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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two More Cops Plead Guilty in Towing Scheme

Two More Baltimore Police Officers Plead Guilty in Towing Scheme
The Essex-Middle River Patch by Ron Snyder - October 24, 2011

Two more Baltimore City police officers have pleaded guilty to illegally steering car accident victims to a Rosedale auto repair shop. Jerry Diggs, Jr., 25, of Baltimore, and Osvaldo Valentine, 39, of Edgewood, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit and committing extortion, acording to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. The two are the eighth and ninth officers to plead guilty to similar charges. The owners of Majestic Auto Repair paid Diggs, Valentine and other Baltimore City Police officers to arrange for their company, rather than a city-authorized business, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs, states a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. The officers contacted Majestic owners Herman Alexis Moreno and Edwin Javier Mejia for towing and repair services, even though Majestic was not an authorized Baltimore City towing company, according to the officers' plea deal. In exchange, the owners paid Diggs and Valentine up to $300 for each vehicle they referred to Majestic, according to the release. Valentine also recruited multiple other city officers to participate in the conspiracy and extortion scheme, according to the release. Moreno, 30, of Rosedale, and Mejia, 27, of Middle River, pleaded guilty in July to bribing police. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18. As part of the alleged conspiracy, the officers persuaded accident victims to allow their cars to be sent to Majestic by telling the victims that the business could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car and waive the owner’s deductible, according to the release. Federal prosecutors said that from January to September 2010, Moreno or Mejia paid Valentine $14,400 in checks for vehicle referrals. In September 2010, the owners paid Valentine in cash. In February 2010, Diggs also had Moreno scratch his car with a key which allowed the officer to file an insurance claim for the scratched area, the release states. His insurance company then paid Majestic $2,809 to fix the scratches. Diggs also falsified police reports stating some vehicles had more damage than they actually had sustained so the auto shop could charge more, according to the release. Overall, from March 2010 to February 2011, the Majestic owners paid Diggs $5,050 for his referrals, according to the release. Both officers face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,0000 fine. Sentencing is set for March 12, 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

8 NYPD Cops Charged in Gun Smuggling Case

8 City Officers Charged in Gun Smuggling Case
The New York Times by William K Rashbaum and Joseph Goldstein - October 25, 2011

Eight current and former New York police officers were arrested on Tuesday and charged in federal court with accepting thousands of dollars in cash to drive a caravan of firearms into the state, an act of corruption that brazenly defied the city’s strenuous efforts to get illegal guns off the streets. The officers — five are still on the force, and three are retired — and four other men were accused of transporting M-16 rifles and handguns, as well as what they believed to be stolen merchandise across state lines, according to a complaint filed in the case in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The current and retired officers, most of whom at one time or another worked in the same Brooklyn station house, were arrested at their homes before sunrise by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, officials said. Also arrested were a New Jersey correction officer, a former New York City Sanitation Department police officer and two men identified in the complaint as his associates. The gun-trafficking accusations strike at the heart of one of the Police Department’s most hard-fought and robust initiatives, and one that has been a central theme of the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: getting guns off the city’s streets. Mr. Bloomberg is the head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 600 municipal chief executives from around the nation. And the arrests come at a difficult time for a department, the largest municipal police force in the nation, already besieged by corruption accusations. In recent weeks, testimony at the trial of a narcotics detective has featured accusations that he and his colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens planted drugs or lied under oath to meet arrest quotas and earn overtime, leading to the arrests of eight officers, the dismissal of hundreds of drug cases because of their destroyed credibility and the payout of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to settle false arrest lawsuits. Two other officers, in unrelated federal cases, have been charged in recent weeks with criminal civil-rights violations accusing them of trumping up charges against innocent victims. In one case, on Staten Island, a white officer is accused of falsely arresting a black man and then bragging about it using a racial slur. And in the coming days, 16 officers are expected to face charges in a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx. Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, announced the charges at a news conference with the head of the criminal division of New York’s F.B.I. office, Diego Rodriguez, and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.

Janice K. Fedarcyk, the assistant F.B.I. director in charge of the New York office, who was out of town on business, said in a prepared statement that the investigation began in 2009. “These crimes are without question reprehensible, particularly conspiring to import untraceable guns and assault rifles into New York,” Ms. Fedarcyk said. In an ironic twist, the new case began after an F.B.I. confidential informant sought to have a traffic ticket fixed in exchange for payment. He was introduced to one of the officers, William Masso, 47, according to the complaint. They developed a relationship, and Officer Masso began expressing interest in working with the informant to obtain and sell contraband, largely cigarettes. It grew into a yearlong undercover operation conducted by its agents and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, with wiretaps on the phones of Officer Masso, the former Sanitation Department officer and four undercover agents, said the complaint, which was sworn out by Kenneth Hosey, an F.B.I. special agent. The charges include conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines, conspiracy to transport defaced firearms across state lines, conspiracy to sell firearms across state lines and conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property across state lines, according to the complaint. Most of the initial trips, in October and November 2010, involved ferrying cigarettes into New York. As months went by, the cargo would also include what the officers believed to be stolen or counterfeit goods, including slot machines, clothing and handbags, and eventually the firearms. In addition, one of the officers, along with two co-defendants, sold a shotgun to an undercover F.B.I. agent in July. As of late Tuesday afternoon, lawyers for the men were not available for comment. The accusations leveled against the men in the four-count complaint depict the current and former officers and their co-defendants as little more than a loose confederation of petty crooks. One of the officers, Ali Oklu, 35, suggested at one point that there were certain things he would not do. “As long as we’re not tying anybody up, I don’t care,” he said in a conversation that the undercover agent secretly recorded after Officer Oklu was paid $15,000 for his role in helping steal 200 cases of cigarettes with several other officers in a sting the F.B.I. arranged in May. He added that he did not care “as long as there’s no drugs and guns involved..” Four months later, on Sept. 22, the undercover agent paid Officer Oklu, three other current officers, two of their retired colleagues and two of the other men $2,000 to $5,000 to transport 22 weapons, including three M-16 assault rifles and 16 handguns from New Jersey to New York, according to the complaint. The weapons, which were provided by the undercover agent, were inoperable, but the defendants knew that the serial numbers on many of the guns were defaced, according to the complaint, which prevents them from being traced to their source if used in a crime.

