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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Former Cop Admits Stealing Rolex

Former East St. Louis officer admits stealing Rolex 
The St. Louis Post Dispatch by Robert Patrick  -  May 29, 2012

EAST ST. LOUIS -  A former East St. Louis police officer, Larry D. Greenlee, 40, of Belleville, pleaded guilty to theft of government property and admitted stealing a Rolex that had been planted by federal agents in what he thought was a stolen car. The planted watch was part of an integrity test being used by federal agents in East St. Louis. They placed the diamond-encrusted watch in a vehicle which appeared to have been abandoned or stolen, and planted hidden recording devices. Greenlee failed the test, prosecutors said. After responding to a call for a suspicious vehicle on Sept. 17, 2010, he took the watch and didn't report its presence or turn it in. Sixteen months later, Greenlee retrieved the watch from his bedroom and turned it over to agents. At sentencing Sept. 21, Greenlee faces zero to six months in prison and a fine of $500 to $5,000, according to his plea.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Judge Favors PD Culture of Corruption

Judge sides with LCG, LPD during first police corruption hearing 
The Advertiser by Nicholas Persac - May 29, 2012 
Plaintiff attorney vows to continue fight in Lafayette's 'Serpico' case 

Lafayette, LA - A 15th Judicial District Court judge ruled this morning in favor of the local government and police department during the first court hearing in a lawsuit filed by nine Lafayette Police Department officers who claim a culture of corruption has lead to physical threats and racial discrimination. "All the judge did was dissolve the temporary restraining orders," Stephen Spring, an attorney for the nine LPD plaintiffs, said during a phone interview after this morning's court hearing. "Obviously I'm disappointed, but it's not over by a long shot. We're discussing our options right now, and the rest of the suit is still there. This is chapter two." The case began when LPD officials launched an internal investigation to determine which employee may have leaked an Internal Affairs document. The nine officers who filed the lawsuit argue the investigation into the leak unfairly targeted the plaintiffs and violated portions of the Policeman's Bill of Rights. Those officers accused the department of using such investigations as a way to punish officers who bucked the alleged culture of corruption within LPD. Spring said one option he's already considering is filing an appeal to try to have today's decision overturned by a higher court. Defense attorney Michael Corry asked Judge Kristian Earles to review secret audio recordings that Spring claimed bolstered his case and proved the LPD higher ups made threats against his clients. During the two-hour hearing Tuesday morning, Earles first granted a brief recess so Corry and his defense team could examine one of the recordings. Earles then instructed Spring to play the tape, which recorded plaintiff LPD officer Gabe Thompson talking with LPD Patrol Division Commander Maj. George "Jackie" Alfred, before the court. "When Judge Earles heard the entire 17 minute recording, he found the city was absolutely right and there was no irreparable harm, damage, loss or injury," Corry said outside the courthouse while talking with reporters. "Judge Earles did not even require the testimony of any witnesses. All he needed to do was hear the entirety of the tape, which he did, to find that the city should prevail." Before Spring played the recording for the court, he and Corry questioned Thompson, who said he used a secret recording device disguised as a writing pen to tape the conversation he had with Alfred. “I don’t care if they call it retaliation, and they can say whatever they want to say,” Alfred allegedly said on the recording, according to Spring. “This stuff has gotten personal, and when it becomes personal, a lot of stuff can happen … even fighting and shooting.” Corry said the tape did not provide enough evidence of any real threat, pointing to the fact that Thompson laughed "no less than 22 times" during the conversation. "There is nothing on that tape that is threatening," Corry said. "This isn't a smoking gun. This is simply an attempt to stop an investigation." LPD officer Scott Poiencot, one of Spring's clients as a plaintiff, testified during today's hearing and said he loaned Thompson the spy-like pen without knowing what he was going to record. In the lawsuit, Spring compares his clients to Frank Serpico — the NYPD officer who testified against police corruption and is portrayed by Al Pacino in a 1971 film. The reality of taking such a stand, Spring said, has left the officers with “genuine fears” of being physically assaulted, battered or even shot, in addition to facing “unlawful … disciplinary proceedings.” Though Spring vowed to continue fighting his clients' case, Corry said today's decision should effectively end the "Serpico" case. "What we do know is that Judge Earles has found their claim was completely baseless and meritless," Corry said. "There is nothing else to go forward. It's over."

Two Ex-Cops Plead Guilty to Insurance Fraud Conspiracy

Former NOPD sergeant, JPSO deputy, and another man plead guilty in federal court to insurance scam 
The Times Picayune by Brendan McCarthy  -  May 24, 2012

A former New Orleans police sergeant, a former Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy and a Westwego man all pleaded guilty today in federal court to their roles in a insurance fraud scheme. The trio acknowledged faking the theft of then-NOPD Sgt. Kevin Guillot's personal vehicle so he could collect insurance proceeds, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. Guillot, 43, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Former JPSO Deputy Daniel Spears, 40, of Belle Chasse, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Meanwhile, Guillot's nephew, Anthony Venezia, 34, of Westwego, pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony, or failing to report a crime. Another NOPD officer linked to the scheme, Salvadore Battaglia, took his own life at his home in Madisonville on Feb. 7, just hours after news of the federal investigation broke. Guillot was Battaglia's supervisor. As part of their guilty pleas, Guillot and Spears confessed to concocting the scheme because Guillot, a NOPD veteran of 20 years, didn't want to pay for repairs on his personal truck. Guillot reported his Ford F-250 truck was stolen while he was out fishing with Venezia. Guillot wasn't fishing, however; he had actually been working most of the day, with his truck parked in front of his home. He enlisted Spears to write a phony police report that was submitted to an insurance company. Later, Venezia lied to officials with Progressive Insurance in an effort to corroborate Guillot's story. Battaglia, meanwhile, created a false police report that said that Guillot's vehicle had been recovered in New Orleans after the theft, badly damaged. The insurance company made some payments to Guillot, but grew suspicious and withheld a final payment. He stood to collect more than $12,000 if the claim had been approved. Spears agreed to cooperate with the government and secretly recorded a conversation with Guillot in early February in which Guillot instructed him to lie to federal agents, according to court documents. That same day, Battaglia also secretly recorded a conversation with Guillot. Guillot also told him to lie, according to court documents. Guillot's attorney, Eric Hessler, said Thursday that his client is trying to put the mistake behind him. "He is very sorry about what he did and what happened," Hessler said. Guillot resigned from the NOPD in April. Spears resigned from the JPSO in February. They face a maximum of up to five years in prison, according to Letten's office. Venezia faces a maximum of three years. They are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22. NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden noted in a released statement that this was the first case that the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau worked on with the FBI agents that are currently embedded in the agency. "The agents helped tremendously in building the case for prosecution," Braden wrote. Brendan McCarthy can be reached at or 504.826.3301.

Officer Arrested for Lying to Buy Firearms

CBP Officer Arrested for Lying to Buy Firearms
The Imperial Valley News by Border Scope  -  May 28, 2012

Brownsville, TX - Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer Manuel Eduardo Pena, 38, has been arrested and charged with straw purchasing firearms, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced Friday. Pena, of Brownsville, Texas, was taken into custody Thurday night, and the criminal complaint was filed this morning. He made an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Ronald G. Morgan this morning who ordered he be released upon posting a $50,000 bond. His next appearance in federal court is set for May 31, 2012. An investigation by the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Office of Professional Responsibility (ICE-OPR) revealed the purchase of two firearms in December 2011 at the Academy Sports and Outdoors Store in Brownsville, Texas. The firearms were allegedly purchased on behalf of an individual who did not have proper documentation to buy a gun on his own. According to the complaint, Pena falsely swore on two occasions he was purchasing the guns as the actual buyer when, in fact, he was purchasing the gun for another individual in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 924(a)(1)(A). Pena has been a CBP officer for 12 years. These charges are unrelated to his official duties. Pena faces a up to a five years in federal prison if convicted. FBI and ICE-OPR investigated. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Oscar Ponce and Karen Betancourt. A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lawyer-Prosecutor Improperly God Her Maid Welfare

DA improperly got her maid welfare: probe 
The New York Post by Chuck Bennett  -  May 29, 2012

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore pulled strings to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, according to an internal report from the county’s Department of Social Services. For the past year, Social Services has been probing how DiFiore’s housekeeper was suddenly approved for welfare benefits after having been previously denied three times for inconsistencies in her applications, The Post has learned. “Okay we got to the bottom of this case. This was a political favor for Janet DiFiore’s maid. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE,” Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator, wrote in an internal e-mail June 30, 2011. Vazquez, who also chairs the Yonkers Independence Party, alleged in the e-mail to Department of Social Services Commissioner Kevin McGuire that DiFiore’s housekeeper, Jamaican immigrant Marina Buchanan, should never have received benefits. In a series of e-mails from June and July of last year, Vazquez claimed that DiFiore, a Republican-turned- Democrat, had Buchanan’s case file improperly re-opened after the Yonkers branch office denied benefits. Buchanan, 58, was paid $200 a week in cash by DiFiore and got $315 a month in Social Security disability benefits, according to documents obtained by The Post. It is unclear from the documents if Social Security taxes were paid on Buchanan’s wages. Buchanan, who claimed she was a nanny and housekeeper for DiFiore since 1987, also didn’t disclose receiving the Social Security disability benefits while still working up to 18 hours a week for the DA. Further, she had a credit card with a $55,000 limit, sources said, yet still sought county benefits. “The question is why the special favor. Why are cases being opened in Central Office . . . Just because she is the District Attorney does not mean she is above the law!” Vazquez wrote. County investigators are looking at the actions of a former Social Services official who is active in local Democratic politics, sources said. Reached by phone, Vazquez, who has been with Social Services for 20 years, cited the ongoing investigation and declined to comment. DiFiore’s spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said, “It is a personal issue that is related to her and her husband and I can’t comment.” Her three children are now all in their 20s. It’s unclear if Buchanan still works for DiFiore, who was first elected DA in 2005. Buchanan, who could not be reached for comment, wrote in documents that she left the DA’s employ in May 2010. 

