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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Cops Probed After Driver's Fatal Beating

Two Queens cops probed following driver Michael Murphy's fatal beating
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola, Police Bureau Chief - EXCLUSIVE - November 23, 2010

Two Queens cops are under investigation for a mysterious road-rage incident in which a 53-year-old man was killed - possibly with a baseball bat, the Daily News has learned. Michael Murphy, 53, died at Jamaica Hospital April 10, eight days after he was pulled over for driving drunk and hitting off-duty Officer Frankie Soler in the hands and face with a bat, police said. Soler, who had another off-duty cop in his car, responded in self-defense, knocking Murphy to the ground with a punch to the face, cops said. A lawyer for Murphy's widow has handed the Queens district attorney's office six witness accounts that described Soler - a wide receiver for the NYPD football team - as the aggressor, flooring Murphy with a sucker punch to the head. Another witness told an EMS worker at the scene Murphy had been beaten by Soler and his companion, "then batted," said the lawyer, George Stavropoulos. Murphy regained consciousness at the hospital for a short time, but never spoke again and was placed in a medically induced coma before he died. The medical examiner declared his death a homicide and said he died of complications from blunt force trauma to the head. Authorities are still trying to determine if Soler and fellow two-year veteran, Officer Richard Pimental, acted in self-defense - or outside the law. Murphy's widow, Alane Avallone, has a pending wrongful death suit against the city and the NYPD. She said nothing about that incident should have cost her husband his life. "If [he was driving drunk] then my husband needed to take responsibility for that action and that error in judgment," said Avallone, 56. "I have no issue with that, but he didn't deserve to die that night." Avallone and Stavropoulos met recently with Queens prosecutors handling the case. A spokesman would say only that the case remains under investigation. Neither Soler nor Pimental, who have remained on full duty since the incident, responded to requests for comment. The NYPD said "there has been no change in the case." The officers have been "fully cooperating" in the investigation, said their lawyer Steven Worth. Murphy, a father of two from East Meadow, was the son of a retired NYPD lieutenant. He lost his IT job with Citibank some time ago, then was laid off from a job in the mortgage industry before getting a job at a Queens plumbing company. The night he was pulled over, police said, Murphy drove his Jeep into the back of Soler's Missan as Soler and Pimental headed to work at the 110th Precinct. Stavropoulos said there was no visible damage to Murphy's Jeep and that the only reason Murphy didn't pull over right away was because the cops refused to show an ID. "I am certain he didn't believe they were police officers," Stavropoulos said. He also said Murphy kept a bat in his car because he needed it to whack the car's faulty ignition from time to time. In the car with Murphy at the time was his boss, Michael Rispoli, who was charged with tampering with evidence for retrieving the bat after it was flung over a fence. Charges against Rispoli were recently dropped. He could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Four More Cops Suspended In Alleged Moonlighting Misconduct

Four more Prince George's officers suspended in alleged moonlighting misconduct
The Washington Post by Ruben Castaneda and Matt Zapotosky - November 10, 2010

Four additional Prince George's County police officers have been suspended in connection with an incident last month in which an officer who was moonlighting as a security guard hit a college student outside a party in Beltsville, authorities said Monday. Officer Dominique Richardson was suspended after the Oct. 30 incident, in which Steven Morales, 20, said Richardson knocked him on the ground with a punch, then placed him in a chokehold. Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton has suspended four more officers, who also were moonlighting at the party, officials said. Maj. Andrew Ellis, a police spokesman, said the officers are being suspended pending an internal investigation to determine whether they saw and failed to report misconduct by another officer. Investigators are trying "to sort out who did what," Ellis said. He declined to identify the additional officers suspended. Morales, a student at the College of Southern Maryland, said he was trying to get into a fraternity party at a Beltsville warehouse when he asked Richardson, who was guarding the door, for help. The party was crowded and other partygoers pushed him forward, he said. The officer told Morales to get in line, Morales said. Morales said he responded that he couldn't because he was hemmed in. He said he was pushed toward the officer and might have brushed against him. That was when the officer hit him, Morales said. Police never arrested Morales or accused him of a crime. None of the officers offered him medical aid even though he was bleeding, Morales said. Documents and police sources identified the other suspended officers as: Officer Luis Perez, Officer Marcus Elbert, Officer Terrence Sanders and Officer Charles Pickard. Richardson and the others are suspended with pay. Richardson has not returned phone calls. The other officers declined to comment through Vince Canales, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 89. In an interview, Morales said that after he was slugged and knocked to the ground, Richardson briefly placed him in a chokehold. Another police officer picked him up and placed him against the hood of a police car, Morales said. When he turned to look at the two officers, Richardson shouted, " 'Get the [expletive] out of here,' " Morales said. The force of the punch almost knocked out one of his front teeth, Morales said. Morales's father, Luciano Morales, a D.C. police officer, said he spoke with Richardson shortly after the incident. Richardson acknowledged that he hit Steven and accused the younger Morales of assaulting him, Luciano Morales said. Richardson did not explain why he did not charge Steven or seek medical assistance for him, Luciano Morales said. Hylton banned officers from moonlighting at the Beltsville warehouse. and

