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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Officer Calls Misconduct Charge Retaliation

Atlantic City police officer calls misconduct charge retaliation
Press of Atlantic City by Lynda Cohen - March 28, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — A veteran police officer says he was charged criminally because he would not help set up a case against several prominent officials, including the mayor and police chief. Officer Michael Jones, who has worked for the Atlantic City Police Department since 2001, is charged with official misconduct and theft for allegedly violating the rules of the Live-In Police Officers Program by taking a more than 80 percent discount on rent for an apartment in Stanley Holmes Village and then subletting it for a profit. But Jones, 39, insisted Wednesday that he did live in the apartment on Caspian Place from April 2005 until he was asked to leave last May. Instead, he claims that Detective Jason Kangas, of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Official Corruption Unit, told him “that if I cooperated with him and helped him build cases against several individuals ... he would make the charges against me go away.” Mayor Lorenzo Langford, police Chief Ernest Jubilee, Atlantic City Council President William “Speedy” Marsh and Councilman Marty Small were named, he said. All four men and Jones are black. “I think there are racial overtones in those allegations,” defense attorney James Leonard Jr. said, calling it a “racially motivated witch hunt.” “That’s so untrue,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said of the race claim. “That is ... I need to find the word ... reprehensible on his part.” Leonard earlier used the same word to describe the investigation’s alleged tactics in going after his client. “The way that (Jones) was treated at his home, I find to be reprehensible,” he said. Housel said he could not, under the law, comment on whether anyone from his office spoke with Jones, but stressed that the investigation was a joint one with the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force. His office also never comments on whether an investigation exists, so could not comment further on whether the four men named are the targets of an investigation. Jones said Kangas’ questions did not lead him to believe there was any current investigation on the four he named. Housel said the allegations against Jones are not about black and white, but green. “This fellow, for years, received thousands of dollars from people to whom he sublet an apartment he agreed to actually live in and did not,” Housel said. The Live-In Police Officers Program allows officers to lease public housing at a significantly discounted rate in exchange for active community policing. According to the charges, Jones rented the $1,035-per-month apartment for $202, then collected between $39,200 and $51,000 in rent money. “There is absolutely nothing to the allegations,” Leonard said. “Officer Jones never earned $1 from any illicit activity. He never charged anyone rent at 1522 Caspian Place.” Jones said he was asked to leave the program in May 2011. That was, according to the charges, because Jones was violating his agreement. “The Housing Authority provides housing for many, many minorities, and we are acting after being informed by them about an offense about which they are the victim,” Housel said. “Shame on (Leonard) for bringing race into what is simply alleged official misconduct. That’s just offensive to me.” The authority and taxpayers lost $61,642 in potential rent during the time Jones was in the program, the charges claim. Local PBA President Dave Davidson said Jones is in good standing with the union and that they will stand by him throughout the process. “We are all protected by the same Constitution, where a person is presumed innocent,” Davidson said. “We are going to make sure he’s given his rights, and that his rights are protected.” Housel took issue with previous statements Leonard made that were published in The Press of Atlantic City, saying the allegations were disheartening not only to Jones but to all the officers of the department. “He is using this to try to put a wedge between my office and the hardworking and honest officers of the Atlantic City Police Department,” he said. “They do put their lives on the line every day. However, we do not allege that they steal thousands of dollars by taking advantage of a program for police officers to live in Housing Authority apartments.” Leonard and Jones insist this officer hasn’t either. “I am 100 percent innocent of these charges and the allegations against me are completely false,” Jones said. Leonard said there will be no plea deal in the case, and is adamant that it will be taken to trial. “We will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he lived in that apartment the entire time he was involved in the program,” Leonard said. Contact Lynda Cohen: 609-272-7257 -

Police Chief Resigns Amid Corruption Accusations

Puerto Rico’s police chief resigns; agency struggles to fight crime, accusations of corruption
The Associated Press - March 28, 2012

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s police chief quit late Wednesday, less than a year after being appointed to lead a department that federal agents have accused of corruption, illegal killings and civil rights violations. The resignation of Emilio Diaz Colon, a retired National Guard general, came amid criticism that he did not do enough to combat violence that resulted in more than 1,100 homicides last year. Gov. Luis Fortuno said in a statement that Diaz resigned because he didn’t want his continued leadership to hurt reforms being undertaken inside the U.S. territory’s police department of 17,000 officers. No further information was immediately available, and police spokesmen could not be reached for comment. Sen. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who is running against Fortuno in the upcoming general elections, said Diaz’s resignation does not solve anything. “We need a change in vision and in the priorities of this government that up to this day has no plan to fight crime,” he said. When Diaz was appointed police chief in early July following the abrupt resignation of former chief Jose Figueroa Sancha, he was criticized for saying that he had no plans to change how the department operated. He never presented a plan to fight crime despite numerous requests from legislators. Diaz also had been repeatedly criticized for his absence during significant police raids and his unavailability to talk to the media. In September, the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report demanding that Puerto Rico’s police officials improve their department, accusing it of numerous crimes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Police Perjury

Police Perjury
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - March 30, 2012

Also on March 29, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a finding by the Appellate Division, First Department, that former New York City police detective Christopher Perino was guilty of perjury for denying that he had not interrogated attempted-murder suspect Erik Crespo in the Bronx in 2005 before Mr. Crespo made what he characterized as a "spontaneous admission" to his mother. Unbeknowst to Mr. Perino, Mr. Crespo taped the interview on Mr. Crespo's MP3 player and later caught the detective in some apparent misstatements about the conversations. In an opinion by Justice Pigott, the Court agreed with the Appellate Division, First Department, that, while some counts of perjury should be reduced from first to third degree, the evidence pointed to misstatements that Mr. Perino made under oath while describing his interview with Mr. Crespo. The decision rejected appeals by both Mr. Perino and the prosecution. Mr. Perino argued that the admission of Mr. Crespo's "spontaneous" statement was not material to the issues being litigated at Mr. Crespo's trial, having been settled at a suppression hearing. Therefore, he contended, his own testimony could not be considered perjury. But the Court held that Mr. Perino's testimony was "relevant to the jury's determination on whether Crespo's statement to his mother was truly spontaneous and voluntary or whether it was triggered by police conduct that could reasonably have been anticipated to evoke such a statement." Bronx Assistant District Attorney Christoper Blira-Koessler argued for the prosecution. Ira Feinberg of Hogan Lovells represented Mr. Perino. Mr. Perino, a 19-year police veteran, was originally sentenced to four months in jail, which the First Department reduced to two months, but he has remained free on bail pending appeal. Joel Stashenko can be contacted at

Civilian Complaint Board Lawyers to Prosecute NYPD Misconduct Cases

Civilian Complaint Board Lawyers to Prosecute NYPD Misconduct Cases
The Associated Press by Colleen Long - March 30, 2012

Attorneys for New York's police watchdog agency will now prosecute all misconduct cases that stem from complaints it receives and investigates, an unprecedented move that hands over some of the New York Police Department's control of how it handles allegations of bad behavior. The decision on March 26 follows a two-year pilot program where the Civilian Complaint Review Board's independent attorneys prosecuted a small number of cases. Previously, the agency investigated misconduct allegations, then handed recommendations to the NYPD on whether charges should be pursued. Police attorneys would broker a plea deal, pursue charges at a departmental trial, or take no action—the department was not required to follow the agency's recommendations. Now, the agency will hear the misconduct claims, investigate, prosecute, or hand down lesser punishments. Discipline usually comes in the form of loss of vacation or pay, and may also include re-training or probation. In more serious cases, like that of Detective Gescard Isnora, who was involved in the shooting death of Sean Bell on his wedding day in 2006, a department judge recommended he be fired without pension after an internal trial. He was acquitted of charges in his criminal trial. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will continue to have the final authority on whether officers are disciplined. The March 27 decision was in the works for some time, but comes amid calls for more police oversight as the number of people stopped, questioned and frisked has risen to more than 600,000 annually, and secret police monitoring of some Muslims has drawn criticism from politicians and activists. Agency Chairman Daniel Chu, an attorney, called the agreement a milestone. It is the first of its kind in the history of the department. "Public confidence in the disciplinary process will be strengthened by having the CCRB, an independent agency, prosecuting these cases," he said. The CCRB does not investigate criminal claims; those are handled by district attorneys. On average, the CCRB refers 200 cases per year to the NYPD and recommends disciplinary action in about 137 cases, according to spokeswoman Linda Sachs. Those cases involved about 277 officers and included accusations of excessive force, offensive language and abuse of authority that would include improper stops, frisks and searches. The agency has seen its budget cut, but will ask for more funding in order to hire more lawyers to prosecute the cases. It has not yet determined how many. Mr. Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the agreement grew from the success of the pilot program. Mr. Bloomberg said the program further strengthened what he described as the city's "strong monitoring and regulation of police conduct." "We have no tolerance for corruption or misconduct, and over the last decade the NYPD has aggressively investigated cases developed internally, and through the CCRB," he said in a statement. "We expect members of the NYPD to live up to their name, New York's Finest, and I know they will continue to do so." Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, called the move a good first step, but said it in no way addressed major oversight concerns. "The NYPD needs a massive reform and that will be the task of our next city administration, in order to make the fundamental changes necessary," she said. Patrick Lynch, head of the police department's largest union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, slammed the decision. "Our problem with CCRB has always been first, their predisposition that police officers are always wrong, second, their inexperienced investigators who conduct faulty investigations that arrive at improper conclusions, and now those wrong conclusions will be prosecuted at these kangaroo trials," he said. In the case of Detective Isnora, Mr. Kelly agreed with the department judge's recommendation and the detective was fired. The other officers involved in the 2006 incident have retired, but will keep their pensions.