Lawyer-Prosecutor Censured for Criticism of Judge in a Pending Case

Albany D.A. Censured for Criticism of Judge in a Pending Case
The New York Law Journal by John Caher - May 25, 2012

ALBANY, NY - An upstate appellate panel has censured Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares for his "reckless and misleading" criticism of a local judge who had removed him from a case and appointed a special prosecutor. The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, said in a decision posted yesterday that Soares' public remarks about Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. It also noted that Soares has twice been privately admonished "for making improper and prejudicial public statements regarding pending criminal matters." The censure resulted from an e-mail Soares sent reporters in 2010, after Herrick had dismissed an indictment and referred the matter to a special prosecutor. Herrick removed Soares from the case after the defendants sued the district attorney in federal court alleging unlawful arrest, defamation and other causes of action. The County Court judge appointed a special prosecutor after finding that Soares then had a "personal, professional and financial stake in the outcome of both the civil and criminal cases." Herrick was later reversed by the Appellate Division, Third Department, which expressed concern that a "dangerous precedent" would be set if defendants could preclude prosecutors by suing them. After Herrick removed Soares, the district attorney released the following statement: "Judge Herrick's decision is a get-out-of-jail-free card for every criminal defendant in New York State. His message to defendants is: 'if your DA is being too tough on you, sue him, and you can get a new one.' The Court's decision undermines the criminal justice system and the DAs who represent the interest of the people they serve. We are seeking immediate relief from Judge Herrick's decision and to close this dangerous loophole that he created." A complaint was lodged with the Third Department, and then transferred to the Fourth Department. The reason for the transfer was not stated. However, the chief attorney for the Third Department's Committee on Professional Standards, Peter Torncello, is a former assistant district attorney who was fired by Soares.

 In a decision dated May 9 and posted yesterday, the Fourth Department said Soares violated Rule 8.4 (d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice. "Inasmuch as Judge Herrick appointed a special district attorney and granted that prosecutor leave to re-present the dismissed indictment, we conclude that respondent's statement that Judge Herrick's determination constituted a 'get-out-of-jail-free card for every criminal defendant in New York State' was objectively false," the Fourth Department said in an opinion joined by Justices John Centra, Erin Peradotto, Stephen Lindley and Salvatore Martoche. "For the same reasons, we conclude that his statement that Judge Herrick created a 'dangerous loophole' was reckless and misleading." Soares' communications director, Heather Orth, said in a statement that the district attorney "respects and accepts the Rochester court's decision, for he made a poor choice of words." She also confirmed that Soares had received two letters of admonition for public comments he made in other criminal matters. Lee Kindlon, an attorney with Kindlon & Shanks in Albany who is challenging Soares for the Democratic nomination this fall, said in an interview that the censure evinces a "lack of respect and professionalism" by the incumbent. "It is a black eye for the district attorney's office and the criminal justice system in Albany County," Kindlon said. "I know a lot of men and women work very hard every day to promote the interests of criminal justice in Albany County, and Soares is on his own program." The case that resulted in the censure stemmed from an investigation into the allegedly illegal sale of prescription drugs to Albany County residents by the operators of a Florida pharmacy. After some of the defendants sued Soares and Herrick removed him from the case, the Third Department returned the matter to the Albany County district attorney and a federal court in Florida dismissed the civil lawsuit. But the Fourth Department said the "subsequent determinations" were not "particularly relevant to the legal issues in this proceeding." Orth said the criminal case is going forward. "The district attorney promised the citizens of Albany County that he would stop the pipeline of illegal prescription drugs into our community and as such will continue to prosecute all illegal drug distributors," Orth said. "The good news is that he has learned a lesson on the need for tempered language regarding court rulings, while the People will have an opportunity for their case to go forward against the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Therefore, he applauds the Appellate Division's ruling in both Rochester on process and Albany in substance. The rule of law won out in both cases." John Caher can be contacted at

Cop Kept Quiet About Shooting for 5 Years

Cop knew about Henry Glover shooting but didn't tell for 5 years 
The Times-Picayune by Brendan McCarthy  -  May 21, 2012

A New Orleans police sergeant in 2010 admitted to the FBI that she was told shortly after Hurricane Katrina that an officer under her command had fatally shot 31-year-old Henry Glover and that other cops were covering up the burning of his body. But Sgt. Lesia Mims, a 23-year NOPD veteran, apparently didn't tell anyone what she knew about one of the most shocking episodes in the city's history -- at least not anyone in the New Orleans Police Department. Her name never popped up in the high-profile, monthlong federal trial in December 2010, and she was never placed under internal investigation. In fact, she was promoted after the Glover killing, to an investigative position in the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, which looks into allegations of officer misconduct. It remains unclear how Mims, in light of her admission, escaped scrutiny. Mims readily admitted her knowledge of the circumstances of Glover's 2005 death when she was questioned by the FBI in March 2010, according to an FBI document obtained by The Times-Picayune. The interview occurred amid a civil rights probe of the police killing and cover-up, details of which were first revealed in a December 2009 Nation magazine article and in subsequent newspaper stories. Mims did not return a call for comment Monday evening. Her husband, NOPD Lt. Michael Mims, referred inquiries to the NOPD's spokeswoman. In total, 10 officers retired, resigned or were fired in the wake of revelations that came out of the Glover case, which resulted in the conviction of three officers -- one of which was later overturned -- in December 2010. Some officers were terminated for failing to alert police supervisors about what happened. View full size Sgt. Lesia Mims Last year, the Police Department closed the last of its administrative investigations -- which targeted officers who might have acted improperly, but had not been criminally charged -- in relation to the Glover case. With that and other high-profile civil-rights cases, including the Danziger Bridge shootings, in the rear-view mirror, police officials have sought to show that the department has weeded out the bad apples and turned a corner.

The Mims file raises new questions about whether that's true. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook, head of the Public Integrity Bureau, have said the NOPD participated in debriefings with members of the FBI and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. In those meetings, federal authorities talked about NOPD misconduct uncovered in their investigations. But Westbrook said last week that the feds did not hand over all their so-called "302" files, typewritten summaries of field interviews by special agents. "There were people they pointed to," Westbrook said, "and we asked for some (files)." Westbrook said the agencies had "an ongoing dialogue for some time," including telephone calls and meetings. "The support I had was unprecedented," she said. Westbrook has said that "all officers that had anything to do with Glover at least were looked at," and that she made the decisions on who to investigate further. Which begs the question: How did Mims slip through the cracks? It's unclear if the FBI, which conducted the Mims interview, or Letten's office, which handled the prosecution, ever drew the NOPD's attention to Mims' assertions. If so, did the NOPD ignore them? Westbrook, when confronted with the facts Monday, expressed shock and said the NOPD had never received the Mims file. "This is completely new to us," she said. "We had no knowledge of this." A spokeswoman for the FBI's New Orleans office declined to comment. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Monday he was "not in a position to comment on this. ... This is internal stuff ... what was turned over or not," he said. Henry Glover was killed by a New Orleans police officer shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Mims' admission about the Glover case is contained in a two-page FBI interview obtained by The Times-Picayune. Exactly who participated in the Glover cover-up remains hazy. Officers testified that aspects of the killing, and the burning, were well-known to some on the police force.

The NOPD's second-highest ranking cop, Assistant Superintendent Marlon Defillo, resigned last year after The Times-Picayune revealed he knew back in June 2008 of a possible NOPD role in Glover's killing and did little to explore the explosive claim. Some of the jurors, in interviews with the newspaper after their verdicts, said they believed the conspiracy in the NOPD went well beyond the witnesses and defendants they saw in court. In the Glover case, unlike the Danziger case, not a single officer pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government. Some of the officers who did testify for prosecutors offered conflicting accounts, and their story lines didn't always match. The NOPD's internal probes into Glover and other civil rights cases shed little new light on who knew what, and when they knew it. And while these inquiries meandered along, a supervisor in the Public Integrity Bureau had a secret she didn't share. Mims sat down on March 19, 2010, at the FBI's local office on the Lakefront for a voluntary interview with two FBI agents. One of the agents, Ashley Johnson, was the FBI's lead investigator on the Glover case. Mims told them, according to the FBI's synopsis, that she was a sergeant in the NOPD's 4th District in Algiers at the time of Katrina. She partnered with her husband, officer Michael Mims. They were assigned to guard the Walgreens drugstore on Gen. de Gaulle Drive. Mims said she witnessed an altercation days after the flood between Capt. David Kirsch, the head of the 4th District, and Capt. Jeff Winn, leader of the Special Operations Division. Winn's officers had taken medical supplies and necessities out of the Walgreens, angering Kirsch. Mims recalled that later that day, officers Purnella Simmons and Keyalah Bell told her that a shooting had taken place at a nearby Firestone tire shop, though they didn't provide details. The FBI file notes that a "short time after" this, Mims "began to notice that Bell had a very negative attitude toward 4th District Officer David Warren." Mims told the FBI that she asked her colleague about it, and Bell said Warren shot a civilian who was later found burned in a vehicle on the levee. Bell also said that NOPD 4th District "rank" was "covering up the shooting and burning, and the rank was giving the civilian's family the run around every time they (the family) came to the (police) station," the FBI report states. Mims was Warren's supervisor. She told the FBI she should have been notified if he had shot someone. Mims claimed she never read a police report on the shooting. Mims said her conversation with Bell was the first she heard of a man being burned. She told the FBI she "never asked or heard from anyone" about who burned Glover's body. She said that after news of the federal probe broke, she had heard that Special Operations Division officers were responsible for burning Glover, though she didn't hear any names. The FBI report also notes that Mims knew that Bell and officer Linda Howard were "having nightmares and very disturbed by these events." The NOPD had an internal investigator sit through the entire monthlong trial. Much of the testimony should have proved informative for the department: the NOPD had mishandled its own probe, and then abandoned it.

