Following up on a violent New Year's Day arrest, Scott Gutierrez and
Levi Pulkkinen put together a piece on Marcel Richardson, a 23-year-old West Seattle man arrested at Seattle Center after a run-in with police. You can get the full story here.
Because of a settlement, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest charges against Richardson will be dropped so long as he stays out of trouble for the next six months. He hasn't yet decided whether he'll file a civil suit against Seattle police or the King County Sheriff's Office.
As it happened, a KOMO/TV crew was covering the Seattle Center New Year's celebration nearby when the altercation began and caught most it on tape. It was one of two videos of the incident, neither of which captures the initial confrontation between Richardson and King County deputies who pulled him from the door of a McDonald's restaurant at Fifth Avenue North and Broad Street.
Richardson had been asking to be allowed to rejoin his friends in the McDonald's, which had locked its doors at police request because of a gathering crowd outside. He'd stepped out to turn off his car alarm and found himself locked out.
According to Richardson, the deputies grabbed him, patted him down and told him to leave. When he demanded they tell him why he was pulled from the door, one of the deputies soaked him with pepper spray.
The video from KOMO – the P-I's news partner – picks up moments after the initial altercation, showing Richardson running half-blind toward a group of police and firefighters. The video from the scene starts about 25 seconds into the clip.
The second video, one shot by Richardson's cousin and shared with us by Richardson's attorney, shows Richardson moments before the incident. He appeared to be calmly talking to a McDonald's clerk, trying to be let back in to the resturaunt.
The video goes on to show an officer striking a friend of Richardson's with what looked like a long-handled flashlight as the young man walked toward Richardson, who was by then pinned to the ground by police. An officer also fired pepper spray at the cameraman.
After-action reports filed by Seattle police describe the scene somewhat differently from the videos, but most capture the chaotic turn that night had taken.
Compared with the video, several reports overstate Richardson's level of resistance moments before he was shot with a Taser. One officer claims Richardson was "still struggling violently" at a time when the video shows him on his hands and knees.
Explaining their reaction, several officers also note that, when they saw Richardson running toward them half-blind, they thought he'd assaulted an officer.
"As he ran towards me, I had to assume that since he was being chased by so many officers and deputies, he must have committed a crime," Officer Phillip Morrison said in a statement.
Richardson's attorney, Michael Schwartz, said the tapes of the incident likely saved his client from a conviction, and at least encouraged prosecutors to seek a settlement.
"I hate to think what would have happened if they hadn't existed," he said.
Video and Story: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/seattle911/archives/153009.asp
Friday, October 31, 2008
Following up on a violent New Year's Day arrest, Scott Gutierrez and
In an indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, the police officer, Jorge H. Arbaje-Diaz, 30, and two other men, Felix Rodriguez and Alfredo Antonio Acosta, were added as defendants to an indictment that charged that a “violent robbery crew” carried out more than 100 armed robberies of drug traffickers over a five-year period and took more than 750 kilograms of cocaine and $4 million.
The indictment adds the names of Officer Arbaje-Diaz and the two others to an indictment originally unsealed on May 6. With the indictment unsealed on Friday, 13 people have now been charged in the case. Eleven of those, including Officer Arbaje-Diaz, have been arraigned and have pleaded not guilty. Two will be arraigned next week.
The group operated between May 2003 and August 2008 in at least six states, including New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, prosecutors charged. They said the group used torture and death threats to get information from the drug dealers.
Officer Arbaje-Diaz used his position to gain access to the victims’ homes, where he and other defendants handcuffed them at gunpoint and threatened to arrest them if they did not say where their drugs and money were stored, according to a statement from the United States attorney’s office.
Officer Arbaje-Diaz, 30, took part in robberies that netted thousands of dollars and multiple kilograms of cocaine, heroin and marijuana valued at $200,000, the statement said.
On at least one occasion, the officer, a three-year veteran assigned to transit duties in the Bronx, wore his uniform and carried his badge, weapon and handcuffs, the statement said.
The new indictment charges Officer Arbaje-Diaz, Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Acosta with conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act, which outlaws the obstruction of commerce “by robbery or extortion”; possession of and conspiracy to distribute cocaine; and firearms charges. If convicted on all counts, they would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
At his arraignment on Friday, Officer Arbaje-Diaz was ordered held without bail, and his next court appearance was set for Dec. 15, said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office. The officer’s lawyer, Gregory Cooper, was not immediately available for comment.
The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, called Officer Arbaje-Diaz’s alleged actions “despicable” and “the highest form of betrayal.”
“It is a huge disappointment, to say the least, to the department,” Mr. Kelly said in a news conference. He said the department would examine the background checks that were done before Officer Arbaje-Diaz joined the force. He has been suspended without pay.
The attorney for the family of a mentally ill man who died in police custody has released a jailhouse video that captures officers' earliest statements about what occurred and appears to contradict at least one Portland officer's account of what happened.
James Chasse died Sept. 17, 2006, after he was arrested following a foot chase in the Pearl District. Officers said they thought the 42-year-old man had urinated on the street and was on drugs.
Chasse, who suffered from schizophrenia, died after suffering 16 broken ribs, including some that punctured a lung and caused massive internal bleeding, according to autopsy results.
In an interview with investigators a few days after the incident, Officer Christopher Humphreys said he shoved Chasse down and then fell onto the sidewalk, past Chasse.
But the video of officers talking at the jail after they brought Chasse in captures Humphreys telling a sheriff's deputy that "we tackled him" and Chasse landed "hard." As Humphreys is heard telling jail staff that the officers tackled Chasse, his partner is seen showing a "bear-hug" stance.
The video, recently enhanced by professionals to make the dialogue intelligible, was released Thursday by Tom Steenson, the Chasse family attorney, and first made public by the Portland Tribune.
Hours after the video's public release, police Chief Rosie Sizer asked the internal affairs investigators who reviewed Chasse's death to re-examine it.
"Because the video contains enhanced audio that has not been previously available to investigators, I have asked the Internal Affairs Division to review all statements made by every member of the Police Bureau to determine if it would be appropriate to open a new investigation," Sizer said in a statement. "If appropriate, I will do so."
The 13-minute video ends with police and jail sheriff's deputies hauling Chasse out of jail. Chasse, who can be heard moaning, died while police were driving him to a hospital.
The Chasse family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, police and county. A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing in the case.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com
A veteran Manchester police officer accused of stealing money from what sources say was the department's Police Explorer fund was charged with theft Thursday.
Sgt. Michelle Wagner, 33, turned herself in Thursday in response to a warrant charging her with second-degree larceny, Deputy Chief Marc Montminy said in a press release. The charge stems from allegations of "inappropriate financial transactions from accounts that Sgt. Wagner managed," the release states.
Several sources said Wagner took the money from a fund used for Police Explorers. Wagner used to supervise the program for youths who want to learn about police work.
The investigation continues, the press release says; more charges may be filed against her.
Michelle Wagner, Manchester police sergeant Wagner remains on administrative leave with pay, Montminy said in a phone interview. She was placed on leave when the allegations surfaced Sept. 12, he said.
The chief state's attorney's office in Rocky Hill is overseeing the investigation, which Manchester detectives are conducting.
Wagner, a 10-year veteran of the department, was a community relations officer before her recent promotion to sergeant. She has received awards over the years, including a distinguished service medal in 2003 for her undercover work during an investigation of an escort service in Hartford.
Second-degree larceny is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000.
The Griffin Police Department has fired a police officer arrested on child cruelty charges.
Investigators were called to Anne Street Elementary School Wednesday. The school reported that a student had excessive bruising. Investigators learned that a plastic coat hanger and a rolled up magazine caused the injuries, police said.
The student told officials Officer Wesley Birden caused the injuries.
Birden and the student reside at the same residence. Their relationship to each other has not been released.
“It was decided that the case would be conducted just as it would for anyone else,” said Cpl. Bryan Clanton with the Griffin Police Department. “Birden has been a police officer for just over a year and there have not been any past reports to my office of this kind of conduct. Our investigation was conducted with the Juvenile Division and the suspect was arrested. Birden was off-duty when the alleged incident occurred and was not acting in the capacity of a law enforcement officer.”
“When an adult disciplines a child, the action should not leave injuries,” said Lt. Mike Natale, Griffin Police Department Juvenile Division supervisor. “Birden exceeded the boundaries of child correction and crossed into suspected criminal behavior.”
