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Thursday, April 30, 2009

NYPD Cop, Ex-Cop Going on Trial in Beating

NYPD cop, ex-cop going on trial in Yonkers beating
The Journal News by Rebecca Baker - April 27, 2009

YONKERS, NY - A New York City police officer and two other men will go on trial today in a brawl that seriously hurt a Yonkers man outside of two McLean Avenue bars in 2007. Jury selection was set to start this morning in Yonkers City Court for NYPD Officer Michael McGhee, former NYPD Officer Thomas Wimmer and their friend Patrick Tully of the Bronx. All three men are charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in a fight with 26-year-old Peter Cummins in front of Fagan's Ale House and Rockin' Robins Bar and Night Club in September 2007. The fight allegedly started when Tully said something to the victim's girlfriend that she deemed derogatory. Cummins suffered severe facial injuries, authorities said. Two other NYPD officers accused of trying to cover up the involvement of a fellow officer, struck a plea agreement to avoid a trial. Officers Jeffrey Alicea and Stella Ibanez pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation, and the misdemeanor official misconduct charges were dropped. Assistant District Attorney Heide Mason is prosecuting the case.

Detective Hit with Federal Civil Rights Charges in Two Alleged Assaults

Sleepy Hollow detective hit with federal civil rights charges in two alleged assaults
The Journal News by Timothy O'Connor and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon - April 29, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, NY - A Sleepy Hollow detective was arrested last night on federal charges that he assaulted two people "after they had been handcuffed and restrained," including one man who was allegedly beaten after accusing the veteran cop of wooing his daughter. Detective Jose Quinoy, 36, was taken into custody at village police headquarters and was to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court in White Plains on charges that he violated the victims' civil rights. According to a federal indictment unsealed today, Quinoy is accused of beating resident Mario Gomez outside the Sleepy Hollow Police Department on Oct. 17, 2006, after Gomez allegedly confronted the officer over his reputed romance with his 22-year-old daughter.  Quinoy is also charged with assaulting another individual on Dec. 17, 2006, but the indictment offers no details of that incident. He was not charged in connection with another incident that federal agents had reportedly been investigating. In that August, 2007 case, a 17-year-old village boy, Duanny Lara Mota, was stunned with a Taser gun during an encounter with Quinoy after riding his bicycle on a village sidewalk. Mota has since filed a civil lawsuit against the village and the detective.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Deputy U.S. Marshal Convicted in Mob Leak Case

Deputy U.S. marshal convicted in mob leak case
WGN News 9- Chicago - April 28, 2009
Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose was convicted today by a federal jury of leaking sensitive information about a cooperating mob witness.

Ambrose was found guilty of charges of theft and disclosure for leaking that mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese was cooperating with law enforcement. He was acquitted on two counts that he lied to federal authorities. Ambrose, who sat alert and stone-faced throughout the trial, slumped in his chair and swallowed hard several times as the verdict was announced. "This is a real tragedy for federal law enforcement," First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro said later. "Deputy Ambrose has had a distinguished career and then he threw it away by breaching the holy of holies, the confidentiality of the federal Witness Protection Program. That is an unforgivable sin, and it is for that sin that a jury returned a verdict of guilty." Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, called the verdict "bittersweet," saying "it's going to have a very devastating impact on John in his employment as well as his family." "In our view [the jury] took the least culpable of items that were allegedly shared and found John liable for those," said Lipuma, indicating that the jury only convicted his client for divulging that Calabrese was in Chicago and that he had served on Calabrese's security detail. Lipuma said that they would appeal the conviction following sentencing, citing one undercover video videotape that was withdrawn as evidence by U.S. District Judge John Grady in mid-trial after it had already been shown to jurors twice. "It's certainly very difficult to unring a bell," Lipuma said. "We do think it did have an impact." "We do believe some errors were made along the way," he said. "We believe they were substantial errors." Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9. Ambrose remains free on bond. Authorities discovered the leak when Outfit figures and brothers James and Michael Marcello were secretly recorded discussing key aspects of Calabrese's cooperation within weeks of his two secret visits to Chicago in 2002 and 2003. Ambrose helped protect Calabrese during both visits. Prosecutors have said the security breach by Ambrose was the first of its kind in the history of the secretive Witness Protection Program and called Ambrose's actions a "supreme betrayal of trust." Calabrese's cooperation was highly sensitive. He was the first made member of the Chicago mob to cooperate against Outfit cohorts. His testimony at the landmark Family Secrets mob trial in 2007 led to the murder convictions and life sentences for several top Outfit bosses, including Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cops Covered-Up Off-Duty's Drunken Mess

'He's gonna kill somebody here'
Dispatcher urged to get help during ride of DWI suspect, a detective

The Albany Times Union by BRENDAN J. LYONS - April 25, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- The off-duty police officer remained calm, but he described the situation to a dispatcher as desperate. An out-of-control driver, who is an Albany detective, appeared heavily intoxicated as his pick-up truck careened off snowbanks and slammed into parked cars, racing at speeds topping 70 mph as he wended across the city and into Bethlehem. ''He just slammed into a parked car and he was on the other side of the road. He's gonna kill somebody here in a minute,'' John Maloney, a Schenectady detective, told the Albany dispatcher, according to a copy of a 911 recording obtained exclusively by the Times Union. ''He almost hit a (inaudible) head on.'' Maloney did not know he was following a fellow cop. But the 911 call confirms Albany police were almost immediately aware the suspect in the Jan. 11 hit-and-run pursuit was one of their own.

The 911 recording also raises new questions about whether police in Albany and Bethlehem deliberately delayed or tried to prevent the arrest of Detective George McNally, who was later indicted on charges of DWI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. McNally, who had been drinking at an Albany Elks Lodge that night, where he is the exalted ruler, has pleaded not guilty. On Friday in Albany County Court before Judge Stephen W. Herrick, McNally rejected an offer by the district attorney's office to plead guilty to DWI in exchange for a sentence of no jail time and a $500 fine. The case is now headed for trial where a jury would likely hear the unsettling 911 call that lasts nearly 15 minutes. The recording confirms that police in Albany and Bethlehem failed to stop McNally's speeding truck even though the off-duty officer was relaying the license plate, vehicle description, physical description of the driver, and direction of travel. Maloney tailed the truck to a Hannaford store in Bethlehem. The last information Maloney relays to the dispatcher is ''he's getting back in ... here comes the cops right now. He's going to take off on them.'' Then the call goes dead. McNally was not taken into custody until nearly two hours later at his home in Bethlehem. A person familiar with the investigation said the marked police vehicle that arrived at the store was driven by Albany Sgt. Peter J. McKenna, who has been suspended pending an internal investigation of his actions that night.

Meanwhile, records turned over to the Times Union under a Freedom of Information Law request show that several police officers involved in the McNally incident, including McKenna, used personal cell phones rather than police radios to communicate with a supervisor, Lt. Michael Tremblay. The city denied an appeal by the newspaper to disclose the private cell phone information of the officers, or their identities. Tremblay was the highest ranking supervisor involved in the pursuit and went to McNally's home to arrest him. He was using a departmental cell phone that night and the city released his phone records but redacted many of the incoming and outgoing calls. The city's refusal to disclose the cell phone numbers was based on their assertion it could ''cause personal hardship to the officers or potentially endanger the life and safety of the officers.'' Still, the Times Union independently confirmed that at least five of the calls were made to or from a private cell phone used by McKenna. The newspaper previously reported McKenna drove his marked SUV into Bethlehem that night and allegedly told police there to back off. The dispatch records and McKenna's actions have raised questions about public statements by Bethlehem officials that their officers were unable to find the pickup truck. Bethlehem officers have real-time access to Albany's dispatch information and a Bethlehem officer used a mobile computer to run McNally's license plate before he sped into their town that night, according to a person briefed on the case.

Now, the 911 recording confirms the situation was described as highly dangerous as McNally, who was wobbly and disoriented, and nearly clipped several cars. ''He's out of the car now looking at damage to his car. We're stopped on New Scotland right at, looks like Hollywood,'' Maloney tells the dispatcher. ''He just fell into the snowbank, big time. He was on the other side of the road. He almost took me out head-on. ... He can hardly walk.'' Moments later, McNally stopped his truck a second time and climbed out, standing in the middle of the road. ''He's going to kill somebody in a minute here,'' Maloney tells the dispatcher. ''So he's highly intoxicated it appears?'' the dispatcher asks. ''Oh, yeah, big-time, he doesn't really know where he is at all,'' Maloney responds. "He went into a snowbank, he hit a car,'' the dispatcher can be heard whispering to someone in the background. The dispatcher assures Maloney help is on the way. ''The guy supposedly lives in Delmar,'' the dispatcher tells Maloney. ''You have some units close?'' Maloney asks, concern growing in his voice. ''... I'm just afraid he's going to clip somebody.'' ''They're on their way,'' the dispatcher responds. ''They're looking at the remarks whenever I put them in here.'' A police report indicates McNally had ''glassy eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness and an odor of an alcoholic beverage.'' McNally and McKenna both remain suspended. Brendan J. Lyons can be reached at 454-5547 or by e-mail at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The New York Post by JAMES FANELLI - April 26, 2009

The city has coughed up $540 million in payouts related to improper police actions since 1998 -- and taxpayer cost for such cases hit a record high last year. In 1998, the city paid lawsuit settlements or judgments to 571 claimants who accused the NYPD of bad behavior. That figure more than doubled to 1,265 in 2008, according to Law Department data. The amount of money shelled out each year also doubled in the past decade. The city paid $31.8 million in 1998, and $66.4 million in 2008.