The department opened its criminal investigation into Glover's death after media reports on the case in early 2009. Defillo, then an assistant superintendent, assigned veteran detective Sgt. Gerard Dugue to handle it. Months later, Dugue fell under federal scrutiny for his alleged role in the cover-up of the Danziger shootings -- for which he was eventually charged -- and he stopped his investigation into the Glover killing. The NOPD's probe stalled. The FBI investigation resulted in federal charges in June 2010, and convictions and acquittals in December 2010. The NOPD opened an administrative probe after the federal case closed, and Serpas immediately reassigned or suspended 11 officers. "After receiving a briefing this week by federal authorities regarding the death of Henry Glover, I am presently not comfortable in the ability of these individuals to professionally carry out their police duties as members, or leaders, of this police department pending our full investigative review," Serpas said at the time. The chief said he would treat with utter seriousness any allegations of police misconduct. "We will carefully review any statement made by any employee at any time" in the Glover case, he said. But the department's handling of the Glover investigations has drawn criticism from various quarters, with police groups and attorneys complaining there is a double standard for officers who lied. For instance, Lt. Joseph Meisch, Capt. Jeff Winn and Detective Catherine Beckett were all fired for failing to come forward. Yet officers Bell and Howard -- who acknowledged similar transgressions -- remain on the force. Bell, a government witness who knew of the incident and failed to push the issue with supervisors, was not placed under investigation. She was later arrested for alleged drunk driving; she remains an officer in the NOPD's 4th District. Howard, who saw Warren shoot Glover, also continues to serve in the 4th District. Westbrook said Howard and Bell were not disciplined because they alerted Simmons, who failed to come forward or take action. Simmons, who admitted lying to the grand jury and contradicted herself repeatedly on the stand, retired from the NOPD days before the trial's close. Along with Simmons, two others -- Jeffrey Sandoz and Ronald Ruiz -- admitted at trial that they initially lied to a grand jury or to federal agents before returning to tell the truth. None of the three were charged, though Sandoz and Ruiz retired before the NOPD meted out any punishment. Winn and Beckett were terminated for failing to come forward with information they allegedly had. Both appealed their firings and have filed federal civil lawsuits against the department. Meisch, who testified under a grant of immunity from prosecutors, was also fired. His attorney argued that Meisch didn't know a crime had been committed, and once he did, he cooperated with federal investigators who told him not to speak with his colleagues about the case. • Brendan McCarthy can be reached at or 504.826.3301.

Cop Who Tasered Handcuffed Teen to Stand Trial

Pa. officer bound over for trial in stun gun case 
The Associated Press  -  May 22, 2012

SHARON HILL, Pa. - A police officer charged with assault after using a stun gun on an underage suspect has been ordered to stand trial. Colwyn police Cpl. Trevor Parham was bound over for trial Tuesday by a Delaware County district judge. Parham allegedly used a stun gun on the handcuffed teen inside a holding cell then used the acronym for "laughing out loud" in a text-message exchange with a fellow officer about the encounter. The teen testified he was arrested without justification but acknowledged kicking the cell and yelling before Parham used the stun gun on him. Defense attorney Thomas Fitzpatrick noted after the hearing his client warned the teen three times before using the device. He says Parham has a "pristine" record on the use of force and will be exonerated.

Related Background Story:

Colwyn Cop Arrested for Tasering Teen
The Philadelphia Daily News by Stephanie Farr  -  May 17, 2012

COLWYN POLICE Cpl. Trevor Parham said the movie he was making with his identical-twin brother would be “like the black ‘Godfather.’ ” After his arrest Thursday, he may be gaining the right experience to make the film. Parham, 40, of Drexel Hill, was charged with simple assault and official oppression for an April 24 incident in which he shot a juvenile with a stun gun while the boy was shackled in a holding cell, according to court documents. Parham turned himself in to county detectives and was released on $25,000 unsecured bail. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said the Tasing, which Parham admitted to, was “unfortunate, disappointing and offensive.” Da’Qwan Jackson, 17, said that Parham arrested him after he crumpled up a disorderly conduct citation Parham gave him for refusing to identify himself after witnessing a fight. Whelan said the legality of that arrest remains under investigation. While Jackson was handcuffed in the holding cell, Parham hit him with 50,000 volts of electricity because Jackson “kept kicking the gate and calling me names,” he texted a fellow officer, according to court documents. Most disturbing to Whelan was that Parham texted the other officer that Jackson “got Tased in the cell lol.” “It’s certainly not funny to anyone,” Whelan said. An investigation is ongoing into other alleged misconduct by borough and police officials, including the acting head of the department, Wendell Reed. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Colwyn Mayor Daniel Rutland rescinded the state of emergency he declared Saturday after council agreed to no longer oppose the employment of Lt. Wesley Seitz, the man who informed Rutland of the Taser incident. In a video on YouTube, Parham talks with his twin, Troy, about a book they wrote, Mr. Malik, and a movie they are making, “Millionaire.” Both are based on the life of their father, who they claim was a private investigator and the partner of a big-time heroin dealer. In the video, the twins are wearing identical Argyle sweaters and drinking white wine. The Parhams talk about their passion for twin conventions, poetry, writing and movie-making. “We’re like Moses right now,” Trevor Parham says. “Everybody is behind us.” Reach Stephanie Farr at or 215-854-4225. You can also follow her on Twitter @FarFarrAway.

Officials Begin Process to Fire Cops in Homeless Man's Death

Fullerton begins process to fire cops in Kelly Thomas death 
KABC  -  May 23, 2012

FULLERTON, Calif. (KABC) -- The two Fullerton police officers charged with killing a homeless man could end up losing their jobs. The department began the process to remove Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli from the force. The officers still have several chances to appeal. A judge on Tuesday delayed their arraignment to give defense attorneys more time to work on a motion to dismiss the charges. The arraigned was delayed to June 26. Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man, died last July after a confrontation with police officers. He was allegedly trying to break into cars at the bus depot at the Fullerton Transportation Center. Prosecutors allege Ramos punched Thomas in the ribs and tackled him to the ground, and minutes later Cicinelli Tasered him several times and struck him in the face eight times with the Taser. Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Thomas' death. Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. CORRECTION: It was previously reported that Manuel Ramos had been fired, but authorities clarified that Ramos has received a letter of intent to discipline/dismiss. This letter starts the process, but the officer has several chances to appeal.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Woman Says Fear Led Her to Comply with Cop's Sexual Demands

Woman: Fear led her to comply with Denver cop's sexual demands 
The Denver Post by Jessica Fender - May 24, 2012
"I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, what if he kills me?' He's a cop. He could say anything." - Valerie Arend 

He wore a badge and a gun. And when the Denver police officer demanded sex in the front seat of his squad car two years ago, according to Valerie Arend, she felt she had to comply with his demands. "On the street, if he was just anybody, I would have run. I would have fought. I would have done what I needed to do," Arend told The Denver Post in her first public interview about the incident. "With him being a police officer, no way." Arend's allegation — that after a traffic stop, a cop demanded sex in exchange for not taking her to jail — led to rape and kidnapping charges against Denver police Officer Hector Paez, 32. The criminal case is on hold after a mistrial last fall, and in the interim, Arend has filed a lawsuit against Paez. Against that backdrop, Arend spoke publicly for the first time about the incident and how it has affected her life and health. She agreed to be named publicly. Many criminal rape trials come down to he-said, she-said, and in this case, the civil suit and Arend's subsequent conviction for prostitution are likely to harm her credibility in court. Paez, who could not be reached for comment, has maintained in court that he is innocent of the rape and kidnapping charges filed against him. His attorney, Gary Lozow, declined to discuss specifics regarding Arend's allegations. "We will have our day in court on the criminal case and on the civil case," Lozow said. "At the end of the day, maybe there's some justice now. "The jury will know about the financial motive in the case." Arend, 37, said she and her boyfriend planned to hit Denver's Blue Bonnet Cafe for dinner the evening of May 16, 2010. As she arrived at a nearby light- rail station to wait for him, she said, a police officer drove up, nearly pulling onto the sidewalk to block her path. There had been a report of a suspicious female, Arend recalls him saying. When he ran her identification, a warrant for her arrest popped up. Court records show that Arend — who has long struggled with addiction — has a history dating to the 1990s of running into mostly misdemeanor trouble every few years, most frequently for drug, alcohol or driving offenses. Probation warrant - That May evening, Jefferson County had issued a warrant for a probation violation related to a charge of false reporting to a pawnbroker. Arend told The Post she was unaware of the warrant at the time. She frantically texted her boyfriend that she was going to jail. But instead, Arend said, the officer drove her through Denver's back streets and alleys — first handcuffed in the backseat, then uncuffed in the passenger seat — before stopping to demand oral sex. "You know what to do," he said, according to Arend. Arend said she complied out of fear. "I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, what if he kills me?' He's a cop. He could say anything," Arend said. Afterward, she said, she vomited out the passenger door. Arend said the officer told her he knew where she lived — and that if she reported him, he vowed to "take you out." She took off running down the unfamiliar alley where they had stopped. Many rape victims do not come forward, but Arend said she thought of the man victimizing other women — or worse, her own teenage daughter. A day or two later, she was retelling her tale to a Denver internal-affairs investigator. "At first, I didn't know. I thought, 'If I do this, is it going to shred me and make me look terrible because I've been in some trouble in my life? And he could still be free doing that to other girls,' " Arend said. "But if you do the right thing, hopefully good things will follow." Since the alleged incident, Arend has successfully completed probation and found work cleaning homes and helping at a friend's roofing business, she said. But she doesn't sleep at night. She takes medication for depression, suffers stress-induced nausea and attends counseling multiple times a month. She has moved to Lakewood and stays out of Denver as much as possible for fear of retribution from Denver police officers. Three months after the alleged sexual assault, Arend pleaded guilty to a prostitution charge. A police officer observed Arend and a man, whose pants were unzipped, sitting in a parked car, according to the summons. The officer said Arend admitted to being a prostitute. She said she wasn't guilty but pleaded because she was "scared to death" to remain in Denver County Jail. Her anxiety has been compounded by a series of delays that also prompted the civil suit, said Daniel M. Murphy, one of her attorneys. The suit seeks damages to be determined at a civil trial, though Paez has been on unpaid leave from the Denver Police Department since his October 2010 arrest. "This is an obscene and horrific event, and Valerie wants to be heard on this," Murphy said. "Based on the way the criminal case is proceeding, she's frustrated. She wants justice." In September, mishandled evidence led to a mistrial in the criminal case. Earlier this month, Paez's criminal trial was rescheduled once more after Lozow was injured in a serious car accident. The delays pushed the new trial date — now slated for November — well past the deadline to file a civil lawsuit, Murphy said. Simultaneous cases -  Having both civil and criminal cases pending at the same time can put the prosecution in an awkward position at trial, said defense lawyer Nikea Bland, who specializes in cases involving sex crimes. She said defense attorneys look for anything they can to show an alleged victim has an ulterior motive or may not be credible. Arend said she knows there's a chance jurors will doubt her. "I'm very anxious (to go to trial), but I'm nervous and scared too," Arend said. "There's always the chance that someone won't believe me, that they'll want to believe the police officer. "He's supposed to be the good guy." Jessica Fender: 303-954-1244 or