Jury Deadlocked on Canned NYPD Rape Cop

Mistrial declared after Manhattan jury deadlocked on rape charge against newly canned NYPD cop Michael Pena
The New York Daily News by Melissa Grace, Barbara Ross, Jennifer H. Cunningham and Corky Siemaszko - March 29, 2012
Panel had earlier convicted Pena of predatory sexual assault, leading to his firing

The jury could not reach a verdict on whether Officer Michael Pena sexually assaulted a 25-year-old Bronx schoolteacher. She insisted she was raped. A witness testified she was raped. A doctor told the court it appeared she was raped. Police found the suspect’s semen on her panties. And even the cop accused of brutalizing the Bronx school teacher admitted assaulting her. Despite that, an eight-man, four-woman jury that included several big-time Manhattan lawyers would not convict disgraced Officer Michael Pena of rape Wednesday. Their refusal forced Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers to settle for a partial verdict that could still send Pena to prison for life. It also left the victim and others wondering what it takes to convict somebody of rape in this town. Black-clad and surrounded by her parents and friends, the woman burst into tears and doubled over as if in pain when Carruthers declared a mistrial. Her parents tried to comfort her. But she was inconsolable. Pena did not look at them and sat silently beside his lawyer, Ephraim Savitt. “He had deep regret for what he did to her . . . he violated her,” Savitt said. “It didn’t rise to the level of rape, but he violated her. There was never a denial about that.” In a statement, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance commended the victim “for her bravery.” “In this brutal attack against an innocent young woman, the defendant showed no mercy,” he said. “At sentencing, we will recommend that he receive none.” Pena, who was convicted by the same jury Tuesday on six counts of predatory sexual assault and first-degree criminal sexual act for sodomizing her, will be sentenced on May 7. He has been fired by the NYPD. Savitt has not said if he will appeal Pena’s convictions. No explanation for the failure to reach a rape verdict was forthcoming from the jurors, including the one who threw the trial into chaos when it was revealed he played tennis with Vance. “I am not going to reveal how I voted or how anybody else voted,” said Lloyd Constantine, who is also a lawyer. “This was the product of a very serious sober process by intelligent serious people.” “There is no law that says a jury has to reach a verdict.” The other jurors said even less and appeared to be unanimous in their relief that the trial was over. “It’s a very disturbing case,” said a female juror who left the courtroom with Constantine and declined to give her name. “No comment,” juror Cary Hollander added. Juror Scott Warren, the attorney whose report that Constantine was dissing the prosecutors’ case led to the revelations of the relationship with Vance, praised his fellow jurors. “It was a very hardworking, intelligent, diligent group, but I don’t want to say anything beyond that,” he said. The 27-year-old ex-cop attacked the woman last August after a night spent striking out with bartenders and drunkenly calling escort services. It was supposed to be the New Hampshire transplant’s first day teaching second grade and she was waiting for her ride to school. In graphic testimony, she described how Pena accosted her on an Inwood street, took her into a courtyard, and forced her at gunpoint to her knees. “He told me to close my eyes or he would f------ shoot me,” she said while Pena sat stone-faced a few feet away. Asked how she could be certain that Pena raped her, she answered, “It hurt.” Prosecutors presented testimony from an emergency room doctor who found redness on her genitals consistent with rape and from a witness who said he was 12 feet away when he saw Pena penetrate her. They also heard from a woman who said she heard the victim cry out “No! No! No!” and saw “joyless sex” when she looked from her window. Prosecutors also presented DNA evidence tying the sperm found in the victim’s panties to Pena. Pena, who was with the NYPD for three years and assigned to the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights, did not testify. Savitt, however, insisted Pena never raped her vaginally. He gently questioned the victim’s account and suggested the witnesses were too far away to see any rape. He got the doctor to admit he couldn’t tell from the redness when a possible rape could have happened. The jury quickly decided that Pena sodomized the woman, but cleaved into warring camps over whether prosecutors could prove there was a rape. Under New York law, rape requires proof of penetration. The bar is lower for pinning a charge of forced anal or oral sex on a suspect. “It’s a bizarre twist in the law that mere contact, orally or anally, is punished as harshly as penetration,” said defense attorney Eric Franz, who got actor Christian Slater’s misdemeanor sex abuse charge dismissed in 2005. Franz said he could only speculate on why the jury didn’t convict Pena of rape. “They may not be trying to give him a break — they may just not be convinced it was penetration,” he said. Savitt said there wasn’t a single hold-out on the panel.“There were two factions,” he said. Twice the jury notified Carruthers that they were deadlocked on the rape charges and getting nowhere. Each time, the judge sent them back to work. Carruthers relented after the jury raised thewhite flag a third time Wednesday after deliberating on the four rape countsfor just a couple of hours. “No verdict,” the jury forewoman told court. That’s when the tears began to flow. With Edgar Sandoval -

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jail Guard Admits Selling Drugs and Having Sex with Inmate

Former jail guard Clara Espada admits to sex with inmate, selling drugs at Rikers Island
The New York Daily News by Sarah Armaghan - March 8, 2012
Espada likely to get six months behind bars

A former jail guard admitted she had sex with an inmate and sold drugs while working at Rikers Island. A former city Corrections officer will likely end up behind bars after she admitted Thursday to having sex with an inmate and selling Ecstasy, cigarettes and booze while she worked on Rikers Island, officials said. Clara Espada, 41, pleaded guilty to third-degree bribe receiving — a D-class felony — and misdemeanor forcible touching. A criminal complaint says Espada had sex three times with a male inmate, who has not been named. He told investigators he slept with the officer and helped broker deals that netted the woman nearly $300 a week over four months, court documents show. Espada was arrested Wednesday after an eight-month investigation , the Department of Investigation said. The crimes were committed in the George Motchan Detention Center between July 2009 and January 2010, while Espada — who has worked for the Corrections Department since December 2004 — was earning a $76,488 salary. She was restricted from inmate contact and placed on modified duty in June 2011 when the investigation first began, according to the DOI. “Arrest, prosecution, jail time, and the loss of a valuable city job is the likely end for any correction officer who receives bribes to transport contraband into the city jails,” DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said. Under the plea deal, Espada — who resigned from her Corrections post earlier this month — is expected to be sentenced to six months behind bars followed by three years probation, the DOI said.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cop Convicted of Sexual Assault

NYPD cop convicted of sexual assault, but jury stuck on rape charge
The New York Daily News by Melissa Grace, Barbara Ross and Corky Siemaszko - March 28, 2012
Juror Lloyd Constantine admits ties to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance

Officer Michael Pena was convicted of sexually assault, but the jury deadlocked on whether he raped a Bronx school teacher. A jury found a city cop guilty of sexual assault Tuesday but deadlocked on whether he raped a Bronx schoolteacher after the trial was thrown into chaos by revelations that one juror was a tennis buddy of the Manhattan DA. That juror was Lloyd Constantine, a prominent lawyer and player in city legal circles who had once been an adviser to disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Constantine never mentioned he and Cy Vance Jr. were pals — or that he gave the district attorney a $5,000 campaign contribution in 2008 — during jury selection. When asked why, Constantine brazenly told the judge he felt he wouldn’t be biased either way and that he’d passed his “own subjective test.” The discovery of Constantine’s connections came just before the jury handed down a partial verdict against the officer, finding him guilty of predatory sexual assault. Pena was fired by the NYPD and will lose his pension after his felony conviction. He sat silently as the eight men and four women on the jury announced their verdict. But his 25-year-old victim burst into tears when the jury declared it still hadn’t reached a verdict on the four rape counts. The fact that Pena was convicted of forcing her to submit to oral and anal sex — six charges that could send him to prison for life — appeared to be little comfort to her. Constantine’s presence on the panel was all the more surprising because the DA himself watched the closing arguments in the trial and his buddy sat in the front row of the jury box. Vance’s spokeswoman said the DA didn’t spot Constantine in the courtroom. She said they began looking into him after another juror complained he was trashing the prosecution’s case and mentioned that he worked with Richard Aborn, who ran against Vance for DA in 2009. When they realized Constantine’s link to Vance, they immediately reported the potential conflict of interest to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers. Pena’s lawyer said he too doubts Vance would have been able to see Constantine. “Vance is going to start eyeballing the jury?” Ephraim Savitt said. “He was all the way back there in the back of the courtroom and the place was packed.” Constantine’s chutzpah came as no surprise to Darren Dopp, a former Spitzer spokesman. He said Constantine was one of Spitzer’s advisers. “He is not a team player and he was a very arrogant individual,” said Dopp. “Lloyd would shrug at being called arrogant. He would say I have a right to be.” Dopp said most Spitzer hands have shunned Constantine since he published a memoir blaming the governor’s downfall on the fact they stopped playing squash together. “When Lloyd joined that team he became a very disruptive force,” said Dopp, who is also on the outs with Spitzer. Constantine and the rest of the bitterly divided jury will resume deliberating after Carruthers told them he was not ready to settle for a partial verdict. “Please be respectful to one another,” he said. But Carruthers allowed the alternates to go home — and they wasted no time escaping the courthouse. “It was a difficult process, it was trying,” said Pat Lee as she rushed out. Pena, 27, was charged with 10 counts total. He has admitted assaulting the woman and threatening to shoot her in the face but denies raping her. Savitt said they have not decided yet whether they will appeal the convictions, but might ask for a mistrial if the jury doesn’t reach a final verdict. “There is a lot of bickering going on,” Savitt added. “It seems to be a remaking of ‘12 Angry Men.’” With Kerry Burke, Glenn Blain and Rich Schapiro -