"What it reveals is a steadily increasing problem of police wrongdoing over the course of the Bloomberg administration," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Both in terms of the number of incidents and the cost of wrongdoing, the trend is in the wrong direction." She said the rise in payouts paralleled a rise in the number of police-abuse complaints made to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. But NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said payouts aren't always a reflection of police misconduct. "Actions in which the police are innocent of wrongdoing, and in which the city admits none, nonetheless frequently result in settlements which enrich plaintiffs and their lawyers at monetary expense to the public and at the expense of the NYPD's good name," Browne said. The 10,625 payouts made over the last 10 years stemmed from lawsuits accusing the NYPD of false arrest, malicious prosecutions, excessive force or other misconduct. Some of these payouts came in cases filed more than a decade ago. "It is important to note that most of the payouts are for incidents that arose in the past and are not reflective of current trends," city Law Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Thomas said.

* The biggest settlement in 2008 was $3.4 million to Hector Gonzalez, who sued the city in 2004 after spending more than six years in prison on a wrongful murder conviction. He was sent to the slammer in 1996 at age 17 for the slaying of a Brooklyn bar patron a year before. The conviction was thrown out in April 2002 after evidence emerged in an FBI investigation into the Latin Kings gang, and a DNA test exonerated Gonzalez. According to his lawyer, Nick Brustin, an NYPD detective and lieutenant investigating the murder used unreliable witnesses and withheld results of a lineup that would have helped clear Gonzalez, now 32. Brustin, who specializes in civil-rights matters involving police, said cases like Gonzalez's rarely lead to departmental changes or investigations of cops. "We see no suggestion that the Police Department is looking at what is happening in some very serious civil-rights cases in terms of addressing problem officers, policing procedures and police training," Brustin said.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

FBI Report Finds Pattern of Police Misdeeds

FBI report finds pattern of police misdeeds
The Philadelphia Inquirer by Joseph A. Slobodzian - April 25, 2009

The FBI memorandum describes a pattern of corruption among a group of Philadelphia narcotics officers: false information used to get search warrants, planted evidence and perjured testimony, thefts of drugs, cash, and valuables from dealers.
It's called the Roberts report and, though it's nine years old, it deals with the same issues that a federal-city task force is now investigating. The report, written on Sept. 5, 2000, by FBI Agent John Roberts - now head of the FBI's public-corruption unit in Philadelphia - remains under seal by order of a federal judge and has never been made public. It's unclear who received the report and what became of its recommendations.

But what has surfaced from court documents is that the report foreshadowed some of the allegations involving brothers Jeffrey and Richard L. Cujdik and other officers in the Narcotics Field Unit. "At the very least, a department investigation should have been conducted into whether or not police were fabricating evidence simply to obtain convictions," defense attorney Jerry S. Goldman said. The report, according to court documents, looked at 12 allegations involving a group of narcotics officers. Some were determined to be credible, others unfounded. None appeared to have resulted in criminal charges, in part because many of the officers involved had left the department. Still, court documents say the report corroborated allegations that "20-plus subjects have falsified probable cause." It was in researching post-conviction appeals for his client, Jeffrey Johnson, who is serving a 30-year sentence on a federal drug conspiracy conviction, that information about the Roberts report surfaced. Roberts, who is involved in the current investigation, declined to comment about his report and its findings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank R. Costello Jr., a veteran prosecutor involved in the Johnson case and its appeals, also declined to comment. Police officials have reassigned the Cujdik brothers and another veteran narcotics officer, Robert McDonnell, to desk duty because of the investigation. Jeffrey Cujdik also was ordered to surrender his service weapon as part of the reassignment. The investigation began after the Philadelphia Daily News published an article on Feb. 9 in which Jeffrey Cujdik's former paid confidential informant, Ventura Martinez, alleged that he and Cujdik made up some drug buys to justify search warrants for people Cujdik considered drug suspects. None of the three officers has commented publicly about the allegations. The police union and Jeffrey Cujdik's attorney, veteran Center City litigator George Bochetto, have vigorously criticized reporters and investigators for taking Martinez's word over that of a commended and productive narcotics officer.

Allegations of bogus affidavits, stolen money, illegal searches, and false testimony have plagued the Police Department's various drug units for decades. Law enforcement veterans, and even some defense lawyers, concede that such allegations are inherent in the policing of the illicit drug business and the use of confidential informants. In the early 1980s, it was the "One Squad Scandal," a small group of narcotics officers prosecuted by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and convicted of selling drugs they stole from dealers. Later in that decade, it was "Five Squad," another drug unit, in which a lieutenant and three subordinates were convicted in federal court of racketeering and other charges for stealing drugs and $280,000 from dealers between 1980 and 1989.

Then came the 39th District scandal in the 1990s: five narcotics officers prosecuted federally for preying on drug suspects, robbing, and falsely prosecuting them to cover up a scheme that ran from 1988 to 1991. That scandal had the most impact on Philadelphia and its judicial system. The 40 false arrests linked to the five officers ultimately led to the dismissal of criminal charges against more than 500 people. The city paid more than $4 million to settle federal civil-rights suits filed by those wrongly arrested and jailed. As civil-rights lawyers litigated those suits, they uncovered new information, including a Police Department internal report that described allegations that narcotics officers stole more than $50,000 from a North Philadelphia drug dealer in 1988. A veteran narcotics officer, John Boucher, was described in the report as a "possible corrupt officer." Boucher refused to comment publicly about the allegation and retired from the force in 1996, a year after defense attorneys in a major drug case contended that Boucher's informant, a phone caller he dubbed "Happy Jose," did not exist. Santiago Arias, the Dominican plumber whom Boucher and "Happy Jose" incriminated, spent three years in prison before his conviction was reversed. In 1998, the city paid $275,000 to settle his civil-rights lawsuit.

The resignations of Boucher and other longtime members of the Narcotics Field Unit effectively ended the chance of other prosecutions. In past public-corruption cases, prosecutors have not usually pursued employees who have retired. But the investigation led Roberts to compile for his FBI superiors a lengthy memo detailing systemic corruption in the police drug unit, court records show. His report surfaced in appeals filed by convicted drug dealers Johnson and James Phillips. It was ordered sealed in 2004 by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, who presided over their appeals. Johnson and Phillips had been convicted in December 2000 of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Each was sentenced to 30 years in prison. After sentencing, their attorneys attacked the convictions, maintaining that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have called into question the credibility of the arresting officers - one of whom was Richard Cujdik, recently assigned to the Narcotics Field Unit. The attorneys asked the court to order prosecutors to produce all documents related to narcotics corruption. Among the new evidence that turned up was a copy of Roberts' report.

The FBI investigated narcotics cases again last year after drug defendant Jose Briggs challenged the existence of a police confidential informant identified as No. 142. Briggs was ultimately acquitted. According to several people close to the case, a six-month FBI investigation into about 300 cases involving No. 142 proved the informant's existence but did not result in criminal charges against six to 10 narcotics officers who used the informant in building drug cases. FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said he could not comment on the 2008 probe of No. 142, citing the open federal-city task force investigation. Goldman, who represents Johnson, said he hoped the new allegations and new evidence would be enough to warrant a new trial for his 40-year-old client. "People shouldn't be put in jail for their entire life based on suspect evidence," he said. Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or
Inquirer staff writer John Shiffman contributed to this article.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Trooper accused of stealing mulch

Trooper accused of stealing mulch
The Utica Observer-Dispatch by COURTNEY POTTS - April 23, 2009

ROME, NY —A state trooper from Oriskany was charged with petit larceny today after he allegedly took truckloads of mulch from Mohawk Valley Mulch Inc. in Rome, state police in Oneida said. Trooper David Volz, 28, was suspended without pay from his duties at the Herkimer barracks as a result of the incident, troopers said. Keller said Volz was observed at 11 p.m. Wednesday loading a borrowed dump truck with mulch for which he had not paid. Mohawk Valley Mulch Co-owner Tricia Rutkowski Thursday said she did not want to discuss specifics of the incident. "We don’t want to interfere with what charge is made to this individual," she said. "We are happy so far with the way the state police are handling the investigation." Rutkowski said she and her husband charge approximately $40 per cubic yard for mulch, which would put the estimated value of a pick-up truck's worth at about $320. City of Rome police officers made the initial arrest, but turned the investigation over to the state police. An incident report could not be released Thursday, state police spokesman Jack Keller said. Volz was issued an appearance ticket for City of Rome Court on the misdemeanor petit larceny charge and is scheduled to return to court at 9 a.m. on May 1st. He also was ticketed for driving an unregistered, uninspected motor vehicle with no insurance, police said.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ex-Detective Arrested on Child Porn Count

Ex-detective arrested on child porn count was set to testify in scandal
Arrest clouds ticket case
The Albany Times Union by BRENDAN LYONS - April 23, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- A retired Albany detective arrested Wednesday on child pornography charges allegedly told federal agents that he has been under the care of a psychologist with whom he has discussed his habit of viewing pornographic computer images of minors. Stanley Nadoraski Jr., 40, who lives off Central Avenue in Colonie, was taken into custody after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided his home Wednesday. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court states the investigation of Nadoraski began in May 2008 when ICE agents connected his credit card and computer information to a larger case involving a child pornography Web site. Last month, ICE agents subpoenaed Nadoraski's credit card information and allegedly found it had been used to make a series of purchases from suspected child pornography sites between November 2008 and January 2009.