Sheriff's Office Second-in-Command Files Defamation Lawsuit

Sheriff's Office second-in-command files defamation lawsuit 
The Palm Beach Post by Jane Musgrave  -  May 23, 2012

The second-in-command at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has filed a defamation lawsuit against a former deputy who operates a web site that allows people to anonymously criticize the agency. In the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger accuses John Dougan of engaging in a "shocking anonymous campaign of character assassination." The web site, according to the lawsuit, has featured photos of him superimposed on that of a uniformed Nazi officer, has suggested he is engaged in homosexual, racist and criminal activity and claims he is part of a "culture of corruption." Gauger is seeking more than $15,000 in damages and also pursuing punitive damages, said the suit filed by attorney Jack Scarola. Dougan scoffed at the lawsuit. "I think it's hilarious," said Dougan, who left the department in 2009. "The First Amendment people are going to have a field day with it." Gauger, he said, is a public figure and therefore fair game for criticism. However, even public figures can collect damages if they can prove statements were published with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth. Dougan also claims he didn't publish the doctored photos or comments about Gauger. Those who use his web site do. Originally known as, the web site has recently been renamed

Sheriff Targets Deputies, Blogger Who Expose Corruption

Palm Beach Sheriff targets deputies, blogger who expose corruption by Adrian Wyllie  -  May 17, 2012

PALM BEACH, FL – Former Palm Beach County Deputy Mark Dougan was a law enforcement officer that upheld the oath he took to support and defend the Constitution of the State of Florida and the United States. That’s why, according to Dougan, “all hell broke loose” when he refused an order to commit felony misconduct. Dougan soon resigned. Former Palm Beach Deputy Mark Dougan Since that time, Dougan has embarked on a personal quest to expose corruption in the PBSO on his website, Because of his contacts as a former deputy, he has cultivated an informant network of current PBSO deputies and employees who blow the whistle on corruption in confidence. Dougan has reported several examples of corruption committed directly by Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and by his subordinates under his command. These allegations are not the run-of-the-mill government corruption. They include a long list of misappropriation, civil rights violations, forcible felonies, and a widespread cover up. Some of Dougan’s allegations include: 

  • Sheriff Bradshaw ordered the falsification of police reports to justify arrests, and specifically target minorities 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw stole a firearm from evidence, and then altered records to conceal it 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw blocked an internal affairs investigation into a PBSO lieutenant accused of stealing a firearm and prescription drugs from the home of a fellow deputy who had terminal cancer and died days later 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw spent as much as $89,000 in county funds to purchase three large barbecue grills that he planned to use for his re-election campaign, but after Dougan filed a complaint, the grills were not used for the campaign 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw used his Palm Beach County credit card to wine-and-dine campaign contributors, including one with suspected mob connections 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw covered for deputies who used excessive force and bragged about it online 
  • Sheriff Bradshaw carried a picture of a black man who had his testicles bitten off by a West Palm Beach Police K-9 for “bragging rights.” 

The PBSO Internal Affairs office has launched an investigation. But, it’s not an investigation into the alleged corruption at the hands of Sheriff Bradshaw and his subordinates. Instead, they’ve launched an investigation into those suspected of leaking information to and the media. So far, Bradshaw has arrested at least one whistleblower. Internal Affairs Lt. Dean Johnson was arrested in March for “unlawful disclosure of confidential information” and several other felonies. Johnson is currently on administrative leave. Another one of his informants, PBSO Sgt. Anne Burke, had recently begun working with Internal Affairs on the investigation into Lt. Johnson. However, Burke retired from the department last week. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw Dougan also appears to be the target of a secret criminal investigation by the sheriff’s office. But, the matter is so sensitive, that the PBSO doesn’t identify him by name. Instead, they refer to him as “John Doe.” A probable cause affidavit issued by the sheriff’s office in connection with the case surrounding Lt. Johnson states there is an “ongoing criminal investigation” into a “John Doe…because he was a previous employee of PBSO.” The affidavit includes phone records of at least one call between Sgt. Burke and Dougan, whose phone number is identified as belonging to the “John Doe” The affidavit also seeks a search warrant for computers belonging to “John Doe.” According to Dougan, the sheriff is so intent in shutting down, that last month, Bradshaw’s campaign manager offered Dougan $75,000 to buy the web site. Dougan says he refused. A call to Sheriff Bradshaw and the PBSO public information officer for comment was not returned at the time of posting. The 1787 Network will have more on this story as it develops.

Corruption Comes in All Colors

Black New Orleans police officers help maintain blue wall of silence
The Times Picayune by Jarvis DeBerry  -  May 27, 2012
Sgt. Lesia Mims, a 23-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, learned soon after it happened that police killed Henry Glover and burned his body the Friday after Hurricane Katrina, but the officer stayed mum almost five years.

"Then I go to my brother, and I say, 'Brother, help me, please.' But he winds up knocking me Back down on my knees." -- Sam Cooke, "A Change Is Gonna Come." 

The Katrina-era atrocities and cover-ups carried out by the New Orleans Police Department show that black officers had no higher regard for the lives of black civilians than their other colleagues on the force. Black officers were among those who killed unarmed pedestrians and among those who kept mum about the crimes. Black New Orleanians weary of police aggression must wonder if there's anyone on the force to whom they can turn, anyone they can trust not to keep them on their knees.  The police did many horrible things in 2005, but, as far as we know, no black body was treated with more disrespect than Henry Glover's. The Algiers man was wrongfully shot to death the Friday after Katrina by white police officer David Warren. Gregory McRae, another white officer, drove Glover's body to a nearby levee and set fire to it and the car. But according to FBI files obtained by The Times-Picayune, a black woman, Sgt. Lesia Mims, learned of Glover's fate not long after he died. Mims was Warren's supervisor, but she didn't tell the FBI what she knew about the crimes until March 2010. When interviewed she said she "never asked or heard from anyone" about who burned Glover's body. Mims was promoted after Katrina and until last week, she held an investigative position in the department's Public Integrity Bureau. After news of her silence was published Tuesday, police brass reassigned the 23-year veteran officer to desk duty. "This is completely new to us," said Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook, the head of the Public Integrity Bureau. "We had no knowledge of this." By doing nothing to see that Glover's death was properly investigated, Mims behaved no differently than Marlon Defillo, the black man who served as the Police Department's second-in-command between 2005 and 2011. Defillo was provided information about Glover's violent death and the desecration of his body at least as early as June 2008. According to testimony Defillo gave a federal grand jury, he sat on that information for seven months. Defillo resigned July 21, the same day he was to expected to be punished for neglecting his duty. It's a shame. Yesterday's civil rights activists thought it important that black people be hired as police officers. They believed that a black presence in those departments would result in fewer black people being injured or killed by the police. They believed -- it seems now naively -- that black police would show more compassion, more concern. A month before Katrina, Raymond Robair, a black man, was stomped to death by black police officer Melvin Williams. The Friday following the storm, Danny Brumfield, a black man, was shot to death by black police officer Ronald Mitchell outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Robert Faulcon, a black officer convicted in the Danziger Bridge case, got the longest sentence given to an officer for Katrina-related crimes. He was sentenced to 65 years for killing teenager James Brissette and Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with the mind of a child. So what can we say about yesterday's civil rights leaders? Either they underestimated black people's capacity for self-hatred or they overestimated the power of individuals to change the culture of institutions from within. The blue wall of silence is real. Officers almost never report misdeeds committed by other officers. It appears that black officers don't do any better in that regard. But if they don't, then their usefulness to the black community becomes difficult to determine. I'd never argue against an integrated force, or gainsay racial diversity; but if black officers are going to beat and kill black civilians or look the other way after they're dead, it's not unfair for us to ask: Why exactly are you there? Jarvis DeBerry can be reached at or 504.826.3355.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ex-Cop in 'Dirty DUI' Scandal Pleads Not Guilty

Ex-cop in 'dirty DUI' scandal pleads not guilty 
The San Francisco Chronicle by Justin Berton  -  May 26, 2012

DANVILLE, CA -- A former Danville police officer pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges that he committed wire fraud when he allegedly exchanged text messages with a private investigator to coordinate drunken-driving arrests later dubbed "dirty DUIs." Stephen Tanabe, 48, appeared in federal court in Oakland, where prosecutors added charges to existing counts of fraud, conspiracy, and extortion under color of official right. Prosecutors say Tanabe worked with Christopher Butler, 50, a private eye hired by women allegedly seeking to have their husbands set up for drunken-driving arrests. The men were usually in divorce or child custody battles, prosecutors said. In May, Butler pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts and said he had paid Tanabe with cocaine and a handgun to make three arrests on his behalf. In the new indictment, prosecutors said Butler and Tanabe had exchanged text messages to coordinate two arrests and had discussed Tanabe's compensation in a third. Prosecutors said Butler's phone showed that minutes before the Jan. 9, 2011, arrest of a man outside a Danville bar, the private eye texted Tanabe, "They are up + heading for the door." Tanabe's attorney, Tim Pori, said prosecutors were using an obscure law usually applied to politicians who use the telephone to accept bribes. According to the indictment, the server for Butler's phone is located in Kansas and the allegedly illegal communications with Tanabe crossed state lines, making the exchange a federal crime. "This kind of prosecution is esoteric and this is not the way the statute is normally used," Pori said. Tanabe resigned last year from the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, which employed him as a Danville officer. The charges against him carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. Justin Berton is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @justinberton

Police Chief Sex Assault Arrest Inquiry Expands

Old Forge Probe Expands Beyond Sex Scandal, DA Says
The Republican Herald by Steve McConnell  -  May 12, 2012