Independent Agency Gets New Powers to Prosecute Police Officers

Independent Agency Gets New Powers to Prosecute New York Police Officers
The New York Times by Al Baker - March 28, 2012

Lawyers for the independent agency that investigates allegations of police abuse in New York have been given wide new powers to prosecute officers in misconduct cases under an agreement city officials reached on Tuesday. The changes follow a period in which the Police Department has withstood an onslaught of corruption cases and increased scrutiny on several fronts, including its surveillance and stop-and-frisk practices, the integrity of its crime data and its use of force in policing Occupy Wall Street protests. Details of the agreement were contained in a memorandum signed on Tuesday by the department and the independent oversight agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The changes are intended to shine light on a police disciplinary process that critics have long said is murky and secretive. The agreement means that board lawyers, instead of police agency employees, will act as prosecutors in cases in which board members have substantiated wrongdoing by officers and have recommended that the most serious kinds of internal, or administrative, discipline be handed out. From 2007 through 2011, the board substantiated an average of 200 cases annually that it referred to the police so officers could be put on trial by departmental lawyers before an administrative judge who also was a Police Department employee. “I think this is a question of, for me, the C.C.R.B. felt like a toothless tiger, the place where people went to make complaints about the few bad apples out there, but they did not know what happened since the prosecution was not done by the C.C.R.B.,” said Christine C. Quinn, speaker of the City Council. The speaker announced the agreement with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and the board. Ms. Quinn said the agreement, which mirrors one sought by the Giuliani administration in 2001, “not only gives teeth, but gives transparency to a part of the process that New Yorkers feel is opaque.” Under the agreement, Police Department employees will still serve as judges in misconduct cases, and Mr. Kelly will retain his powers as ultimate arbiter in such matters, with the ability to accept or reject a trial judge’s recommendation. What is different, several officials said, is that Mr. Kelly must make his rationale known to the board, in writing, in cases in which he deviates from the judge’s recommendation. Then the board can appeal his ruling. “And all of this can be reported publicly,” Ms. Quinn said. She said the staffing needs for the board, which was separated from the Police Department in 1993, would be addressed in the city’s budget process. Dick Dadey, the executive director of Citizens Union, an advocacy group, who has been pushing for four years for board lawyers to be prosecutors, called the development a milestone, forcing greater accountability in the way the Police Department polices itself. In a vast majority of cases, he said, the department had not followed the board’s recommendations that officers guilty of misconduct be given the most serious penalty. From 2002 to 2010, he said, the board recommended that 2,078 officers receive the most severe penalty. That suggested discipline was given to only 151 officers.

“Public confidence in the police to keep New York safe and secure is high,” Mr. Dadey said. “But that confidence doesn’t extend to the way the department handles those officers who are charged with violating the public trust when they use excessive force, abuse their authority, or are discourteous and use offensive language. Before the agreement, a police commissioner could opt not to send any substantiated cases to trial. But the cases of wrongdoing substantiated by the board that make it to trial are only a small part of the function of the department’s trial room. Internal Affairs Bureau cases and other matters brought directly by the police make up much of the work, and in those cases departmental advocates will still work as prosecutors. Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, took issue with both sides of the disciplinary process — the board’s role and the department’s internal disciplinary process. “Our problem with the C.C.R.B. has always been first, their predisposition that police officers are always wrong, second, their inexperienced investigators who conduct faulty investigations that arrive at improper conclusions, and now those wrong conclusions will be prosecuted at these kangaroo trials,” Mr. Lynch said in a statement. The union fought over whether the agency should get new powers when Mr. Kelly’s predecessor, Bernard B. Kerik, sought to reinforce the public’s confidence during a turbulent time more than a decade ago. Though the city prevailed in court, the “Bloomberg administration never re-took up the possibility,” Ms. Quinn said, until now. The announcement came on the eve of a speech on policing issues that the public advocate, Bill de Blasio, who, like Ms. Quinn, is planning to run for mayor, was set to deliver on Wednesday at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In recent years, in fact, he and Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick drafted legislation on the issue. Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, a Democrat who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, said the agreement should be seen against a host of other police practices, like the “out of control” numbers of streets stops, mostly of minorities, that officers carry out each year. Ms. Quinn said she would push for a change in state law to address the issue of police trial-room judges being police employees. Daniel D. Chu, the board president, said: “This agreement is a milestone in the history of civilian police oversight in New York City. Public confidence in the disciplinary process will be strengthened by having the C.C.R.B., an independent agency, prosecuting these cases.”

Former Police Commander Allegedly Taped Selling Meth

Norman Wielsch Drug Deal Caught On Tape: Former Police Commander Allegedly Taped Selling Meth
The Huffington Post by Robin Wilkey - March 23, 2012

NBC Bay Area obtained a video that appears to show former police commander Norman Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler engaged in an illegal drug deal. According to NBC, the video allegedly shows Wielsch and Butler selling what prosecutors said was a pound of methamphetamine stolen from a police evidence locker to government informant Carl Marino. The video, released publicly on Thursday, was taken using a video camera concealed inside the informant's keychain. Wielsch and Butler were both indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption and drug charges last year. Both pleaded not guilty, but the release of this video is what some are calling the "smoking gun." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Marino gave Wielsch and Butler $9,800 in marked bills (which are allegedly counted in the video) in exchange for the stolen methamphetamine. The exchange allegedly took place on February 15, 2011, and Wielsch and Butler were arrested the next morning. Marino detailed the experience to NBC Bay Area: "I'd never videotaped him [Wielsch] and I'm using equipment that he is very familiar with. I mean it's from his own department," said Marino to NBC. "If he realizes I'm doing that I just know it's not going to be good for me." Over the past year, the much-publicized story of Butler and Wielsch has continued to shock the community, as the details of alleged corruption have unfolded. Last week, a woman who managed an undercover brothel in Pleasant Hill alleged that Wielsch protected her organization from police intervention in exchange for cash payments. When asked about the recently released video, Butler's lawyer William Gagen told the Chronicle, "The evidence is what it is. I've got nothing to say to put a positive spin on it." Watch NBC's video about the released footage below. Then take a look at the raw footage, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle: CLICK HERE TO SEE NBC's VIDEO

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Police Officer Arrested for Sleeping Nude Photos

Phoenix police officer arrested for secret nude photos
ABC15 by Dave Biscobing and Adam Slinger - March 23, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - A Phoenix police officer has been arrested for taking nude photographs of a woman without her permission or knowledge, police reports show. Officer Jason Toth, a 25-year veteran assigned to the airport bureau, was arrested Thursday after a woman reported that he had sent her a text message of her with her breasts exposed while she was asleep. “It’s not only a complete violation of law but also a complete violation of her privacy,” said Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo. The woman, who lives in Chandler, reported the incident to police on March 6, records show. ABC15 is not identifying the woman because she is the victim of a crime. She said she and Toth had carried on a short relationship. When it ended, Toth sent her a text message saying “I will miss these.” That text was sent with a photo of “her shirt being lifted up with her breasts exposed while she was asleep,” records show. “That certainly concerned her and scared her,” Favazzo said. Chandler detectives served a pair of search warrants, seizing two of Toth’s cell phones. He was arrested on suspicion of “surreptitious photographing,” which is a class five felony. His case has been forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. However, the ABC15 Investigators discovered that the incident wasn’t the first time Toth had been accused of something like this. In 2010, Toth was accused by a TSA employee of sending “nude pictures to her, of her, as well as harassing text messages.” That woman decided not to press charges. Phoenix Police told ABC15 that the department has launched its own investigation, placed Toth on administrative leave and have taken his badge and gun. Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at

Cop Suspended For Saying Trayvon Martin Was A 'Thug' And Deserved To 'Die Like One'

New Orleans Police Officer Suspended For Saying Trayvon Martin Was A 'Thug' And Deserved To 'Die Like One'
The Huffington Post - March 27, 2012

The New Orleans police department has suspended an officer under who is currently under investigation for a fatal police-involved shooting for posting that Trayvon Martin "acted like a thug" and deserved to "die like one" in a comment on a news website. The comment appeared on Sunday night beneath a news article about a rally for Martin. When another commenter called the posting Griroir's comment racist, Giroir replied that "Eddie come on down to our town with a 'Hoodie' and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P," according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The wife of the officer posted a similar comment on the site. Ronal Serpas, the police superintendent, announced the suspension at a news conference this afternoon. "To say that I'm angry is an understatement," Serpas said. "I'm furious," said Serpas, who said the posts "embarrassed this department." Martin, 17, was shot and killed in late February by a neighborhood watch member who reported to police that the teenager looked suspicious. His shooter has not been arrested or charged, which has prompted rallies and protests around the country calling for an investigation and prosecution. In early March, Giroir, the New Orleans officer, pulled over a driver for breaking traffic rules, according to a local television station. The routine stop escalated into a gunfight after other offiicers arrived. One suspect was killed in the shooting, and three people, including two police officers, were wounded. Giroir did not fire his weapon in the incident, but after the shooting, a bullet was found lodged in the Taser he was carrying.