In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg said that if the charges proved true, the officers’ actions “would be a disgraceful and deplorable betrayal of the public trust,” noting that the city “has lost too many people — and too many police officers — to criminals who buy guns illegally.” The mayor and Commissioner Kelly each defended the department, suggesting that the rogue actions of a few officers did not impeach the entire force. “The sad reality is that some people are going to violate their oath of office,” Mr. Kelly said at the news conference, adding: “I would submit to you that it is a very small minority. But if you had 1 percent of 50,000 people you would have 500 people.” In addition to Officers Oklu and Masso, the current police officers charged in the case are Gary Ortiz, 27, of Brooklyn; Eddie Goris, 31, of Queens; and John Mahoney, 26, of Staten Island. The retired officers are Joseph Trischitta and Richard Melnik, both 42 and of Staten Island, and Marco Venezia, 46, of Brooklyn. Officers Masso, Goris and Mahoney work in the 68th Precinct in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. The three retired officers worked at the 68th Precinct when they retired. Also charged were David Kanwisher, 38, of Tuckerton, N.J., a correction officer in New Jersey; Anthony Santiago, 45, of Tuckerton, a former officer with the New York City Sanitation Department police, and two of his associates, Michael Gee, 40, and Eric Gomer, 28, both of Staten Island. Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Five Cops Arrested For Smuggling Illegal Guns

Five NYPD officers arrested in sting operation for smuggling illegal guns, contraband
The New York Daily News by Scott Shifrel, Rocco Parascandola and Tracy Connor - Ocotber 25, 2011

A rogue Brooklyn cop running a crew of NYPD henchmen-for-hire smuggled guns through the city for a lousy $6,000, the feds said Tuesday. Officer William Masso is part of a dirty dozen accused of bringing weapons, slot machines and cigarettes across state lines to fill their pockets. During a sting operation last year, he allegedly eyeballed three M-16 rifles, handguns with defaced serial numbers and a shotgun. After showing the illegal firearms to two cronies, he drove the cache from a New Jersey warehouse, across the Verrazano Bridge and on to Long Island, the feds say. For this shocking sellout of his badge, he received the not-so-princely sum of $6,000 - and his fellow cops got even less for the caper, court papers say. The FBI made the guns inoperable before the sting, but Masso and his moonlighting miscreants didn't know that, officials said. Mayor Bloomberg said the allegations were "deplorable" but didn't diminish the work of honest cops who have fought to get guns off the street. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he was most disturbed by the charge that Masso "actually saw what he must have certainly believed were functioning guns. It was a betrayal of the highest order of an officer's oath." Masso, 47, and his lawbreaking lawmen shattered that oath over and over, also smuggling slot machines, cigarettes and clothing, the feds charge. They held clandestine meetings in hotel rooms and parking lots, filled car trunks with cases of illegal smokes, and broke into trucks, court papers say. They did so at the behest of an FBI informant who was introduced to Masso while looking for someone to fix traffic tickets. A source said Masso's name surfaced on a wiretap in the summons scandal that has rocked the Police Department. Masso was disciplined by the NYPD in 1998 for sending a letter to then-Manhattan .Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder pleading for leniency in sentencing his cousin, Alphonse Malangone. A Genovese crime family soldier, Malangone faced up to 25 years and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for racketeering.

In this latest mark against him, the 18-year veteran told the informant he used to sell bootleg cigarettes from an Indian reservation and agreed to help him with similar schemes, court, papers say. Masso, who worked the midnight tour at the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge, recruited fellow cops and buddies to assist the informant and undercover agents posing as criminals, the feds say. In secret recordings, Masso bragged about being a twisted headhunter, court papers say. "I'm getting a good army set up here," he said on one tape. "You want a guy who beat the s--t out of somebody who bothers him. We got that. We got cops with vests and guns," he promised on another tape. The 12 co-defendants - who face up to five years in prison on the top charge - were ordered freed on $100,000 bail each. Masso, who has to wear an electronic monitoring device, will plead not guilty. "He's coming back and he's fighting the charges," lawyer Joe Mure said. Those arrested with Masso Tuesday include 68th Precinct cops Eddie Goris and John Mahoney, Brooklyn South Task Force Officer Ali Oklu and 71st Precinct cop Gary Ortiz.