The scope of a criminal probe in Old Forge has expanded beyond sexual assault charges against the police chief, a subordinate officer and a former firefighter accused of having sexual relations with the same 15-year-old girl over a period of years. Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola said investigators with his office and state police interviewed several borough employees on Friday as part of a broadening investigation that so far has resulted in the arrests of Police Chief Larry Semenza, 48, police Capt. Jamie Krenitsky, 34, and former volunteer firefighter Walter Chiavacci, 46. Investigators say Capt. Krenitsky, of 19 Casey Ave., and Mr. Chiavacci, of 511 W. Grace St., have admitted to having inappropriate sexual contact with alleged victim, who is now 23. The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault. Investigators' questions for several borough employees on Friday included discussion of the alleged sexual misconduct, but included inquiries into other potential offenses, Mr. Jarbola said. He declined to elaborate. "We'll just have to look and see where the evidence takes us," Mr. Jarbola said. The district attorney would not say who was interviewed or whether they were members of the police and fire departments, citing the ongoing investigation. Nor would he specify exactly what investigators were asking or looking for outside of the sexual allegations. Capt. Krenitsky was arrested last week on charges that he sexually assaulted the 15-year-old girl in 2005 in a bunk room inside the borough's Fire Department - which is in the same building as the Police Department. The girl became a member of the Fire Department in September 2004, when she was 14, investigators said. State police arrested Mr. Chiavacci the same day, charging him with having inappropriate contact with the girl in 2004. On Wednesday, Chief Semenza, of 153 Sussex St., was arrested on charges that he carried on a sexual relationship with the girl from 2004 to 2007. Both police officers have been suspended without pay. Mr. Chiavacci has not been a member of the Fire Department for some time. Mr. Jarbola confirmed that the FBI has a role in the probe, but declined to elaborate. He said he did not know how many borough employees were interviewed and would not say whether more alleged victims have come forward. Efforts to reach Mayor Michele Avvisato and Officer Kim Buggey, who is now in charge of the department, were unsuccessful on Friday. Borough Fire Chief Mark Tagliaterra said he has spoken to FBI agents, though he would not reveal what they asked, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation. Interviewed Friday evening, borough council Chairman Brian Rinaldi said he was not aware investigators had interviewed borough employees earlier in the day. "In fact, all of my information is coming from (The Times-Tribune)," Mr. Rinaldi said. "Any information I get comes from you guys. "I don't think they would tell me where they are going" with the investigation, he added. Mr. Rinaldi said he has not been interviewed by any law enforcement agency regarding the criminal probe, nor he is aware of any council members being interviewed. "I didn't hear from anybody today," he said. "We want to cooperate." Contact the writer:

Quota Questioning Police Commander Gets Transferred

Precinct commander Peter Bartoszek, at odds with cops over allegations of quota-based policing, gets transferred 
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola  -  May 23, 2012
Source says move was to clear up toxic working environment at Brooklyn station house 

Deputy Inspector Peter Bartoszek, who had been at odds with cops over allegations ticket quotas, was transferred from 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant. NYPD brass has transferred a precinct commander who had been at odds with many cops in his Brooklyn stationhouse over allegations of quota-based policing. Deputy Inspector Peter Bartoszek was moved on Friday from the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant to the Special Victims Division, where he will be executive officer, or second in command, the Daily News has learned. Deputy Inspector Michael LiPetri, who was running the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, will take over the 79th. An NYPD spokeswoman, Inspector Kim Royster, said the 20-year veteran’s transfer was part of a routine personnel shuffling that involved several commands. But a police source familiar with tensions within the 79th Precinct stationhouse said the transfer was made to clear up a toxic working environment. The News reported in late 2010 that officers on the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift were considering a daylong summons-writing boycott to protest what they considered to be quotas. The boycott never happened. Last month, nine cops charged that they had been given subpar evaluations as payback, they believed, for complaining about the alleged quotas and for taking sides with an officer in a racially charged incident. Captains Endowment Association head Roy Richter said Bartoszek is highly regarded. “His new assignment gives him citywide responsibility for major investigations, and is a natural progression for a talented leader,” he said.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lawyer-Prosecutor Pushed Out Over Ethical Issues

No slap for ousted ADA

The New York Post by Jose Martinez  -  May 26, 2012

A top Brooklyn assistant district attorney who resigned this week won’t be flagged for ethical breaches in a sensational rape case that’s now on the ropes, DA Charles Hynes said yesterday.  Lauren Hersh, who led the sex-trafficking unit under Hynes, quit Wednesday amid allegations prosecutors improperly failed to disclose to defense lawyers that an alleged rape victim recanted in 2010.  Yesterday, Hynes said a review of Hersh’s handling of the case showed there wasn’t enough evidence to sanction her.  Also, a source also told The Post that other sex-trafficking investigations supervised by Hersh are not in danger of being wrecked.  Hersh quit weeks after a high-profile case, in which four black men were indicted for preying on a troubled Orthodox Jewish woman from Crown Heights, began crumbling, with two of the accused rapists being released from jail last month.


Prosecutor Quits Her Job as Rape Case Is Reviewed
The New York By Colin Moynihan and Alan Feuer  -  May 24, 2012

The head of the sex trafficking unit at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office resigned on Thursday as the agency conducted a review of a controversial rape and prostitution case in Crown Heights that she oversaw last year.  The prosecutor, Lauren Hersh, presented the case to a grand jury, which indicted two men last year on charges that they sexually assaulted a girl and forced her to have sex with strangers for money starting when she was 13. Two other men were indicted on rape charges. The case attracted attention because the accuser was a young Orthodox Jewish woman, and the defendants were adult black men in a neighborhood where those two groups coexist but rarely interact. But last month, serious questions emerged regarding the handling of the case when it was revealed that, before the indictments, the accuser recanted certain allegations involving two of the men in an interview with detectives, a fact that was not shared with defense lawyers for nearly a year. A report from the interview, dated April 1, 2010, indicated that the woman had recanted a statement made the day before, when she told the police that two of the men had beaten her and forced her to have sex.  “She states she was not forcibly raped,” the report’s author, a detective in the sex crimes squad, wrote, adding: “She went on to explain to me that she has been having consensual sexual intercourse and performing oral sex with both men for quite some time.”  Later, the detective wrote that the woman said she had initially said that she had been raped because one of the men had hit her and had not worn a condom while having sex with her.  In April, Justice John P. Walsh of State Supreme Court ordered the release of Darrell Dula, who had been charged with a single court of rape, and Damien Crooks, who had been charged with four counts of rape and two counts of sex trafficking. Both men had been on Rikers Island for 10 months, awaiting trial.  The two others, Jamali Brockett, who was charged with rape and compelling prostitution, and his brother, Jawara Brockett, who was charged with rape, remain imprisoned on unrelated charges.  The charges against all four men still stand, and prosecutors said they were continuing with the case.  Officials in the office of the district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, said last month that prosecutors had simply neglected to request the report containing the recantation from the police, and that when a new prosecutor was assigned to the case she requested the file and turned the exculpatory evidence over as soon as she received it.  Elliot Kay, a lawyer for Mr. Crooks, said prosecutors had turned over another batch of evidence in April that included a document produced by the district attorney’s office with a handwritten note referring to a recantation, indicating that prosecutors knew, before Ms. Hersh presented the case to the grand jury, that the accuser had changed her account. The jury indicted Mr. Dula and Mr. Crooks on rape stemming from the episode that the accuser had recanted.  During a hearing for Mr. Crooks, Michael F. Vecchione, the head of the rackets bureau of the district attorney’s office, which oversees the sex trafficking unit, told Justice Walsh that the office was reinvestigating every aspect of the case.  The district attorney’s office confirmed that Ms. Hersh had resigned, but refused any further comment. Stuart Rubin, a cousin of Ms. Hersh’s who spoke on her behalf said her resignation had no connection to the controversy surrounding the case.  “There has never been a finding that Lauren breached an ethical responsibility,” Mr. Rubin said. “She was not asked to resign.”  Ms. Hersh joined the district attorney’s office in 2004 after graduating from Brooklyn Law School. She worked in the domestic violence bureau before moving to the rackets division, where she specialized in sex trafficking cases.

Journalist Alleges Police Retaliation

After Arrest at Spa Owned by His Wife, Albany Journalist Alleges Police Retaliation 
The New York Times by Danny Hakim and Nicholas Confessore