Audiotapes and Videos Hint at Corruption

Audiotapes, videos hint at corruption in North Miami
The Miami Herald by Nadege Green - March 26, 2012

In the past year, North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre had a nagging suspicion he was being followed. He also thought someone had his City Hall office bugged with listening devices. It turns out Pierre was right; someone was watching and listening. On Jan. 26, 2011, Pierre snapped a photo on his cell phone of a suspicious vehicle outside of his North Miami law firm. According to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative report, the car belonged to an FDLE special agent. In July, Pierre had secret cameras installed in his City Hall office and a private firm swept the space for bugs and wiretaps, costing taxpayers about $8,200. Audio recordings obtained by The Miami Herald, and the FDLE report, confirm police conducted surveillance on Pierre, who did not return several telephone calls from a Miami Herald reporter on Monday. The recently obtained recordings were taken on the day FDLE agents arrested Ricardo Brutus, Pierre’s nephew, on March 25, 2011. Brutus, who served as Pierre’s campaign manager in 2011, was charged with unlawful compensation after an undercover video showed him accepting a white envelope stuffed with bills from North Miami businessman Shlomo Chelminsky. The money was in exchange for Brutus lobbying council members to pull an item off the agenda about privitizing the city’s trash pickup, investigators say. Chelminsky felt privitization would benefit him as an apartment building owner, although many residents opposed the plan. The audio recordings provide a glimpse into law enforcement’s case against the mayor’s nephew and what will likely be a broader public corruption investigation into the North Miami City Council. Brutus told FDLE that Pierre tried to circumvent election laws in the 2011 race. Pierre won the mayoral contest against two opponents. According to what Brutus told FDLE, Pierre told Chelminsky to make out a check for his campaign to Bertrand Consulting, a company owned by Brutus’ fiancée Sarah Bertrand. Brutus told investigators there may have been other campaign checks deposited into Bertrand’s account, but he said he couldn’t remember. If these checks were intended for the campaign, their deposit into a third-party account would violate campaign finance laws. Brutus also admitted to accepting cash from Chelminsky once before. He told investigators he wasn’t exactly sure why the North Miami businessman had given him money. He said he accepted $1,500 or $2,500 from Chelminsky. Investigators said the amount was higher, but they were not specific. Chelminsky, who is cooperating with FDLE, declined to comment Monday.

According to the audio recordings, FDLE investigators said Chelminsky asked the mayor to intervene on a City Council agenda item that involved switching the city’s sanitation, recycling and stormwater fees from a monthly payment to an annual one. Chelminsky, who owns several apartment buildings in North Miami, was concerned he would have to pay one lump sum at the end of the year. The mayor, according to investigators, told Chelminsky, “I’ll have my man get in touch with you.” On Sept. 15, 2010, the council voted 4-1 to keep the fees on a monthly basis. Pierre was the only dissenter. The next day, Brutus went to Chelminsky’s office to pick up a cash-filled envelope, investigators said. Pierre called Chelminsky at 8 a.m. the morning after the resolution passed in Chelminsky’s favor, investigators said. According to the audio recordings, investigators told Brutus that Pierre said: “I didn’t get a thank you. It’s pure politics, I had to vote no. I had to make it look good. I voted no, but you got what you wanted. Pure politics; everyone’s got to play politics here.” The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office would not confirm whether there is an investigation. There was also the issue of the city privitizing its sanitation services, a contentious matter before the council last year. Brutus was caught on videotape in January 2011 boasting to Chelminsky that he could have a council member pull the item from the agenda and have it voted on at a later date. Brutus told Chelminsky, according to the video, that the item was hot and it would be better brought up after the May 2011 elections. In January 2011, Councilwoman Marie Steril pulled the item from the agenda. She said Monday she would not comment until after she listened to the recordings. In the past, however, she has denied discussing city business with Brutus. Investigators said that minutes after taking the $4,000 from Chelminsky in an envelope, phone records show that Brutus called Steril. Brutus told investigators he may have called Steril, but did not fully recall the conversation. “I don’t remember asking her to pull it off the agenda. When I spoke to her it was more like trying to get information, OK. To see what is going to happen. I don’t think I asked her directly, ‘Marie, can you pull this off the agenda?’ ”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Payments to Police Officers Are Called a "Bounty System"

Payments to Albuquerque Officers Are Called a ‘Bounty System’
The New York Times by Manny Fernandez and Dan Frosch - March 25, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Mike Gomez has been angry with the police officer here who shot and killed his 22-year-old son, Alan, last year, after officers responded to a report that the young man was acting erratically and firing a rifle. But Mr. Gomez became even angrier just days ago after he learned that the officer, Sean Wallace, received a $500 payment from the Albuquerque police union shortly after the shooting. The payment, union officials said, was made to help Officer Wallace cope with the stress of the shooting. But Mr. Gomez said he believed the money served a more ruthless purpose: as a bounty-style reward for a shooting. “You’re telling police that if you shoot somebody you’re going to get paid leave and you’re going to get $500,” said Mr. Gomez, whose son was unarmed when he was shot last May. “If the police shoot a person they get this. What does the family get? A funeral bill.” The controversy surrounding the payments has shed light on a little-known practice that police unions in at least a few other cities, including Phoenix, have engaged in for years. Advocates and others here have protested the Police Department’s 23 shootings by officers since 2010 — 18 of them fatal — with some people calling for the police chief’s resignation and for a Justice Department investigation.

Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico with a population of 546,000, has 1,100 sworn officers. New York City, with a population of 8.4 million and a uniformed police force of 35,000, had 22 fatal shootings by officers in the same time period. The police union payments were reported on Friday by The Albuquerque Journal. Twenty Albuquerque officers involved in shootings in 2010 and 2011 were paid by the union, with 16 receiving $500, two $300, one $800 and another $1,000, the newspaper reported, citing internal union financial documents. Many of the officers who received the money were involved in the 15 fatal shootings in Albuquerque during that time. Executives of the union, the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association, said the payments had been given to officers after the shootings and that the practice had gone on for at least two decades. They said the payments of up to $500 were to cover the costs of out-of-town trips for officers and their families after stressful episodes, and that any payment to an officer beyond $500 was for other union-related matters. The executives denied that the money was intended to reward officers who fired their weapons. “It’s difficult for people to understand what officers involved in shootings go through — the self-doubt, the worry — and we take great offense to the fact that people are referring to this as a reward system,” the union’s president, Joey Sigala, said in an interview. “We hold onto the honor and the integrity of this profession. And we take great pride in this community.” Under pressure from city and police officials, union executives held an emergency board meeting on Friday to discuss suspending the practice. They later announced that the union would continue issuing the payments, saying that its 20-member board would now decide who would get the money on a case-by-case basis. Previously, it was left to Mr. Sigala and the three other members of the union’s executive board on how the payments would be allocated. The union’s move to keep issuing the payments goes against the wishes of Mayor Richard J. Berry and the police chief, Raymond D. Schultz, both of whom want the payments stopped. “I think we all have the same goal in mind: helping the officer and his family after a traumatic incident,” said Chief Schultz, who has been under increasing pressure to ease concerns over the rise in shootings by officers in recent years. “The biggest concern is making a cash payment to the officer. That obviously sends the wrong message to the community.” Mayor Berry said he was disappointed in the union’s decision to keep making the payments.

“I am convinced there are other ways other than cash payments to support our officers and their families during times of great stress and crisis in their lives, and I will direct Chief Schultz to continue to work with the union to craft a better solution for our officers and our community,” he said in a statement on Saturday. Police union officials in other cities said they often provided financial assistance or other types of aid to officers involved in shootings, and they said there was nothing wrong with the practice. “It is completely perplexing to me how anyone can equate this to anything other than the concern and compassion for a police officer who has just been through a traumatic event,” said Joe Clure, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. “It’s insulting to me as a police officer that they’re trying to paint these guys as villains.” Mr. Clure said his union typically sent movie tickets, a gift certificate to dinner and a personal card when officers were involved in a shooting or a car crash. In certain circumstances, he said, the union would give officers “$500 or $1,000 to send them to the beach or help them relax.” Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said his organization did not give officers involved in shootings money or gifts, but he strongly defended the Albuquerque union, saying he thought it was beneficial to help officers get out of town during stressful times. “Anyone who claims that this is a reward has absolutely no idea about police work and how traumatic it is for an officer who has been in a shooting and for their family,” Mr. Hunt said. “I thank God every day that I’ve never had to take someone’s life.” Renetta Torres, whose son, Christopher, was killed by the Albuquerque police last April, said she was appalled by the practice. Her son, who suffered from schizophrenia, was shot after the police said he tried to wrestle away the gun of an officer questioning him about a road-rage incident. The Torres family, along with the Gomez family, have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the Police Department. “These were needless killings,” Ms. Torres said. “We put these police on paid administrative leave and we give them their little bonus. It flies against everything that is decent and right.” Debbie O’Malley, a member of the Albuquerque City Council, said the city had been fielding complaints from citizens about excessive force and shootings for months, and that in recent years, the city had paid more than $10 million stemming from various lawsuits against the Police Department. “We have a real serious problem here,” she said. “Myself and other members of the council are very concerned about this. Something needs to change. We can’t keep this up.” Matt Flegenheimer contributed reporting from New York.

Cop Arrested for DWI

Police officer arrested for DWI on Staten Island
The Staten Island Advance by Jillian Jorgensen - March 25, 2012

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A New York City police officer was arrested for allegedly driving drunk this morning on Staten Island, according to police. Daniel Smith, 26, was arrested "in the confines of the" 120th precinct on the North Shore of Staten Island, according to a brief statement from the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information. He was arrested at 8 a.m., according to the statement. The department offered no further information about where Smith works as a police officer or where exactly he was arrested. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, according to police. The arrest comes just two weeks after an off-duty NYPD sergeant was arrested on drunken driving charges after she clipped another vehicle in Tottenville March 10. Sgt. Colleen Leonard, 39, had more than a dozen empty beer bottles in her 2002 Jeep Liberty -- including a half-empty Corona in her center console -- at the time of the crash, according to court documents and law enforcement sources. Ms. Leonard lives on the South Shore but works in Brooklyn's 70th Precinct. She was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cops in Bell Shooting Get Canned

Police involved in Sean Bell shooting get canned
The New York Daily News by John Doyle and Janon Fisher - March 24, 2012
The officers shot Bell and two friends outside a Queens strip club. The cops said they thought Bell and his friends had a gun, but they were unarmed.

