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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Officer Sentenced After Civil Rights Conspiracy Plea

Department of Justice
Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 5, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan
Contact: (616) 456-2404

Former Benton Harbor Police Officer Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights

GRAND RAPIDS, MI— Bernard Hall, Jr., age 33, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the City of Benton Harbor, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today. On September 9, 2009, Hall pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of inhabitants of the City of Benton Harbor. At the time of the offenses alleged in the Indictment, Bernard Hall, Jr. was a sworn police officer of the Benton Harbor Police Department (BHPD), serving as the ranking police officer and supervisor of the Narcotics Unit. As head of the Narcotics Unit, Hall was responsible for the supervision of other police officers assigned to the unit—including former BHPD police officer Andrew Thomas Collins. Collins is currently serving a 37-month federal prison sentence for his related felony drug conviction on January 26, 2009. Hall, a seasoned veteran of the BHPD, totally failed in his responsibility and duty to supervise Collins, an officer with less than three years of experience. For almost two years between 2006 and 2008, these two individuals cut corners, falsified police reports, committed perjury, falsified affidavits in support of search warrants, embezzled funds from the Benton Harbor Police Department, stole money and property from citizens, and acted as a law unto themselves.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet T. Neff, who presided over the sentencing of Hall, stated that a police officer who violates his solemn oath and breaks the law must face serious consequences for his actions, his conduct is akin to shredding the constitution and cannot be tolerated. Judge Neff sentenced Hall to the maximum sentence called for by the United States Sentencing Guidelines 30 months in prison, with three years of supervision, and to make restitution in the amount of $10,000. Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter and Benton Harbor Police Chief Roger Lange provided statements to the court at the time of sentencing indicating that Defendant Hall’s criminal conduct has caused immeasurable damage to the community of Benton Harbor, as well as to the victims of his pervasive pattern of corrupt conduct. They also stated that law enforcement in general, and the BHPD specifically, has lost a significant amount of respect, trust and confidence from the community they are sworn to protect as a result of Hall’s conduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and its law enforcement partners consider allegations of public corruption to be of the highest importance and priority. U.S. Attorney Davis stated: “The respect and confidence the citizens place in their governmental institutions is dependant upon the honest and faithful services of the governmental employee. This office will aggressively pursue and prosecute governmental employees who violate their solemn oath and duties.” U.S. Attorney Davis also assured that his office will work diligently with its law enforcement partners to seek out and remedy any wrongful convictions resulting from Hall’s alleged criminal conduct.” The investigation of this matter was conducted by the St. Joseph Office of the FBI with the cooperation of the Michigan State Police, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office, and the BHPD. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian K. Delaney.

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