Birden was transported to the Spalding County Jail and charged with Cruelty to Children in the First Degree. His employment with the City of Griffin ended with his arrest.
Todd Allen Robinson, 31, of Uniontown was charged Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge Dwight K. Shaner with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of marijuana and criminal use of a communication facility.
Trooper Mark Yakicic of the state police Organized Crime Western Task Force said the charges were filed against Robinson after an informant inside the prison notified police that Robinson was supplying drugs to inmates for a fee.
In the criminal complaint filed in the case, Yakicic said that on Oct. 23 an undercover state police trooper called Robinson and arranged for him to bring marijuana to an inmate inside the prison.
Yakicic said that on Tuesday, the undercover trooper again called Robinson who said he was willing to deliver the ounce of marijuana to the inmate in exchange for the remainder of a pound of marijuana.
At 7:11 p.m., Robinson met with the undercover trooper at a parking lot in South Union Township and took a pound of marijuana from the trooper and agreed to deliver two ounces to an inmate at the prison, Yakicic said.
The conversation was recorded, Yakicic said.
After leaving the parking lot, Robinson was stopped by state police and taken into custody.
Yakicic said that Robinson allegedly admitted to taking the marijuana and planning to give it to an inmate.
"SCI-Fayette and the state Department of Corrections do not tolerate this type of activity," spokeswoman Rhonda House said Wednesday. "Whenever we are provided with information of this sort, we work with local law enforcement to prosecute these cases."
House said Robinson was placed under suspension Wednesday.
A preliminary hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Joseph M. George Jr. Robinson is free on unsecured bond.
Bruce Blanco, 48, of Commack, who has 22 years on the force was to be arraigned Saturday in First District Court, Central Islip, on one count of second-degree grand larceny and one count of second-degree bribe receiving.
"The officer is accused of two very serious crimes, both felonies," Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said in a statement. "We have substantial evidence that he fixed a traffic summons in exchange for thousands of dollars worth of work on his house."
Blanco, who is assigned to the Fourth Precinct in Hauppauge, was suspended without pay, Dormer said.
Bruce Blanco, 48, was to be arraigned Saturday in First District Court in Central Islip on one count of second-degree grand larceny and one count of second-degree bribe receiving.
Blanco was arrested at Suffolk police headquarters in Yaphank at 2:45 p.m. and was to be held in custody overnight at the Seventh Precinct in Shirley, police said.
A former Pomona police sergeant has been arrested in connection with a series of bank robberies in Escondido, Glendora and Rancho Cucamonga.
Frank Holder, 61, was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Rancho Cucamonga after he allegedly robbed a bank, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Witnesses inside the bank were able to describe the suspect to deputies at the scene, Eimiller said.
San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies then stopped a vehicle nearby with Holder in it. The suspect description matched Holder.
Holder, a Phelan resident, was identified and booked into Central Detention Center in San Bernardino on suspicion of bank robbery, Eimiller said.
FBI investigators dubbed Holder the "Grandpa Bandit."
Holder got his nickname because witnesses would say, "He appeared to be a grandfatherly figure," Eimiller said.
Holder is set to appear at 2p.m. today in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.
Pomona Police Chief Joe Romero confirmed Thursday that Holder is a former employee.
Holder transferred in 1974 from the Montclair Police Department to the Pomona Police Department.
He was promoted to senior police officer in 1987 and became a sergeant in 1991, Romero said.
Holder retired from duty in 2004 under honorable circumstances.
"He worked a variety of assignments," Romero said.
News of Holder's arrest came as a shock to people who worked with him, Romero said.
"It is totally out of his character," he said.
A New York City police officer was charged Friday with being a member of a robbery crew that specialized in impersonating police and torturing rival East Coast drug dealers until they gave up stashes of cocaine and cash.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused Jorge Arbaje-Diaz of committing of a least one robbery while on duty and in his New York Police Department uniform. They also claimed in court papers that the officer made "post-arrest admissions," but didn't elaborate.
Arbaje-Diaz pleaded not guilty Friday at his arraignment.
The arrest "brings dishonor to the proud reputation of the thousands of law enforcement officers in New York who put their lives on the line every day to protect their residents and communities," U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said in a statement.
Arbaje-Diaz, 30, was arrested and suspended from the force shortly after midnight Friday following a tour as a transit officer in the Bronx. In court, the officer's lawyer asked prosecutors for details of his client's statements and results of a search of his home. But he didn't comment on the case.
The officer was among three men arrested Friday in an ongoing investigation by the NYPD, the Drug Enforcement Administration and New York State Police. Ten other suspects were charged earlier this year in what officials described as one of the more brazen and lucrative robbery operations in recent memory. All 13 are from the Dominican Republic.
The spree netted more than 1,650 pounds of cocaine worth $20 million and $4 million in cash since 2003. At least 100 people were injured.
Investigators say the gang paid informants to provide the names and whereabouts of traffickers around New York City, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. After that, it conducted surveillance for days or even weeks, sometimes using satellite tracking devices.
Once the crew had a fix on its targets' daily routines, it would use fake squad cars equipped with lights and sirens to trick their victims into stopping. They would invade homes the same way, then handcuff the inhabitants and haul them away at gunpoint.
Arbaje-Diaz — "a vital and active member" of the gang — once "left patrol still wearing his NYPD uniform and carrying his official firearm, badge and handcuffs to meet members of the crew and carry out a robbery," court papers said. "He used his status as a police officer ... to illegally demand access to the homes of his victims."
During interrogations at dingy hideouts, the bandits allegedly bound their victims with duct tape, beat them and held guns to their heads to get them to reveal information. Using bathtubs, they simulated drownings by repeatedly submerging victims' heads, court papers said.
One victim told investigators that during a 2005 abduction, two gang members "applied a pair of pliers to the victim's testicles and threatened to squeeze the pliers if the victim did not talk," the papers said.
Arbaje-Diaz was ordered held without bail. If convicted of robbery, drug dealing, firearms possession and other charges, he faces a minimum of 45 years in prison.
A former Milpitas police officer who is suspected of repeatedly molesting a 14-year-old girl during a span of two years was arrested Thursday by San Jose police.
Roosevelt Noble Jr., 41, was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $1 million bail, according to law enforcement officials. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office will review the case and determine what specific charges will be filed. Noble will likely be arraigned early next week.
Noble was a Milpitas police officer from mid 1992 through 2007, according to Milpitas Police Chief Dennis Graham, who did not discuss any other details about Noble's employment.
San Jose police were informed Monday of the suspected molestation by the county department of family and children's services, which had received an anonymous tip, according to Lt. Mark McIninch of the sexual assault investigation unit. Detectives interviewed the girl and her mother and determined that the inappropriate touching began when the girl was 12 and lasted about two years, McIninch said. Police say the molestation ended in June.
A follow-up investigation substantiated the girl's allegations, McIninch said. Noble was located and arrested in San Mateo County by members of the San Jose police MERGE unit.
Morrisville, New York
Men and women in uniform are supposed to enforce the law -- not break it. But Thursday night, SUNY Morrisville Police Sgt. Steve Brody is charged with petit larceny for taking Tastykakes from a Nice N Easy gas station.
The convenience store’s manager thinks it started last spring, though Sgt. Brody has been a regular at the Nice N Easy for years. The store gives any police officer a free coffee. So he'd grab his cup of joe, and buy a newspaper. But then last spring, a staff member noticed Brody was also pocketing a Tastykake many times when he'd come in.
“I had my girl that worked behind the counter bring it to my attention, and at first I was like, ‘No this can't be. I don't believe this,’ “ says store manger Randy Hobson.
It was unbelievable. But when a number of Hobson's employees told him the same thing, he felt he had to confront the officer.
“At that point he firmly denied it, and stopped doing it for a period of weeks -- maybe three or four -- and then it started up again,” says Hobson.
That's when Hobson had security cameras installed. Within about a month, he had 18 separate incidents on tape. He turned those in -- and Brody was charged.
“Regular people have to follow the law. Everybody should have to follow the law and it was more of a principle thing than the $29 my company is going to get back in restitution. That's for sure,” Hobson says.
It's unlikely Brody will ever set foot into that Nice N Easy again, but you may be wondering whether there are any professional repercussions for what he did.
SUNY Morrisville says they can't comment on the incident, but a representative tells us he is still employed by the university.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A former Tulsa police officer won't serve any more prison time for engaging in a criminal conspiracy, obstructing justice and giving unlawful notice of a search warrant while he worked for the Police Department.