Also arrested were Joseph Trischitta and Marco Venezia, who were 68th cops while allegedly involved in the plots but have since retired, and Richard Melnik, also a retired cop. Ex-sanitation cop Anthony Santiago, New Jersey correction officer David Kanwisher and Santiago pals Michael Gee and Eric Gomer were also busted. Four more officers named in the complaint but not charged have been placed on modified .duty pending an NYPD probe. The informant was an illegal immigrant who received money and help staying in the U.S. in exchange for his work with the FBI. He introduced Masso and others to undercover agents who were posing as criminals. None of the items transported across state lines were actually stolen, but transcripts of secret recordings show the defendants were told they were. In one episode last May, members of the group allegedly went to Virginia to break into tractor-trailers outside a warehouse. They bought bolt cutters, snipped the locks and made off with 200-plus cases of cigarettes worth $500,000. Masso's team got $92,000 for that job, the feds say. All told, they allegedly pocketed more than $170,000 - though Masso whined they were underpaid. "They're risking a lot for a little," he said at one point. At the cops' homes, relatives and neighbors expressed disbelief. Ortiz'relatives in Brighton Beach said the charges must be a misunderstanding. "He loves being a cop," said Tommy Rodenzo, 19, who dates the cop's niece. "He says there is no better reward than to help people." With Edgar Sandoval, Kevin Deutsch, Trevor Kapp and Jennifer H. Cunningham

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day Two of Police Corruption Hearing Concluses

Day 2 of police corruption hearing concludes
The Monroe News by Ray Kisonas - October 25, 2011

Monroe, Michigan - The second day of testimony in a police corruption hearing concluded this afternoon with more tales of forfeited items being purchased by police officers before the property was made available to the public. The so-called pre-auction distribution involved a Monroe County sheriff’s deputy, who testified that he bought a hot tub for $250 and installed it at his house. He also took a non-working ATV with the intention of paying for it, but never did. Deputy John Bills took the stand in the embezzlement case against his two former supervisors while working in the undercover drug operation known as OMNI. Suspended Michigan State lieutenants Luke Davis and Emmanuel Riopelle have been charged with numerous counts of embezzlement, misconduct in office, racketeering and other felonies. A third man, Lawrence Dusseau of Deerfield, faces 5 criminal counts. Deputy Bills testified today that in 2007 he bought the small hot tub without a receipt or other paperwork or without paying taxes. The hot tub was seized in a drug raid at a home in the Kimberly Estates Mobile Home Park that same year. Under direct examination by prosecutor Oronde Patterson of the Michigan Attorney General Office, Deputy Bills also testified that he saw a flat-screen television hanging on a wall inside Lt. Davis’ home that was also purchased prior to auction. But during cross examination, Lt. Davis’ attorney, Neil H. Fink of Birmingham, said in court that it was common practice for police officers serving in OMNI to purchase seized items before they were made available in auction. “It was no secret,” Mr. Fink said. “You certainly didn’t think you were doing anything wrong?” “No sir,” Deputy Bills answered. Regarding the ATV that was seized from a house on Darling Rd. in 2007, Deputy Bills said he never could get it running. He ended up returning the items. The case is a preliminary hearing being heard before First District Judge Terrence Bronson and is expected to continue through the week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2 Cops Accused of Stealing, Kidnapping and Lying

Two Fort Lauderdale cops accused of stealing, kidnapping and lying in drug case
The Orland Sentinel by Paula McMahon - October 25, 2011

At least two Fort Lauderdale police officers accused of stealing cash from pain clinic clients, kidnapping a man and lying about cases are expected to be criminally charged next week, sources say. Detectives Billy Koepke and Brian Dodge, of the department's Street Crimes Unit, have been under investigation for several months. The probe began with a hotel security video that contradicted the officers' accounts of two arrests they made at a Red Roof Inn in Oakland Park. Investigators from a police corruption task force now believe that Koepke and Dodge went after drug buyers and sellers, claimed they found cocaine on one person who had none, and stole several thousand dollars in cash that should have been placed in evidence, according to five sources. Koepke, 32, and Dodge, 30, have been "relieved from duty with pay" since April 18, police department officials said. A third suspended detective, Matthew Moceri, 28, is still under investigation, his lawyer confirmed. A sergeant in the unit, Michael Florenco, 34, was cleared of criminal misconduct by prosecutors this month, but the police department has not yet allowed him to return to duty, the sources said. Koepke and Dodge are paid $75,878 a year, Moceri's salary is $71,406, and Florenco's is $88,732. All four officers were at the Oakland Park hotel on Aug. 24, 2010, when two suspects were arrested on charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