Albany, NY - In early spring, the police raided a spa near the Capitol, alleging that a masseuse was actually a prostitute. It appeared to be a minor arrest, except that the spa’s owner is the wife of the investigations editor at the local newspaper, The Times Union. And that’s where it gets complicated. The investigations editor, J. Robert Port, said he believed that the city’s mayor and local law enforcement agencies targeted his wife’s business in retaliation for critical coverage in his newspaper, including a series of articles questioning the practices of an undercover unit of the sheriff’s office that investigated drug cases, prostitution and gambling. City officials deny Mr. Port’s charges. The county sheriff, Craig Apple, disputed Mr. Port’s contention of a plot but said he had asked his internal affairs division to review his agency’s role in the case. Mr. Port’s wife, Bin Cheng, has not been accused of a crime, but the massage therapist, Mia Lin, was charged with prostitution, and the police seized $5,000 she had with her, Ms. Lin’s lawyer said. Ms. Lin has pleaded not guilty, and the case is pending. “This is a carefully planned plot to retaliate against me and my newspaper and my reporters for many stories we have done in recent years about the Albany police and the sheriff’s office drug enforcement unit,” Mr. Port, who is also a former adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University, said in an interview. He said that he asked, shortly after the raid, to be removed from direct supervision of articles involving the City of Albany, “just to protect the newspaper’s reputation and my own credibility.” Rex Smith, the editor of The Times Union, said he did not believe that prostitution had taken place, but stopped short of endorsing Mr. Port’s claims of a plot. “Obviously, the allegation Bob makes is an explosive one, and we wouldn’t put that into print without being pretty confident of our reporting,” he said. Mr. Smith said early Thursday afternoon that The Times Union had not yet published an article about the raid, which took place March 15, because, “Applying the same standards to our staff and family as we would to anybody else, we concluded that it would be inappropriate.” He noted that the charge against Ms. Lin, 53, was a misdemeanor. “We think there’s a broader story here,” he said. “We don’t have all the facts we need to publish the full story yet and I suspect The New York Times doesn’t, either.” The Times Union published its own article late Thursday evening. The business run by Mr. Port’s wife, Green Garden Asian Spa, was in downtown Albany, in a handsome brick building a few blocks from both the Capitol and the district attorney’s office. The spa closed after the raid. Mr. Port said he arrived at the spa the morning of the raid and found seven officers and a building inspector on the scene. Kevin Luibrand, a lawyer who represents both Mr. Port and Ms. Lin, said, “I see the timing and the resources committed to be substantially disproportional to what is really a minor, and absolutely denied, prostitution charge.” According to the arrest report, Ms. Lin had engaged “in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for a sum of U.S. currency.” Mr. Port denied that account, and said that a police officer “stripped naked and masturbated in front of” Ms. Lin. He also said Ms. Lin was strip-searched. “Obviously I have pissed some people off enough to the point where they would send in jackbooted thug police officers to do an anal search on someone I believe they thought was my wife,” Mr. Port said, adding, “I am enraged, I am angry.” Ms. Cheng first came to the attention of law enforcement several months ago, when a property owner in Latham, N.Y., filed a complaint about “suspicious activities” at a massage parlor Mr. Port had rented for use by Ms. Cheng, according to Sheriff Apple. The allegation was received by the sheriff’s drug enforcement unit. That same unit had been the subject of articles in The Times Union that scrutinized its practice of using property and cash seized in drug raids to buy vehicles. The paper also reported that the head of the unit, John Burke, was drawing an Albany police pension as well as a salary from the sheriff’s department. Ms. Cheng moved her business to Albany, and the sheriff’s office turned over the matter to the Albany police. Mr. Port said he believed that the spa had been targeted by three officers associated with the drug enforcement unit, which has since been disbanded; as well as the mayor of Albany, Gerald D. Jennings; and Jeffery V. Jamison, the city buildings director. Mr. Port did not provide evidence of a plot against him. Mr. Jennings’s spokesman, Bob Van Amburgh, denied any plot, saying, “In terms of any kind of mayoral involvement, nothing could be further from the truth.” Mr. Burke said of Mr. Port’s claims of a plot: “It’s ludicrous, it’s unfactual, it’s bizarre.” And the Albany police chief, Steven Krokoff, defended the arrest. “The Albany Police Department doesn’t get involved in conspiracies,” he said, adding, “The last thing I have is any ax to grind with The Times Union.” After the arrest of Ms. Lin, the buildings division issued violations, citing a failure to obtain permits to operate and to hang a street sign. But Mr. Jamison said, “Nobody had any knowledge that Port was involved until after the fact, when he put his name on the building application. I’m kind of bewildered by those accusations.” Danny Hakim reported from Albany, and Nicholas Confessore from New York. William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: May 24, 2012 An earlier version of this article said incorrectly that Ms. Lin first came to the attention of law enforcement several months ago, and that Mr. Port had rented the massage parlor for use by Ms. Lin, according to the county sheriff, Craig Apple. It also said incorrectly that Ms. Lin moved her business to Albany.

Witness Says Cop Asked Him To Hijack Police Van

Witness says officer asked him to hijack police van 
The Tulsa World by Jarrel Wade  -  May 26, 2012

A man claiming to be a former informant for Tulsa police officers convicted of corruption testified Friday that he delivered drugs for officers and was asked by one officer to hijack a police evidence van and shoot anyone inside who resisted. Edward Farner said he worked for Officers John K. "J.J." Gray, Jeff Henderson, Harold R. Wells and former federal agent Brandon McFadden from 1995 to 1999, informing on drug dealers and then delivering drugs officers recovered from raids to an unknown third party. Farner's testimony came during a federal court hearing in the U.S. Northern District before District Judge James H. Payne regarding several motions related to Jeffrey Dan Williams' 1997 conviction on drug charges, which resulted in a sentence of more than 30 years. Williams pleaded guilty to the charges but immediately after and several times since has tried to withdraw his plea, records show. Farner said any one of the four officers would call him and ask him to pick up either methamphetamine, cocaine or marijuana and deliver it to an address. Gray was Farner's main contact, he testified. Farner said Gray asked him in 1999 to steal a Tulsa Police Department van carrying seized money, drugs and guns to an Oklahoma City depository. "I was to hijack the van and shoot the officers in it if they resisted," Farner said. After hearing Gray's plan to shoot officers, Farner said he "packed up and disappeared in the night out of Tulsa." "I thought they would set me up and bury me where they claimed to have buried others," Farner said as Assistant U.S. Attorney Leena Alam objected. Sometime before he left town, Farner said Gray, Henderson, McFadden and Wells picked him up in a vehicle and threatened his life. "We drove to a remote area in Sand Springs, (and they) asked what I saw," Farner said as Alam objected again. Farner said he was told "that if I talked about their drug actions that I would be killed." A federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent began as early as 2008 and resulted in charges against six current or former Tulsa police officers and the federal agent, as well as accusations of criminal behavior against five unindicted officers. Additionally, at least 44 people have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil rights violations or potential problems with their cases. Gray, a 20-year Tulsa Police veteran and former burglary detective, was released May 1 from a federal prison in Pollock, La., after serving more than four months. Gray pleaded guilty June 14 in a federal police corruption case and was sentenced Dec. 6 to four months in prison and four years of probation. Gray, 45, admitted stealing money during an FBI sting in May 2009 and pleaded guilty in U.S. Northern District Court in Tulsa after cooperating with special prosecutors investigating police corruption within the Tulsa Police Department. Williams' defense attorney, William Widell, is trying to establish that Gray, among other officers of the court, was essential to the 1997 case against Williams and, therefore, defrauded the court, Widell said. Prosecutors argue the court was not defrauded prior to a judge sentencing Williams, Alam said. Farner testified that Gray asked him to bring Williams in to work for the officers because Williams made "a good product." Williams refused so Farner was told to start informing on him, Farner said. "I was required to keep an eye on Jeff (Williams) and report back when he was cooking ... so they could raid him," Farner said. Under cross examination, Farner, who has prior drug convictions, said he didn't come forward earlier with information about the officers "for fear of my life." Farner was the final witness for the defense. "At the time, I was doing what I was told to do," Farner testified. "At the time, I didn't know who to trust, who was real or not." The government's main witness Friday was Leon Francis, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, who led the investigation against Williams in 1997. Due to Williams' guilty plea, Francis was the only witness who testified at that time, records show. Alam said the government will show that evidence presented by Francis before Williams' sentencing was authentic. Francis testified about interviews with 75 to 100 witnesses who corroborated Williams' manufacturing of methamphetamine and conspiracy charges. One of those witnesses was Gregg Elliot Fillmore, who helped investigators establish how much meth Williams manufactured, according to testimony. The quantity largely influenced the length of the sentence. In 1997, Fillmore, 49, told Francis he saw Williams manufacture meth at various locations. On the first day of the trial earlier this month, Fillmore testified he lied, saying he never saw Williams manufacture meth. He claims he was coerced by people claiming to be law enforcement officers. Francis said Friday he had no reason to doubt Fillmore's claim then or now, and fully believed it in 1997.

Recap of federal investigation of Tulsa Police The federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent began as early as 2008 and resulted in charges against six current or former Tulsa police officers and the federal agent, as well as accusations of criminal behavior against five unindicted officers. Additionally, at least 44 people have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil rights violations or potential problems with their cases. Several lawsuits have stemmed from the two-year federal investigation. Lawsuits began being filed as early as April 2010, and to date, there appear to be nine lawsuits, the World has reported. The first Tulsa police trial was May 31 to June 10, 2011. The second trial was Aug. 1 to Aug. 24, 2011. Jeff Henderson, a Tulsa police officer hired by TPD in 1995, was convicted on two counts of civil rights violations and six counts of perjury. He was acquitted on 45 counts of perjury, civil rights violations, drug conspiracy and witness tampering. Henderson was sentenced to 42 months in prison, which he is currently serving in South Dakota. Brandon McFadden, hired as an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2002, was sentenced to 21 months in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy. McFadden cooperated with prosecutors. John K. "J.J." Gray, a former Tulsa police officer hired in 1990, pleaded guilty to stealing money and was sentenced to four months in a Louisiana prison. He was released May 1. Gray cooperated with prosecutors. Harold R. Wells, hired as a Tulsa police officer in 1975, was convicted on five counts, but a federal judge later dismissed one count. Wells was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, which he is currently serving in Minnesota. Three police officers - Nick DeBruin, Bruce Bonham and Bill Yelton - were acquitted on civil rights violations in two separate cases. Bonham was charged with five counts and DeBruin was charged with six counts related to theft of U.S. funds, civil rights violations, drug possession and possession of firearms. TPD fired DeBruin and Bonham on Jan. 20 for "conduct unbecoming an officer" and "duty to be truthful and obedient." Yelton was charged with seven counts related to civil-rights violations, witness-tampering and perjury. Yelton has since retired. Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367

Cigarette Robber-Cop Sentenced to Prison

Cop who robbed cig sellers will patrol cell 
The New York Post by Bruce Golding  -  May 24, 2012

A crooked cop who used his badge, gun and NYPD “raid” jacket to rip off cigarette smugglers got 33 months in the slammer yesterday from a judge who called the caper “baffling and disappointing.” “When the public sees police officers commit crimes, it casts doubt on the whole structure we have of encouraging respect for the police,” Manhattan federal Judge Sidney Stein lamented. Stein also noted in amazement that “on top of it all,” former Detective Kyron Collins, whose dad is a retired officer, flushed his career down the toilet and threw away his pension for a mere $1,700 share of the proceeds. Collins, 37, pleaded guilty in January to robbing $7,000 in cash and a load of bootleg Newports after flashing a fake search warrant so he could ransack a stash house in The Bronx last year. Defense lawyer Eric Siegle said in court yesterday that Collins’ “single, stupid act” came after he was “duped” by a pal, Ammar Alkamel, who claimed he had been swindled by the smugglers. In reality, Alkamel — who’s currently on the run — “masterminded several other robberies” after getting busted for cigarette smuggling in Pennsylvania and becoming an informant for the feds, Siegle said.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Two On-Duty Officers Arrested on Federal Drug Charges

Two LR Police Officer Arrested on Federal Drug Charges
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Gavin Lesnick