Nadoraski is widely known for surviving a harrowing 1999 shooting on North Swan Street in which he was critically wounded. He later returned to the force as a detective, but then retired on disability due to his injuries. ''I do know from speaking with friends and family members that he's been a troubled soul since he was shot nine years ago,'' said Michael McDermott, Nadoraski's attorney. Earlier this month, Nadoraski was profiled in a Times Union story in which he challenged the truthfulness of Albany Police Chief James W. Tuffey's testimony in a parking ticket scandal being investigated by city lawmakers and the state comptroller's office. As a result of his public statements, Nadoraski was invited to testify before the Common Council and he was scheduled to testify Monday. Nadoraski had confirmed earlier this week that he would appear before the council and would challenge the sworn testimony of Tuffey, who told city lawmakers that coded windshield stickers issued by the police union 20 years ago were not intended to be used by police to avoid parking fines. Tuffey was president of the police union at the time. It's now unlikely Nadoraski will testify in the parking matter.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece ordered Nadoraski held without bond during his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday. He is being held at Schoharie County jail. Nadoraski was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with knowingly receiving or attempting to receive child pornography. If convicted, he could face a minimum of five years in federal prison. James C. Hamilton, an ICE agent in the case, filed the two-page complaint that retraced the investigation and included information from his interview of Nadoraski on Wednesday. ''I interviewed Stanley Nadoraski and he stated that he has been obtaining and viewing images of naked minors via the Internet for approximately one year,'' Hamilton's complaint reads. ''He further stated that he had approximately 30 files depicting naked minors and a couple of hundred similar still images on the aforesaid computer seized from his home.'' ICE agents said they found numerous movies of young females on Nadorski's computer. Hamilton added that Nadoraski allegedly admitted subscribing to ''a number'' of child pornography sites and that he has ''been seeing a psychologist for mental health issues.''

Nadoraski has been considered a hero by many officers on the Albany force for his actions and survival of a North Swan Street shooting on Nov. 13, 1999. Tracy Grady of Arbor Hill wrested a handgun away from Nadoraski's partner, Thomas Shea, and shot both officers as they tried to arrest him. Grady fled, was captured and is serving a life sentence. Nadoraski was shot through the face. The bullet shattered his jaw and the roots of two teeth before cutting across his throat and coming out the side of his neck. The bullet traveled into his shoulder, splitting the bone in his upper arm. As he lay motionless in the street, Grady walked back and stood over him, firing another shot into his midsection that missed his protective vest and nicked his liver. Shea was shot in the shoulder. Nadoraski returned to duty a year later, but his injuries, coupled with emotional damage from the shooting, led to his early retirement. Reach Brendan J. Lyons at 454-5547 or

The End of Misplaced Respect for Police Chief

Chief Parker's time is past
EDITORIAL - THe Los Angeles Times - April 19, 2009
The legendary LAPD chief's legacy is mixed; there's no need to name the new police headquarters after him.

William H. Parker was a monumental figure in the history of Los Angeles and of modern law enforcement. He took over as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1950 after scandals had damaged its reputation. He raised its sense of mission, created its manual and weaned it from the corrupting influences of city politics. He also was an arrogant racist who so fiercely insisted on the LAPD's independence that he antagonized colleagues and fellow law enforcement leaders from coast to coast, notably feuding with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover for more than a decade. His place in California history is secure, and his legacy is large and complex. The city's police headquarters, Parker Center, has for decades borne his name. But those decades are enough, and Parker does not warrant similar commemoration at the new headquarters, scheduled to open by the end of the year. The City Council should reject the misguided proposal to name the building for him. It needs no moniker at all, and certainly not that of this complicated and flawed chief. Any honest appraisal of Parker's tenure must acknowledge his dualities -- his rigid professionalism alongside his vulgar comments on race relations; his justifiable pride in his fellow officers alongside his absurd refusal to acknowledge the existence of police brutality; his largely successful career against the shadow of his final months, which he spent in forceful defense of the LAPD's unimpressive performance during the 1965 Watts riots. Parker is hardly the only major public figure to encompass such contradictions -- Hoover himself comes to mind -- but his most fervent supporters and his most dogged critics have depictedhim one-dimensionally, distorting his record to suit their interests.

A window into Parker's complexities comes from an unlikely and largely unexamined source: the Federal Bureau of Investigation's long-running file on him (excerpts appear on the Op-Ed pages today). The documents capture the contentious relationship between Parker and Hoover, a professional wariness that occasionally boiledover into anger and ostracism. The file includes the reports of field agents and the special agent in charge of the bureau's Los Angeles office, commencing soon after Parker's appointment and continuing to his death in 1966. In a 1953 entry, the agent in charge relayed to headquarters the comments of another police chief who attended a convention with Parker and said he "gave a complete demonstration of unjustified egotism." The bureau shared that view, and Hoover himself had unbridled contempt for the chief. For a time, Hoover directed all of his agents to avoid Parker, only relenting in the summer of 1954, and then only grudgingly. He approved occasional professional contacts but warned Los Angeles agents that "you must always be extremely alert and on guard at all times in all dealings with Chief Parker." Even after that point, the FBI would not assist in training LAPD officers because it distrusted the chief; those contacts resumed only after Parker's death.

Over the years, Parker's occasional outbursts came in for scrutiny by the bureau. In 1955, for instance, some state courts began excluding illegally seized evidence from trials after a case in which the Supreme Court appended a memo to one of its decisions urging the attorney general to prosecute police officers who had illegally broken into a home to plant a wiretap. Parker loudly complained and argued for greater latitude for police to violate the law without consequence to the cases they were pursuing. At the FBI, one official concluded that "what Parker actually is advocating (perhaps unknowingly) is that the so-called 'police state' be established; that police be above the law; that the end justifies the means." Those are richly ironic insights coming from Hoover's FBI, but they reflect how far from the mainstream Parker's views had strayed. On race, the file reveals fewer complaints with Parker, perhaps because the bureau itself -- certainly Hoover -- was at least as intolerant as Parker toward the rising calls for racial justice. Nonetheless, the FBI dutifully collected some of Parker's less temperate remarks, such as when he denounced proponents of civil disobedience, then led by Martin Luther King Jr., as employing a "revolutionary tool to overthrow existing governments." He once enraged L.A.'s Mexican American community by suggesting that some immigrants were "not far removed from the wild tribes of Mexico," and infuriated African Americans by describing the Watts riots this way: "One person threw a rock and then, like monkeys in a zoo, others started throwing rocks."

Parker led the LAPD for 16 years. During that time, he restored its reputation in part by insisting on rigorous separation between officers and the communities they served. Police patrolled in cars, made arrests, booked suspects and returned to their cars to resume patrolling. That distance insulated police from the community and thus cut off opportunities to engage in corruption. Parker also oversaw the writing of the LAPD manual and insisted that pride and duty guide the department's officer corps. All of that helped break the department's longtime culture of corruption, and for that this city owes Parker a debt. Those same innovations, however, created an LAPD that was removedfrom its citizens, an almost all-white legion protective of its own, prone to force and racism. For those unfortunate developments, Los Angeles paid a dear price in Parker's time and for generations to come. In 1965, Watts erupted after a California Highway Patrol stop turned ugly; the ensuing riots stretched across the better part of a week and left scores dead. Parker spent the rest of his life trying to explain and defend the actions of his officers during those angry days. He made his last public appearance on July 16, 1966, at the Statler Hilton downtown. As the event concluded, members of the Second Marine Division Assn. rose to give Parker a standing ovation. He slumped back in his chair and gasped for breath. Parker died 35 minutes later.  Parker's body lay in repose in the rotunda of City Hall, and the outpouring of mourners reflected the divisions that he had long inspired. Thousands came to view him, Police Chief Ed Davis later said -- most to pay their respects, a few "to make sure the son-of-a-bitch was dead."