As first reported Wednesday on tulsaworld.com, Rico Yarbrough was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty July 18 to the same charges on which he was convicted two years ago.
Yarbrough, 44, originally was sentenced in November 2006 to three years and eight months in prison. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that opinion on June 3, saying the trial judge should have let jurors hear more evidence about Yarbrough's character.
Yarbrough, who resigned from the police force in April 2006, began serving his sentence in mid-March 2007 and was released June 30.
U.S. District Judge James Payne, who was not the trial judge, said during Wednesday's hearing that Yarbrough already has served a punishment that was "sufficient but not greater" than called for under the law.
Payne ordered, however, that Yarbrough be under court supervision for three years.
Yarbrough apologized to the court Wednesday for his "poor decision-making."
Later, he said only that "I'm glad it's over."
His attorney, Rob Nigh, said the nearly 16 months that his client already has served were "more than enough."
Nigh said Yarbrough made "a very serious mistake and paid for it with a substantial part of his life."
He said Yarbrough took college courses while in custody and plans to pursue a career in heating and air conditioning.
U.S. Attorney David O'Meilia said Wednesday that his office is satisfied with the sentence. Both O'Meilia and Nigh said that under sentencing guidelines, Yarbrough would have faced only four more days in custody if Payne had imposed punishment at the bottom of the applicable range.
Even though Yarbrough pleaded guilty to the same charges that prompted a 44-month sentence in 2006, the sentencing span called for in his July plea agreement was 18 to 24 months.
That's because Yarbrough received credit for acceptance of responsibility this time and also received less punishment for obstruction of justice. O'Meilia and Nigh agreed that "good time" credit earned by Yarbrough while in custody reduced the 18-month level even further.
Last Thursday, Payne sentenced former Tulsa Police Department employee Deshon Stanley to five months in prison after she pleaded guilty in February 2007 to conspiring to leak confidential information about a witness to a prison inmate.
Stanley, 33, also pleaded guilty to six counts dealing with a tax-fraud scheme that her plea agreement says cost the Internal Revenue Service more than $137,000.
Stanley, who was fired in April 2006 from her civilian job as an office administrator in the Police Department Records Room, will begin her prison sentence by Jan. 15. She will be under court supervision for three years after her release and must pay more than $134,000 in penalties.
Officially, the cases of Stanley and Yarbrough were unrelated. However, it was revealed during Yarbrough's trial that the two had a mutual acquaintance — a Broken Arrow man named Kejuan Lavell Daniels, 35.
Daniels pleaded guilty in July to participating in a conspiracy from December 2002 until 2006 that involved 100 to 150 kilograms of cocaine. His sentencing is slated Jan. 14.
Daniels had been under investigation since 2004 for suspected cocaine-trafficking, according to the FBI. Prosecutors alleged that Yarbrough was in regular contact with Daniels and kept him informed about the progress of the investigation into Daniels' activities.
In July, Yarbrough admitted conspiring with Daniels to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation.
He also admitted that on Feb. 10, 2006, he called a third man to warn Daniels that a search warrant was about to be executed at Daniels' Broken Arrow home.
Mitchell says Williams got into a verbal argument with EMA Director Walter Hill and allegedly charged at him. That's when deputies who were there say they had to restrain Williams to prevent him from hurting Hill.
Williams is now out on bond. His court date is set for November 13th.
Chief Mitchell says the ABI is investigating this as well as other incidents involving the two men over a period of several months, and that he hopes to resolve the issues and move on.
Jim Torbet, 54, was suspended from duty by Sussex police along with Chief Inspector Sharon Rowe after the pair were stopped leaving the store in Shoreham, West Sussex, in September.
The two high-ranking officers were released on bail pending further investigation into the alleged theft of wine.
His body was discovered in the early hours of the morning at his detached home in Peacehaven, East Sussex.
A police spokeswoman said that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Mr Torbet’s apparent suicide comes five years after his teenage daughter was murdered by her former boyfriend.
The headteacher of a school where Mr Torbet was the vice-chairman of governors condemned “procrastination” by those investigating his alleged shoplifting, which he claimed created an “intolerable situation for a very decent man”,
Mike Conn, principal of Bexhill High School, said that he would write to Martin Richards, chief constable of Sussex Police: “I would like to know why the allegation, which was relatively minor, took so long to investigate and secondly how it came into the public domain before he was even charged.
“Jim was a man of the utmost integrity and I don’t understand how in a country which prides itself on people being innocent until proven guilty, a man’s details were allowed to be released without him being charged.
“I am so incensed by this. The thought of him stealing a bottle of wine just doesn’t seem possible. If the police were going to charge him, why has it taken so long?
“This was a simple, straightforward shoplifting matter that is normally dealt with by way of a fixed penalty fine or in court relatively quickly.”
Mr Torbet joined Sussex police in 1980 and received five commendations before he and CI Rowe, district commander of Worthing, West Sussex, were stopped at the seaside M&S store late last month.
Security guards reportedly stopped the pair after they were caught on CCTV allegedly attempting to shoplift bottles of wine from the shop, in Shoreham’s Holmbush Centre.
Mr Torbet’s death was announced to colleagues by Chief Constable Richards, who described him as a “popular and valued member of our team”.
“Jim had given many years of loyal and dedicated service to Sussex Police, and in recent years has served as Detective Chief Inspector in the Professional Standards Department,” he added.
A tribute to the DCI posted on the website of a local newspaper read: “You were never too stuck up to have a laugh with us at the bottom of the ladder. Gone but never forgotten — a top bloke.”
In 2003 Mr Torbet’s 19-year-old daughter Rae was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Dellwyn James, after the forklift truck driver lay in wait for her at her flat in Bexhill, East Sussex.
Mr Torbet broke down in tears as he saw James jailed for life at Lewes Crown Court later that year and outside court expressed his wish that James would be “third time lucky” with any further suicide bid.
Ms Rowe, 44, is a trained English teacher who joined the police in 1986 and twelve years later became the first woman to reach the rank of inspector in Brighton and Hove.
A Mission man has been arrested on a charge he sexually abused a girl this summer when he was a tribal police officer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
Thirty-three-year-old Daniel Kettell was indicted on one count of abusive sexual contact, which carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison.
According to the indictment, the abuse happened July 5 in Todd County and involved a juvenile female who was not capable of giving her consent.
Kettell is scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday in federal court in Pierre.
Opening statements were given on Wednesday. Thirty three year-old Jason Dininny is accused of lying while testifying during a marijuana possession trial last year in Corning City Court.
Dininny’s attorney Raymond Schlather says his client picked up the drugs during the bust. But another officer claims he picked up the marijuana and handed it to Dininny. Schlather says Dininny is a model citizen and officer.
“No person of his reputation and his background and his experience, no such person would risk all of that for a marijuana violation,” says Schlather.
“He's not accused of making a mistake, he's accused of lying,” says Steuben County District Attorney John Tunney.
No marijuana is missing. Dininny is charged with perjury and offering a false written statement. If found guilty, he faces up to seven years in state prison.
The defense says more than twenty witnesses will be called. He says the trial will wrap up by the end of next week.
A former Hidalgo County Sheriff's Deputy and 10 others are behind bars this morning, accused of running a major drug operation.
A warehouse on Griffin Parkway in Mission is one of 10 Valley properties seized by the government. They also seized properties in Palmview, McAllen, Hidalgo, Donna, Progreso, and Brownsville. Authorities also found $22 million in drug money and more than 200 kilos of cocaine and eight tons of pot.
They traced it all right back to the Valley. Jerry Robinette, an ICE representative, says, "The drugs were being smuggled through the southern border, our Texas-Mexico border, and then transported through South Texas into Atlanta."
Forty-one people have been indicted in connection with this case.
A former Alton police officer who has accused ex-chief Jose Luis Vela of sexual assault said it took nearly a year for him to come forward because he was embarrassed.
The officer told jurors that on Aug. 26, 2006 he woke up in Vela's bed to find the chief performing oral sex on him.
"I grabbed my clothes and started leaving," said the officer, who is identified by the pseudonym "Frank" in court filings. "I went outside and I threw up."
Frank's testimony came this morning on the first day of Vela's trial on sexual assault charges. It is The Monitor's policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.