The cops that gunned down Sean Bell, the Queens man killed on his wedding day in a 50-shot fusillade, will be drummed out of the department, the NYPD said Friday. Detective Gescard Isnora, who fired the shot that touched off the senseless 2006 killing, was found to have violated department guidelines by shooting his weapon while undercover. He will be fired and will not get a pension or health benefits. Three other officers involved, Detective Michael Oliver, Detective Marc Cooper and Lt. Gary Napoli cut plea deals with the department that allowed them to keep all or part of their pensions if they resign from the department. They are expected to hand their paperwork over to the pension board on Monday, police sources said. “It really don’t matter,” said William Bell, the slain groom’s father. “They still have lives. Pension or no pension, they’re still walking around, they’ll get another job. My son doesn’t have a chance to start over again.” On the night of the shooting, Bell and two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were celebrating the final hours of his bachelorhood at Club Kalua, a strip bar in Jamaica. As the three left the club and were heading to their car, Guzman got into an argument with a man outside the bar. The cops, part of a task force that specialized in vice collars, saw the argument and believed Guzman was going to his car to get a gun. As they moved in on the group, Bell, who toxicology reports show was legally drunk, tried to flee in the car with his buddies. His car smashed into a police van, injuring one cop. That’s when Isnora fired the first of 11 shots. Oliver fired 31 of the 50 shots. Cooper shot four times. The groom and his buddies were unarmed. The cops were found not guilty at a criminal trial in 2008, but at a subsequent civil trial the city settled for $7.15 million. Officer Michael Carey, who fired three shots, was also found not guilty in a departmental trial. Detective Paul Headley, who fired once, received a departmental reprimand. After a lengthy probe, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice decided not to file charges. The shooting set of a firestorm of protests in the community, which blamed racial bias and police brutality. Even Mayor Bloomberg weighed in calling it “excessive force.” The president of the Detectives Endowment Association condemned the firings. “The decision was disgraceful, excessive and unprecedented,” said the union president Michael Palladino. “Stripping a cop of his livelihood and his retirement is usually reserved for cops who turn to a life of crime and disgrace the shield, not for someone whose actions were justified by both a court of law and by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Mayor Urges Union to Stop Money to Cops in Shootings

Albuquerque Mayor Urges Police Union to Stop Payments to Officers in Shootings
The New York Time by Matt Flegenheimer - March 24, 2012

The mayor of Albuquerque called Friday for an end to a police union practice of paying officers involved in fatal shootings as much as $500 — a program that critics have compared to a bounty system that promotes and legitimizes brutality. “The administration has nothing to do with how the union conducts their business, but I was shocked yesterday when made aware of this practice,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said, addressing a report in The Albuquerque Journal. “It needs to end now.” In a statement released to The Journal, the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association said “a deadly force encounter leaves a police officer with a particular kind of stress” and that, as a result, “this association has often assisted its members when they have been involved in critical incidents.” The group denied that the payments were awarded “for the officer merely ‘shooting someone,’ ” but to cover costs for officers “when they decide to get away from the area for a few days” after a shooting. The payments did not exceed $500, the association said. Messages left on Friday evening for the association’s president and vice president were not answered. Mr. Berry called on the city’s police chief, Ray Schultz, to “work with the union to ensure this practice no longer continues.” Chief Schultz told The Journal he was unaware of the practice and said through a spokesman that he did not receive money from the association after he was involved in a shooting after an armed robbery in 1986. Mike Gomez, whose son was fatally shot by an Albuquerque officer last year, told The Journal that the program “just sounds like a reward system, a bounty.” “If it’s in these cops’ minds that they’re going to get rewarded if they shoot someone, even if they don’t kill them, that’s just not good," he said. According to The Associated Press, Albuquerque police officers have shot 23 people — 18 fatally — since 2010. Historically, the city average for police-involved shootings was about five or six a year, The A.P. said. The department came under additional scrutiny last year after an officer who had been involved in a fatal shooting described his occupation as “human waste disposal” on Facebook. Another officer wrote on Myspace that “some people are alive only because killing them is illegal,” The A.P. said.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sgt. On Leave After Voiding Tickets

Ramapo sgt. on leave after voiding tickets
The Journal News by Steve Lieberman - March 16, 2012

RAMAPO, NY — A Ramapo police sergeant has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation into accusations he voided two traffic summonses without justification and possibly as a courtesy for an officer from another department, officials said Friday. Sgt. Christopher Franklin, a 13-year officer and former K-9 officer, has not been hit with any disciplinary charges as the department brass investigates the circumstances surrounding the voiding of two moving violations from the department’s computer system, Ramapo Police Capt. Brad Weidel said. Police Chief Peter Brower has notified the Rockland District Attorney’s Office of the internal investigation as a matter of departmental policy. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he would await the results of the police review before making a decision on if any criminal charges were necessary. The department became aware of the accustions involving Franklin on Monday when police officer Ernst Tenemille sent out a departmental email, Weidel said. “The contents of this email allege that a member of our department voided two summonses he (Tenemille) had previously issued on March 8,” Weidel said. “Officer Tenemille was upset with what occurred. Once we the administration became aware, we immediately began an internal investigation.” Ramapo PBA President Dennis Procter said Franklin got caught up in procedural problems and trying to help Tenemille. Procter said he hasn’t spoken to Tenemille but the department is still trying to decipher Tenemille‘s email, saying Franklin wasn’t mentioned by name. Procter said there will be policy changes concerning procedures and the computer system as a result of the investigation. “Chris didn’t do anything illegal,” Procter said. “He didn’t do anything that could be considered unethical. I am confident that at the end of the day he will be cleared of any accusations.” Weidel said the internal investigation also will look into whether a Clarkstown police officer asked Franklin to void the tickets on behalf of a friend. “I’ve heard that,” Weidel said. “Any information we get no matter how trivial we are trying to track down and verify. It would be speculation, otherwise.” Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan could not be reached for comment on Friday. Ticket fixing has been in the public eye following the scandal involving the New York Police Department, leading to indictments on criminal charges and ruined law-enforcement careers. More than a dozen police officers in the Bronx were charged in what authorities described as a highly organized practice. “What happened in New York City does not happen here and we don’t want any type of comparison with how we do business,” Procter said. “The department is taking steps to reassure the public.” Weidel said Ramapo police supervisors can void summonses for certain reasons, such as mistakes, but must provide a written justification for doing so. “We don’t allow officers to void tickets and they must go through a supervisor, who can make the decision but must say why,” Weidel said. “Voiding a ticket is not necessarily nefarious.” Tenemille was not told the summonses he issued had been voided. “We believe the supervisor in this case voided two tickets but it was not done with the proper procedure and was not justified,” Weidel said. “The chief and our department take any allegations of misconduct seriously. We will thoroughly investigate this incident.” Weidel said the department has not yet reached the point of reviewing all voided summonses, saying that could happen after the investigation is finished. Like other departments, Ramapo officers also are allowed to negotiate a disposition of a ticket with the driver before appearing before a judge in traffic court. The negotiations can lead to a moving violation becoming less severe. The judge eventually has to approve the plea agreement. Tenemille and Franklin could not be reached for comment. Tenemille, an officer for more than decade like Franklin, once fought the department in 2009 and demanded the Christian Sabbath on Sunday and holidays off after a newly hired Jewish officer got Friday nights and Saturdays off for her religious beliefs. Brower and Capt. Thomas Cokeley on Thursday afternoon briefed the three-member Ramapo Police Commission about Franklin being placed on administrative leave. Cokeley is heading the internal review. Members of the commission are Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, Councilman Patrick Withers, a retired police officer, and civilian member Frances Hunter, a former councilwoman. St. Lawrence declined comment before the Police Commission meeting. Withers said Friday that he viewed the situation as a personnel matter and referred all questions to the police chief.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Husband of Cop Among Those Arrested in Heroin Ring

Dean’s List student, husband of cop and Rikers inmate all busted in heroin ring
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - March 13, 2012
FBI raids in Brooklyn, Long Island collar dealers from all walks of life - United States Attorney Loretta Lynch announces busts in heroin ring that spanned the region.

THE HUSBAND of an NYPD cop and a retired Suffolk County officer were members of a motley crew of heroin dealers charged Tuesday with peddling dope, authorities said. FBI agents staged early-morning raids in Long Island and Brooklyn arresting 17 perps and seizing a small amount of drugs and cash. Three others were already being held in custody. Prosecutors said the three-year investigation, dubbed "Operation County Connection," had been launched in response to an alarming rise in heroin use and overdoses on Long Island. The leader of the ring, Jose Perez, oversaw the trafficking of heroin that was imported from the Dominican Republic and Mexico, then distributed from the crew's base in Woodhaven, Queens, according to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Rose and Licha Nyiendo. Perez's crew's members are a varied bunch of characters. Leonardo Lopez, 25, is married to a city cop, but sources said there is no evidence that she was a co-conspirator. The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating whether Lopez was using his wife's cell phone to make drug deals. Roland Stern, 68, a retired member of the Suffolk County marine bureau, and his daughter Corey, 37, worked together selling heroin in Patchogue, L.I., court papers state. Roland Stern, who is known as "Pops," was intercepted on more than 300 wiretaps. Kathryn Pappas, 21, of Jericho is a student at Hofstra University and made the Dean's List in the fall 2010 semester. Kenneth Suarez was directing drug transactions by phone while in custody at Riker's Island. Dana Sollecito, 23, was dealing from the parking lot of her family's restaurant, Corner Gallery, in Massapequa. A married couple were also arrested. "The charges and arrests announced today have ended the activities of an alleged heroin distribution organization whose members were drawn from a variety of backgrounds but were united by a common cause," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. "Profiting personally while seriously endangering the lives of so many residents in our communities," she said.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cop Charged With Promoting Prostitution

Accused pimp cop Monty Green caught in sex act by IAB
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola - February 16, 2012
Investigator says Green kept 'girls in line' at brothel - The NYPD has charged Officer Monty Green with promoting prostitution.