Chicago U.S. Marshall Leak to Mob Trial Begins

Mob leak trial: FBI agent says 'Marquette 10' reference was key
Defense attorney, though, notes discrepancies, other suspects
The Chicago Tribune by Robert Mitchum - April 15, 2009

In hushed tones, their heads almost touching, James and Michael Marcello used code words like "Zhivago" and "Pagliacci" as they discussed the federal cooperation of their Outfit associate, Nicholas Calabrese. The grainy video of those conversations, secretly recorded by the FBI in the waiting room of a Michigan federal prison where James Marcello was incarcerated in 2003, was the centerpiece of the first day of testimony Tuesday in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose. Ambrose, 41, is charged with leaking confidential information about Calabrese's cooperation with federal authorities in the Family Secrets investigation, which led to the conviction of several notorious Chicago mobsters in 2007.

But in 2003, the fact that Calabrese was cooperating was still a closely guarded secret, FBI Special Agent Michael Maseth, the prosecution's first witness, said in testimony. Asked by Assistant U.S. Atty. Diane MacArthur to describe the importance of Calabrese to the federal investigation of the Chicago mob, Maseth called the mob hit man "the most important organized-crime witness that has ever testified in this district, and perhaps in the entire United States." When the Marcello brothers were recorded discussing not just Calabrese's cooperation but also specific details he was communicating to authorities, the investigation was put in grave danger, he said. "We were shocked," Maseth said. Prosecutors pointed to statements Michael Marcello made on the recordings about the number of murders Calabrese had claimed, his movements with authorities around Chicago during a 2003 visit and calls Calabrese placed to his wife during that visit. The Marcellos referred to the source of the information as either "the kid" or "the baby-sitter" in the recordings and made reference to the source's father having been convicted in the "Marquette 10" Chicago police corruption case in the 1980s. Ambrose's father, Thomas, a former Chicago police officer, died in prison four years after being convicted on federal bribery charges in the Marquette 10 trial.

Maseth said that those details led authorities to Ambrose, who was on Calabrese's witness security detail during two Chicago visits in 2002 and 2003. A subsequent fingerprint analysis of Calabrese's witness security documents—which detail the information he was sharing with investigators and the names of people who might pose a threat to his life—found two prints that matched Ambrose's, he testified. But during cross-examination, Maseth admitted that there were 14 other fingerprints from undetermined sources on the documents. During her questions, Ambrose's attorney, Susan Shatz, highlighted several discrepancies between information contained in the documents and what the Marcello brothers had discussed on the recordings. Shatz also asked Maseth about federal investigations into several other potential sources of the information, including a former attorney for Calabrese and two retired high-ranking Chicago police officers. Shatz pointed out that several newspaper articles, including a February 2003 Tribune column by John Kass, had strongly speculated that Calabrese was assisting federal investigators months before most of the Marcello conversations played for the jury.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ex-TSA Officer Charged in Drug Case

Ex-TSA Officer Held On $750K Bond In Drug Case
Longtime Palm Bay Resident Accused Of Drug Dealing
WESH TV  by Dan Billow - Orlando, FL - April 9, 2009

PALM BAY, Fla. -- A Transportation Security Officer trained to stop drugs and guns from getting onto airplanes is accused of dealing in drugs and guns. He was held on $750,000 bond on Thursday and also quit his job with the TSA. Police seize money, drugs and high-powered weapons from the home of Timothy Monroe. Police said they seized a significant amount of money, drugs and high-powered weapons from his home. A police special investigations unit made a big haul at the Palm Bay home of Timothy Monroe. Officers seized piles of cash -- the profits of not only selling illegal narcotics but distributing them to other dealers, police said. "Mr. Monroe is a person that is well established in the community. He has lived here for many years. The extent of his dealings are what we would say is a mid-level dealer," an undercover officer said. Officers found enough cocaine to trigger a federal trafficking probe, in addition to bags and bags of marijuana and guns that included a shotgun and two semiautomatic guns with loads of ammunition. "He's the last point of security before people get into the air terminal," Palm Bay Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said of Monroe's TSA position at Orlando International Airport. Police and the TSA are investigating whether any of Monroe's alleged drug activity had any connection to the airport. "What he does for a living is enough to raise concern and is something that should be looked into," Martinez said Police found several children but no adults during the raid. The TSA is conducting an investigation of its own. To comment on this story, send an e-mail to Dan Billow at

Corruption Case Against Police Chief Dismissed Again

Corruption case against Edwardsville police chief dismissed again
The Kansas City Star by DAWN BORMANN - April 14, 2009

A Kansas judge dismissed corruption charges against former Edwardsville Police Chief M. Steve Vaughn because his right to a speedy trial was violated. But lest anyone think Vaughn skated on a “technicality,” Senior Kansas Judge Janice D. Russell added this in her opinion: “Our Constitutions are the basic, fundamental law governing our society. A citizen who asserts the protection due him under either the United States or Kansas Constitution is not escaping on a technicality; he is claiming his constitutional rights.” Vaughn was originally charged with allegedly hiding records of two persons accused of DUI. A second person, former Edwardsville Councilman Bob Lane, pleaded “no contest” for his role in the ticket-fixing scandal. Lane was subsequently found guilty of four misdemeanors — two counts of compounding a crime, one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct and one count of official misconduct.

The case against Vaughn was originally dismissed in 2007 for speedy trial violations. However, the Kansas Supreme Court breathed new life into the case earlier this year when it reversed and remanded a judge’s dismissal. The high court said that there was one delay where further clarification was necessary. At a hearing last week, Russell heard from both sides including the original judge, who said he ordered the delay in question. On Tuesday, Russell dismissed the case again citing the judge’s testimony and other evidence. Russell said that it was up to the state to keep track of the speedy trial deadline. “This court must find that the state failed to protect its interest in prosecuting Mr. Vaughn within the 180 days,” she wrote. The attorney general’s office handled the investigation and subsequent prosecution for the state. Since Vaughn was arraigned in 2006, the case has been transferred to several different attorneys and judges. During the appeal, Gillette pointed out that the case has been dragged out long enough. It has gone through six judges, the Kansas Supreme Court and three attorneys from the Kansas attorney general’s office.

WYANDOTTE COUNTY | Corruption charges dismissed

A judge dismissed corruption charges against former Edwardsville Police Chief M. Steve Vaughn on Tuesday because his right to a speedy trial was violated. Senior Kansas Judge Janice D. Russell made the decision after hearing evidence and testimony last week. Vaughn was originally charged with allegedly hiding records of two persons accused of DUI. The case was dismissed in 2007. However, earlier this year the Kansas Supreme Court breathed new life into the case when it remanded the decision back to district court asking for clarification. After the hearing last week, Russell said she was satisfied that the state failed to give Vaughn a speedy trial.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Customs Cop Pleads Guilty Trafficking and Bribery

Customs officer pleads guilty to drug trafficking and bribery charges
The Browsville Herlad by Ildefonso Ortiz - April 14, 2009

BROWNSVILLE, TX - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, alien smuggling and bribery charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Sergio Lopez Hernandez, 40, of Brownsville, entered the guilty plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13. He faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of nearly $5 million. A 12-year veteran with the federal agency, Hernandez has been in jail since arrested on Jan. 28 by FBI agents working in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CBP. The U.S. Attorney's Office reported Hernandez admitted to the charges of conspiracy to bring illegal immigrants to the United States, bringing illegal immigrants to the U.S. for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and accepting bribes to influence his official capacity as a CBP officer. According to federal authorities, Hernandez committed these crimes while working as a CBP inspector at the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, between July and January. Hernandez also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes of more than $150,000 in cash and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 15 kilograms of cocaine. As part of his plea agreement, Hernandez forfeited $85,250 seized from his home on Jan. 28.

Married Cops Guilty on Drug Charge

Married Puerto Rican police guilty on drug charge
The Associated Press - April 14, 2009

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Two husband-and-wife police officers are pleading guilty to federal drug trafficking charges in Puerto Rico.Prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodriguez says the couple conspired to rob a drug dealer and sell 18 pounds (8 kilograms) of cocaine themselves. The two were assigned to a tactical operations unit in San Juan. Jose Garcia Garcia and Jacqueline Torres Cruz were indicted by a U.S. grand jury in February along with two other officers in the alleged 2007 robbery. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of seven years for Garcia and four for his wife. The couple entered the guilty pleas on Monday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Misconduct Probe Benches 2 More Drug Cops

2 more narcotics officers off street in light of misconduct probe
The Philadelphia Daily News by BARBARA LAKER & WENDY RUDERMAN - April 15, 2009

Two more narcotics officers have been placed on desk duty as FBI and local investigators delve deeper into allegations of police misconduct. Officers Robert McDonnell and Richard Cujdik, both veterans of the Narcotics Field Unit, were recently removed from the street, though they retain their department-issued guns and police powers, Internal Affairs Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua said yesterday. The officers' removal comes in the wake of the Daily News series "Tainted Justice," which began in February with allegations that Officer Jeffrey Cujdik, Richard's brother, lied on search warrants to get into targeted drug homes, and got too close to his informants. Jeffrey Cujdik then became the focus of a federal-local task force, and he was placed on desk duty and forced to give up his police powers and service weapon. The investigation widened after the Daily News reported allegations leveled by 15 store owners that the Cujdik brothers and officers who worked with them destroyed or cut wires to surveillance cameras during raids for drug paraphernalia, specifically little ziplock bags. Once the cameras were disabled, thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise went missing, the store owners alleged. Richard Cujdik led a Sept. 11, 2007, raid of a West Oak Lane grocery store owned by Jose Duran. The officers used their bare hands, pliers and a bread knife from the store deli to cut camera wires, but didn't realize that Duran had a hidden backup hard drive that captured part of the raid. The video, obtained by the Daily News and viewable on, shows Richard Cujdik searching Duran's van, apparently without a search warrant. Duran alleges that the officers seized about $10,000 in the raid, but in police paperwork documented taking only $785.

