparently blew off their commissioner's rules. Maybe we misunderstand. Perhaps the indictment is misdirected and the officers will be cleared. Maybe. And maybe some Schenectady cops will decide to get it all off their chest and join their commissioner's fight to clean up their act.  Rex Smith is editor of the Times Union.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ex-FBI Agent Faces Trial in 1982 Murder

Ex-FBI Agent Faces Trial in 1982 Murder - Boston Mob Handler Is Charged in Fla.
The Associated Press by Curt Anderson - September 7, 2008

MIAMI -- John J. Connolly was hundreds of miles away in 1982 when gambling executive John Callahan's bullet-riddled body was discovered in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami's airport. The admitted shooter said he never met Connolly, the disgraced ex-FBI man at the heart of the agency's sordid dealings with Boston's Winter Hill Gang. Yet Connolly will stand trial on murder and conspiracy charges this month as if he had pulled the trigger himself, because prosecutors say he secretly gave information that was crucial in setting up the hit. Jury selection is to begin Monday in Connolly's trial, which figures to rehash some of the ugliest episodes in the Boston FBI's handling of the gang, once led by James J. "Whitey" Bulger and convicted killer Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi.

For years, both were top FBI informants on rival Italian mobsters. Connolly was their handler, and he made sure they were shielded from prosecution for murder and many other crimes. That eventually sent him to federal prison on a racketeering conviction. A congressional investigation concluded in 2003 that the FBI's relationship with Bulger and his cohorts "must be considered one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement." The Callahan slaying is part of that history, detailed in numerous court documents, interviews and investigative reports. Callahan was president of World Jai Alai, purchased in the late 1970s by Roger Wheeler, a businessman from Tulsa, who liked the fact that former Boston FBI agent Paul Rico was part of the security team.

Wheeler came to suspect that Callahan was skimming profits from World Jai Alai for the Winter Hill Gang. He fired Callahan and ordered an audit. On May 27, 1981, Wheeler was shot between the eyes at a Tulsa country club by hit man John V. Martorano, who has admitted in court to 20 murders. Callahan was targeted next because Bulger and Flemmi feared he would finger them for Wheeler's killing. Martorano pleaded guilty in 2001 to shooting Callahan and, with the help of an associate, stuffing his body into the trunk of Callahan's silver Cadillac. Rico, Connolly's former FBI colleague, was eventually charged in Wheeler's murder, but he died in 2004 before going to trial. A little over a year later, Connolly was indicted by a Miami-Dade County grand jury in Callahan's killing. A conviction would mean a life prison sentence.

Connolly, 68, is already serving a 10-year federal prison stretch for racketeering and other charges from his associations with Bulger and his gang, including tipping off his former informant about an impending 1995 indictment. Bulger fled before he could be arrested and remains a fugitive, a fixture on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. The federal jury that convicted Connolly in 2002 rejected evidence of his involvement in the Callahan killing, although the charge then was obstruction of justice. Connolly's lawyer, Manuel Casabielle, said little new has surfaced in the years since. "The reason you haven't seen much connecting John to the Callahan murder is because there isn't much. It isn't there," Casabielle said. But prosecutor Michael Von Zamft said the state is confident in its case, even with key witnesses of questionable repute.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bellville police office called 'dirty cop'

The Mansfield, Ohio News Journal by Mark Caudill - September 5, 2008

MANSFIELD, OHIO — Richland County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Tunnell had a term for Bellville police Officer Maurice King III. “He is what is commonly referred to as a dirty cop,” Tunnell said in his opening statement. “He broke the law.” King, 32, of 3555 Possum Run Road, faces 11 counts, including four felonies. His trial began Thursday before Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese. “We disagree with everything that was said by the state,” defense attorney Cassandra Mayer said in her opening. “The state will fail to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.” King is accused of three counts of attempted receiving stolen property and one count of possessing criminal tools, as well as seven misdemeanors. “This case is about attempt, engaging in conduct which, if successful, would result in the commission of a criminal offense,” Tunnell said. “To attempt a crime counts just as much as committing a crime.” Two confidential informants worked with police on the case. In December, one of the informants, a longtime acquaintance of King, was caught with a stolen motorbike and gun.

“He’s as much a common criminal as he is a survivor,” Tunnell said of the CI. “As he’s considering his options, he tells (former Mansfield police Detective) Eric Bosko that he knows where a dirty cop is.” On Jan. 8, the informant called King and told him he knew of another man who had stolen guns from Cleveland. The two men met with King at his residence two days later. “It’s the defendant who says, ‘Let’s talk figures,’” Tunnell said. “At that point, the act is complete.” Police recorded the conversation. Tunnell said King arranged to buy four guns for $700 but later hesitated because he didn’t know the man with the firearms. “Perhaps most damaging is what he didn’t do,” the assistant prosecutor said. “He does not tell his chief of what occurs, doesn’t report the incident.” Mayer told the jury to consider the sources when those witnesses testified.

“You are going to be hearing from convicted felons. I ask that you consider their credibility,” she said. “Why did they suddenly want to help the police? Was it to help themselves? These ulterior motives go very far toward determining their credibility.” Police searched King’s residence on Jan. 15. He reportedly refused to give a taped statement. “He is as dirty a cop as he is guilty,” Tunnell said. King, who joined the Bellville Police Department in 2000, is suspended without pay. His recent performance evaluations were exemplary. His personnel file also included numerous letters of commendation. The trial will resume in DeWeese’s court, and could end as soon as Friday.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Corrupt Oak Lawn cop gets probation

The South Town Star By KIM JANSSEN - September 3, 2008 (

A corrupt Oak Lawn cop who shook down immigrant motorists for cash will avoid prison after pleading guilty to official misconduct. Steven Harrison, 26, faced up to five years in prison for soliciting bribes of up to $250 from as many as 14 Hispanic motorists during illegal traffic stops last fall. Following his arrest, he fell further into disgrace. While free on bail in June, he was arrested at a West Side el station with 10 packets of heroin in his pocket.