An arrest form obtained by the Sun Sentinel shows that Koepke and Dodge said they had arrested a driver and passenger after they saw them dropping crack cocaine on the floor of their vehicle in the hotel parking lot. The officers wrote that the two suspects came to the lot to deliver drugs to the officers' "informational source." But when investigators reviewed video footage from the hotel's lobby and parking area, they found that the so-called "passenger" was not even in the vehicle and had been arrested in the lobby, several sources said. The video contradicted the officers' written reports as well as a sworn statement that Dodge gave about the arrest, the sources said. Prosecutors later dropped the criminal charges against both men. Meanwhile, the police corruption task force, comprised of Fort Lauderdale police, FBI agents and the Broward State Attorney's Office, went to work. Dodge's lawyer, Mike Dutko, said on Tuesday he had been hearing for months that his client was about to be arrested. "Based on my knowledge and insight into this investigation, I am unaware of any basis for these serious charges," Dutko said. He said he understands that there is a discrepancy between the police report and the video about where one of the suspects was arrested. Dutko said he knows there are "alleged inconsistencies between the Red Roof Inn police report and the videotape, but it's not an inconsistency that can't be explained … A mistake is not tantamount to [a] false statement." Reached by phone Tuesday, Koepke said he could not comment but that there are two sides to every story. "You'll have to contact my lawyer," he said. Koepke's attorney, James Stark, could not be reached for comment despite phone messages left with his assistant. Efforts to contact the other three officers on Tuesday were unsuccessful. Moceri's lawyer, Anthony Livoti Jr., said, "I can't talk to you about an ongoing criminal investigation but after a complete and thorough investigation by the State Attorney's Office, Officer Moceri will be vindicated." Livoti said Moceri is a Marine Corps veteran who investigates "pill mills." "This is difficult [work] and these guys are placed in difficult situations," Livoti said. "Things move very quickly in these situations." Florenco's lawyer, Howard Greitzer, said he could not comment. Koepke and Dodge are expected to be charged with racketeering, kidnapping, false imprisonment, grand theft and official misconduct. Police internal affairs investigators are also looking at whether departmental rules were violated. The sources said that a third man, who informed police about the two suspects at the hotel, was not arrested but was handcuffed and held against his will for several hours. Moceri and Florenco were at the scene of the arrest but they did not file reports. Florenco came under investigation because his initials and police identification number were written on some of the reports. However, he gave a sworn statement that he never initialed or signed off on the police records and the sources said investigators were satisfied it was not his handwriting. "Due to the fact that it is an ongoing investigation by the State Attorney's Office, we cannot comment on the case as we do not want to jeopardize their investigation," Detective Travis Mandell, Fort Lauderdale police spokesman, said on Tuesday. Tim Donnelly, the chief of the Broward State Attorney's special prosecutions unit, declined to comment on the case Tuesday. Defense attorney Carter Hilstrom, who represented the suspects charged at the hotel, also said he could not discuss the matter because he believed it was still an active federal investigation. Koepke joined Fort Lauderdale police about six years ago, Dodge is an 11-year veteran, Moceri came to the department in 2005 and Florenco has worked there since 1999. Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report. or 954-356-4533.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Officer Charged in On-Duty Assault of Two Women

South Bend police officer charged in assaulting two women while on duty
WSJV - FOX 28 by Adam Ziegler - October 23, 2011

South Bend, Indiana - A South Bend police officer is accused of fondling two different women, while under the guise of enforcing the law. Police say 26-year-old Jeffery Chester has been relieved of his duty while the case plays out in court. One of the women says Chester approached her in her car at Potawatami Park on September 1st. According to court papers, she told police Officer Chester went to search her then quote, "cupped her buttocks over her dress with his hand"... and "flipped her dress up with his hand and exposed her bare skin, including her breasts." The second woman told police Chester pulled her over at the corner of South St. Louis and Wayne Street on September 30th and that he quote "touched her right breast with his left hand" and "tried to kiss her." The woman says Chester told her he wouldn't take her to jail for her suspended license if she let him touch her. "Exerting your authority to accomplish some sort of crime of this kind is definitely, it adds to the gravity of this situation," says Captain Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department. The St. Joseph County Prosecutor says 26-year-old Jeffery Chester of Mishawaka is facing two counts of Official Misconduct and two counts of Battery in the case. Chester was being held on $10,000 bond.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hudson County sheriff's officer charged with trying to stop Jersey City cops from arresting 2 men
The Jersey Journal - - by Charles Hack - October 22, 2011

Hudson County Sheriff's Officer Maritza Casales was charged with obstruction of a governmental function, authorities said. An off-duty Hudson County sheriff's officer was charged with obstructing with the law after trying stop a Jersey City police officer from arresting a man outside a bar Saturday morning, police reports said. Sheriff's Officer Maritza C. Casales, 44, of Kennedy Boulevard in Bayonne, was issued with a summons for obstruction of a government function, police said. Casales, who had almost seven years on the force, was suspended without pay today, pending further investigation following the arrest said, Michael Makarski, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. Two men involved in the incident, Victor M. Matos, Jr., 28, of West Side Avenue and Felix Antonio Torres, 35, of Jordan Avenue were both charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing a government function and resisting arrest, reports said. The Jersey City Police Department gave this account of the incident: Police were called to Summit Avenue and Charles Street at 2:29 a.m. on the report of a large, unruly crowd outside the Laguna Lounge. The first two cops to arrive saw Matos yelling loudly, flailing his arms and pushing people, and when someone yelled "Cops!" Matos yelled "F--- the cops! F--- those cops! I don't give a f---!" One officer tried to place Matos under arrest and Matos shouted "F--- you!" at the cop. As Matos struggled against being handcuffed by one officer, the other cop tried to keep the hostile crowd -- which was shouting obscenities at the police officers -- from jumping into the fracas. When Torres tried to interfere with the arrest, the second cop struggled with him and a voice came out of the crowd -- "I'm on the job." The two cops, struggling to restrain Torres and Matos, believed it was an off-duty officer that would assist them, but then Casales said "You can't do that!" and got between one of the officers and Torres, allowing Torres to escape momentarily, police said. Torres and Matos were finally subdued and arrested when other Jersey City cops arrived, and that's when Casales "melted away" in the crowd that began to disperse. The sheriff's officer later showed up at the North District to check on the status of the two men who were charged, but the arresting officers recognized her and she was issued a summons, police said. Police say she admitted to them that she is a law enforcement officer and had tried to interfere with the arrests. One of police officer was taken to Christ Hospital after suffering a pain in the lower back.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cop Charged in Armed Robbery of 17-year-old