McDonnell, who worked closely with Jeffrey Cujdik, did not take part in the store raid. But McDonnell is linked to search warrants that are now in question. For example, Jeffrey Cujdik wrote in an August 2007 search-warrant application that he and McDonnell watched a confidential informant buy marijuana from a North Philadelphia drug suspect known as "Pooh Bear." The informant, Ventura Martinez, told the Daily News that he'd never heard of "Pooh Bear" and didn't make the buy. In late February, federal prosecutors withdrew their case against the suspect. Shortly afterward, McDonnell was taken off the street and put behind a desk at narcotics headquarters. Last week, Richard Cujdik was transferred to the 15th Police District, at Harbison and Levick streets, where he is doing desk and phone work, DiLacqua said. When asked why these three officers were singled out, DiLacqua said, "That's where the investigation led us." He declined to elaborate. None of the officers has been charged with any wrongdoing. Jeffrey Cujdik's attorney has said that the allegations are untrue. Richard Cujdik did not return a phone call last night. McDonnell has repeatedly declined comment. Meanwhile, Assistant Public Defender Bradley S. Bridge has challenged 53 drug convictions so far, citing the Daily News reports in court papers. * 215-854-5933

Lawyer Sues Troopers Over Rough-Up

Lawyer Sues Troopers He Says Roughed Him Up for Using Cell Phone at Courthouse
The Daily Report by Greg Land - April 14, 2009

ATLANTA, GA - More than two years after he was thrown to the ground and arrested after being warned to put away his cell phone as he waited to plead a client's DUI case, charges against Marietta, Ga., attorney Billy L. Spruell have been dropped by the Fulton County district attorney. But the case is not over: Spruell has filed suit in federal court in Atlanta against the two state troopers who hauled him, bleeding and in handcuffs, out of a waiting area at the Office of State Administrative Hearings in downtown Atlanta and charged him with obstructing an officer. According to witnesses who spoke to the Daily Report at the time, Spruell was among several attorneys waiting outside the administrative courtroom in the Peachtree Street building housing OSAH on Feb. 13, 2007, when State Patrol Cpl. George R. Harper approached and told them to either put away their phones or leave the court offices. Attorney David M. Zagoria said Spruell continued to talk on his phone, but walked out past a security checkpoint to "a little alcove where the stairs are." Harper again told Spruell to leave the suite or hang up and, according to a State Patrol spokesman at the time, Spruell "became uncooperative" and cursed the officer. Harper, who was working off-duty at the court, attempted to arrest him. Trooper Stacey A. Forrest, who was attending court to testify in an unrelated case, pitched in to subdue Spruell, wrestling the then-68-year-old lawyer to the ground.

In the process, said Zagoria, Spruell was pushed into a wall, "and his head just made this sickening crunch." The troopers, said attorney Gregory A. Willis, who was also on hand, "slammed Billy's head into the wall, into this black metal frame. I saw hair and blood there afterward." Spruell's Feb. 10 suit accuses the troopers of excessive force and battery and essentially reiterates that version of events. It says that Harper followed Spruell into the hallway after ordering him from the waiting area "whereupon, suddenly and without warning, assaulted him, following which Defendant Forrest joined Defendant Harper and 'took him down,' which they did in such a violent way as to cause serious physical injuries." Among those injuries, says the suit, were a concussion and contusions and lacerations to his lip, face and head. His teeth were also damaged, and his wrist and shoulder were strained, it says. Spruell referred questions to his attorney, James A. Eidson of Hapeville, who said he had numerous witnesses to the arrest who could corroborate Spruell's version. "They charged him with obstruction, but they never even told him he was under arrest until after they tackled him," said Eidson. "What was he obstructing?"

In fighting that charge, Spruell sought the help of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' "Strike Force," which provides representation to member attorneys charged with contempt or other offenses during their representation of a client. He requested that Lawrenceville, Ga., attorney Christine A. Koehler, who was recently named president of the organization, take his case. On April 1 she received a letter from Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Kellie S. Hill of the office's Public Integrity Unit saying the charges had been dropped. Her office had "exhaustively investigated" the allegations surrounding the incident, wrote Hill, "and our findings indicate that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution against your client, Mr. Spruell, or any other party involved." Eidson said that, as a result of that letter, he also will be adding a charge of false arrest to his complaint. On April 4, the office of Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker filed a motion to dismiss, citing sovereign immunity. Baker spokeswoman Kelley Jackson declined further comment on the case. A Georgia State Patrol public information officer, Lt. Paul L. Cosper, said he was unfamiliar with Spruell's suit and unaware of any related investigations conducted by his department. I don't know Mr. Spruell or what his intentions are," said Coster. "These troopers were doing their job."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Dead Teen and Questions of the Off-Duty Cops Involved

The Washington Post by Cheryl W. Thompson - Sunday 19, 2009
Nineteen months ago, DeOnté Rawlings, a teen suspected of stealing a minibike, was killed in an exchange of gunfire. The off-duty D.C. police officers involved were investigated and cleared. But do the reports add up?

Near dusk one September evening in 2007, a boy cruises on a stolen, red, gas-powered minibike down an alley in Southeast's Highland Dwellings public housing complex. A gold Chevrolet Tahoe passes with two men inside, both off-duty D.C. police officers, both armed. The driver is determined to recover his bike. He slams the SUV into reverse and races backward in pursuit. There is an exchange of gunfire. When it is over, a 14-year-old lies dying in the fading autumn light, a bullet hole in the back of his head. The shooting of DeOnté Rawlings was one of the most controversial and emotional the city had seen in decades, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier publicly promised a thorough and open investigation. Their unusual stance, which included paying for the boy's funeral, brought political heat from the police union and the force. But Fenty and Lanier were practically silent when the fatal shooting was declared justifiable last year by federal prosecutors and police officials who said the boy fired first at the officers. Instead of being open, officials declined to release the details supporting their conclusions, saying their hands were tied by federal grand jury secrecy rules that ordinarily do not apply to local police shooting cases. The FBI and grand jury had been brought in to ensure an impartial investigation. The lack of transparency left a host of unanswered questions throughout the city: If Rawlings fired, where was his gun? Why did the minibike vanish from the scene, then reappear days later? What evidence tied the boy to the shooting? The Washington Post examined the Rawlings case, obtaining and analyzing previously undisclosed internal police reports, statements by officers at the scene and depositions from witnesses. Together, the documents present a much more ambiguous picture, revealing a chain of police missteps and oversights that invite questions about what happened that evening.

The officers involved in the shooting didn't identify themselves as police officers, didn't attend to the wounded suspect and fled the scene. All were violations of department policy. By not securing the scene and the evidence, the off-duty officers made it impossible to conclusively determine whether Rawlings had fired a weapon. No gun was found even though uniformed police arrived within three minutes, and only seven seconds after the off-duty officers had left. After the shooting, more mistakes occurred. One of the officers took a key piece of evidence with him -- driving off in the sport-utility vehicle, which a police investigator says was hit by a bullet. The officer who shot DeOnté, James Haskel, left the scene on foot, flagging down a nearby police cruiser. That officer drove Haskel to his mother's house and failed to question him or take notes about what happened. Haskel also was allowed to make unmonitored phone calls, including at least one to the officer who accompanied him during the shooting, and was not questioned for two hours and 33 minutes. Authorities tested Rawlings's clothing for lead residue and found none, police records show. No gunshot residue, soot or powder was found on his fingers or hands, according to the autopsy report. Police cited an acoustic sensor system known as ShotSpotter, which detects and locates gunshots, as evidence that there were two shooters. But the system could not determine who fired or from what positions, raising the possibility that someone other than Rawlings might have fired at the officers. "The complexity of the audio makes it impossible to be certain exactly what happened based on audio evidence alone," the ShotSpotter report says. The minibike turned up two days later, 16 miles away at the Upper Marlboro home of a longtime friend of Haskel's. The friend said that it was recovered in the neighborhood the day after the shooting and that he took it home at Haskel's insistence. Rawlings's fingerprints and DNA were not found on the bike.