Prosecutors allege the former Alton officer accepted several drinks from the ex-chief on the night of the alleged assault and had not agreed to any sexual activity.
"He's a police officer - a man who fell victim to another man," Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney Hope Palacios said. "He was ashamed. He was fearful. He was disgusted."
Vela's defense, however, argued that the sexual encounter between the two men occurred in the midst of a consensual relationship.
During this morning's proceedings, attorney Luis Singleterry suggested that Vela and Frank had had at least four prior sexual encounters before the August 2006 incident.
Frank denied those allegations and said that he has had a hard time talking about Vela's advances ever since.
Soon after the purported encounter, Vela fired him, Frank said. But the chief offered the patrol officer his job back days later.
At the time, Vela ordered him to keep quiet, threatened his future career and suggested he could receive a promotion if he kept quiet, Frank told jurors.
But he said he was subject to several other advances from his boss during the nearly year and a half afterward that he continued to work at the department.
In one instance, Vela called him over to his house while he was on duty, the officer said.
"As soon as I opened the door Mr. Vela was naked and tried to give me a hug," he said. "That's when I pushed him back, told him my stomach hurt and told him I had to ho home."
Vela, 44, of Alton, also faces two other indictments stemming from allegations that he sexually assaulted at least one other officer with a beer bottle and stole a gun from his department's evidence locker. Those cases have not yet gone before a jury.
Frank and three other current and former Alton Police Department employees filed a civil lawsuit against Vela and the City of Alton earlier this year, claiming that the city had not adequately responded to their complaints about the chief's alleged sexual assaults.
Vela has since been dropped from that suit.
Testimony in his criminal trial is expected to resume this afternoon.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A retired detective told jurors a former Staten Island prosecutor and court officer accused of knocking out a man's eye in a vicious bar fight corrected officers filling out a police report on the object he allegedly slammed his victim with.
"It wasn't a bottle, it was a glass," Gary DeFilippo shouted from his holding cell after his arrest on July 1, 2004, Det. Kevin Hanley testified today.
DeFilippo, 50, of Lamoka Avenue in Great Kills, is on trial for the second time for allegedly slamming a drinking glass in Mitchell Miller's face at the South Shore Country Club.
Miller lost his left eye after undergoing surgery following the early-morning attack.
DeFilippo was arrested and charged with first-degree assault and weapon possession.
A conviction on the top count of assault could land him in prison for up to 25 years.
A volunteer police officer from Medford is accused of using overly aggressive tactics to stop a driver in Northboro, when the part-time officer was riding his motorcycle on Interstate 290.
As a part-time officer in Medford, Joseph N. Teta, 65, of Haverhill, does not have police powers in Northboro or in any community other than Medford. He was charged yesterday in Westboro District Court with impersonating a police officer, reckless driving and improper operation of a vehicle. He was not arrested, but was summoned to court after the incident, which allegedly occurred around 3 p.m. on Aug. 11.
According to state police, Mr. Teta, wearing police patches and a police helmet, activated the red and blue emergency lights on his motorcycle and pointed to the 22-year-old woman driving in front of him to pull over. A witness told police that Mr. Teta swerved in and out of lanes several times to make the woman stop, and later yelled at her. The witness guessed that Mr. Teta “was not a real cop,” according to a state police report.
The woman was visibly shaken and crying after Mr. Teta pulled her over, the report states. She told police Mr. Teta had been pursuing her from Worcester and that he finally swerved his motorcycle at her, forcing her to stop in Northboro.
Mr. Teta was found to be carrying two knives, and he had a licensed handgun concealed in his motorcycle, according to state police.
Frederick Mangone, chief of Medford’s Special Police, confirmed that Mr. Teta is still a member of the 22-member division.
“I was aware that there was an incident,” Mr. Mangone said about charges against Mr. Teta, but said he didn’t know enough to comment on it.
Medford Police Lt. Paul F. Covino said the Special Police is an all-volunteer force that usually is called on to assist during parades and festivals. They carry weapons and have the same police powers as full-time officers, but they are not paid and do not use police department vehicles, the lieutenant said.
Timothy J. Connolly, spokesman for the Worcester district attorney’s office, said Mr. Teta was driving his own motorcycle at the time of the Northboro incident.
An RCMP officer facing charges of impaired driving causing death in Delta is refusing to comment on the charges against him.
Reached by The Vancouver Sun on his cellphone Wednesday, Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson hung up as soon as a reporter identified himself.
Follow-up calls to Robinson went to voice mail and messages left for Robinson were not returned.
Robinson is due to appear in Surrey Provincial Court on Jan. 15 after he was allegedly involved in a collision Saturday night that left 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson dead.
According to Delta police, Hutchinson was riding westbound on his motorcycle along Sixth Avenue when his bike collided with an eastbound Jeep at Gilchrist Drive.
Hutchinson, who was thrown from his bike, suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Jeep, an off-duty RCMP member, was transported to Delta police headquarters where, Delta police said, he failed a breathalyser test.
The officer was released on a promise to appear in court in January.
Because he has not yet been formally charged, Delta police have refused to publicly identify him.
However, media reports identified the officer as Robinson, whose family owns a house just a few blocks from the crash scene.
The RCMP has also confirmed the officer charged is one of the four who was involved in the Tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport on Oct. 14, 2007.
Dziekanski died shortly after being Tasered.
Robinson, who was working for the RCMP's Vancouver 2010 integrated security unit, has been suspended with pay.
Before moving to the Lower Mainland, Robinson worked for several years in Merritt and Chase.
In 2002, Robinson won a provincial bravery award along with two other officers after confronting and arresting a man armed with an axe and a bat at the Adams Lake Indian band office.
The suspect in the case, 28-year-old David Arthur John, was shot by police in the chest after he refused to drop his weapons. John survived.
It was not clear from media reports at the time which officer shot John.
Allen E. Pettit, 46, of 824 Maple St., Harwick, was charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, perjury, hindering apprehension or prosecution, tampering with or fabricating evidence and obstructing the law.
The case against Pettit stems from 2006, when he arrested Charles Paith, 26, of Van Voorhis. During the raid of Paith's house, Pettit seized 5 ounces of cocaine and nearly a pound of marijuana.
Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani said Pettit is the last person to have custody of the drugs when he picked them up from a state police laboratory in March 2006.
The drugs were discovered missing when Pettit allegedly falsely testified in court during an April 2007 hearing that the evidence had been destroyed.
Toprani declined comment on the status of Paith's prosecution.
Washington County Chief County Detective Mike Aaron served an arrest warrant on Pettit in Springdale Township.
He was arraigned before Cheswick District Magisterial Judge David J. Sosovicka and remanded to the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 straight cash bond.
Pettit faces a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 7.
Pettit resigned from the Fallowfield police department, where he was captain, in 2006.
In July 2007, he pleaded guilty to a charge of theft for using his municipal gas card to fill his private vehicle.
He was placed on probation for 12 months in the wake of that incident.
A Clovis police officer is on paid administrative leave after being charged with one count of domestic battery.
Johnny Zamora, 26, was arrested Sunday after a police department supervisor learned that Zamora had been involved in a domestic dispute with his wife while he was off duty. Jail officials say Zamora was released Monday on his own recognizance.
Zamora will remain on leave for the duration of the criminal case, said Clovis police Capt. Patrick Whitney.
The department said in a news release that all cases of alleged domestic violence are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated and that the appropriate action is taken regardless of the people involved.
Zamora has been with the department since April 2006 and is a patrol officer.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A New Port Richey Police officer is out of jail on bond, facing numerous charges in an early morning hit and run crash.
The Florida Highway Patrol says 30-year-old Christopher Sutherlin slammed his 2006 Nissan pickup into the back of another truck around 3:00 a.m. on Sunset Road in Pasco County.
Troopers say Sutherlin took off, but was forced to stop because of heavy damage to his vehicle.
A passenger in Sutherlin's truck, as well as the driver in the other truck, were slightly injured.
Troopers say Sutherlin's breath test registered a .148 and a .151 blood-alcohol level.
Florida law presumes drivers impaired at .08.
Johnny Zamora was placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the criminal case, Capt. Patrick Whitney said.
Jail officials said Zamora was released Monday on his own recognizance.
Whitney said because of personnel issues, he was unable to comment further on the arrest.
Zamora told officers he choked his wife during an argument in the early morning hours Sunday after a coworker reported knowledge of the incident to a supervisor, according to a police report released Tuesday.