The married Brooklyn cop accused of moonlighting as a pimp was once caught having a sex in public, an Internal Affairs sergeant says. Sgt. Michael Rothenbucher testified at Officer Monty Green’s departmental trial on Thursday that Internal Affairs officers spotted the cop “engaged in sexual activity” on a Bushwick street on the night of Dec. 13, 2009. IAB cops had been investigating Green for four months when they watched Green and another man leave Rockwell’s Bar & Lounge — a downtown Brooklyn joint that doubled as a brothel — then pick up a woman and go to Bushwick. “Then we continued surveillance until we lost him at a high rate of speed,” Rothenbucher said. Green’s lawyer, Eric Sanders, said the accusation is wrong and that the officer was not there. Sanders also got Rothenbucher to admit that Green was not once caught on surveillance working as a pimp. “They can’t prove anything,” Sanders said outside court. “Their main sergeant said, ‘They have no evidence.’” The NYPD has charged Green — who has been on the force for nearly eight years — with promoting prostitution. His job is on the line when the case resumes March 6. Rothenbucher said Green appeared to be a regular at Rockwell’s Bar & Lounge, which served up sex with prostitutes on Sunday nights. Jerry “Creation” Gavin, who promoted the Sunday “jump off” parties, described Green as someone who didn’t pay to attend and “acted like a pimp,” Rothenbucher said. “He basically said [Green] quashed any problems in the club, and he kept the girls in line, so to speak,” the sergeant testified. Green has told the Daily News that he is not a pimp. The officer has filed a notice of claim that says he will sue the city for $25 million because his reputation has been ruined by a biased investigation. Also Thursday, Green’s name surfaced in Queens, where Andre Dickenson, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison for gun possession. Dickenson’s lawyer had tried in vain to get Dickenson’s guilty plea withdrawn by suggesting prosecutors withheld information about Green’s involvement in the case. Dickerson also faces double murder charges connected to two slayings inside the ex-Jets star Jonathan Vilma’s condo. Sanders said Green wasn’t connected to the gun case, and that the Queens DA has said the “Monty” suspect of gun crimes is actually a Queens man named “Maute.” rparascandola@nydailynews

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fallout From Police Corruption Trial Continues

Fallout From Tulsa Police Corruption Trial Continues
NewsON6 by Lori Fullbright - March 13, 2012

The most recent person affected is Erskin Atkinson, who has been released from prison after having his conviction vacated. He says he was riding in a car with two buddies in June of 2008 when he was pulled over by police. He then learned the officer who arrested him, Jeff Henderson, was going on trial for corruption.

TULSA, Oklahoma - Even though the trials of the Tulsa officers accused of lying and violating civil rights are long over, the fallout is still being felt in the courts. The most recent person affected is Erskin Atkinson, who has been released from prison after having his conviction vacated. Erskin Adkinson is the 42nd person whose case has been affected by the police corruption investigation. After serving three years and two months in prison, Atkinson is now a free man. He was reunited with his wife and children, including the little girl who was born while he was behind bars. Adkinson admits he's been guilty of breaking the law in the past, but says he's served his time for that. He didn't think he should serve time for a crime he didn't commit. "They found two automatic weapons under the hood of the car. I had no idea it was there," Adkinson said. He says he was riding in a car with two buddies in June of 2008 when he was pulled over by police. He says the guns weren't his, but was the only one arrested because of a past felony on his record. He says the officers wanted him to snitch for them and when he refused, he ended up facing federal gun charges. His key witness at trial was going to be the man who admitted the guns were his and even testified to that at the grand jury. But when it came time for the trial they couldn't find him. So Atkinson, facing 10 years in prison, decided to plead guilty and was sentenced to four years and seven months. "I shouldn't have to do time for something I didn't do," he said. He then learned the officer who arrested him, Jeff Henderson, was going on trial for corruption. He also learned that his key witness had been hard to find because he'd disappeared after claiming Henderson conducted an illegal search at his home and intimidated him. Adkinson filed a motion to get his conviction overturned and the judge agreed. "I was so overwhelmed by everything, excited and happy and everything," he said. Now he's getting to know his youngest daughter and catching up with his wife and other children. He says he's writing novels and poetry and appreciating the little things in life again. "Be able to get fresh air, see the streets, cars, kids playing, couples walking, holding hands. It's a gift, something previous people take for granted," Adkinson said. Not only was Adkinson's case vacated, he was also refunded the fines he'd been ordered to pay and the original indictment against him was dismissed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Scandal Shuts Down Police Department

Mount Sterling Police Department Shut Down; Officer Accused Of Using Taser On 9-Year-Old Boy
The Huffington Post - March 12, 2012

A small-town Ohio police department was shut down Friday after a cop allegedly used a taser on a 9-year-old boy, and the police chief kept quiet about it. Details about the taser incident on Tuesday are few, but the Coshocton Tribune reported that the officer had been called to a Mount Sterling apartment where a child was refusing to go to school. At some point, the visit became hostile and the part-time officer allegedly used a taser to subdue the boy. The police chief is accused of hiding the incident from village leaders. City officials suspended Mount Sterling Police Chief Mike McCoy for three days, leaving the village without a police department. Meanwhile, the office's computers and weapons were seized, and state investigators are probing the incident, 10-TV reported. The county sheriff's office will take over police operations in the area until city officials determine what to do next. The closure isn't the first for the Mount Sterling police force. The village laid off all its officers except for the chief in September due to budget cuts, the station reported. It's yet unclear when the department will be reformed. Mount Sterling had a population of just under 2,000 in 2010, according to Census data.

Federal Judge Won't Sanction Prosecutors in Police Corruption Probe

Tulsa federal judge won't sanction prosecutors in police corruption probe
The Tulsa World by David Harper - March 10, 2012

A federal judge declined Friday to sanction prosecutors who disclosed the name of a Tulsa police officer they considered an unindicted co-conspirator in a police corruption probe. U.S. District Judge Bruce Black wrote, however, that the public filing of a March 2011 pleading in which the detective was mentioned was a "clear error of judgment." Officer Shawn Hickey had requested that the court investigate the actions of government attorneys, claiming that they violated his due-process rights and grand jury rules by publicly identifying him as an "unindicted co-conspirator." His Nov. 11 filing states, "Mr. Hickey has always maintained that he has not been involved in any wrongdoing." Black wrote in an opinion filed Friday that Hickey's "reputation was clearly harmed by the government's failure to file its brief under seal" and added that "there was no reason at all" to identify Hickey publicly as a co-conspirator who had not been charged. The judge added that the failure to submit the brief under seal "was a clear error of judgment" by the prosecution. Yet Black wrote that the disclosure "is not grounds for the extreme sanction of contempt." The judge noted that, to some extent, harm to Hickey's reputation was unavoidable because of testimony that occurred in August during the trial of former Tulsa Police Officer Jeff Henderson. Former U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Brandon McFadden - who is serving a 21-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge - testified that Hickey was there in September 2007 when he, Henderson and another unindicted alleged co-conspirator went into a house and hid a shotgun so it could be discovered later during a search, Black wrote. McFadden's testimony was contradicted by other witnesses, and Henderson was not convicted of the corresponding count, although Henderson was convicted of six counts of perjury and two counts of civil rights violations and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. Saying he sympathizes with Hickey's plight, Black ordered the sealing of three documents in which Hickey's name appears and said he hopes the officer "will not continue to suffer overly burdensome fallout from the events that have occurred." Attorney Joe Norwood, representing Hickey, said he didn't really expect Black to sanction the prosecution, which was led by U.S. Attorney Jane Duke of the Eastern District of Arkansas. Norwood said it's "gratifying" that the court ordered the sealing of three pleadings in which Hickey's name was mentioned, but he said Hickey takes the most satisfaction in the harsh words Black had for the prosecution. He said Black's opinion makes it clear that Hickey's name "never should have been put out there." Norwood said "nothing could ever undo" the damage that has been done to Hickey by the disclosure. Original Print Headline: Judge: Prosecutors in corruption probe won't be sanctioned David Harper 918-581-8359 -

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Detective Provided Protection to High Priced Prostitution Ring

'Madam’s' private dick
The New York Post by Larry Celona, Jeane Macintosh, Jamie Schram and Dan Mangan - March 10, 2012
Well, she did brag about having police protection.