There is also no forensic evidence tying Rawlings to the shooting. Police initially had said Rawlings used a .45-caliber handgun, based on shell casings they found near his body. But they had to retract that when the casings turned out to be too old to have come from the shooting. A month after the shooting, a new narrative emerged: An 18-year-old named Clifton Coleman who was at the scene said Rawlings fired a .38-caliber revolver, which would leave no shell casings. Coleman had kept silent until he was arrested for shooting his girlfriend in the face in an unrelated incident. The only known evidence supporting the .38 theory is paint discovered on a deformed lead bullet found at the scene. FBI technicians say that the bullet is from a .38 and that the paint matches Haskel's SUV. An indentation was found on the SUV's driver-side door, which investigators say is a bullet strike, but the FBI has declined to release its report analyzing the paint.

Gregory L. Lattimer, attorney for the Rawlings family, says the evidence points to a different theory: Someone other than Rawlings was on the minibike, and someone else fired at the SUV, prompting Haskel to fire eight bullets in 5.5 seconds, hitting the unarmed boy almost dead-center in the back of the head. That would explain why no gun and no minibike were found at the scene, Lattimer said. D.C. police records show Rawlings had no arrest record. Lattimer said he has never seen the city handle a police shooting with such secrecy. "The city has gone on record assuring the Rawlings family that they would be open and aboveboard," he said. "They've been anything but." On behalf of the family, Lattimer has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the two officers in U.S. District Court. Lanier, the federal prosecutors and the FBI declined to discuss details of the case, citing the lawsuit and grand jury secrecy rules. "I can't discuss that case at all," Lanier said. "Eighty percent of what can be discussed is protected by grand jury secrecy." Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. attorney, said: "Our focus was whether a crime was committed and was there evidence to support a crime. There was very little question that someone fired at the officers that night. So when they fired back, we determined they were justified in returning fire." Haskel declined to comment. Anthony Clay, the officer who accompanied Haskel, said: "I can't really talk about that stuff. We still have issues going on civilly." When the U.S. attorney's office and D.C. police decided not to charge the officers last year, officials cited only witness statements and the same 13 words to justify their findings: "physical and forensic evidence, autopsy results, ShotSpotter data, and firearms and paint analysis." Here, for the first time, is a public accounting and step-by-step analysis of the known evidence used to clear the officers.

Witness Statements

Just before sunset Sept. 17, 2007, in the Walter E. Washington Estates in Southeast, Anthony Clay overheard neighbors outside his townhouse saying someone had stolen a minibike from the garage of his friend and neighbor James Haskel. Clay and Haskel were in their 40s and were 20-year veterans of the police force. Clay was outside when Haskel arrived at home in his 1999 Tahoe. Haskel drove off to look for the bike, armed with his Glock 17 service weapon. Clay went along, taking his police-issued radio, his badge and his department-approved off-duty Glock 27 handgun. He put the gun in his sock. The two men took the SUV into an alley two blocks away between Yuma and Atlantic streets. Halfway down the alley, heading in their direction, they spotted a boy on a minibike. "That's the bike there," Clay, in his deposition, recalled Haskel saying. The minibike and SUV passed each other, and Haskel backed up to follow the boy, yelling out the window for him to drop the bike. Haskel and Clay later said they did not identify themselves as police officers. "He dropped it. . . . He got off and said 'What? What?' " Haskel said in his deposition. Clay said: "He turns toward the vehicle and reaches in his right pocket, pulls out an object and holds it behind his leg." The object was "dark metal," Clay said, although he "couldn't really see what exactly it was." "I think he has a gun," he said he told Haskel.

Haskel said in his recorded statement to police: "I thought he's trying to scare us and then out comes the gun. . . . And I'm like, oh, my God, he has [inaudible] because he's standing there with the gun there and I'm like, okay, I get my gun out [inaudible] the gun out the window, he fires. I bang off two rounds. He runs off." Haskel said he was in the SUV's driver seat when the boy shot at him from about nine feet away. The shooting started at 7:36 p.m., according to the data from the ShotSpotter sensors. Although Clay was on the scene, he was unable to provide clear-cut eyewitness testimony about the shooting. Clay told police that he got out of the SUV and crouched behind it. By the time he pulled out his gun, the youngster "was out of my sight," he said. Clay said he did not get a good look at the shooter's face but saw the "muzzle flash" of the boy's weapon. Haskel ran after him. Haskel said the boy, who was 5-foot-2 and 102 pounds, shot back at him over his shoulder. If Rawlings were the shooter, firing in such a manner would have brought the gun close to Rawlings's white shirt, but investigators later found no powder, residue or soot on his clothing or hands. Haskel said he fired six more shots as Rawlings ran and fired back. One bullet struck the boy, and he fell to the pavement. His body was about 100 feet from the scene of the initial shooting, in a passageway between buildings known as "the cut," records show. The autopsy would later show the boy was hit almost dead-center in the back of the head.

Neighbors called 911.

"Somebody got shot in the head," an elderly male caller shouted to the dispatcher. "Please hurry, please hurry. I'm looking out the window . . . they're on the ground." "This little boy was just shot in the head, man," said a teenage caller. "Hurry up, man. We need something, man." Haskel said he saw "at least three people at the body" bending over the fallen boy. "One of them said to me that you shot him in the head," Haskel said in his deposition. He said he wasn't sure at the time whether it was he or Clay who had shot the boy. Clay, who was still back at the truck, said in his deposition that he did not know that anyone had been shot. Haskel said he told Clay to call for help. Clay said he went into the truck and retrieved his radio from the seat. But he called on the wrong channel, so Haskel took the radio from him and called into the 7th Police District channel. It was 7:37 p.m., less than a minute after the shooting. "10-33, 10-33," Haskel said, giving the call sign to indicate an officer needed assistance. "700 block of, um, Atlantic Street, suspect down, suspect down, officer-involved shooting." Even though Haskel had taken the radio from Clay to report a "suspect down," Clay insisted that he still did not know that the boy had been hit. "All I thought we had was shots fired . . . that was it," he said. Haskel later said that he did not go to the boy to determine his condition. "I didn't make a visual and verbal check," Haskel said in his deposition. "I didn't even approach him." Haskel said he couldn't explain why. "I just didn't," he said.

The Aftermath

At this point, if the two officers had secured the crime scene, the mysteries that remain might have been solved. But that didn't happen. Haskel told Clay to drive his SUV away, both officers said later. "I don't know why," Clay said. Haskel later said that a crowd had begun to form and that he didn't want anyone to identify his vehicle and retaliate against his family. At 7:38 p.m., Haskel called in another 10-33, asking for a police cruiser to pick him up. "I got a hostile crowd out here," he said. But Clay later said, "At the time I moved [the SUV] . . . I didn't see anyone around." Clay, who worked at the police academy making training videos, said he knew that it violated policy for him, as a potential witness, to leave the scene. But he left anyway. "That was a personal decision I made," he said in his deposition. Clay also said he was unaware of another detail: Haskel said later that a bullet had hit the SUV's driver-side door and left an indentation just under the mirror. Clay said he wouldn't have moved the SUV if he had known, because removing evidence from a crime scene also violates department policy. At 7:39 p.m., a cruiser driven by Officer Anthony Fucci pulled up on Yuma Street, a short distance from the shooting scene. Haskel went through a grass-and-dirt courtyard and down seven steps, then flagged the officer down and got in the car. Fucci said in a deposition in February that Haskel didn't tell him that he had just shot someone. He mumbled "something to the effect of, why did he have a gun?" Fucci recalled.

Clay drove the SUV back to Haskel's house, two blocks away. He said he passed police officers headed to the scene but didn't stop to brief them. When he reached Haskel's home in the gated community, he gave the SUV's keys to Haskel's wife, who was standing outside. Clay said he learned from her that Haskel had shot the boy. "She said something -- something to the nature of 'I think he shot him' or something like that," Clay recalled. But Haskel's wife said it was Clay who told her about the shooting, according to a deposition she gave this month. And Daniel Egbert, one of the officers rushing to the scene, said an officer had leaned out of the SUV's window, flashed a badge and told them about the shooting. "He said, 'somebody's down up there,' " Egbert recalled. Egbert and his partner, Jeremy Bank, reached Rawlings at 7:39 p.m., seven seconds after Fucci had left with Haskel, according to the radio transcripts. An ambulance arrived at 7:42 p.m., six minutes after the shooting, records show. Rawlings was pronounced dead 2 1/2 hours later at Children's National Medical Center.