Officers documented marks on the woman’s neck and wrists, the report said, and witnesses gave statements that the couple had argued while in their vehicle.
“All cases of alleged domestic violence are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated by the Clovis Police Department. The appropriate action is taken regardless of the people involved,” the release said.
Whitney said Zamora, 26, has been with the department since April 2006 and is a patrol officer.
Efforts to reach Zamora Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Persons convicted of domestic violence are precluded from owning a firearm and often serving in law enforcement, District Attorney Matt Chandler said. Chandler said Zamora faces a maximum penalty of 364 days imprisonment and or a $1000 fine if convicted.
According to the Anatolia news agency, a police officer, whose name was withheld, ordered two motorists riding in the Ye?ildere neighborhood to stop. One of the young men -- whose name was also withheld -- stopped and got off his motorcycle. The other biker, identified as Çağdaş Gemik (18), allegedly was trying to get away on his bike when the officer fired at him. The man, who was shot in the left side of his neck, died at a hospital a few hours later.
The suspect was first questioned by a regional public prosecutor, who referred him to a court on charges of "homicide with probable deliberation." The man was placed under arrest by the court and jailed until trial. In a statement released shortly after the incident, Antalya Police Chief Feyzullah Arslan said the police officer had not deliberately killed the man. The officer was suspended, and a legal and administrative probe had been launched, Arslan said.
Allegations of police brutality have not been uncommon in the past two years. One such incident occurred in November when Baran Tursun (20) was shot in the head and killed, allegedly by an officer as he tried to escape from the police. The trial is still ongoing. Another incident, also in November, occurred in İstanbul's Avcılar district at a community park where two men were reportedly drinking beer when a police patrol approached them in response to calls accusing the two of disturbing the peace. According to witnesses, the men were attacked by the officers. Feyzullah Ete, whom a police officer allegedly kicked in the chest, died at the scene.
Officer Terry Cozad, 38, a member of the Council Bluffs Police Department since 1999, was pulled over by a Mills County Sheriff's Deputy around 8 p.m. along U.S. Highway 275 north of Glenwood.
A Glenwood address is listed for Cozad on an arrest report.
After he was pulled over, the deputy determined Cozad was under the influence of alcohol. Cozad refused a breath alcohol test at the scene to determine his blood alcohol level, according to Mills County Sheriff Mack Taylor. Cozad was arrested and charged with suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Cozad posted bail and was later released.
A Nov. 3 preliminary hearing has been set.
Neither Cozad nor his attorney, Joseph Hrvol of Council Bluffs, could be reached for comment.
A first offense conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated is a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. A conviction may also result in suspension of driving privileges.
Council Bluffs Police Chief Keith Mehlen said his department was aware of the incident and that Cozad has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cozad was the recipient of the department's Officer of the Year award in May for his work with the Police Area Representative Unit (PARU), a special unit dedicated to community policing, gang identification and cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cozad was awarded the department's Medal of Valor in 2006 after preventing a carjacking. In that incident Cozad shot and killed John Raymond Bothwell after Bothwell backed a stolen vehicle into another officer. The Pottawattamie County Attorney concluded Cozad acted appropriately in the case.
The Oct. 19 incident isn't Cozad's first with Mills County officers. In a July 2001 incident Cozad was charged with first-degree harassment and interference with official acts while armed with a firearm in connection with a 40-minute standoff with Glenwood Police and Mills County Sheriff's Deputies.
In the 2001 incident, officers were called to a domestic dispute at 1102 Sixth St. in Glenwood. When officers arrived, they found Cozad in the driveway of the residence locked in his sport utility vehicle with a firearm. After 40 minutes of communication between officers and Cozad he surrendered to police. Cozad was transported to Council Bluffs hospital for an evaluation.
The harassment charge was later dropped and Cozad received a deferred judgement on an amended interference charge. He was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service and undergo an alcohol evaluation.
Monday, October 27, 2008
A former South Texas police officer has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally selling guns that wound up in Mexico.
Ramon Martinez, who at the time was a Palm Valley police officer, would buys guys from dealers and private citizens, often over the Internet, then sell them for a profit.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, guns found in Mexico and traced back to Martinez triggered the investigation.
Martinez, 37, faces five years in prison and as much $250,000 in fines for dealing in firearms without a license. U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle set sentencing for Jan. 28.
A former Newton County Sheriff’s Department deputy has been charged with child abuse.
Nicholas J. Gonzales, 26, of Neosho, was charged Thursday with one count of class C felony child abuse after an investigation by the Neosho Police Department. Gonzales is accused of striking a 22-month-old infant on Oct. 17.
Neosho Police Chief David McCracken said Saturday that the investigation began after officers were called to Freeman Neosho Hospital’s emergency room, where the infant had been initially brought before being transported to St. John’s Regional Health Center in Springfield. Physicians found the infant had sustained injuries that triggered suspicions of abuse.
McCracken said the infant had suffered injuries, although they were not life-threatening. The infant was still in the care of St. John’s on Saturday as far as he knew, he said.
Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said Saturday night that Gonzales had been employed by the department for a total of about two years — first as a corrections officer at the jail for one year, then as a deputy for another year. Copeland said Gonzales’ last day was Wednesday. He said he could not disclose the reasons for Gonzales’ departure, citing personnel laws.
Efforts to reach Gonzales for comment Saturday night were unsuccessful.
McCracken said Neosho police forwarded the results of their investigation to the Newton County prosecutor last week. Charges were filed and a warrant issued for Gonzales’ arrest Thursday, according to online court records.
Copeland said that Gonzales turned himself in to county authorities and was arrested. He was free after posting a $10,000 bond.
A hearing date for Gonzales had not yet been set, according to court records. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to seven years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
Michael Hennessy, 52, is seeking back pay and the reinstatement of benefits he lost as a result of not reaching his ''performance standards,'' including no take-home car, overtime or off-duty details.
The lawsuit filed in Broward Circuit Court claims that two shift captains created a scheme to inflate arrest statistics -- often by arresting the homeless on misdemeanors -- and rewarded high-producing officers with off-the-books, paid days off.
The accusations were reported Monday by The Miami Herald.
William Amlong, an attorney representing Hennessy, said the quota system is dangerous.
''It's really making the community less safe because it is taking police officers away from their jobs on patrol,'' he said. ``This is both invading the rights of the homeless, who should not be victimized, and wasting taxpayer money.''
Fort Lauderdale police launched an investigation in July to look into Hennessy's claims after he filed a complaint to administrators.
The city is conducting a separate investigation.
Neither a department nor city spokesman would comment on the lawsuit Monday.
Hennessy, a patrol officer for nearly 23 years, claims that he was reprimanded in August for failing to meet his quotas -- one ticket per day and one arrest per month. He said a supervisor banned him from taking home his squad car and working overtime and off-duty details -- and threatened to fire him ''for having low statistics,'' the suit said.
Hennessy contends that over the past year, supervisors in the north district -- which includes parts of the beach, businesses along Federal Highway and the executive airport -- have implemented schemes to boost arrest and ticket numbers.
Among them: A ''scavenger hunt'' to see which officer could make the most arrests in and around Holiday Park, an area frequented by the homeless. The winning officer was rewarded with a $50 gift certificate to the movies, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also claims that a point system was created to entice officers to increase productivity.
An officer earned 10 points for an arrest, five for issuing a notice to appear, three for filling out a field interrogation card and one for writing a ticket. Earn 70 points in one week and get a day off, unapproved by the city.
Hennessy said officers who took the time off were marked on schedules as being on-duty, but unavailable for service. Other officers were called in to replace them, potentially costing the city more than $460 in overtime pay per person, the lawsuit states.
Hennessy hopes the legal action brings about change.
''It's fraud. It's theft,'' Hennessy said. ``It needs to stop.''
Prosecutors in New York on Monday ordered a grand jury investigation into allegations that police sodomized a detainee with a walkie-talkie.
District Attorney Charles Hynes announced that "on the basis of preliminary conclusions of the early stages of my investigation ... I have ordered a special investigative grand jury to be empaneled."
Although police deny the claim, the allegation has whipped up controversy, with comparisons being drawn to a particularly brutal police rape incident 11 years ago.
The alleged victim, a body piercing salon employee named Michael Mineo, says he was held down in a city subway station and sodomized with an object he believes was a radio antenna, or possibly a truncheon.
Lawyers for Mineo, 24, say the incident took place October 15.