Irvington cop charged in armed robbery of 17-year-old girl in Raritan
The Somerset Messenger-Gazette by Warren Cooper - October 20, 2011

RARITAN, NJ — Two more arrests have been made in connection with the armed robbery and assault of a 17-year-old girl here on Sunday, Oct. 16. One of those arrested is an Irvington policeman. Police officer Herne LaCoste, 40, of Plainfield, and Markessa Coleman, 18, of Irvington were arrested following the investigation of the robbery that occurred in the parking lot of Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals on Route 202/206, according to the Somerset Prosecutor's Office. Shanikah Daniels, 18, of East Orange had previously been arrested in the case. The Prosecutor's Office gave the following account. At about 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, borough police received a report that Daniels had robbed at gun point a 17-year-old girl while she was seated inside a gray SUV with a damaged bumper. Daniels then forced the girl out of the SUV and, along with Coleman, physically assaulted the girl while LaCoste watched. LaCoste then drove the two women from the scene in the SUV. They took with them the girl's possessions, a cell phone, a bus ticket and a metro card. After the girl was treated at Somerset Medical Center for minor injuries, investigation by borough police and detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit led them to Daniel’s apartment building in East Orange. The gray SUV was found nearby. After obtaining search warrants, detectives located Daniels, LaCoste and the victim’s property in the apartment and a .38 caliber hand gun inside the SUV. Detectives found Coleman on Tuesday, Oct. 18. She was charged with aggravated assault and released. LaCoste was arrested the same day and charged with official misconduct, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was brought to the county jail with bail set at $20,000. As of today, Oct. 20, LaCoste had made bail arrangements and had been released. Daniels remains in jail, charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of a handgun without a permit and possession of a firearm with the intent to use it against another person. Reach Warren Cooper at or 908-948-1261.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Drunk Cop Kills Young Man With His Car

Drunken, off-duty officer kills young man with his car, cops say
The New York Daily News by Bob Kappstatter, Kerry Wills and Kerry Burke - September 15, 2011

A drunken, off-duty rookie cop was arrested early Wednesday after he killed a young man with his car in the Bronx, cops said. Police said Officer Luis Arnao, 25, slammed into Tyre Chisholm, 22, with his 2011 Honda Accord as Chisholm was crossing White Plains Road in Wakefield at E. 241st St. "He got hit hard," said Devine Douglas, 45, a livery driver. "He flew up in the air. His shoes flew off with his socks still in them." Douglas said the driver "was definitely speeding. He kept going, but turned around and came back."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Cop Disciplined in Occupy Wall Street Pepper Spray

Occupy Wall St. pepper-spray cop Anthony Bologna loses 10 vacation days for violating NYPD rules
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola, Kerry Burke and Helen Kennedy - October 19, 2011

Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna was caught on camera pepper-spraying female protesters. NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna was disciplined Tuesday for pepper-spraying two female protesters in the notorious YouTube video seen around the world. The NYPD found that Bologna violated departmental guidelines and docked him 10 vacation days, or the equivalent amount of pay, police sources said. The 29-year veteran makes $154,300 a year. Protesters had demanded Bologna be arrested for spraying two penned-in women in the face and then quickly striding away during a Sept. 24 protest near Union Square. Bologna's actions appeared unprovoked, and other cops at the scene were recorded expressing amazement at what he did. Video of that moment - which was viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube and played over and over on TV - helped turn Occupy Wall Street into a global phenomenon. News of the punishment broke as protesters were marching on Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s office to demand a crackdown on police brutality. They broke into cheers, then chants of "Fire Bologna! Fire Bologna!" "It's a great step," said Vocal New York community organizer Alfredo Carrasquillo. Bologna was disciplined one day after prominent defense lawyer Ron Kuby brought one of the victims, 24-year-old Albany teacher's aide Kaylee Dedrick, to meet with Vance's investigators. Kuby didn't think much of Bologna's punishment. "Frankly, I don't want him to lose any vacation days at all. That means he spends more time on the job with an even bigger attitude," Kuby said. "I think he needs a very long rest someplace quiet and stress-free." Bologna's union reps said he was "disappointed." "His actions prevented further injury and escalation of tumultuous conduct," said Roy Richter of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. Occupy Wall Street began its second month with forays uptown, including a gathering at Lincoln Center to support the Granny Peace Brigade. Tuesday night, a group of 200 laid siege to a glitzy Huffington Post party in SoHo, believing Gov. Cuomo was inside, and chanting that he was "protecting the 1%." Feminist writer Naomi Wolf, a guest, and a male companion were later arrested after she encouraged protesters to demonstrate on the sidewalk in front of the Skylight Soho club. As she was being led away in handcuffs, she told police, "It's our First Amendment right. The sidewalk is a public place." Shortly after midnight, actor Alec Baldwin showed up at Zuccotti Park. "You slept here for two days?" he asked Nina Montgomery, 18. "I slept like a baby," she answered. "I woke up with cameras in my face. Maybe you're used to that, but I'm not." Baldwin stuck around for an hour holding court at a press table and talking politics with protesters. "One thing I would like to see is all student loans forgiven," he told one group. "I'd love to see what the effect would be on the economy if we pardoned all these loans." With Lore Croghan and Kerry Wills

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feds Charge Cop in False Arrest and Civil Rights Violations

