Thursday, May 01, 2008

Officer Alvin Bland Arrested for Attempted Murder

Officer Alvin Bland, 29, of Birmingham, Alabama was identified as the suspect in connection with the attempted murder of a 28-year-old male victim, which occurred on Monday, April 28, 2008, at approximately 3:30 p.m., at Denmark Avenue and Quebec Drive.

Officers responded to Oregon Street and 7th Avenue Wylam to investigate a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, officers were met by the victim who stated that he and a male suspect were reportedly involved in a verbal altercation that led to the suspect firing a rifle at him. There were no injuries.

Officer Bland has been employed with the Birmingham Police Department for five years and is assigned to the South Precinct. He was booked into the city jail at 9 p.m. Monday and held there on a 48-hour extension until a warrant was obtained Wednesday.

He is currently being held on a $60,000 bond in the Jefferson County Jail.

Former Boston officer pleads guilty in federal drug case

A former Boston police officer pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges that he conspired to extort $265,000 on behalf of drug dealers while in uniform and that he threatened to kill the man who supposedly owed them the cash.

Jose A. "Flaco" Ortiz, 45, formerly of Salem, also admitted in US District Court in Boston that he participated in a related scheme to distribute cocaine he obtained from the victim. In brief and barely audible remarks in court, he denied personally threatening the victim, but said he relayed warnings from Colombian drug dealers that the victim "might be in some kind of danger" if the man did not pay the debt.

Ortiz, who spent 21 years on the force before his firing last May, is the fifth Boston officer to plead guilty to federal charges since September. All the cases, including one involving three officers, revolved around drugs.

Ortiz could spend the rest of his life in prison if US District Judge Rya W. Zobel issues the harshest possible sentence. But federal prosecutors are recommending a prison term of 11 to 14 years, because Ortiz has admitted his guilt and waived his right to appeal if he receives the lighter sentence.

"It's not a happy day for law enforcement" when a police officer pleads guilty to a crime, First Assistant US Attorney Michael K. Loucks said after the hearing, which was handled by another prosecutor.

But Loucks praised Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis for helping federal authorities pursue cases of police corruption. "No matter what organization, there are always going to be people who commit crimes," Loucks said.

Ortiz's lawyer, Scott A. Lutes of Providence, said his client changed his plea because he wanted to take responsibility for his misdeeds. "He candidly admits his guilt and feels terrible about it," said Lutes.

Supporters of Ortiz filled a bench near the front of the gallery in the courtroom. As they have at Ortiz's previous hearings, several wore white T-shirts saying, "I [heart-shape] you Ortiz."

Ortiz, dressed in a khaki jumpsuit from the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., made no eye contact with them during the hearing.

The case against Ortiz stems from an investigation by law enforcement authorities that began in late 2003 or early 2004, according to Assistant US Attorney John T. McNeil. At the time, a man identified only as Victim A in court papers told authorities that two drug dealers approached him and asked if he knew anyone who might want to participate in drug trafficking.

At the advice of law enforcement officials, Victim A introduced the drug dealers to a man whom he believed to be involved in the drug trade, McNeil said. Days later, the drug dealers told Victim A that that man had stolen from them. The dealers blamed Victim A for the theft and said he owed them more than $200,000.

The matter became a police corruption case in August 2006 when, in a startling twist, Ortiz showed up at Victim A's job in the Boston area, McNeil said. Wearing his uniform, badge, and holstered handgun, Ortiz told the victim that he was there on behalf of Colombian drug dealers who would kill Victim A and his family if the man did not pay his debt. Ortiz later said the debt totaled $265,000.

In March and April 2007, Victim A paid Ortiz $6,000 in three installments while law enforcement officials secretly recorded the transactions, McNeil said. On May 2, the victim gave Ortiz $4,000 in cash and 4 kilograms of cocaine in a parking lot in Revere, a deal that the officer said would settle the debt. Ortiz was again dressed in uniform.

Moments later, an FBI SWAT team arrested him.

A search of Ortiz's police locker a week later found $7,000 in cash, including $700 that had been provided to the victim by law enforcement officials, authorities said.

Phoenix Officer Arrested for Sexual Exploitation of Minor

Phoenix, AZ

Veteran police officer Richard Michael Polk has been arrested following an investigation into Internet child pornography. Officer Polk is a 26-year veteran officer who is currently a homicide detective.

Court documents say investigators found downloaded videos at Officer Polk’s home depicting children, under the age of 15, engaging in various sex acts. Online banking services were linked to purchases of child pornography, police said. He also used online file sharing service to distribute images.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement initially became aware of Polk's activities through their cyber crimes enforcement. They shared information with Phoenix Police officers, who continued to investigate through their internal affairs department. Phoenix Police's investigation leading up to Polk's arrest lasted six months.

A search of his Surprise home Wednesday revealed several removable thumb drives with about 20 videos, half of which showed children no older than 15 in various sexual acts, the court documents said.

The drives, along with computers and other evidence seized during the search, will undergo further analysis as the investigation continues. Thorough investigation is necessary when technology is involved, Gonzales said. The department also applies a high standard of scrutiny when dealing with its employees.

“We take every investigation seriously,” Gonzales said. “He was treated as any other citizen would be treated in the circumstances of the investigation.”

He has been released on a $250,000 bond, but must stay away from minors and may only see his own child under supervision.