A Detour

Officer Fucci was instructed to take Haskel to the parking lot of nearby Ballou High. Instead, at Haskel's request, Fucci drove the officer a couple of blocks to an address on Xenia Street, because "it was quiet over there," Fucci said in a deposition. The two-story, red-brick duplex was Haskel's mother's house. Fucci, a young officer who joined the force in 2004, said later "I didn't know what was going on," but he followed Haskel inside. "I could tell he was -- whatever happened, he was distraught over, and I didn't want him to go into the house and kill himself," Fucci said. Haskel went into a room with a woman while Fucci "stood at the door and watched them." "I think he just said [to the woman] 'I was all right,' " Fucci recalled. The two men returned to Fucci's cruiser and moved it two houses down because Haskel "didn't want anybody to know that he might live there," Fucci said. Fucci said he gave Haskel the phone number of a lawyer "so he could talk to somebody." Fucci then stepped out of the car to give Haskel some privacy, "Because I didn't want to hear what he was talking about," Fucci said. While Haskel was with Fucci, he spoke with Clay at least twice by cellphone, records show. Clay later said he called Haskel to find out whether he was okay and Haskel later called him to come to the 7th District station. When Fucci gave his initial statement that night, he did not mention the trip to Haskel's mother's house. "I wasn't really thinking about details," Fucci said in his deposition. Fucci also said he didn't take notes, even though the department requires officers to record significant events. "Just didn't think to write it down," Fucci said. Haskel did not give a statement to police until 10:09 p.m. The taped interview was over quickly, lasting 13 minutes. It was the third time in his career that Haskel had been involved in a shooting. In the previous shootings, he also had been off duty and was cleared.

Key Evidence

One of the lingering mysteries about the case is what exactly happened in the hours after the shooting to the item that started it all: the minibike. Like the SUV and the gun, the minibike was another key piece of evidence taken from the unsecured scene before uniformed police arrived. Police officials have refrained from publicly saying how they recovered the minibike. Records obtained by The Post show that the bike wended a circuitous path through several hands before being recovered by investigators. An hour after the shooting, a detective canvassing the neighborhood saw youths tinkering with a red minibike on a porch on Atlantic Street. At the time, the detective was unaware that a minibike had been connected to the shooting. When he found out, he returned to Atlantic, but the bike was gone. The next afternoon, Bobby McNair, a childhood buddy of Haskel's, said he was standing on Xenia Street near Haskel's mother's house when a boy whizzed past on a minibike. McNair said he thought it was Haskel's. McNair said he notified a female police officer patrolling nearby. The officer did nothing, he said, so a friend of Haskel's who went by the street name Fat Stink chased after the youth, retrieving the bike after getting "aggressive" with him. McNair later said he did not know Fat Stink's real name or the name of the boy. But it was indeed Haskel's bike, records show. McNair said he called Haskel, offering to bring the bike to the officer's home nearby, but Haskel said to take it to McNair's home in Upper Marlboro. A long-distance truck driver, McNair said he put the bike in his garage and left on a two-week run to California. Police picked the bike up from his son. Police performed extensive forensic testing but found no fingerprint matches to Haskel, Clay, Coleman or Rawlings, records show.

Firearms, Paint Analysis

Four ShotSpotter sensors detected the gunfire, and the sound analysis showed that it came from two shooters. Shooter A fired three or possibly four times, including the first shot, and Shooter B fired eight times, including the last four shots, which is consistent with Haskel's firing. But the ShotSpotter analysis report concluded that the data did not present an unambiguous picture of what happened during the shooting, because of the "near-simultaneous discharge of many shots from two weapons and the presence of many echoes from nearby buildings." The ShotSpotter report noted, "For these reasons, the conclusions . . . should be corroborated with other evidentiary sources such as recovered shell casings." Seven 9mm casings found on the ground were matched to Haskel's gun. Because three .45 shell casings were found near where Rawlings lay, the preliminary investigative report said that Rawlings had fired a .45 at police. "Mr. Rawlings removed a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun from his right pants pocket," the report said.

But the .45 casings turned out to be too old to come from a fresh shooting -- they were "dirty and in the dirt," according to Sgt. Ralph D. Wax, the lead investigator. Wax later said he had erred. "I assumed because the .45s [shell casings] were near the body that he fired a .45," he said in a deposition. The story of the .45 took another twist when 18-year-old Clifton Coleman was arrested for shooting his girlfriend Oct. 15, 2007, a month after Rawlings was killed. The girlfriend survived. Coleman initially lied to police about what happened to her and can be heard on the 911 tape telling her to lie, according to a court document. He pleaded guilty in February to assault with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm; his sentencing is set for Wednesday. At the time of Coleman's arrest, police searched his house and found two semiautomatics, including a .45-caliber handgun, which turned out to be a match for the three old shell casings found at the Rawlings scene.

That match prompted local media to erroneously report that the gun used by Rawlings had been located. Facing criminal charges, Coleman told police that Rawlings had shot at the officers. Coleman said "he saw DeOnté Rawlings, who he knew, riding the minibike," according to Wax. Coleman said he saw Rawlings "with a .38," according to Wax, "and I believe he said [Rawlings] fired it at the officers, and [Coleman] put himself there on the scene." Lattimer, the attorney for the Rawlings family, said that he had talked to Coleman shortly after the shooting and that Coleman had told him Rawlings was not armed. Unlike a .45 or 9mm semiautomatic, a .38-caliber revolver retains its shell casings in a chamber rather than ejecting them. The night of the shooting, police had recovered a deformed lead bullet in the alley 10 feet in front of 633 Yuma St. They initially identified it as coming from a 9mm. But FBI technicians later identified it as coming from a .38. They said they found automotive paint on the bullet consistent with the paint on the SUV, but the FBI has declined to release its report. "We wouldn't be releasing that to the public," said Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office. "It's part of an FBI investigation."

The Investigation

The killing of the Ballou Senior High School freshman outraged a community hardened to violence, prompting city and federal officials to promise to "find out exactly what happened, leaving no stone unturned in the process." The city paid $7,477 for the boy's funeral and burial. To ensure a thorough investigation, the FBI was brought in under the auspices of a federal grand jury. But grand jury secrecy rules require that the identity of witnesses and their testimony remain secret. Citing the grand jury rules, police and prosecutors have declined to release the investigative reports as well. In May 2008, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor announced that Haskel would not be charged with a crime, concluding that he acted in self-defense after Rawlings fired first. Taylor said the decision was "based on a painstaking analysis of the facts developed during a lengthy and thorough investigation." Four months later, the D.C. police department's Use of Force Review Board found that the shooting was justified and that Haskel did not violate department policy. "I stand by the findings of the investigative team and the board," Chief Lanier said. "Now that the matter has been closed, it is my sincere hope that the officers involved in the incident, the community and the department will be able to move forward and mend."

Federal judge Upholds Civil Rights Charge Against Cop

Federal judge upholds civil rights charge against Yonkers cop
The Journal News by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon - April 17, 2009

YONKERS, NY - A federal judge yesterday refused to dismiss an indictment against a city officer accused of body-slamming a 44-year-old woman - even if prosecutors sped up a video of the incident, as defense lawyers claim. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas also denied a request by lawyers for accused Officer Wayne Simoes asking that the judge privately review grand jury records to determine if prosecutors were misleading in their presentation. "Even if I were to review the transcripts and decide that I would not have returned a true bill (on an indictment), that is not enough," Karas said during proceedings in U.S. District Court in White Plains. He said prosecutors had other evidence to sustain their indictment, including eyewitness accounts and medical records that show Irma Marquez suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the March 3, 2007, encounter with police at La Fonda Restaurant in Yonkers.

Simoes, 39, was indicted by a federal grand jury in August. He was charged with violating Marquez's civil rights. Marquez has also filed a $11.3 million civil lawsuit against Simoes and Yonkers. But defense attorney Andrew Quinn claimed that federal prosecutors had more than doubled the speed of a surveillance video from the restaurant that appears to show Marquez being thrown to the ground by Simoes following an earlier fracas at the eatery. Quinn said that the alleged alteration made the video - which he says the grand jury and several witnesses who testified to the panel were shown - inaccurate and "unnatural." He said that a video specialist he hired determined that the video was 208 percent faster than normal. "A grand jury is going to rely very, very heavily on what they see with their eyes," Quinn said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Skotko would not say if the video disc was altered, citing grand jury secrecy statutes. But, she said, there was ample other evidence. "The defense is aware of an abundance of evidence," Skotko told Karas. "It's not our burden to confirm nor deny."

Yonkers police responded to La Fonda on reports of a fight. They were tending to an acquaintance of Marquez's when she approached the officers, prompting the encounter with Simoes. Yonkers police charged Marquez with obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct. She was acquitted in May and filed her civil lawsuit just weeks later. Simoes was arrested on a federal criminal complaint in June and indicted Aug. 19. Quinn, Simoes' attorney, sought to have that indictment thrown out yesterday. "Anytime there's a video in a case, I think the jury - and you can ask any lawyer - will rely very, very heavily on what they see on TV," Quinn said. However, Quinn said he did not expect the speed of the video to be an issue at Simoes' upcoming trial, suggesting that prosecutors would now show it at normal speed for the trial jury. "We respect the judge's decision," he said. "I don't think that this is going to be an issue at trial," he added. That was strictly a pre-trial issue." Karas scheduled the start of the trial for May 11, when jury selection is set to begin in the case.