NYPD cop Michael Daragjati taped making racial slurs about black man; accused of false arrest
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - October 18, 2011

A racial epithet-spewing NYPD cop was ordered held without bail Monday on charges of fabricating criminal charges against a black man on Staten Island. "I fried another n-----," Officer Michael Daragjati crowed last April, according to a transcript of a phone conversation intercepted by the feds. "Another n----- fried, no big deal." Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Paul Tuchman called Daragjati, who is white, "a blatant racist." Besides violating the civil rights of the unnamed man, Daragjati also is charged with orchestrating the violent beatdown and extortion of another victim he suspected of stealing a snowplow from his off-duty contracting business. The racially motivated false arrest came one one month after the FBI was investigating the snowplow scheme and monitoring the cop's private calls, according to the complaint unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Daragjati, 32, was assigned to a plainclothes anti-crime patrol when he stopped the man on Targee St. and roughly frisked him, the complaint states. The man complained about his treatment and asked for the cop's name and badge number, but was allowed to walk away because he was carrying no contraband. But after he shouted insults back at the officer, Daragjati crossed the street and cuffed him, the feds said. Daragjati swore out a criminal complaint falsely asserting the man had pushed and kicked him and "flailed" his arms to prevent being arrested. Several other officers had witnessed the arrest, in which the man offered no resistance. The victim later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on the advice of his lawyer. There is no explanation why Daragjati stopped the man, who had been walking on the street with his hands in his pockets at 9:30 p.m. Last year, there were a record 601,055 stops by cops, sparking criticism that black and Hispanic men were being harassed without a legal basis. The feds intercepted numerous calls in which Daragjati was overheard using the N-word to discuss not only the false arrest but also in bizarre jokes and talking about the weather. Daragjati has been sued twice before for falsely arresting blacks - the city settled one case for $12,500 and the other is pending. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association lawyer Michael Martinez minimized the extortion scheme and insisted Daragjati was just trying to get back his stolen snowplow. "At worst we have vigilante justice," Martinez said. "By a police officer," Magistrate Joan Azrack noted before ordering Daragjati remanded. In a statement, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch and her staff "for bringing this case forward promptly and professionally." Kelly also gave kudos to NYPD Internal Affairs Chief Charles Campisi and his detectives, "who initiated this investigation and in doing so helped pave the way for prosecuting it."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ex-Cop Sentenced to 12 Years

Ex-cop sentenced to 12 years in SOS probe
WLS-TV by Paul Meincke - September 8, 2011

CHICAGO - Jerome Finnigan, who led a gang of corrupt Chicago cops, was sentenced Thursday for plotting to kill another Chicago police officer. Finnigan apologized and expressed remorse. He has also given prosecutors information they didn't previously have. In a five-minute address to the judge at the sentencing hearing, Finnigan acknowledged that he brought shame on himself and his family, and that stress and greed turned him the wrong way. Judge Blanche Mannin agreed that Finnigan had done good things, but called his bad acts "unfathomable" and sentenced him to 12 years. Finnigan was once a highly-decorated officer who solved crimes and saved lives. But at some point, the Chicago police officer went rogue. He became the ringleader of a group of cops who shook down alleged drug dealers, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and lied in bogus reports. Some of those shakedowns - one of which was caught on a Southwest Side bar surveillance camera - were extraordinarily bold. "Innocent people -- not just drug dealers, not just bad guys -- but innocent people were hurt and hurt deeply by this," Prof. Craig Futterman, University of Chicago, said. After his arrest, Finnigan was further charged with trying to set up a hit on a fellow police officer that Finnigan thought might testify against him. Most of the other cops involved in the shakedowns have already been sentenced. On Thursday, it was Finnigan's turn. Standing before the judge, Finnigan said, "I did become a corrupt police officer. That was not my intention." At the same time, he said he was proud of he did before he went down the wrong path. He said, "I did more work in one year than some guys do in 30 years." "My bosses knew what I was doing out there. It was not an exception. It was the rule. You did what you had to," he said, to go after the gangs and make the streets safe. At the dawn of this investigation, there were predictions that corruption charges would climb the food chain, but prosecutors say the investigation is over. "We conducted a thorough investigation and there is not enough evidence to try anyone else," said Brian Netols, assistant U.S. attorney, said. I don't think the fundamental problem has been changed," Craig Futterman, said. Futterman has monitored civil rights issues in the police department over the years. He thinks there are still big holes in police supervision. "SOS guys-- 50, 60 complaints of official misconduct. Never challenged, never flagged, never counseled. That's how it happens," Futterman said. The Special Operations Section that Finnigan and his corrupt colleagues were part of was abolished four years ago. The department says it has instituted new steps to insure proper supervisory oversight. Finnigan has already served four years in what his attorney regards as quite punitive isolation in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Victim describes intimidation by ex-cop