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Two Little Rock Police Department officers have been arrested on federal drug charges alleging that they escorted drugs through the city while on duty, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas said Thursday. Mark Anthony Jones, 45, and Randall Tremayn Robinson, 38, were arrested Thursday afternoon. It wasn't immediately clear how long either had been an officer. “Those who are sworn to uphold the law are not above the law themselves,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer said in a news release. “The Little Rock Police Department is an institution filled with honest and hard-working professionals who risk their lives daily for the safety of its citizens. As a prosecutor, it is difficult to accept that individual officers would take actions that ultimately harm our community; undermine the efforts of their fellow officers; and weaken the public trust in all of law enforcement. As difficult as it might be, however, it is our duty to fully investigate such allegations and, if substantiated, hold police officers accountable for breaking the law. We owe it to this community and, more importantly, to the upstanding individuals who wear the badge ofthe LRPD.” According to an affidavit provided by Thyer's office, Jones was on duty on Jan. 12 when he escorted what he believed to be a large shipment of marijuana from near Interstate 430 to a storage facility. He is accused of providing security for another shipment on Jan. 31, an act for which he was paid $2,000, authorities said. The purported drug dealer was actually a confidential source working with investigators, according to the news release. In February, Jones is accused of traveling to California and meeting with an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer. In that meeting, Jones agreed to get additional security for a 1,000-pound shipment of marijuana, the release said. Jones and Robinson are both accused of escorting that shipment on March 22 "while armed and in uniform," the release said, adding the men were each paid $5,000. Little Rock Police Department Chief Stuart Thomas called it "disheartening" to see officers in his agency arrested. "I am, however, extremely proud of the men and women of this Department who participated in this difficult and demanding investigation and who, throughout, demonstrated professionalism, integrity and confidentiality to the highest degree," Thomas said in the release. "I am also deeply indebted to the United States Attorney’s Office and the Little Rock Office of the FBI which, without hesitation, provided the resources and expertise necessary to bring this matter to a successful conclusion." The officers are facing charges of conspiracy to aid and abet possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, authorities said. The arrests come less than a year after five police officers in eastern Arkansas were arrested on federal drug and corruption charges, including allegations that they escorted drug dealers or protected drug shipments.

Global Problem of Top Cops Assisting Criminals

3 top Dominican Republic cops accused in drug case 
The Associated Press  -  May 24, 2012

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Three high-ranking police officials in the Dominican Republic have been accused of providing security to drug traffickers, marking the latest public corruption case to hit the Caribbean nation as it tries to clean up its military and police. The officials worked for the National Drug Control Agency and were arrested alongside four men allegedly waiting for a drug shipment bound for Puerto Rico, agency chief Rolando Rosado said Thursday. The officials have been suspended from their jobs as have others who have been charged in drug-fueled corruption cases that have resulted in dozens of arrests and dismissals in recent years. "It's a serious situation," said Tulio Castanos, vice president of the Institutional Justice Foundation, a non-governmental group that is helping the government design and implement police department reforms. "The people have lost faith in the police." The Dominican Republic has a national police force of 32,000 officers and a military with 65,000 members, for a country of about 9 million people. Since 2009, more than 700 agents with the National Drug Control Agency, a combination of police officers and military personnel on loan, have been removed for a variety of crimes, according to government statistics. Of those, 200 were suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. Meanwhile, the national police force has expelled about 1,400 officers since 2010 for a variety of alleged crimes, including ties to drug trafficking, spokesman Maximo Baez said. Members of the police and all branches of the military have become ensnared in drug investigations, including a recent one involving a navy officer in charge of port security accused of attempting to smuggle more than 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) of cocaine to Spain on board a cargo vessel. In another case, nearly 20 officials, the majority with the navy, were accused in 2008 of killing seven Colombian drug traffickers to steal 1.3 tons (1.18 metric tons) of cocaine. Five of those officials were sentenced to 30 years in prison, while three others received 20-year sentences. So far this year, authorities have confiscated more than 4 tons (3.6 metric tons) of cocaine. They seized nearly 7 tons (6 metric tons) during all of 2011. "The biggest concern is that in almost every seizure, officials were implicated," according to a report by Citizen Involvement, a non-governmental organization that tracks corruption allegations in the Dominican Republic. The government is now requiring members of the police and armed forces to pass polygraph and background tests. In addition, internal affairs units are regularly investigating corruption allegations and handing out punishments, which has been increasing along with the country's role as a stepping stone for cocaine and other drugs bound for the U.S. and Europe. The government's attempt to address the situation comes amid growing concerns among Dominicans about the way drug trafficking has seemed to take a central role in the country. But there is also pressure from the U.S., which was critical of Dominican anti-drug efforts in its annual 2012 trafficking report. In a 2009 diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks and other organizations, the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic noted the country had an "embarrassing" drug seizure rate and cited a lack of resources for law enforcement and infiltration of the armed forces by criminal organizations. Former President Leonel Fernandez and others also have cited low salaries, typically around $155 a month for police officers, as a long-standing problem that may be a factor in some corruption cases. Complaints that police and military officials demand payment from drug traffickers to operate in certain neighborhoods are common, said Manuel Maria Mercedes, president of the National Commission of Human Rights. Payments can range from $125 a week in poor communities to more than $1,000 a week for drug-distribution points in popular tourist regions, and shootouts ensue if they fail to pay, he said. "Hundreds of citizens have lost their lives this way," he said.

The Global Problem of Self-Policing Police Corruption

Thousands of police accused of corruption – just 13 convicted 
The Independent by Paul Peachey  -  May 25, 2012
Forces should not probe their own officers, says IPCC chief as shocking figures come to light 

LONDON, UK - The new head of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has questioned the ability of forces to investigate their own officers for corruption after it emerged that more than 8,500 allegations of wrongdoing resulted in just 13 criminal convictions. Officers – including some from the most senior ranks – were accused of crimes including rape, the misuse of corporate credit cards and perverting the course of justice, but most cases were not substantiated and only a tiny fraction ever came to court. Dame Anne Owers said that there was scepticism about the extent to which police officers could investigate colleagues' alleged crimes, and she demanded more resources to supervise inquiries to ensure confidence in the system. "The public is understandably doubtful about the extent to which, in this particular instance, the police can investigate themselves," she said in a report by the IPCC. She concluded that the corruption identified over the three years to 2011 was not endemic or widespread. But she accepted that it was "corrosive of the public trust that is at the heart of policing" with the number of cases increasing. "A serious focus on tackling police corruption is important, not just because it unearths unethical police behaviour, but because of the role it plays in wider public trust," said Dame Anne, a former inspector of prisons. The report was published just after it was announced that the IPCC – which looks into allegations of police misconduct and deaths in custody – will itself be put under the spotlight by a powerful parliamentary committee amid concerns over its record. Its investigation teams include former police officers and the Home Affairs Select Committee will assess whether it is able to carry out impartial inquiries. The IPCC corruption report was ordered by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, because of concerns in the light of the phone-hacking scandal and the role of private investigators. The commission said that it looked at a total of 104 cases and referred less than half of those to prosecutors. It resulted in court cases involving 18 officers, with 13 of them convicted. The highest ranking officer convicted was Ali Dizaei, the former Metropolitan Police commander, who was sacked this month after his release from prison after serving a three-year term for misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice. He was found guilty of framing a man in a dispute over an unpaid bill for work on his personal website in what the court heard was a "wholesale abuse of power". The report also highlighted the case of the former chief constable of North Yorkshire, Grahame Maxwell, who narrowly avoided the sack after helping a member of his family to get a job. An examination of the cases found that substance abuse, links with criminals and dissatisfaction at work all increased the vulnerability of officers to corruption and needed to be addressed. Policing has been punctuated by scandals over the past four decades that led to notorious miscarriages of justice including the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. Deputy Chief Constable Bernard Lawson, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "This report again recognises that corruption is neither endemic nor widespread in the police service. However, the actions of a few corrupt officers can corrode the great work of so many working hard daily to protect the public."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Corrupt Sheriff Brought Down By Reporters

Corrupt Kentucky Sheriff Brought Down By Reporters
CBS News -  May 6, 2012

A pen and a pistol were the tools one young Kentucky newspaper reporter needed during his investigation of his hometown sheriff. Adam Sulfridge exposed corruption in local law enforcement in his rural Kentucky county and ended up with an award-winning story and enough death threats against him that he had to start carrying a gun.  The following is a script from "Cleaning Up Whitley County" which originally aired on May 6, 2012. Byron Pitt is the correspondent. Clem Taylor, producer.

Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in America. Few places have been hit harder than Kentucky, a state that has also been ravaged by addiction to crystal meth. In Whitley County, Kentucky - in the heart of Appalachia -- matters were made worse when the man suspected of being at the center of the drug trade was the county's top law enforcement officer, Sheriff Lawrence Hodge. There had long been suspicions that Sheriff Hodge was dirty, but nobody - not even federal agents - could prove it. That's when two local journalists -- both in their 20s -- launched their own investigation. And they soon discovered poking into the affairs of a powerful county sheriff can be risky business.

Adam Sulfridge: You know you're 20 years old, and you're taking a shower one day and getting ready for class and you get a call from a federal agent because there's a credible threat against your life. Everything about it is just so surreal. You know. You don't-- you don't think a whole lot about it. Then later that night you start thinking, you're like, "Geez, somebody wants to kill me. That's a little odd." And it's the sheriff. The sheriff wants to kill you. This wasn't exactly how Adam Sulfridge had pictured a career in journalism. Adam was born and raised in Whitley County. In 2009, he was a sophomore at the local college and needed a job. The county's daily newspaper, the Times-Tribune, had an opening. And soon, Adam had his first assignment and dangerous enemies.
Byron Pitts: Why did you feel compelled to buy a gun?
Adam Sulfridge: You do have a credible threat against your life. And it seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do. Samantha also purchased a gun at the same time.

Samantha Swindler, then 27, was managing editor of the Times-Tribune and Adam's boss.

Samantha Swindler: We were reporting on people involved in the drug trade. And people who were all hopped up on oxys, I don't know what they're going to do. I thought if something happened I'd go down with a fight.

Samantha was exotic by Whitley County standards: born in New Orleans, educated in Boston. She'd tangled with public officials as editor of a small newspaper in East Texas. She saw familiar signs in Whitley County.

Samantha Swindler: There are problems in this community with the good ole boy system, corrupt politics, that kind of thing.
Byron Pitts: It seems to me in many ways that this community's strength is also its weakness in some ways. This is a nice polite place where people have polite conversations -

Samantha Swindler: People are very proud here and it's a good thing, but it's also a bad thing in the way that it doesn't allow you to see the things that need change.