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cop Who Allegedly Slugged College Student Suspended

Prince George's officer who allegedly slugged college student suspended
The Washington Post by Ruben Castaneda - November 3, 2010

A Prince George's County police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at a party last weekend was suspended after he allegedly hit an unarmed college student in the mouth, then briefly placed the young man in a chokehold, officials said. The officer, Dominique Richardson, was suspended Tuesday night, police officials said. Police have launched an internal investigation, said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a police spokesman. Richardson, who is assigned to District I in Hyattsville, did not respond to a phone message left at his police station Tuesday. Half of a front tooth was almost knocked out in Steven Morales, 20, of Waldorf, a student at the College of Southern Maryland, Morales and his attorney, Terrell N. Roberts III, said. A dentist has said Morales will eventually lose the tooth, Roberts said. Morales said he was near the door of a warehouse on Somerset Avenue in Beltsville, where the party took place, about 1 a.m. Saturday. Morales said he had a ticket for the event. A man wearing a Prince George's police badge around his neck - Richardson, according to county police - was acting as a security officer, guarding the entrance. Morales said there was not a single-file line, and he was surrounded from behind and from both sides by people trying to get into the warehouse. Morales said he asked the officer, politely, "Can you help me?" The officer told Morales to get in line, Morales said. Morales said he responded that he couldn't because he was hemmed in. The crowd kept pushing forward, Morales said. Morales said he may have been pushed into the officer. If he did make contact, "it wasn't that hard of a push," Morales said. About the same time, he said, he asked the officer for help. The officer grabbed him with one hand, reared back with his free arm and slugged him in the mouth, Morales said. Morales said he fell backward as other partygoers scattered. The back of his head bounced off the concrete, Morales said. The officer briefly put him in a chokehold, Morales said. Another officer picked him up and put him against the hood of a police car, Morales said. Morales said he turned around, and Richardson said, "Get the [expletive] out of here." Neither officer accused him of a crime or asked whether he needed medical attention, Morales said. Morales drove home and told his father, Luciano Morales, a 22-year veteran of the D.C. police, what had happened. The older Morales, who was dressed in his uniform, preparing for his work shift, drove his son back to the warehouse. Luciano Morales said he and Steven met with Richardson. Richardson acknowledged that he hit Steven and accused Steven of assaulting him, Luciano Morales said. Richardson did not explain why he did not arrest someone who assaulted him, Luciano Morales said. Luciano said his son was so bloodied that he initially thought he had been stabbed. "I know there are bad officers everywhere, but this touched home," Luciano Morales said.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Watchdog Groups Rip U.S. Marshals Nominee

Watchdog groups rip marshals nominee
The Washington Times by y Jim McElhatton - November 10, 2010
Conflict of interest issue raised as an objection