Mineo spent four days in hospital afterwards and last week returned to seek more treatment, the Daily News reported. However, his medical records have not been published.
Grand juries are used to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to indictment of a suspect. In many cases, prosecutors only go to a grand jury when they are reasonably sure of being able to proceed to a trial.
Police deny Mineo's accusations and say he was arrested in full view of the public after being caught smoking marijuana.
Investigators have seized the equipment of one officer for tests, but none of the officers allegedly involved has been suspended.
Despite those denials and the fact that there is no published physical evidence to support Mineo's claims, the issue is already explosive.
Activists against police brutality say the alleged incident recalls an officer's sodomizing of a 30-year-old Haitian immigrant with a broom handle in 1997.
The victim, Abner Louima, on Monday told the Daily News that "it does surprise me that this is happening 11 years after. We knew this was not something that's going to go away in one day."
Veteran black community leader Reverend Al Sharpton visited Mineo in hospital over the weekend and was quoted afterwards as saying that he found the story "compelling."
However, The New York Times reported important differences between the 1997 case and the recent incident.
Louima's rape took place in a police station, in contrast to the far more public setting of a subway station. Also, the earlier case had strong racial overtones, since the officers were white and the victim black.
In this incident, the officers under suspicion were of various races and Louima is white.
The prosecutor's decision to convene a grand jury also follows a bloody weekend on New York's streets.
Undercover police on Sunday shot dead two brothers following a shooting outside a nightlcub in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Meanwhile, a New York mother reportedly confessed Sunday to beating to death her 11-year-old daughter, the New York Post reported.
The highly-trained firearms officer insisted he shouted "armed police" before opening fire on the Brazilian in a London Underground train.
But other police officers and all the public in the carriage made no reference in their statements to him saying this prior to the shooting, the inquest into Mr de Menezes's death heard.
The 27-year-old was shot seven times in the head at point-blank range inside Stockwell Tube station on July 22 2005 after being mistaken for one of the men who attacked London a day earlier.
The police marksman, identified by the code name C12, has told the inquest he killed Mr de Menezes fearing he was a suicide bomber about to detonate his device.
Michael Mansfield QC, for the Menezes family, alleged C12 "embellished" his account to explain why he was so certain the innocent Brazilian posed a deadly threat.
The barrister put it to C12: "I am going to make it plain that what you did when it came to making a statement the following day was to grossly exaggerate what you saw in order to, as it were, convince people that he had been a terrorist about to explode a bomb, in your mind. Is there any possibility you did that?"
The officer replied: "Absolutely none whatsoever."
C12 said he only fired on Mr de Menezes after raising his gun and calling out "armed police". But Mr Mansfield alleged the other witnesses' statements proved the officer did not give the Brazilian any verbal warning before shooting him.
C12, a member of Scotland Yard's elite CO19 specialist firearms unit, earlier admitted that a series of misunderstandings and mistakes led to Mr de Menezes's death.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Diane M. Brown, 42, was booked into a Riverside County jail Thursday and released on $5,000 bond. A court date has been set for Nov. 20.
Brown works as a corrections deputy at the Vista jail, sheriff's officials confirmed yesterday.
Brown's frustration with her neighbor's fluffy white dog, named Spike, began more than a year ago when she claimed the dog's barking was a nuisance, said Riverside County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.
Brown took the dog's owner to court, but the judge threw out the case.
On Monday, it appears Brown took matters into her own hands.
Employees at the Cherry Valley Water District in Beaumont said they saw a woman take a dog out her trunk and dump it in front of the building, Welsh said. The woman returned about a minute later, apparently to remove the dog's collar.
Two surveillance cameras captured the incident, and one witness copied down the woman's license plate. The witnesses brought the unharmed dog to a veterinarian, who scanned the dog's microchip and called its owner.
Hemet police later booked Brown into jail on suspicion of being in possession of stolen property. Animal Services officials also are pursuing a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty for abandoning the dog, which is valued at $2,000, Welsh said.
The man, Michael Mineo, is attached to a tube draining fluid from his abdomen, one of his lawyers said. He was visited at the hospital by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who had spoken about Mr. Mineo’s allegations on his radio program earlier Saturday.
The police have denied Mr. Mineo’s account.
At Brooklyn Hospital Center, Mr. Mineo’s lawyers allowed a cameraman from NY1 to videotape their client in his room, and they later showed the recording to other reporters. Mr. Mineo, who works as a body-piercer, is seen in bed wearing a hospital gown. With his voice cracking, he says, “I feel violated.”
It is Mr. Mineo’s second stay in a hospital since his encounter with the police on Oct. 15, when, he said, a group of officers attacked him for no reason. During the attack, he said, one of them inserted a police radio antenna or a similar object into his rectum. He was admitted to Brookdale University Hospital and stayed for four days.
The police have said that officers spotted Mr. Mineo smoking marijuana and that he ran away when they approached. He scuffled with the police as he resisted arrest, but he was never sodomized, they said.
A law enforcement official said on Saturday that Mr. Mineo suffered a tear just above his rectum, a bruise to the side of his head, injuries to his side and an injury to the outside of his abdomen. But the official said Mr. Mineo did not suffer any internal injuries on the order of those inflicted in the attack on Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant who was assaulted inside a station house in 1997 by police with a broken broomstick.
“Unless there is something that Brookdale missed,” the official said, there were no internal injuries that would indicate the penetration of his rectum by a foreign object. “I don’t know what his current diagnosis is, what he’s back in the hospital for. I don’t know if something else happened.”
Mr. Mineo’s lawyers have said the severity of his injuries supported his allegations. They pointed to hospital records from Brookdale that indicated he suffered from what one doctor described in a written account as an “anal assault.” One of the lawyers, Kevin L. Mosley, said that Mr. Mineo was admitted to the hospital a second time on Thursday night because he was in pain. “He had blood in his urine, and he couldn’t function anymore,” he said, adding that his client had “some sort of abscess in his abdomen,” and at one point was given morphine.
Neither Mr. Mineo’s lawyers, the police, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office nor the hospitals would provide any medical records for Mr. Mineo.
Five officers were involved in the encounter with Mr. Mineo at the Prospect Park station of the B and Q lines; none had any history of disciplinary problems. All the officers remain on regular duty.
A person familiar with the officers’ account of what happened said that one of them was Officer Alex Cruz. The person identified another officer involved as Officer Noel Jugraj.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said Officer Cruz’s name was on the summons given to Mr. Mineo on Oct. 15 for disorderly conduct.
Another law enforcement official said that investigators with a search warrant seized a retractable baton and a radio antenna from Officer Cruz’s locker. The two items had been sent for testing, which was not yet complete.
The police Internal Affairs Bureau and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office are investigating.
They have not determined how Mr. Mineo was injured. Investigators who announced a hot line number on Friday were seeking witnesses and hoping that test results to the baton and the radio antenna would offer some answers. The account provided by Mr. Mineo’s lawyers could not be independently corroborated, but some investigators have not dismissed some portions of the lawyers’ story.
On Saturday, Mr. Mosley and another lawyer representing Mr. Mineo, Stephen C. Jackson, spoke on Mr. Sharpton’s radio show before the three men visited Mr. Mineo at Brooklyn Hospital Center. Mr. Sharpton called for a fair, independent investigation.
“I do not know what happened,” Mr. Sharpton said. “But I know that we cannot allow police to be the only investigative body, and find that their findings should go unquestioned and unexamined.”
After visiting Mr. Mineo, Mr. Sharpton said Mr. Mineo’s account was “very compelling,” adding, “I find it hard to understand how someone could inflict that kind of pain on themselves.”
A law enforcement official said Mr. Mineo had filed two complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in the past year. In one, Mr. Mineo said that he was stopped by police officers, and in the other he said that a friend was stopped, the official said.
Mr. Mineo’s lawyer, Mr. Mosley, said that too much attention was being paid to his client’s past, which includes at least five arrests. “These police officers didn’t have his rap sheet when they tackled him,” he said.
Both the police and Mr. Mineo’s lawyers said they had spoken to witnesses who confirmed their respective versions of events.
Two law enforcement officials said the entire incident was witnessed by people in the subway station or visible on transit authority video cameras. But one of the officials said the view of witnesses was obstructed at some crucial points.