A burly bodyguard who was shadowing Upper East Side madam Anna Gristina’s every move for years was actually a moonlighting NYPD detective, sources said yesterday. Sylvan “Sly” Francis was the hockey mom’s right-hand man and rarely left her side when she came to New York City from her sleepy suburban home, the sources said. The two were photographed casually holding each other in 2001 during Francis’ two-year stint as her muscleman. At the same time, Francis was assigned to the district attorney’s squad assisting prosecutors with investigations. The 54-year-old brute retired from the NYPD in 2002 after a decade in the department. One of his career highlights was working as a driver for a first deputy commissioner under Ray Kelly. Manhattan DA investigators learned of Francis’ involvement with Gristina only after seeing the photo in yesterday’s Post alongside an exclusive jailhouse interview with the madam — in which she revealed that prosecutors were desperately seeking dirt on 10 New York City power brokers. Now the DA is scrambling to determine whether Francis helped provide some of the law-enforcement protection she had bragged about on wiretaps. Prosecutors have said Gristina, a 44-year-old mom of four who lives in upstate Monroe, insisted she had friends in high places — including cops, FBI agents and politicians. The Manhattan DA’s Office was caught flat-footed by Francis’ involvement with Gristina — despite having investigated her for five years, sources said. “They just found out about this,” said a law-enforcement source. The source said prosecutors are in “circle-the-wagons” mode as they probe Francis’ relationship with the woman they are accusing of running a 15-year escort service for the rich and famous. “Now they’re going to go back and look at his record when he was working in the office,” the source said. “I’m sure they’re going to want to talk to him.” But one law-enforcement source said that despite the fact that Francis was working for the DA’s office, he actually served in a different unit than the one investigating her. “He worked in ‘The Squad,’ and this whole thing was out of [the Investigation Bureau],” which is comprised largely of retired detectives, the source said. “One had nothing to do with the other.” A Manhattan DA spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about Francis yesterday. Robert Morgenthau, who was the district attorney when Francis worked there, said he did not know the detective. Asked about Francis’ working for Gristina and the photo of her on his lap, Morgenthau said: “He was a Police Department employee, not a DA employee. That’s a matter for the police.” The NYPD would not comment. Francis didn’t respond to several requests for comment yesterday. But on his Facebook page he seemed amused by his new found notoriety, posting a link to the Post’s exclusive story and writing: “Nice photo of me from back in the day.” A retired detective who worked with Francis in narcotics said he rose through the ranks once he became a chauffeur and bodyguard for Deputy First Commissioner John Pritchard in the early 1990s. Francis previously worked undercover in Manhattan North Narcotics and the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hills, Queens. “Sly made second-grade [detective] because he was driving around one of the big chiefs at 1PP [1 Police Plaza],” the ex-colleague said. “After making grade, he was bragging to me about what a crack investigator he is. “He was talking to me like I was some kind of rookie. He forgot who he was talking to, so I had to remind him.” Other former colleagues described him as a sharp dresser who came across as “arrogant” and full of “bravado.” Gristina is being held on $2 million bond on Rikers because she is considered a potential flight risk who holds a British passport and owns property in Canada. Authorities say she has rich friends who have an interest in seeing that she is not prosecuted. Additional reporting by Philip Messing and Frank Rosario -

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Discontent WIth Corruption Fuels Run For Mayor

Garza cites corruption, wants to challenge status quo
The Brownsville Herald by Dave Hendricks - March 10, 2012

HIDALGO, TX — Fed up with small-town corruption, a retired Customs and Border Protection spokesman has quietly launched a mayoral bid, promising to end the Franz family’s 20-year lock on Hidalgo politics. Felix Garza, 59, originally filed to run for City Council but switched to the mayoral race after longtime Mayor John David Franz announced his resignation last month. Garza is running as an independent. Corruption pervades Hidalgo, Garza said, scaring away new businesses and eroding confidence in local police. Many residents avoid politics altogether, afraid they’ll be harassed or blackballed for opposing the ruling clique. “We cannot live in fear,” Garza said. “Our community is under siege. It has been under siege for 20 years.” Born in Chihuahua, a tiny community between Peñitas and Perezville, Garza graduated from La Joya High School in 1972. He joined the Marine Corps immediately after graduation and served as a military policeman in Germany during the Vietnam War. Garza returned to the Rio Grande Valley after leaving the Marines, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas-Pan American. He joined Border Patrol in 1981, eventually becoming one of Customs and Border Protection’s first full-time public affairs liaisons before retiring in December. Garza bought a home and moved to Hidalgo in 2009. Municipal elections in Hidalgo, a town of 11,000 on the Rio Grande, have been sleepy affairs for decades. A nasty falling out between Mayor Franz and his uncle, Rudy Franz, created a political schism last year. The opening created an opportunity for Garza, who’s challenging both camps with his independent mayoral bid. If elected, Garza said he’d work to restore public trust by cleaning up the Hidalgo Police Department and encouraging new businesses with economic incentives and a level playing field. To spur economic development along International Boulevard and South 10th Street, Garza said the city should offer economic incentives. Pharr and McAllen offer property tax abatements, among other enticements, to attract companies. “Everything we need as consumers, we either go to Las Milpas, we go to McAllen or we go to Mission,” Garza said. “So we ask ourselves, what has our city done in the last 20 years?” Instead of recruiting new businesses, Hidalgo’s elected officials have narrowly focused on protecting their own interests, Garza said, especially Rudy Franz’s taxi, towing and bus companies. On Feb. 28, the City Council narrowly rejected applications from three bus companies seeking vehicle- for-hire permits. Despite a favorable recommendation from police Chief Vernon Rosser, who said the companies met all requirements, the council voted 3-2 against granting the permits, with Rudy Franz’s allies voting no and Mayor Franz’s allies voting yes. Elected officials who voted no said they were concerned about traffic and wanted to wait until McAllen restructures bus access near the international bridge. After the meeting, Rosser told KNVO-TV that Rudy Franz controls Hidalgo and that speaking out against the local politico might end his career. In an interview, Rudy Franz denied Rosser’s accusations, saying the police chief might have been upset and wasn’t thinking clearly. Another priority, Garza said, would be restoring trust in the Police Department, possibly by replacing Rosser. “I think Chief Rosser has done well, but he could have done better,” Garza said, adding that he respects Rosser but questions whether the chief bends to political pressure. Any decision would come after a conversation with Rosser and consultation with the City Council, Garza said, and wouldn’t be personal. Asked about Garza’s comments, Rosser said he’s concerned about the department’s rank-and-file officers, not his job. “I don’t understand politics,” Rosser said. “And I’m not going to take a course on it now.” Regardless of the outcome on election day, Garza said he’ll stick with Hidalgo. “I will remain in Hidalgo for the rest of my life,” Garza said. “I’m not moving.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Former Detective Found Guilty of Murder

Former LA detective guilty of killing wife of former lover 26 years ago
The Associated Press - March 8, 2012
Cold case hinged on a single piece of evidence — DNA from a bite mark on the victim's arm
Former Los Angeles detective Stephanie Lazarus was found guilty of the 26-year-old murder of the wife of her former lover.

LOS ANGELES, CA — A former Los Angeles police detective was found guilty Thursday of the 26-year-old murder of the wife of her former lover in a case that hinged on a single piece of evidence — DNA from a bite mark on the victim's arm. The first-degree murder conviction came after a three-week trial that included testimony from a forensic expert who said the DNA was a match to defendant Stephanie Lazarus. Her defense attorney countered that the DNA was packaged improperly and deteriorated while stored in a coroner's freezer for two decades. He also suggested there might have been evidence tampering. Lazarus, who had smiled at her family as she entered court, showed no reaction as the verdict was delivered in a courtroom ringed by 10 sheriff's deputies. The family of victim Sherri Rasmussen cried softly. "The family is relieved that this 26-year nightmare has concluded with the positive identification of the person who killed their daughter," said John Taylor, an attorney for the Rasmussen family. Lazarus' family also was present. "I'm just devastated," said Steven Lazarus, the defendant's brother. "It's been a difficult thing for our whole family. I have very strong feelings about how the trial played out. It is very sad." Lazarus could face 27 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole when she is sentenced on May 4 for the murder and a gun enhancement imposed by the jury. Her defense immediately announced there would be an appeal. The case was submitted to jurors on Tuesday after intense closing arguments by both sides. Rasmussen was bludgeoned and shot to death in 1986 in the condo she shared with her husband of three months. Detectives initially believed two robbers who had attacked another woman in the area were to blame. But two decades later, a cold case team using DNA analysis concluded the killer was a woman and authorities began looking at Lazarus as a suspect. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said after the verdict that the case demonstrated the importance of DNA as an investigative tool. "Had it not been for DNA the case might never have been solved," he said. During the trial, prosecutors focused on the relationship of Lazarus and John Ruetten, who became her lover after they graduated from college. He testified that he never intended to marry Lazarus, although they were intimate for about a year. He also said she enticed him into having sex with her shortly before his wedding. "Here's the deal," he testified. "It was clear she was very upset that I was getting married and moving on." Lazarus' lawyer, Mark Overland, ridiculed the claim of a fatal attraction between Lazarus and Ruetten, saying she never tried to reunite with her former lover after his wife was gone, "So this obsessing with John must have fizzled out I guess," he said. Lazarus went on to marry another policeman and adopt a daughter. She rose in the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, becoming a detective in charge of art forgeries and thefts. Overland also pointed to the lack of physical evidence against her. No blood, fingerprints, hair or fibers connected her to the scene. But prosecutor Shannon Presby told jurors the case was based on more than just DNA. At the outset of the trial, he said it featured "a bite, a bullet, a gun barrel and a broken heart." Lazarus' gun was never found, but Presby called experts to testify that bullets fired into Rasmussen's body matched those issued to police officers in 1986. Lazarus' husband attended most of the trial along with other family members. Ruetten sat across the courtroom with Rasmussen's family. The deathly pale defendant and her white-haired former boyfriend never looked at each other. But their past moved before them on a movie screen as both sides showed pictures of them as a young couple. Among the trial's most dramatic moments came when Ruetten testified tearfully about finding his wife slain. He said it never entered his mind that Lazarus might be responsible.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weapon in Kid Shooting Found in Cop's Personal Car

Suspected weapon in child shooting found in city officer's vehicle
The Baltimore Sun by Justin Fenton and Peter Hermann - March 7, 2012
Police looking into conduct, possible relationship with suspect's relative