Under a plea deal reached with prosecutors Tuesday at the Cook County Criminal Court, Judge Rosemary Higgins sentenced Harrison, who lives in Chicago's Mount Greenwood community, to two years of intensive probation and 20 days in the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program. In return for Harrison's guilty plea to one count of official misconduct and possession of a controlled substance, more than 20 additional counts of official misconduct, intimidation and theft were dropped. Under terms of his probation, Harrison must undergo treatment for his heroin addiction. Oak Lawn police Chief Bob Troy fired the rookie cop in the wake of the scandal. Harrison's arrest prompted outrage when it emerged he had threatened workers at an Alsip business park with imprisonment if they did not hand him cash bribes. He allegedly told them "This is how we do things in the suburbs."

Fellow officers discovered damning evidence in his locker after Advertising Resources Inc. owner Richard Ehrie, who employs several of Harrison's victims, raised the alarm. Receipts Harrison had handed his victims matched missing pages in a ticket book, investigators said. Harrison's attorney Brian Bennett could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Immigrant rights campaigner Jorge Mujica, of the March 10 committee, described Harrison's sentence as "absurd." "Being addicted to heroin isn't an excuse - if I had been shaking down people in the street for cash, I would be in prison right now," he said. "But there seems to be another set of rules for people in law enforcement." Cook County state's attorney's spokesman Andy Conklin declined to comment on Harrison's plea deal. Kim Janssen can be reached at or on (708) 633-5998.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Deputy charged with ripping off drug dealers

Courtney Zubowski / 11 News - August 19, 2008

HOUSTON -- Former Precinct 4 deputy Terrence Richardson has been charged with engaging in organized activity and robbery. It's alleged that Richardson and another man ripped off drug dealers and took their money. Apparently, they would find out where 'drug buys' were going down, show up and rob the dealers. Richardson is believed to have been doing this while on duty,using his patrol car and wearing his uniform. After the Houston Police Department learned about the allegations, they set up a sting. Investigators said they caught him doing his dirty work early Monday evening. The one concern the department has is that Richardson has been in the precinct for two years and has worked several cases. The constable’s office will have to go back and check to see if any of those cases were compromised. "He's a good guy. I don't believe he had done something like that. This is news to me. I would have never thought that he would be involved in something like this," said James Warren, Richardson's stepfather. Richardson was removed from the department Monday night. He's jailed and being held on a $200,000 bond.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cop Sentenced In K-9's Death

Veteran Officer Pleads No Contest To Misdemeanor
NBC - August 29, 2008

SAN DIEGO -- A veteran San Diego police officer whose K-9 partner died of heat stroke in his patrol car outside of his home, pleaded no contest and was sentenced on Thursday. Hubka was not present in court as his change of plea to one misdemeanor count of leaving a dog in a confined vehicle causing death, was entered by his defense attorney Rick Pinckard. Judge Dwayne K. Moring immediately sentenced Hubka to three years probation and ordered him to pay a fine of $411. Hubka was also ordered to pay the San Diego Police Department $4,941 for Forrest, and to perform 100 hours of community service at a nonprofit organization. The dog, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois named Forrest, was left in Officer Paul Hubka's car for several hours on June 20, in the driveway of his Alpine home. Officials said temperatures that day topped 108 degrees. Investigators determined that Forrest may have been in the vehicle with the windows rolled up for as long as seven hours. Hubka is a 22-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre filed a lawsuit Friday against Hubka in connection with the case. He's claiming as much as $50,000 in damages from the officer to compensate the city's costs of acquiring, training and maintaining Forrest. That's the very amount, which the city owes Hubka in a legal settlement for pension benefits stemming from previously uncredited bonus pay for taking care of K-9 partners for 18 years. Police Chief William Lansdowne says Hubka will no longer work with canines.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Police officer, 18 others arrested in Polk drug bust

The Orland Sun-Sentinel by Vincent Bradshaw - August 13, 2008

Nineteen people, including one police officer, have been arrested in a drug bust in Polk County, deputies from the Sheriff's Office said today. Lake Wales Police Officer Keenan Colson, 50, of Bartow, was among those arrested in the investigation into the county's marijuana-distribution networks. Colson, who was arrested and fired today, was identified as an information source for Clayton Hoerler, a key player in distribution scene, deputies said. He and William "Big June" Cade, the boss of a "tight-knit" criminal group in Polk County, also were arrested this week, deputies said. The multi-agency investigation known as "Operation Cast Cade" began last December, and detectives started listening to Hoerler's cell phone conversations in May. In one conversation, Colson allegedly gave Hoerler the name of an undercover detective who was monitoring the case. At one point, Hoerler promised to buy Colson's dinner to thank him for his help. From May to August, deputies used wire taps and surveillance to gather evidence leading to the arrest of several people in connection with the drug transactions. On Monday, detectives searched Cade's Haines City residence and found 35 cannabis plants, $2,000, and six firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle Cade referred to as the "chopper." He and several of his associates were arrested. The investigation led detectives to $60,000 and 20 pounds of marijuana. Detectives said Cade considered himself part of the "gangsta" criminal culture. He told detectives that he had been in the drug trade since age 16 and that "dealing was all he knew how to do," a report shows. Cade idolized the Al Pacino character in Scarface, they said. He had a large portrait of the fictional drug kingpin in his home. Five marijuana growing locations were also closed.