Eight prominent human rights and prison industry watchdog groups Tuesday announced their opposition to U.S. Marshal nominee Stacia Hylton, a longtime Justice Department veteran who recently worked as a consultant to one of the nation's largest private prison companies. The organizations raised conflict of interest charges concerning Ms. Hylton's consulting work earlier this year for the Florida-based GEO Group, which has held of millions of dollars in contracts with the Marshals Service. "It is extremely worrisome that Ms. Hylton is nominated for a position where she would be directly involved in overseeing contracts with private prison companies to house federal detainees, given her cozy relationship with the private prison industry and her acceptance of funding from the GEO Group through her consulting work," said Ken Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog group. Citing a report last month by The Washington Times, the groups pointed out Ms. Hylton's acceptance of $112,500 in consulting fees from the GEO Group after leaving her post earlier this year as federal detention trustee. "This is a prime example of the revolving door between the public and for-profit private sectors turning full circle," said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center that reports on criminal justice issues. "After cashing in on her experience in public law enforcement by taking a consulting job with GEO Group, Ms. Hylton has now been nominated for a high-level federal position where she will oversee detention services for the U.S. marshals, including services provided by private prison firms such as GEO," he said. The organizations plan to discuss their concerns with the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee. They said neither the White House nor the GEO Group responded to their questions about Ms. Hylton's relationship with the company. Among the organizations opposing the nomination are the Alliance for Justice, the National Lawyers Guild, International Cure, the Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership and the Justice Policy Institute. Last month, a White House official said Ms. Hylton would not require a waiver from Mr. Obama's ethics rules, which bar appointees for two years from working on matters involving recent clients. So far, more than two dozen high-level appointees have been given full or partial waivers. "After review, it was determined ... she could easily be recused from participating in particular matters in which that client was a party," said the official. "This recusal, along with the Obama administration's ethics pledge and other ethics restrictions, will ensure that she can serve ably and effectively as director of the U.S. Marshals Service." Ms. Hylton wasn't working as an employee of the company, but provided services to GEO Group through her consulting company, Virginia-based Hylton Kirk & Associates. GEO Group was the only client on her financial disclosure form, for whom she said she did "consulting services for detention matters, federal relations and acquisitions and mergers" from March through July of this year. Marshals Service contracts generate an important source of revenue for the GEO Group. Ms. Hylton has supporters, including the National Sheriff's Association, which told the Judiciary Committee of her "extraordinary qualifications, experience and expertise." Ms. Hylton said if she is confirmed, her consulting firm would remain dormant except to comply with any legal and tax requirements while it's inactive. She also said $105,000 in annual retirement pay would end upon her appointment.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2 NJ Cops Charged In Police Corruption Case

2 NJ cops charged in police corruption case
October 14, 2010
Accused of falsifying evidence in a case that has already led to drug charges being dropped against more than 200 suspects

CAMDEN, NJ — Two New Jersey police officers are accused of falsifying evidence in a case that has already led to drug charges being dropped against more than 200 suspects in Camden. Authorities will announce details of the case against the officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon. Authorities say the officers have been suspended. Three other former Camden officers have already pleaded guilty. Authorities have said all five officers planted drugs on suspects, paid informants with stolen cash and drugs, falsified reports and conducted illegal searches. Earlier this year, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk announced he was dropping charges against some 200 suspects — including some who spent years in prison — because of the conduct.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cop Had No Constitutional Right To Pleasure Himself

NY Cop Had No Constitutional Right to Pleasure Self in Tanning Booth, Judge Finds
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - November 8, 2010