A Baltimore police officer has been suspended for his "conduct" in the aftermath of the shooting of a 13-year-old girl, and after the weapon police suspect was used in the crime was found in his personal vehicle, according to law enforcement sources. Police investigators believe the off-duty officer, whose name was not released, was in a relationship with a relative of one of the juvenile suspects charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter, sources said. Investigators are trying to determine whether he advised the juveniles after the shooting occurred. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed the officer's suspension but declined to provide more details. The officer continues to be paid pending the filing of administrative or criminal charges. The victim's mother and aunt said they are outraged by the new allegations, calling for the officer to be fired and suggesting that police could have found the teenaged Monae Turnage more quickly. She was found under trash bags in Northeast Baltimore nearly 20 hours after she was reported missing; it's unclear when she died. The revelations cast a pall on a police department working to burnish its image after several scandals. In the past year, one officer has been charged with dealing drugs from a station house parking lot and more than a dozen officers have been convicted in a kickback scheme involving a car-repair and towing company. Grayling Williams, a former Homeland Security official brought in this year to revamp the Police Department's internal disciplinary investigations, appeared Tuesday night at a community meeting inBelair-Edison— not far from where Monae was killed — and referred to recent police scandals but not the officer's suspension. "I want to stress to you my commitment to looking at police misconduct and police corruption," he told the crowd of about 25 people. Authorities said they are researching who owns the gun believed to have been used in the shooting — a .22-caliber rifle designed as a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle — and whether any adults could be criminally charged in the case. Police on Monday charged two boys, ages 12 and 13, with shooting Monae once in the chest while playing with the rifle on Saturday night. Police said the youths dragged the girl's body outside, across an alley and hid it under trash bags in a backyard. A woman who answered the door at the house in which the shooting occurred — in the 1600 block of Darley Avenue — declined to comment and referred questions to an attorney. Relatives of the girl said one of the young suspects called the victim's mother twice, once telling her Monae was on her way home, and then again to ask if she had arrived. When the girl did not get home by 1 a.m. Sunday, the mother called police. Family members searched all day Sunday until Monae's 16-year-old brother found the body about 6 p.m. Police then questioned the youths and charged them as juveniles on Monday. Investigators do not release the names of suspects charged with juvenile offenses. Monae's relatives said they knew that one of the suspect's relatives was involved with a city police officer, and they said that if the officer knew anything, he should have notified authorities immediately. Upon hearing that the officer had been suspended, the mother, Edith Turnage, said, "They need to fire him, not suspend him." Monae's relatives have complained that police were not aggressive enough after she called 911 to report Monae missing, prompting the family to conduct their own search that led to the body. "I honestly believe in my heart that had police gone to that address when we reported her missing, and they had searched for her, she might have been found still alive," said Monae's aunt, Patricia Marshall. Guglielmi described the young girl's death to the media as an "unspeakable tragedy," one so horrific that seasoned homicide detectives had trouble coping. Several rank-and-file police officers said Tuesday they also were angered that the officer's suspension could further tarnish the agency's reputation. Robert F. Cherry, president of Baltimore's Fraternal Order of Police, said he had not been advised of the allegations by the Police Department brass and could not comment. A lawyer for the union, Michael Davey, declined to comment Tuesday night before he had had a chance to talk with the accused officer. Police on Tuesday provided more details on the initial search for Monae. Guglielmi said the officer arrived at the Turnage house about 1:30 a.m. Sunday and took a report, noting that Monae had left to go roller skating with two friends but never made it because one didn't have enough money to get into the rink near White Marsh. Monae was wearing purple jeans and a blue-jean jacket. The officer contacted one of the youths Monae was with — the report does not say whether by phone or in person — and was told that Monae had left the Darley Avenue rowhouse hours earlier in an unknown direction. Guglielmi, reading from the report, said the officer went to the Darley Avenue address and knocked on the front door, but got no response. The officer notified the missing persons unit and put out a citywide dispatch to all officers with Monae's description. It is unclear what time Monae was shot, and at what time her body was dragged to the alley. It's also unclear if anyone was home when the officer first went to the Darley Avenue home. -

‘Officers, Why Do You Have Your Guns Out?’

‘Officers, Why Do You Have Your Guns Out?’
The New York Times by Michael Powell - March 5, 2012

The niece stood in the darkened stairwell of the Winbrook Houses, listening, as 20 feet away five police officers yelled at her uncle, who had locked himself in his apartment. It was 5:25 on a chill November morning. The officers banged loud and hard, demanding that her 68-year-old uncle open his door. “He was begging them to leave him alone,” she recalls. “He sounded scared.” She pulls her shawl about her shoulders and her voice cracks; she is speaking for the first time about what she saw. “I heard my uncle yelling, ‘Officers, officers, why do you have your guns out?’ ” The string of events that night sounds prosaic, a who-cares accumulation of little mistakes and misapprehensions. Cumulatively, though, it is like tumbling down the stairs. Somehow the uncle, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former Marine who had heart problems and wheezed if he walked more than 40 feet, triggered his Life Alert pendant. The Life Alert operator came on the loudspeaker in his one-bedroom apartment, asking: “Mr. Chamberlain, are you O.K.?” All of this is recorded. Mr. Chamberlain didn’t respond. So the operator signaled for an ambulance. Police patrol cars fell in behind — standard operating procedure in towns across America. Except an hour later, even as Mr. Chamberlain insisted he was in good health, the police had snapped the locks on the apartment door. They fired electric charges from Tasers, and beanbags from shotguns. Then they said they saw Mr. Chamberlain grab a knife, and an officer fired his handgun. Boom! Boom! Mr. Chamberlain’s niece Tonyia Greenhill, who lives upstairs, recalls the echoes ricocheting about the hall. She pushed out a back door and ran into the darkness beneath overarching oaks. He lay on the floor near his kitchen, two bullet holes in his chest, blood pooling thick, dying. It makes sense to be humble in the presence of conflicting accounts. The White Plains public safety commissioner declared this a “warranted use of deadly force”; the shooter was later put on modified assignment. Mr. Chamberlain, in the commissioner’s telling, had withstood electric charges, grabbed a butcher knife and charged the officers. The Life Alert phone in Mr. Chamberlain’s apartment recorded most of the standoff, as did a security camera in the hall. And the officers’ Tasers carried video recorders. Last month, the Westchester County district attorney played these for the dead man’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., who teaches martial arts for a local nonprofit organization and intends to file a lawsuit. He is lithe, with a shaved head, and takes pride in a reasoned manner. “My family, we’re not into histrionics,” he says. “We don’t run down the street inciting riot.” His voice cracks, though, as he describes the tapes. “I heard fear,” he says. “In my 45 years on this earth, I never heard my father sound like that.” The district attorney will present the case to a grand jury and has not released transcripts. But the family’s recollection matches that of neighbors who listened through closed doors. They say officers taunted Mr. Chamberlain. He shouted: “Semper fi,” the Marine Corps motto. The police answered with loud shouts of “Hoo-rah!” Another officer, the niece says, said he wanted to pee in Mr. Chamberlain’s bathroom. Someone, the niece and neighbors say, yelled a racial epithet at the door. Black and white officers were present. Kenny Randolph listened from his apartment across the hall. “They put fear in his heart,” he says. “It wasn’t a crime scene until they made it one.” The police say Mr. Chamberlain was “known” to them, although it appears he had not been convicted of a crime. There are intimations that he wrestled with emotional issues. Sometimes, neighbors say, he talked to himself. Who’s to say? As often, life’s default position is set to “complicated.” Many police departments have trained corps of officers expert in talking with the emotionally upset. Their rule of thumb: talk quietly and de-escalate. That night in White Plains, no one appeared to have de-escalated anything. Mr. Chamberlain sounded spooked. His son recalls hearing his father say on tape: “This is my sworn testimony. White Plains officers are coming in here to kill me.” A few minutes later, a bullet tore through his rib and heart. The ambulance took him to White Plains Hospital, where he soon died. His son lives five minutes away. He says he could have talked his father down. Standing in the office of his lawyer Randolph M. McLaughlin, he mimes knocking on his dad’s door. “Dad, it’s me, Ken, I’m here.” His eyes are bloodshot and brimming. “I always said, ‘I’m the protector now.’ But I wasn’t there when he needed me.”

Former Cop Pleads Guilty to Evidence Theft

Former Benson Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Evidence Theft
The News and Observer by Colin Campbell - March 5, 2012

SMITHFIELD, N.C. - A former Benson police officer pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he'd stolen $850 cash that was evidence in a drug investigation. Randall William "Randy" Beasley, 43, was charged in January with obstructing justice and altering, destroying or stealing evidence of criminal conduct. As part of a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and obstructing justice, and the other charge was dropped. Superior Court Judge Tom Lock sentenced Beasley to 18 months of supervised probation and ordered to perform 24 hours of community service. He also received two 45-day suspended jail sentences, so he won't serve time unless he violates probation. Beasley had already given the money back to the Benson Police Department, and he'll give up his law-enforcement certification as part of the plea deal. "The District Attorney’s Office and the Town of Benson are grateful that the defendant accepted responsibility for his actions so that this case could be resolved in a timely manner," Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said in a news release. "The main goal was to ensure that the defendant would never work in law enforcement again, and this plea accomplishes that." According to indictments, investigators found that Beasley took the money from a locked office at the police station sometime between Nov. 19 and Dec. 16, 2010. According to Benson employment records, Beasley served as a lieutenant, detective and canine officer during his first stint with the department from 1998 to 2006. He was hired again as a patrol officer in 2009, serving until he was put on administrative leave on Dec. 16, 2010, as the town started its internal investigation. He resigned 12 days later.