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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Police Officers File Corruption Lawsuit

New Carrollton Police Officers File Lawsuit by Maureen Umeh - July 13, 2010

NEW CARROLLTON, Md. - Four former New Carrollton Police officers say their careers were ruined after they reported corruption inside the department. Now, they have filed a lawsuit . The former officers say they thought they did the right thing by coming forward with information about alleged illegal activity inside the police department. They say instead of being protected, they ended up losing their jobs. They are now fighting to get their reputations back. Jeff Hamilton worked for the New Carrollton Police Department from February 2008 for a year. A lifelong cop, he says he was recruited to help the relatively young police department grow. "I love police work," Hamilton said. "I love the integrity, professionalism and the honor. And a lot of it was lost." But he and three other former officers say there were problems inside the department. "When you get caught in the middle of police corruption, you're stuck, especially if it involves your commanders or your supervisors,” said Hamilton. Hamilton says that reporting the problems ended up costing them their jobs. Attorney Ellen Opper-Weiner represents the four former officers now suing the city. The lawsuit also names Mayor Andrew Hanko, City Administrator Michael Downes and Police Chief David Rice. "They're sworn police officers to uphold the law, and that's what they were trying to do,” said Opper-Weiner. "Three of the officers actually went to the mayor. The mayor did nothing." Court documents say the four reported "illegal activities engaged in by the police officers' superiors” and that eventually three of them "were forced to sign resignation letters after receiving retaliatory threats from their superiors.” The fourth officer, according to the suit, was terminated because of some "very minor rule violations." "One officer witnessed police brutality and did report to her superior,” said Opper-Weiner. The suit does not go into much detail about the alleged criminal activity. The mayor did place Chief Rice on administrative leave back in October 2008 while the Maryland State Police and FBI investigated the department for possible criminal activity. Chief Rice told FOX 5 that one of the accusations against him included the improper selling of impounded vehicles. No charges were ever filed and the chief was reinstated. As for the lawsuit, the police chief told FOX 5 on the phone he could not comment without consulting his attorney. The city's attorney said they had not been served yet, but knew of the potential for the suit. Hamilton says Chief Rice and the department continued to damage his reputation, even after he left the department and his "job-seeking efforts" by making false statements about him. "A career that I worked for 23 years, my life and my family everything that I stood for was crushed,” said Hamilton. The lawsuit seeks more than $8 million in damages.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Police Officers and Alleged Drug Dealers Charged in Drug Case

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 13, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Contact: (215) 861-8200

Police Officers and Alleged Drug Dealers Charged in Drug Case

PHILADELPHIA, PA—An indictment was unsealed today against Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale, all Philadelphia police officers assigned to the 25th and 39th Districts, as well as Zachary Young, Angel Ortiz, Christal Snyder, and Miguel Santiago, charging them in a drug conspiracy case involving heroin and related offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. According to the indictment, the defendants planned and executed a scheme to steal heroin from Santiago and then distribute that heroin to another person whom the defendants believed to be a drug dealer and money launderer, but who was, in reality, an undercover special agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Joining in today’s announcement were DEA Special Agent-in-Charge John Bryfonski, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk, and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. According to the indictment, Young and Ortiz were involved in the distribution of heroin, which they obtained on a periodic basis from Santiago and other sources. In mid-April, Young and Ortiz began to develop a scheme to steal 300 grams of heroin from their supplier, Miguel Santiago. The indictment further alleges that Philadelphia Police Officers Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale abused their authority as police officers and agreed to assist Young and Ortiz in this scheme to steal heroin from Santiago. The indictment alleges that Young and Ortiz discussed with the Snyders, Williams, and Venziale various ways that they could use their positions as police officers to steal the heroin from Santiago. The indictment details how Robert Snyder, Williams, Young, and Ortiz implemented the plan after this discussion. On May 14, 2010, immediately after Santiago’s drug courier delivered 300 grams of heroin to Ortiz, Officers Williams and Venziale—who were on duty and in uniform—stopped Ortiz’s vehicle while he was in possession of the 300 grams of heroin, which had just been supplied to him by Santiago’s courier. With Santiago’s courier watching nearby, Officers Williams and Venziale made it appear as if they were seizing the heroin and arresting Ortiz by handcuffing him outside the vehicle Ortiz had occupied. According to the indictment, Christal Snyder, Robert Snyder’s wife, facilitated the conspiracy by passing information, frequently via telephone or via text message, between Ortiz, and Robert Snyder, Mark Williams, and James Venziale. The indictment alleges that, as a result of the co-conspirators obtaining the 300 grams of heroin without payment to Santiago, Ortiz paid Williams and Venziale approximately $6,000, and paid Christal Snyder an additional amount of currency. In addition to the conspiracy, the indictment charges Young, Ortiz, and Mark Williams with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin and with using a telephone in furtherance of a drug conspiracy. Robert and Christal Snyder are charged with conspiracy and with using a telephone in furtherance of a drug conspiracy. James Venziale is charged with conspiracy and with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. Santiago is charged with distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. He is the only defendant not charged in the conspiracy count.

Additional information regarding the defendants, all from Philadelphia, is available below:
  • Zachary Young, born in 1959
  • Angel Ortiz, born in 1985
  • Miguel Santiago, born in 1971
  • Robert Snyder, born in 1980
  • Christal Snyder, born in 1983
  • Mark Williams, born in 1983
  • James Venziale, born in 1978
If convicted, Young faces a maximum sentence of 104 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Ortiz faces a maximum sentence of 212 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Santiago faces a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Robert Snyder faces a maximum sentence of 44 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Christal Snyder faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; Mark Williams faces a maximum sentence of 84 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years; and James Venziale faces a maximum of 80 years in prison with a mandatory minimum term of five years.

The case was investigated by the DEA and the FBI, with the cooperation and assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathy A. Stark and Maureen McCartney. An indictment is an accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Former NYPD Sergeant Gets Probation in Corruption Case

Former NYPD Internal Affairs sergeant William Valerio receives probation, fine in corruption case
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - July 3, 2010

A former NYPD Internal Affairs sergeant was sentenced Friday to probation and a $5,000 fine for conspiring with a corrupt detective to obtain a fraudulent mortgage.William Valerio admits he helped Detective Luis Batista get bogus documentation of a termite inspection of a home. "I was trying to help a friend and this cost me a career," said Valerio, a 17-year veteran fired from the force. Batista, who was under investigation by the FBI for allegedly protecting a drug gang leader, pressed Valerio to find out who made an Internal Affairs Bureau complaint. But the sergeant did not disclose the information, federal prosecutor Lee Freedman said. Brooklyn Federal Judge Dora Irizarry said Valerio accepted responsibility for his actions. She took a swipe at Batista - recently sentenced to 15 years in prison - calling him a "walking plague."