A police officer fired for masturbating in a tanning room had no constitutional right to privacy, a federal judge has ruled. Sexual activity in "public places" is not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Northern District Judge David N. Hurd ruled in Fiore v. Town of Whitestown, 6:07-cv-00797, in upholding an upstate town's decision to dismiss the officer. "Here, the right of privacy may provide protection for plaintiff's act if it took place where he had a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in his home," Judge Hurd wrote from Utica. "However, a tanning booth in a tanning salon, which is open to the public, is a commercial establishment and thus a public place where plaintiff has no protectable constitutional privacy interest in his sexual activities. Simply because the room was enclosed by four walls does not make the setting a private one for this act." Judge Hurd rejected arguments from former part-time Whitestown Town Officer Michael Fiore that statutes in several states, including Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico, regard tanning booths as akin to private places such as bathrooms and fitting rooms. Mr. Fiore, who was still under probation, was dismissed in 2007 after a woman told a police commission member that she had seen him while he was off-duty in a local tanning saloon with his gun visible. The woman also recounted a conversation with the owner of the salon in which the owner allegedly described having seen Mr. Fiore masturbating in a tanning room. The police commission notified Mr. Fiore that his "performance" as a police office was not "at a level acceptable" to the town. Mr. Fiore and his wife, Susan, sued the town and police commission members. On June 25, Judge Hurd threw out the federal claims without issuing a written opinion and refused to consider his state-law arguments. Mr. Fiore then asked Judge Hurd to reconsider. The judge held last week in a 14-page ruling that he had not made any errors of law and let his previous ruling stand. The judge acknowledged that "an individual's private sexual activities are generally within the zone of privacy protected from unwarranted government intrusion." But he added that such protection generally does not extend to public places. Mr. Fiore claimed that there was no evidence that he had purposely "exposed" himself to an unsuspecting woman in a public place. Rather, he argued that he had masturbated as part of an "intimate, consensual encounter" with the owner of the tanning salon in a private room. But Judge Hurd concluded that the circumstances of the ex-officer's conduct was irrelevant because "the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide protection to sexual activities, whether consensual or not, in a public place." The judge also ruled that the police department did not violate Mr. Fiore's right to procedural due process because Mr. Fiore did not request a name-clearing hearing, and the town was not obligated to offer him one. Edward J. Smith III, Eric G. Johnson and Gabrielle M. Hope of Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet represented the Town of Whitestown and police officials. A.J. Bosman of the Bosman Law Office in Rome was the attorney for Mr. Fiore. Joel Stashenko can be reached at

Police Chief Accused of Quashing Corruption Probe

Officer: Chief quashed corruption probe
UPI - October 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA (UPI) -- A former police sergeant in Bell, Calif., who initiated an investigation of possible city officials' corruption said his police chief quashed the probe. James Corcoran, who retired from the Bell police force after clashing with former Chief Randy Adams and filed a lawsuit against the city in July, said Adams became angry after Corcoran told him of evidence that officials may have been involved in voter fraud, illegal sales of building permits and unlawful vehicle seizures, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. Adams grew more upset with Corcoran in August 2009 when Corcoran said he had already supplied the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and the California secretary of state's office with information, Corcoran said. Corcoran said Adams knew the former sergeant had worked with the FBI on anti-terrorism cases and told him not to mention the alleged corruption to the federal agency about the alleged corruption without Adams's permission. "(Adams) told me it makes others uncomfortable to have the FBI in the building. He should have offered me investigative assistance. Instead, he shut it down," Corcoran said. Adams's lawyer, Thomas O'Brien, denied his client became angry with Corcoran or tried to halt any FBI probe. He said Adams did not act on Corcoran's information because Corcoran had reported it to other agencies. "There was no further action for Chief Adams to take," O'Brien said.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick Departure for Rochester, New York Police Chief

CITY HALL: Police Chief David Moore stepping down
The Rochester City News by Christine Carrie Fien -- November 5, 2010

Well, something stinks. In a hastily arranged press conference this afternoon, Mayor Bob Duffy announced that Rochester Police Chief David Moore would be stepping down effective Monday. Moore was not present at the press conference. James Sheppard has been named acting chief. Sheppard is director of the city's Office of Public Integrity and is former director of Safety and Security at the Rochester City School District. He is also a former Rochester police officer. Duffy was evasive when repeatedly asked why Moore is leaving or if Moore's departure is voluntary. He said the reasons are personal and confidential and Moore could answer media questions if he chose to. Duffy said that as far as he knows, Moore does not have another job lined up. He said that Moore's departure is "our decision," meaning his and Moore's. Duffy said Moore has "done nothing wrong" and has provided "outstanding service" to the city. Also present at the press conference were Council President Lovely Warren and Council member Adam McFadden, who is head of Council's Public Safety Committee. It seems clear that the decision happened quickly, because McFadden said he didn't know beforehand what Duffy's announcement was going to be. Warren said that Duffy called her to tell her about the decision, but would not say when that call took place. Sheppard's appointment as acting chief must be approved by City Council. Sheppard says he will seek the job on a permanent basis. Moore will serve as director of the city's Office of Public Integrity until the end of the year. The OPI is essentially the internal affairs office for the City of Rochester.