On an August night six years ago, Jose Fematt and his then 4-year-old sister were in their pajamas watching TV. Mom was at work. Jose heard noises on the lawn. Within minutes, the front door was kicked in. A half dozen or more cops entered screaming with guns drawn. "He just told me - throw myself on the ground and put my hands behind my back," said Jose. Now 19, Jose remembers being terrified that night by the cops who tightly cuffed him, drove him around in a squad, demanding that he tell them about his upstairs neighbor. He says he could tell them nothing because he knew nothing. The officers ransacked the house, then left, with a warning - say nothing. "Because if I did, something really bad was going to happen to me and to my family," he said. The cops in question that night were part of a crew that had Finnigan as its ring leader. Their modus operandi: shakedown alleged drug dealers from whom they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. Jose Fematt never said anything about that night six years ago until earlier this year when he filed a civil rights suit. "A 13-year-old boy should be viewing a police officer as a hero and as someone he can look up to as a role model, and this is the exact opposite message," said Torri Hamilton, Fematt attorney. Jose says he knows the action of those cops six years ago is the exception, but he still doesn't trust cops. "In my head, not able to trust them again, to feel protected, feel safe around them," said Jose.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cop used NYPD database to search for information on man he pepper-sprayed in traffic fight: feds
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - October 5, 2011

A Brooklyn cop was arrested by the feds Wednesday for using a computer database to dig up information on a man he pepper-sprayed while on duty, authorities said. Admir Kacamakovic of the 62d Precinct in Bensonhurst, was also charged with violating the civil rights of the man he pepper-sprayed outside his cousin's bar in July 2008. "No one f---- with my cousin's place," Kacamakovic said to the victim, according to the complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. The cousin was under investigation for drug trafficking, authorities said. Kacamakovic also pepper-sprayed a second person during the incident which apparently started over a car blocking traffic outside the bar. The cop handcuffed one man and threatened to arrest him, but ultimately ordered him to leave the area without busting him, the complaint states. The illegal search on the computer was part of a sting operation in which two undercover federal agents passed a Virginia driver's license to Kacamakovic's cousin claiming they could supply bogus credentials. Kacamakovic is charged with using an NYPD computer to access a federal database to search for the name on the driver's license. "The officer allegedly turned his back on his oath to protect and serve, instead used his badge and his authority against a citizen and our system of justice," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.


New York City Police Department Officer Arrested on Federal Civil Rights Charges and Unauthorized Use of a Computer to Obtain Information from a Law Enforcement Database - U.S. Attorney’s Office - October 05, 2011

THE FBI - Eastern District of New York - (718) 254-7000
A criminal complaint was unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court charging New York City Police Department Officer Admir Kacamakovic, a seven-year veteran of the NYPD assigned to the 62nd Precinct in Brooklyn, with violating the civil rights of a patron of a bar owned by the officer’s cousin. Kacamakovic is also charged in the complaint with having improperly accessed a Federal Bureau of Investigation database in an attempt to obtain information regarding the victim of that assault and to obtain other information at the behest of his cousin, who was subsequently federally prosecuted for narcotics trafficking. Kacamakovic was arrested earlier today and will make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. The case was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. As alleged in the complaint, on July 5, 2008, Kacamakovic, while on duty and in uniform, assaulted with pepper spray, handcuffed and unlawfully detained a man who was involved in a parking dispute in front of a bar owned by Kacamakovic’s cousin. Using an expletive, Kacamakovic told the man that “no one f***s with my cousin’s place.” Kacamakovic also pepper-sprayed a second person during the incident. Thereafter, on two separate occasions, Kacamakovic, in violation of NYPD directives, accessed the NYPD’s computer system to obtain information from a federal database about the assault victim, who had filed both a complaint against Kacamakovic with the Civilian Complaint Review Board and a civil action in New York state court. As further alleged in the complaint, Kacamakovic also accessed the federal database on behalf of his cousin in a separate matter. Between 2008 and 2009, Kacamakovic’s cousin was the subject of an FBI investigation for, among other crimes, narcotics trafficking. Two federal agents operating in an undercover capacity posed as individuals who could provide the cousin with actual Virginia state driver’s licenses that could be used by illegal aliens and other criminal associates of the cousin. At the cousin’s request, the undercover agents obtained a Virginia driver’s license containing a photograph and name that had been supplied by the cousin. Upon receiving the driver’s license from the agents, the cousin stated that he would “let his cousin run through it.” As charged in the complaint, computer and telephone records reveal that about one month later, Kacamakovic used the NYPD’s computer system to access the federal database to search the name contained in the driver’s license supplied to Kacamakovic’s cousin by the undercover agents. “This officer allegedly turned his back on his oath to protect and to serve, and instead used his badge and his authority against a citizen and our system of justice. This prosecution demonstrates that the arbitrary and unjustified use of force and the abuse of trust by police officers who are sworn to uphold the law will not be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI and NYPD, the agencies responsible for leading the government’s investigation. FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The public trusts the police not only to enforce the law, but to obey it. This is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. As alleged in the complaint, this officer repeatedly used his position to intimidate others, including beat downs and violence, as well as accessing sensitive information that could have jeopardized undercover investigations, all for personal gain. The FBI will continue to investigate those in public positions who engage in corrupt activities.” NYPD Commissioner Kelly stated, “I want to commend the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau for its important work in uncovering police misconduct and in bringing to justice those who dishonor themselves and the department.” The complaint charges Kacamakovic with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts. If convicted of all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 17 years’ imprisonment. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Warren. The Defendant: ADMIR KACAMAKOVIC - Age: 31 - The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Serpico Enjoys The Quiet Life

Decades After Breaking the Blue Wall of Silence, Ex-Cop Frank Serpico Enjoys the Quiet Life
WNYC by Mirela Iverac - October 3, 2011

“Am I disappointed? Am I angry? I wouldn’t say I’m angry, but I have a right to be angry. And I have a right to be disappointed.”