Mr. Jackson said he had spoken to three witnesses and that one of them — a colleague of Mr. Mineo’s who was with him shortly after his confrontation with the police — saw blood on Mr. Mineo’s pants and on his hands, and saw Mr. Mineo smear the blood on the window of a police car.
A law enforcement official said Saturday that investigators had no evidence supporting Mr. Jackson’s account. Investigators examined the patrol car that was at the scene and found no evidence that there was blood on it, the official said. The car was still dirty, and it did not appear to be washed.
The police have said witnesses told investigators that they did not see Mr. Mineo being sodomized. A person familiar with the investigation said that those witnesses included a token booth clerk and his 12-year-old son, who was visiting him. The two have provided police internal affairs officers with an account of what they saw and heard.
In an interview at his Brooklyn home, the boy, who said he had spoken with the police, said he was standing outside the token booth when he saw Mr. Mineo run down the stairs with two officers in pursuit. The boy said that Mr. Mineo’s pants were falling off as he was running.
Mr. Mineo first hopped the turnstile and the officers did the same, but there was no train at the station so Mr. Mineo left the platform through the same turnstiles, the boy said.
The boy said a third officer was waiting on other side of the turnstiles and tackled Mr. Mineo. At that point, the boy said, he was about eight feet away. A person familiar with the investigation confirmed that these were details the boy had provided investigators.
“It was a little scary,” the boy said.
The boy’s father refused to speak to a reporter at his workplace on Saturday and to another reporter when he went home.
A former small-town police officer accused of molesting or propositioning more than a dozen teenage girls while on duty was convicted of several sex offenses.
A jury deliberated for about 10 hours Saturday before finding Robert J. Pavlovich Jr. guilty of charges including corruption of minors, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and bribery in official matters.
Pavlovich, 40, of Camp Hill, denied the charges during the three-day trial. Asked on the witness stand whether he had sex with any of the accusers, touched them improperly or asked them to sneak out of their homes, the former Marysville officer replied, "Absolutely not."
Pavlovich said, however, that he did ask three teenage girls to meet him late at night at locations in Marysville as part of an investigation into drug activity and underage drinking. No one was arrested based on information he received from them, he said.
Several women testified during the trial that, when they were 13 or 14, Pavlovich tried to convince them to sneak out of their homes and meet him. They said they believed he intended to have sex with them.
Others testified that Pavlovich had fondled them, and one woman who has been diagnosed with a mental disability testified that she was pressured to perform oral sex on Pavlovich when she was 19.
The allegations date back to 2000, the year Pavlovich was hired. He was suspended from the force in March 2007 and later fired.
Pavlovich remained free on $250,000 bail. No sentencing date has been set.
Jonelle H. Eshbach, a senior state deputy attorney general who prosecuted the case, said she was satisfied with the verdict. Defense lawyer P. Richard Wagner and the Pavlovich family did not comment.
The victims and their families were not at the courthouse in New Bloomfield when the verdict was announced after 10 p.m. Saturday.
Marysville, a borough of about 2,400 people, is just northwest of Harrisburg.
Information from: The Patriot-News, http://www.pennlive.com/patriotnews
Saturday, October 25, 2008
An Orange County deputy sheriff was arrested early Saturday in the Tampa area and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, a jail booking report shows.
Deputy Jerry Nelson, 29, was taken into custody about 3 a.m. in Hillsborough County. Nelson, who joined the Sheriff's Office on Dec. 2, 2005, was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail about three hours later and released Saturday.
A Sheriff's Office statement said Nelson will be taken off the street and reassigned to administrative duties while his case is investigated by department officials.
More Information: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=7722296&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.2.1
An officer with the Suisun Police Department has been arrested on child abuse charges, the department said.
Engelberto Rubio Jr. has been placed on 30 days unpaid administrative leave.
The nature of the allegations wasn't released.
Rubio had worked for the police department for three months.
The Suisun Police Department did not release any details on the case, as it was not the arresting agency.
The Colusa County District Attorney is pursuing the case.
The Ontario Court of Justice in Cobourg heard testimony from hospital staff as part of a voir dire (a trial within a trial) that will determine whether evidence collected at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre can be used against Duignan, a Peterborough County OPP officer.
Mr. Justice Rommel Masse, sitting as judge alone, will have to decide whether the evidence is admissible.
Defence lawyer Leo Kinahan was expected to argue the evidence should not be admissible because Duignan enjoys protection under the province's Personal Health Information Protection Act.
But as the voir dire unfolded yesterday, Kinahan told the court he might have to shift strategies to argue the hospital evidence infringes his client's Charter rights.
Duignan, 50, was charged April 2, 2007 with impaired driving and having care and control of a vehicle with more than the legal amount of alcohol in his blood.
The charge came after Duignan's police cruiser was involved in a single- vehicle collision on Highway 28 south of Burleigh Falls in the early morning hours of March 29, 2007.
Duignan, who was on duty and in uniform at the time, was taken to PRHC where his blood was drawn, court heard.
Hospital lab technologist Pat Surman analyzed Duignan's blood, she testified, finding an alcohol value of 55 millimoles of alcohol per one litre of blood. The legal limit in Canada is about 17.3 millimoles of alcohol per one litre of blood.
Registered nurse Allyson Langworth was working in the emergency room the morning Duignan was brought to the hospital, court heard.
She said the officer was "belligerent" and uncooperative with staff.
Sgt. Wayne Robert Alger, 36, of Roseville, was under investigation for two weeks before his arrest, said Rocklin Police Department spokesman Lt. Lon Milka.
Milka said the victim is younger than 14 and that Rocklin police arrested the CHP sergeant after the girl's family contacted them.
Alger works the CHP's Capitol Protection Section, which provides law enforcement for state buildings in Sacramento.
According to Placer County documents, Alger was taken into custody Friday and later released on $50,000 bail.
CHP Capt. Bob Ghiglieri, Alger's commander, said Saturday that the alleged incident occurred when Alger was off duty and was not job-related. He said Alger has been put on administrative leave, pending the conclusion of the Rocklin Police Department's investigation.
Winn Parish District Attorney R. Chris Nevils said the hearing was scheduled for Thursday to hear routine motions, like discovery in the manslaughter and malfeasance case of Nugent, but the hearing wasn't necessary as Nevils had provided the materials a month ago.
Nugent's attorney, Phillip Terrell, was satisfied with the discovery, and neither he nor Nugent were in court Thursday, Nevils said. The next step, Nevils said, is for a trial date to be set, although they have to wait until after a pretrial conference with newly elected District Judge Jacque Derr.
Nugent, whose firing from the Winnfield Police Department was recently upheld by the Civil Service Board, is accused of shocking Pikes nine times with a 50,000-volt Taser within 14 minutes. Those shocks were made while Pikes was handcuffed and in police custody in connection with a drug possession warrant in January, officials say.
Winn Parish Coroner Dr. Randy Williams has said Pikes did not have PCP or cocaine in his system as officers alleged, and Pikes, whose cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest on the death certificate, may have already been dead before the last two Taser shocks.
Nugent has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Terrell has said he is confident Nugent will be found innocent once all the evidence is presented. If convicted of both charges, Nugent faces up to 45 years in prison.
The family of Pikes filed a wrongful death lawsuit earlier this month against not only Nugent but also the city of Winnfield, the mayor, City Council, police chief and other officers on the force, in addition to Taser International Inc. -- the manufacturer of the stun gun device Nugent used.
A closer look at the 42-page indictment against Page County Sheriff Daniel Presgraves shows what prosecutors say was a pattern of widespread corruption that dates back to around the time he took the oath of office in 2000.
The federal government alleges that Presgraves, 46, who earns $97,198 a year, violated racketeering laws by using his position as sheriff to sexually assault women employees; obtain labor for personal projects; take bribes in the form of cash, gifts and the use of machinery; protect illegal activities from prosecution; conceal and divert revenue; and obstruct federal investigations.
Presgraves faces six counts of obstructing a law enforcement investigation, four counts of obstructing an investigation by a federal grand jury, four counts of violating the civil rights of women working at the Page County Sheriff's Office, two counts of making false statements, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, one count of money laundering, and one count of violating federal racketeering laws, according to the indictment unsealed Thursday.
He faces 304 years in prison if convicted on all charges, according to prosecutors.
"Public service is a public trust and those who are elected to public office are held to the highest legal, moral and ethical standards," said Julie Dudley, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thursday during the unsealing of the indictment. "It's what we all want and what we all expect."
However, it's not what Page County residents got, she said.