Rochester police chief quits suddenly
The Associate Press - November 6, 2010

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — The surprise resignation of the police chief in New York's third-largest city has local officials wondering what precipitated the move. The shake-up at the Rochester police department unfolded Friday afternoon when Police Chief David Moore met with Mayor Robert Duffy and agreed to step down. "Things developed over time," Moore said. "I don't think it would be appropriate to discuss my conversation with the mayor." In a separate news conference, Duffy said Moore "has done nothing wrong" and praised him as "a good man." Neither gave a reason for the sudden resignation, which was reported by the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. Former Deputy Chief James Sheppard will take over as acting chief. Sheppard currently runs Rochester's Office of Public Integrity. City Councilman Adam McFadden said Saturday that he was puzzled by Moore's ouster, especially since Duffy will leave the city in January to be the state's lieutenant governor. Duffy, a former police chief, ran for lieutenant governor on the winning ticket with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo. McFadden said he was surprised that Duffy did not leave key people in place, since a new mayor will likely want his or her own people. With a population of 219,773, Rochester is New York's third most-populous city after New York City and Buffalo.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Connected Police Chief Brings Out the Worst in Cops

Eastchester police chief hit during appearance by suspended cop's supporter
The Journal News by Will David - November 5, 2010

EASTCHESTER, NY — A Town Board meeting erupted into mayhem when a former police officer who was supporting a Hispanic police officer who was suspended without pay hit police Chief Timothy Bonci in the face with folders and was later arrested. Former Eastchester police Officer Jeffrey Meyer Jr. said he "lost it" after talking to the Town Board about what he believed are inequities in the suspension of Officer Ramon Rosado, 41, without pay when other police officers and local officials get away with much more. Meyer, who retired after 20 years on a medical disability last week, said he walked back down the aisle where Bonci was sitting during the Wednesday night meeting to ask him to explain how the department treats everyone differently. "I threw the file at him, and my file hit him in the face," Meyer said. "A couple of guys got on top of me, and there was a melee. (Bonci) looked like an idiot, and so did I." Bonci suffered red marks and swelling under his right eye. Meyer surrendered Thursday at police headquarters and was charged with second-degree harassment, a violation. He was arraigned in Town Court and released without bail. He is due back in court Wednesday. The incident happened at a Town Board meeting in which supporters of Rosado showed up for a second consecutive board meeting to protest his suspension since this summer without pay. Rosado, a six-year member of the force, faces departmental hearings in connection with a May 23 case in which he was accused of making unlawful arrests. Rosado arrested a town man and his sister on obstruction of governmental administration charges. The charges were dropped by the county prosecutor, and Eastchester police opened an internal investigation of Rosado. He was later suspended without pay. He could be fired after a departmental hearing. Rosado, who is Puerto Rican, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit a year and a half ago against Bonci, the Town Board and the police department alleging harassment and discrimination. Like his departmental hearing, the lawsuit is pending. Town Supervisor Anthony J. Colavita said local legislation was approved Wednesday night that will allow the Town Board to have a public hearing at its next meeting and vote on an impartial hearing officer for Rosado's case. Colavita, who was the target of verbal attacks by Meyer, said the board has allowed everyone to speak on behalf of Rosado even though it has been raucous at times. Colavita added that the board has remained "respectful and professional." Colavita said he and Town Board members could not discuss specifics of the case. Attorney John D'Alessandro, who is representing Rosado and Meyer, said the Town Board and police force caused the incident to turn ugly. "It sounds like this was an unfortunate incident," D'Alessandro said. "When you suspend a police officer for four months without pay and due process, that could inflame the passions of that police officer's supporters." D'Alessandro added about Meyer, "To arrest a private citizen for speaking at a public hearing seems like a bit of an overreaction."