At 75, Frank Serpico has come a long way from the days when he exposed rampant corruption in the New York Police Department in the 1960s, got shot in the face during a drug bust and subsequently was made famous by Al Pacino’s portrayal in Sidney Lumet’s 1973 classic biopic. “How many years is it now?” Serpico said, smiling, during a recent interview. “Forty years. I got a bullet in my head, and I’m still here.” After joining the NYPD in 1959, Serpico refused to become one more officer accepting bribe. Instead, he turned into the most famous cop who broke the blue wall of silence. In early 1970, after having little luck reporting corruption, Serpico went to The New York Times. The exposé forced Mayor John Lindsay to form the Knapp Commission, which documented endemic corruption in the police department and brought sweeping reforms. This October will mark the 40th anniversary of Serpico’s 1971 testimony before the Commission. Earlier that same year, Serpico was shot in the face. By then there was so much disdain for Serpico in the department that fears immediately arose that he had been shot by one of his fellow officers. It proved untrue; a heroin dealer fired the shot that nearly ended Serpico’s life during a narcotics raid in Brooklyn. Today, somewhere under a receding hair line, fragments of the bullet and memories from that day are still lodged.

Serene Life Upstate

Where he lives now, Serpico prefers to keep a secret. He will only say it is a one-room cabin he built himself, in upstate New York, about three hours north of New York City. No neighbors in sight. On a typical day, he usually gets up around 6:30 a.m., meditates by playing Japanese bamboo flute and makes his own meals using only organic food he buys in farmers markets (he wears a magnifying glass around his neck so he can check ingredients). He keeps in shape by cycling and swing dancing. He is writing a memoir, but doesn’t feel like there’s enough time to work on it. “I’m too busy living,” he said, with a mischievous smile. In Hudson, N.Y., where we meet for the interview, he is a familiar face, and many stop him to chat. Dan Seward, owner of John Doe records store on Park Place, has known Serpico for seven years, during which he has occasionally frequented the store. Before they met, he had already heard rumors, which generally seem to precede Serpico. “I knew some fables about him. Fables with the ladies,” Seward said. “Some of my lady friends were friends of his and had alternately wonderful things and discouraging things to say about Frank. But I guess that’s what makes him him, right?” Serpico, who had a reputation for being a ladies man, never married. He is currently dating a French schoolteacher. Putting Life Back Together This life, at least to an extent reclusive, is one he gradually settled into. He left the force in 1972. A year later, he left the country. “I thought I’d get out of this country as fast I can and put my life together,” Serpico said, reflecting on the time following the shooting incident. “I just traveled. I’ve been to Russia, East, Middle East.” Serpico took a brief respite from traveling when the movie based on his life was being made. He was called to the set and spent some time with Pacino, whom he liked. But soon, Serpico said, he ran into problems. “Lumet was directing, and I said cut,” he said. “And he said, ‘Pussycat, what are you doing? I’m trying to make a movie over here.’” He said the argument had ensued over a scene where, in the movie, Serpico’s fellow officer flushes down the toilet a man who was late with a payoff. In real life, Serpico says, that didn’t happen. A sharp exchange between two men developed, he recalled. “I grabbed my proverbials and said ‘Pussycat this,’” Serpico said. “And I walked out. And that was the last time that I saw him.” Serpico returned to traveling. He met a Dutch woman, and they settled on a farm with her two children. Years later she died of cancer and in 1981 Serpico returned to the US.

Anger Still Directed at the NYPD

Years, though, have not tamed his anger toward the NYPD. Serpico said he never claimed he was shot in a set-up organized by fellow officers. But that February night, he said, his partners did not back him as he tried to enter the Brooklyn heroin’s dealer apartment. Serpico said he confronted Patrick V. Murphy, Police Commissioner at the time when he was shot, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice a few years ago. “I’ve been carrying a bullet in my head for over 35 years, and you, Mr. Murphy, are the man I hold responsible,” Serpico said he told Murphy in front of an audience. But Serpico’s resentments extend far beyond the night he got shot. He says the Medal of Honor, which he received after the shooting, was not awarded in a proper ceremony; that he is never invited to lecture at the Police Academy or to any other NYPD organized events. At the same time, he points out, other police departments around the country welcome him.

“Conscience of the department”

Eugene O’Donnell, professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former cop, said he thinks Serpico’s resentment is justified, considering the role he played in the department’s history. “He absolutely was not properly credited for what he did,” O’Donnell said. “He took on a role of a reformer and really a conscience of the department and ended up doing some heavy lifting that should have been done at the top of the department. In the safe distance of 2011 he becomes more of a heroic figure with each passing year.” Serpico’s complaints turn into outright criticism of the department, which he still sees as embroiled in some of the same problems that existed in his era. “In my time no, not every policeman was corrupt,” he said. “But those that were corrupt were the ones that ran the show. And that’s the way it works today.” Experts disagree, giving the NYPD high marks when it comes to corruption. Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the department, said Serpico’s remarks show “ignorance born out of being away for 40 years.” “We have almost as many people involved in fighting corruption and prosecuting police officers internally … as we have assigned to counter terrorism, about a 1000 people,” Browne said. “Far, far different from when Frank Serpico was a police officer.” Even though he might sound bitter, Serpico said he has no regrets about the past and feels contented. Still, the idea that he hasn’t been treated fairly seems to result in emotions that continuously percolate just beneath the surface. “Am I disappointed? Am I angry?” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m angry, but I have a right to be angry. And I have a right to be disappointed.”