Whitley County, Kentucky, population 35,000, is tucked in the state's southeast corner on the border with Tennessee. People here take pride in the natural beauty of Cumberland Falls and in historic Sanders Cafe, birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken. There is also poverty. The median income is $26,000. Drug addiction is rampant. Throughout the region, red signs identify homes once used as meth labs. And then there's prescription drug abuse. Oxycodone flows in so freely. They call this stretch of I-75 "the pill pipeline." In 2002, Lawrence Hodge was elected sheriff of Whitley County on the promise he'd clean it up. The sheriff's raid on one meth lab was covered by the local CBS affiliate. [Lawrence Hodge: When I knocked on the door the smell was already knocking me down. We're glad to shut it down. It put a dent in our drug problem here.] But early in his tenure there were rumors, talk around the county the sheriff had gone bad.

Todd Tremaine: From about 2004, he just went downhill and was corrupt. Involved with drugs dealers, taking payoffs, extorting money from defendants.

Todd Tremaine, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, says the FBI and State Police tried building a case against Sheriff Hodge, but couldn't penetrate his inner circle of drug dealers, crooked politicians and police officers.

Todd Tremaine: He was very insulated.
Byron Pitts: What do you mean "insulated?"
Todd Tremaine: There was a lot of fear of what Lawrence might do if they cooperated with the federal agents or state police.
Byron Pitts: He was untouchable?
Todd Tremaine: Yes.

Editor Samantha Swindler had heard similar stories, and suspected Sheriff Hodge might have a weakness: a paper trail. So she checked the department's evidence log.

Samantha Swindler: There were months when nothing was checked in. I knew that this wasn't right, because we had arrests every day in this area, particularly related to drugs. And when it's related to drugs you know there's probably a gun. And it wasn't there.

But to mount a serious investigation of the sheriff, Samantha needed help.

Byron Pitts: Why would you hire a 20-year-old? His only journalism experience is working on his high school newspaper?
Samantha Swindler: Well, when you say it like that...
Byron Pitts: Well, it's true.
Samantha Swindler: Well he was smart and he knew about the community and he cared about local government.
Adam Sulfridge: My aunt overdosed. And the first question I had was, "I wonder if she got her drugs from somebody that the sheriff was, you know, protecting.

Adam went to work, combing through years of case files. He noted arrests where drugs and weapons were seized by the sheriff's department and should have been logged. It was tedious and time-consuming.

Adam Sulfridge: At that point I was working up to like 70 hours a week. It was-- it was insane and it wasn't healthy. But I was, you know, just driven. I knew I was onto something and I couldn't stop.

What he was onto was a series of felony cases -- involving guns and drugs -- in which deals were cut and sentences mysteriously reduced. What's more, the defense attorney in each case was Sheriff Hodge's close friend, Ron Reynolds. One case involved this man, Rick Benson, a retired social worker. In May 2004, Sheriff Hodge and his men raided Benson's house. In addition to drugs they found 17 guns. Benson had a previous felony conviction on drug and weapons charges, so was forbidden to own firearms.

Byron Pitts: You knew that you'd go to prison.
Rick Benson: Probably for the rest of my life.
Byron Pitts: We're you scared, were you anxious?
Rick Benson: Oh yeah, I was terrified.
Byron Pitts: Because?
Rick Benson: My world was over.

During the raid on the house, Sheriff Hodge found Benson's bank statement. There was $600,000 in his checking account, alone. Despite appearances, this self-described meth abuser was a millionaire, heir to a publishing fortune. The night of his arrest, Benson says Sheriff Hodge offered him a deal. If he cooperated, the sheriff would see that Benson was represented by his old friend, attorney Ron Reynolds.

Rick Benson: I had heard of Ron.
Byron Pitts: And his reputation was?
Rick Benson: He could get things fixed. He said, "I'll guarantee you misdemeanors. With no jail time, but you'll have to move out of Kentucky."
Byron Pitts: Did you think he was on the up and up?
Rick Benson: Well, no. If he was on the up and up, he wouldn't have been able to do that?
Byron Pitts: How much was his fee?
Rick Benson: $150,000.
Byron Pitts: $150,000 is a lot of money.
Rick Benson: The rest of your life in prison's a lot of time.

Rick Benson says he was also forced to pay the sheriff $10,000 in cash and make a donation to the sheriff's department of $25,000.

Adam Sulfridge: That's enough to make you say, "Okay, what's going on here?" But then whenever you see the actual cashier's check in that file, where he donated $25,000 to the sheriff's department as a condition of his plea agreement that's just, I mean that's crazy.

With information on that case and others, Samantha and Adam pressed Sheriff Hodge for an interview. He reluctantly agreed.

Adam Sulfridge: He was just all relaxed, leaning back in his chair, being that good ole boy.
Byron Pitts: The sheriff thought this was a field trip?
Adam Sulfridge: Yeah. You know, you got this, this, little out-of-towner girl and this 20-year-old college kid. We played along, we played nice for a very long time. Let him lie.

In the course of the interview, legally recorded without Sheriff's Hodge's knowledge, Adam asked him about the guns seized from Rick Benson. But the sheriff's answers didn't match the facts. He claimed the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, had them.

[Lawrence Hodge: I don't even know who Rick Benson is...
Adam Sulfridge: He was a big case.
Lawrence Hodge: Oh, that's ATF, yeah. How many guns were they?
Adam Sulfridge: Seventeen.
Lawrence Hodge: On Rick Benson?
Adam Sulfridge: Yeah.
Lawrence Hodge: They would've took those. I tell you, you probably need to have an ATF agent here with me if you want to talk about that.
Adam Sulfridge: So I need to ask them if they got those guns?
Lawrence Hodge: Well, you just need to ask them about the whole case.]
Byron Pitts: So when the sheriff said he'd given guns to the ATF, you knew he was lying?
Adam Sulfridge: They never took the guns. They never even opened a case in this situation. And once we had that, I mean you got a heck of a story.
Todd Tremaine: I was like, "Wow. I can't believe he just said that." And he just kept lying, lying, lying and I was giddy.
Byron Pitts: What do you make of that? That two 20-somethings--
Todd Tremaine: Right.
Byron Pitts: With pens and notebooks could do what seasoned law enforcement officers couldn't do?
Todd Tremaine: They weren't dangerous to him. I think Lawrence was thinking, "Hey, kids, let me show you how the sheriff's department works, you know. Here's the jail and here's Barney and, you know, everybody from Mayberry." But they caught him off guard 'cause they'd done their research.

The reporters then filed what's called an open records request, requiring the sheriff to show where Benson's guns were stored. But six days later, Adam received a startling phone call.

Adam Sulfridge: "The sheriff's department's been broken into." And, you know, that gets you outta bed real fast.
Samantha Swindler: That was my "we got you" moment. I knew that he had staged it. I knew it.

Sheriff Hodge claimed guns, drugs and other evidence had been stolen. The office was trashed, but the doors showed no sign of forced entry.

Todd Tremaine: It was just made to look like a burglary so they could explain for why the drugs and guns had been missing. And they had been missing for several years.
Byron Pitts: So what was Sheriff Hodge doing with these guns and drugs?
Todd Tremaine: Guns gave 'em to political friends, sold 'em, traded 'em for Oxycodone.
Byron Pitts: He became a drug addict.
Todd Tremaine: Yes. He was a very serious drug addict. He had a very bad addiction with prescription pain pills.

Adam and Samantha's interview with the sheriff and the phony burglary gave law enforcement the break they needed. The man who once thought himself "untouchable" was now feeling the heat. Days later, an undercover officer recorded Sheriff Hodge threatening to kill Adam.

Adam Sulfridge: He said, "I'm going to effin' kill him. And the informants, like, "You're just mad." And he goes, "No, you don't understand, I'm going to kill him. I've already been by his house. I know where he lives." Despite the threat, the Times-Tribune continued to publish damaging allegations against the sheriff. And a state audit suggested he may have been stealing money from the department.
Samantha Swindler: He was taking money and cashing it and during convenient times, like before a three-day weekend or right before his wife's birthday.

By May 2010, the people of Whitley County had had enough. They voted Sheriff Hodge out of office. Six months later, he was indicted by a state grand jury. The most powerful lawman in Whitley County, led away in handcuffs, in his uniform. But Lawrence Hodge still had influence. Around the same time, two local thugs - friends of the sheriff, drove to Adam's house.

Adam Sulfridge: The passenger in the vehicle gets out, approaches me without saying a word, puts his hand a little bit into his waistband and I just quickly pulled my pistol.
Byron Pitts: You had your pistol on you?
Adam Sulfridge: At that point I didn't go anywhere without being armed. He saw that it had left the holster. I didn't point it at him or anything. And he explained that they were out looking for junk metal on my dead end street, and that they would be going now.
Byron Pitts: You pulled a gun. Were you prepared to use it?
Adam Sulfridge: Well, you never pull a gun unless you're prepared to use it.

Following that encounter, federal authorities compelled Adam to leave town under their protection. Already facing state charges, Lawrence Hodge was also being pursued by federal investigators. Central to their case was attorney Ron Reynolds, the sheriff's accomplice in the shakedown of Rick Benson. Reynolds turned on his old friend, implicating the sheriff in the extortion scheme. Lawrence Hodge had no choice but to cop a plea.

Todd Tremaine: The prosecutor told him, "We could put you in prison for a very, very, very long time. Our case is solid. You will be convicted." You could see that he was defeated.

Last May, two years after Samantha and Adam launched their investigation, former sheriff Lawrence Hodge pleaded guilty to extortion, distributing drugs and money laundering. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. He declined our request for an interview.

Byron Pitts: That's mostly from the work you two did, right?
Samantha Swindler: Yes.

Samantha and Adam's reporting also led to the conviction of 15 of Lawrence Hodge's associates. Both journalists have since left the Times-Tribune. Samantha lives in Oregon, where she's editor and publisher of a small weekly. Adam, just a year out of college and unemployed, remains in Whitley County.

Byron Pitts: What went through your mind when you saw Sheriff Hodge in handcuffs, in his uniform?
Adam Sulfridge: You know a lot of people thought I'd be jumping for joy and, you know, all elated there that the sheriff got arrested. And it's really not. It's terrible that this happened. I hate to see for my community. I hate to see that plastered all over the place. You know, uh, Whitley County, synonymous now with a corrupt sheriff. I don't like that. I think-- I think the real story should be that a bunch of people here came together and, you know, cleaned it up.