Prosecutors Ask for 9 Years in Sheriff Corruption Case

Prosecutors to Ask for 9 Years in Carona Corruption Case
KTLA News - April 10, 2009

SANTA ANA, CA - Prosecutors plan to ask that former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona be sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $125,000 when he is sentenced on April 27, according to documents released Friday. The federal probation office has asked for the lesser sentence of six years and six months in prison, along with a $65,000 fine. In his sentencing memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Sagal said that nine years "is the minimum sentence necessary to provide appropriate general and specific deterence, promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment and to reflect the seriousness of the defendant's crimes." Defense attorneys for Carona could not be reached for comment, but they are expected to ask that Judge Andrew Guilford give Carona probation. Carona, his wife Deborah, and his former mistress, attorney Debra Hoffman, were accused of conspiring to appoint millionaire businessman Don Haidl to assistant sheriff in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts. Haidl had no prior law enforcement background. Part of Sagal's argument for harsher punishment for Carona was based on the fact that Carona gave Haidl full police powers, including police badges and identification cards. Sagel said Carona gave reserve badges and identification cards to family members, friends and business associates as well. Carona was acquitted of conspiracy, mail fraud by depriving the public of the right to honest services and obstruction of justice/witness tampering.

Carona's Jan. 16 conviction on a separate count of witness tampering stemmed from a secretly recorded conversation on Aug. 13, 2007, between the former sheriff and Don Haidl, a millionaire businessman Carona named as an assistant sheriff. Haidl testified that he bribed Carona with monthly payments and provided gifts, trip accommodations and boat and plane trips. Prosecutors argued that Carona, on the tape, urged Haidl -- albeit in a type of code -- to lie to a grand jury looking into corruption about their relationship. The defense has argued that, among other things, the government used unethical means to get Carona to "open up and talk" at the August meeting, that Carona never expressly asked Haidl to lie to the grand jury or anyone else and because Haidl lacks credibility as a witness because he was only trying to reduce his sentence on a tax charge to which he pleaded guilty. After Carona was acquitted of the five counts, prosecutors moved to dismiss the case against the women and Guilford granted the request on Jan. 29. Carona is free on a $20,000 appearance bond. Defense attorney Brian Sun said previously he was notified by the probation department that prosecutors wanted a sentencing recommendation that took into account conduct for which Carona was acquitted. In his 51-page memo, Sagel noted that Carona's attorneys will ask for a "non-custodial" sentenced based on several factors, including susceptibility to abuse in prison, but Sagel said Carona will not be the first law enforcement officer or public officials in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The system can accommodate such inmates and Carona would probably be housed at a low-security camp facility, Sagel wrote. "The defendant now stands before this court as a convicted felony who victimized many by his selfish and criminal acts," Sagel wrote. "This court, in turn, should not `coddle' defendant, but should punish him appropriately." Carona was sheriff from January 1999 through January 2008. He resigned after being indicted to concentrate on his defense.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sheriff's Corruption Unit To Probe Suburbs

Sheriff's corruption unit to probe suburbs
The South-Town Star bY PHIL KADNER - April 16, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - Suburban government corruption is being targeted by Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart. Dart has formed a new Financial Crimes/Public Corruption Unit, the first of its kind in the sheriff's office, to investigate allegations of corruption in school districts, park boards and municipalities. "That's been a special interest of mine ever since I was an assistant state's attorney and began investigating corruption in the Ford Heights Police Department many years ago," Dart said. In the 1990s, six Ford Heights police officers, including the police chief, were eventually indicted by the federal government for taking bribes from drug dealers. Dart said that while the federal government often targets "the big fish" in public corruption, they don't always have the resources or the time to investigate allegations of wrongdoing at the lower levels of suburban government. While the Cook County state's attorney has a responsibility to prosecute such cases, the officeholders there have had a spotty record at best. Some suspect that state's attorneys have wanted to look the other way because they rely on local government leaders for support come re-election time. Dart's office has no ability to prosecute criminals, so any evidence of wrongdoing would still have to be turned over to the state's attorney. "I think they would be grateful for any help they can get," said one member of Dart's new unit. "Like all county agencies these days, they're suffering from budget cuts just like the rest of us and there's a lack of manpower."

A spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said: "If the sheriff is able to muster the resources during these tough times to expand the scope of his duties, we welcome the help." But she noted the state's attorney's special prosecutions bureau already investigates allegations of corruption. Dart's Financial Crimes/Public Corruption Unit consists of two former assistant state's attorneys and four police officers. "These are people who have done these sorts of investigations before," Dart said. "I wouldn't have formed this unit if I didn't think I had the right people in place to do the job. These individuals have expertise in this area." One of the attorneys in the unit successfully prosecuted a former Sauk Village school superintendent for the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars as the result of a series of stories in the Daily Southtown in 2005.

The financial crimes part of the unit, Dart said, will be tasked with investigating such things as mortgage fraud and gang crimes. "With the economic problems we've been having there are more financial crimes taking place," Dart said. "In addition, street gangs have become much more sophisticated with how they invest their money and we need to be aware of what they're doing." I mentioned to Dart that law enforcement officials in the past have kept a distance from public corruption cases for fear of a backlash from political leaders. "We're not going to be looking through garbage cans to find something," Dart said. "No one who is honest has reason to fear this. But we're talking about tax money here and if public officials are using it for illegal purposes I believe it's a proper law enforcement function to bring those people to justice. "We are going to be relying quite heavily on private citizens to provide us with information about this kind of activity. I realize not all of the tips will be valid. "Some people will be calling because their brother-in-law wasn't hired, but that's where the expertise of our staff comes into play. They will be able to decide which tips are worth pursuing and which ones are not. "The important thing is that people call us if they suspect corruption is taking place." The telephone number for the Financial Crimes/Public Corruption Unit is (708) 865-4518 . When I called, one of the attorneys assigned to the unit answered the phone. "That's my job," he said. "I'm going to answer the calls. I'm here to talk to the public. And if there's something worth investigating, we're going to go after it."

I'm told that members of the unit have already contacted the Illinois State Board of Education to let officials there know that if there are any complaints of illegal activity by school board members they're prepared to look into the matter. As someone who has spent 30 years listening to citizen allegations of public corruption, I'm cautiously optimistic about this new approach. It has been extremely difficult to get law enforcement officials to probe allegations of corruption on the suburban level. Now both the Cook County state's attorney and sheriff seem to be saying this is one of their top priorities. Put them to the test. If you suspect some suburban official is involved corruption, give these folks a call. Let me know how it turns out. Phil Kadner can be reached at or (708) 633-6787.

DA: Cop loaned cash to ex-chief

Guilderland police chief's husband transferred $3,200 to James Murley
The Albany Times Union by SCOTT WALDMAN - April 18, 2009

GUILDERLAND, NY — The Guilderland police chief's husband loaned thousands of dollars to former Chief James Murley, and she used a code name to contact Murley while he was gambling at a casino, investigative records show. At the same time, she and her husband were promoted to positions Murley created for them. Murley recommended that Carol J. Lawlor, the current police chief, be promoted to the newly created deputy chief position in December 2005. The Town Board approved the move. Lawlor's husband, John Tashjian, was promoted to the new position of senior investigator in May 2005.

Murley acknowledged earlier this year that on more than 50 occasions he claimed to have been working when he was actually gambling at Turning Stone casino in Verona. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct and has participated in a gambling counseling program. During the investigation into Murley's activities, Tashjian told State Police investigators he loaned Murley a total of $3,000 in 2005 and 2006, according to records released by Albany County District Attorney David Soares' office. The records show Tashjian transferred at least $3,200 from his personal account to Murley's account from February to October 2006. Lawlor also used the code name "Boyeau" to reach Murley for emergencies when he was at Turning Stone casino, Guilderland police Capt. Curtis Cox told investigators. Supervisor Ken Runion said Thursday that the promotions of Lawlor and Tashjian were approved by the Town Board and were deserved. He said a town investigation showed Murley paid back Tashjian the money owed. "There was no connection," Runion said of the promotions and the loaned money. The Murley case is closed. State Police will not charge Tashjian or Lawlor with any crime.

Murley admitted in court that he failed to notify the town at least 53 times between February 2001 and August 2004 that he was actually at Turning Stone when his monthly time slips said he was working. He also admitted to claiming sick leave on at least three other occasions when he was at the casino. Lawlor and Tashjian's attorney, Stephen R. Coffey, could not be reached. Tashjian, who retired last year, told State Police investigators that Murley frequently borrowed money because he had financial problems caused by gambling. In April 2008, Guilderland Police Officer David Romano accused Tashjian of harassing him for cooperating with the Murley investigation. Records show Romano recorded Tashjian admitting he loaned Murley a large sum of money. Murley's former secretary also told investigators Lawlor had spoken of loaning the ex-chief money for gambling, according to the records. As part of his guilty plea, Murley agreed to pay $13,500 in restitution to the town, an $800 fine plus $200 state surcharge. Murley, a 34-year law enforcement veteran, retired in May 2007, eight months before his plea. Scott Waldman can be reached at 454-5080 or by e-mail at