Sexual Abuse Alleged
Part of the abuse of power outlined in the 22-count indictment is in connection with the sexual harassment or assault of 12 of the women on his staff he was elected to supervise.
Although he is not specifically charged with sexual assault, four counts of the indictment charge him with violating the civil rights of those employees.
The indictment outlines graphic details of his attempts, sometimes successful, at persuading these women to perform sexual acts or watch him perform lewd acts.
In addition to the lewd acts, the indictment states, he also instructed many of the women not to tell anyone.
In one case, the indictment alleges that after performing a lewd act and groping a woman inappropriately, Presgraves told her not to talk to the "feds" because "nobody knows anything that happened besides you and I."
In a separate incident, the indictment says he told a woman not to testify before the federal grand jury about their sexual activities but to "take it to the grave."
Inmate Labor Claims
Separate from the sexual abuse claims, prosecutors also allege Presgraves abused his power as the top law enforcement officer in the county to receive personal gains.
Presgraves, the indictment says, used Page County Jail inmates to work on projects at his home, at a construction site he and his company, Page Properties LLC, were developing, and at another property he owned that's adjacent to the Shenandoah River and his cabin.
"The inmate labor included, but was not limited to, construction work, operation of machinery, landscaping, mowing, carpentry and painting," the indictment states. "The inmates were often transported to and from the Page County Jail to these work sites by [Presgraves], his wife and [Page County Sheriff's Office] employees at the direction of [Presgraves]."
His wife has not been charged, but prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing.
Prosecutors say he also took government property.
"[Presgraves] stole and converted to his own use construction materials and other items that were owned by the [sheriff's office]," the indictment states.
Presgraves also faces the same conspiracy charge that has resulted in convictions or guilty pleas for three Virginia men charged in connection with the Little Boxwood cockfighting ring. A fourth man awaits trail in that case.
Presgraves is charged with conspiracy to sponsor an animal-fighting venture, specifically for his alleged role in helping Little Boxwood remain active, and his conversations with the owner of a second pit.
In 2000, the indictment alleges, Presgraves told the owner of a cockfighting pit in the Naked Creek section of the county that as long as he, the owner, kept a low profile, he wouldn't have any trouble. It further states that Presgraves told three deputies not to "harass" the cockfighters.
In addition to Pregraves' receiving bribes, disguised as campaign contributions, the indictment alleges he told a resident who called to complain about cockfighting that he didn't have the manpower to combat the issue and that cockfighting was a part of the county's "heritage."
A Bracken County sheriff's deputy has been charged with selling drugs.
On Friday, Kentucky State police arrested Frank Smith Jr. of Brooksville.
Smith, a Bracken County deputy, was arrested in a McDonald's parking lot in Falmouth.
He was charged with second-degree trafficking a controlled substance. State police said the arrested was the result of a lengthy investigation.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The long time Douglas County Deputy and investigator faces a multitude of charges stemming from an allegation of 4th degree sexual assault on October 15th.
A statement issued by the Superior Police Department says Weber allegedly sexually assaulted an 18 year old male last Wednesday.
Upon executing a search warrant on Weber's home, investigators seized property from his residence including a computer.
Today around 11 a.m. Weber was arrested on two counts of 4th degree sexual assault, two counts of obstructing an officer, one count of depictions containing nudity and one count of exposing a child to harmful material.
The sexual assault charge is a misdemeanor.
Wisconsin state statutes describe it as intentional touching through clothing for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant.
The charge of depictions containing nudity is described as having nude pictures without the subject's knowledge, which is more commonly known as voyeurism.
Weber made his initial court appearance today, and was released on a two–thousand dollar signature bond.
Because Weber is a Douglas County employee Douglas County Attorney Dan Blank is planning on requesting a special prosecutor for the case.
Weber has been place on administrative leave, and Douglas County Sheriff department officials tell me that an internal investigation is on going and they unable to comment until the investigation is finished.
The Superior Police Department is conducting its own criminal investigation.
Weber's is scheduled to appear next on November 21st.
Palm Desert police Cpl. Matthew Spain, a Riverside County sheriff's deputy, was arrested just before 1 a.m. Oct. 11.
“He was later evaluated and booked,” Palm Desert police Lt. Greg Ammons said Friday.
Spain has since been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Additional information was not available.
Palm Desert contracts for police services with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
More Information: Updated Nov. 1, 2008 http://www.mydesert.com/article/20081018/NEWS0801/810180342/1006/news01
The attorney's office in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has confirmed the arrest of a high ranking police officer on charges of corruption, reports Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
Attorney Janyario Necas said that a police chief superintendent, Caetano Vasco Chapepa, who is the director of training at the Cabo Delgado provincial police command, was been arrested and charged with corruption and swindling police recruit. His case has been handed to an investigating magistrate to validate the detention.
Necas said that Chapepa was detained after evidence was found that he had charged 300 meticais (12 US dollars) to each of the 410 young recruits enrolled for a training course, coming to a total of 123,000 meticais.
He told the victims that the money was to pay for their medical exams in Pemba city, the provincial capital.
However, the provincial health directorate revealed that the cost of the medical exams is just 50 meticais each, and the institution is not responsible for the rest of the money charged by Chapepa.
This amount paid by all applicants should amount to no more than 20,500 meticais. The prosecution says that, looking at the way the swindle was prepared, it is clear that Chapepa was aware of the crime he was committing.
Necas said that the fact that Chapepa was immediately arrested is because there were signs that, if left at liberty, he would disturb the normal course of legal proceedings.
"He had already started threatening the recruits, telling them not to provide the necessary information to the investigators", Necas said.
Police say they arrested Officer Claude Sims early today and charged him with breaking down a woman's door in Clairton overnight and severely beating her.
In 1994, three cousins accused Officer Sims of beating them while they were handcuffed.
Sims eventually pleaded guilty to violating their civil rights, but was allowed to stay on the force.
Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has fired a Dallas police officer who was indicted earlier this week on an aggravated robbery charge.
Alph Coleman is accused of participating in a June robbery of Sam's Club where he worked off-duty as a security guard.
Coleman was fired Thursday during a disciplinary hearing in which he was accused of engaging in adverse conduct that resulted in his indictment, knowingly falsifying an affidavit by giving false and inaccurate information during an investigation and associating with persons of immoral character and convicted felons.
The former officer was working at the Sam's Club in police uniform when he told investigators that a man held a pistol to his head inside the store and forced him against his will toward the accounting office.
The robbery failed after employees barricaded themselves inside a storage room, police said.
Coleman then said in a police report he fired three times at the suspect who fled and was not caught. Police said they determined Coleman — who was hospitalized with a shoulder injury — was not telling the truth. Police also said they have phone records showing Coleman and the getaway driver had talked shortly before the robbery.
Coleman was assigned to the South Central Patrol Division and had been with the Dallas Police Department since September 2004. He was placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
A phone number listed under Coleman's name was disconnected Thursday night.
Lawyers for Michael Mineo said he suffered serious injuries from the attack, which they said took place in a subway station atProspect Park on Oct. 15.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said witness statements contradict Mineo's account. Browne declined to comment on the alleged injury to Mineo until police review a doctor's record of the incident.
"We have found two civilian witnesses who didn't support the sodomy allegations," the spokesman said.
The allegations echo those of a case that shook the city in 1997, when Abner Louima was sodomized with a broken broomstick in a Brooklyn station house by a 25-year-old officer.
An additional accusation by Mineo that officers Tasered him is also not supported, Browne said, since the officers in question do not carry Tasers.
The department's internal affairs bureau and the Brooklyn district attorney's office have launched investigations into the complaint, police said.
Stephen Jackson, Mineo's lawyer, said his client stayed five days at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn. Brookdale Hospital officials confirmed that Mineo was admitted on Oct. 15 and discharged four days later.
According to police, officers from the 71st Precinct spotted Mineo smoking a marijuana joint outside theProspect Park station around 12:30 p.m. When they moved in to arrest him, police said, Mineo dashed into the station, leading officers on a chase. Police said Mineo resisted being handcuffed, telling officers he "ate the marijuana."
The officers issued Mineo a desk appearance ticket, Browne said, adding that four officers were involved in the incident with a fifth officer from the transit bureau also at the scene. Jackson said four or five officers pinned Mineo to the ground. "One of them put his knee on his neck, and another one used his radio ... repeatedly" sodomizing Mineo, Jackson said.