Thursday, July 03, 2008

Officer Monte Montalvo Accused of Sexual Assault Pleads Not Guilty

Buffalo police officer Monte Montalvo pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Wednesday afternoon. His case moved from city court to state supreme court where he faces a single felony count of Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree.

Montalvo had no comment as he left court with his attorney.

Prosecutors allege that the 37-year-old officer was working as a security guard at a college fraternity party in December, when he met a 19-year-old female college student. The two apparently went to Montalvo's west side home, where the woman says Montalvo allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Montalvo is free on his own recognizance. He returns to court on July 23. He faces one and a third to four years in prison if convicted.

Lower Bond Denied for Officer Accused of Rape


A Lake County judge denied a motion to lower the bond of the former Waukegan police officer accused of raping a woman while on duty.

Judge Raymond Collins said today he saw nothing in the defense’s motion to justify lowering Delatwon Haynes $2 million bond, despite arguments that his accuser is an admitted drug addict.

“I don’t find anything that would change my mind,” Collins told defense attorney Joel Brodsky and prosecutor Patricia Fix, as Haynes stood by quietly. Bail was set at $2 million by Judge Daniel Shanes last week.

Brodsky had argued that Haynes’ clean record should be enough to lower his bond to something more manageable.

“There is nothing (in his past) that would say he would not obey all court orders or he would not show up for court,” Brodsky said.

Fix countered that, saying that the charges against Haynes are serious, and testimony Shanes heard last week warranted a high bond amount. Fix also said that there is precedent for a police officer being held on high bond. Last month a judge rejected a motion to lower a $1.5 million bond on for Gurnee police officer Jay Simon, who has been jailed on charges that he sexually assaulted two young girls.

Haynes, 32, of Zion, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in January while he worked the midnight shift. He resigned from the Waukegan Police Department a few days after allegations of rape were brought against him by the then-Waukegan resident.

Last week the State’s Attorneys Office approved charges for four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and eight counts of misconduct.

Brodsky argued Wednesday, and has said in the past, that the allegations are unreliable, because the accuser admitted to police that she was a heroin addict.

Fix dismissed Brodsky’s claims, saying the State wasn’t going to try Haynes in the press, or reveal information about the case before discovery was due. Fix did however reveal that a used condom gathered by Haynes’ accuser at the scene contained Haynes’ DNA.

“That’s pretty strong physical evidence your honor,” Fix told Collins.

Officer and His Wife Accused in Prostitution Ring


A former police officer and his wife have been accused of running a prostitution ring out of their home, where he allegedly collected cash from the prostitutes while in uniform.

Former Indianapolis police officer Jeremy Lee faces a charge of aiding in promoting prostitution.

Lee was fired Wednesday after the charge was filed against him in Johnson County, just south of Indianapolis.

"We're disturbed by his conduct; we're ashamed of him," said Indianapolis Police Chief Michael Spears, who added that the investigation was started by his department.

Lee, 30, would collect money from prostitutes hired by his wife, Lori Vernon-Lee, while wearing his police uniform, according to court documents.

Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for the couple and Jerry L. McCory, 56, a Marion County Sheriff's Department employee who faces a misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute.

Vernon-Lee, 36, is charged with five felony counts of promoting prostitution for allegedly operating the illegal escort service from home in the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood, according to an affidavit.

Vernon-Lee was being held in Johnson County Jail late Wednesday night on $40,000 bond, said a jail officer. McCory was released earlier on $2,000 bond. Lee was not in custody, the officer said. WTHR TV reported that Lee was in Massachusetts and had been contacted and told to surrender to authorities there.

Vernon-Lee allegedly recruited women to serve as escorts and then advertised their services in a weekly Indianapolis newspaper.

When clients called Vernon-Lee's escort service, she allegedly would arrange for a meeting between client and one of the escorts during which money was exchanged for various sex acts.

Each escort would turn over part of the money she collected -- typically about half -- to Vernon-Lee, whose husband would collect the cash while in his police uniform, the affidavit states.

Jail Officers Investigated for Inmate's Death


A black man arrested in the hit-and-run death of a police officer was found strangled in his cell, and investigators focused Tuesday on guards at the suburban Maryland jail, which has a history of security lapses.

As state police took over the investigation, an attorney for inmate Ronnie L. White's family said the young man's attackers "took it upon themselves to be both the judge, the jury and the executioner."

White's death shocked and angered officials in Prince George's County, including County Executive Jack Johnson, who likened it to "vigilante justice."

Investigators from the FBI and state police joined the case Monday after the state medical examiner concluded that White had been strangled Sunday morning.

White, 19, was arrested early Saturday on charges of ramming a stolen pickup truck into police Cpl. Richard Findley. Findley had gotten out of his police cruiser Friday while trying to conduct a traffic stop on the truck. White allegedly struck him and dragged him for a short distance in the community of Laurel.

Johnson immediately moved to curb speculation that White's death was the result of police officers seeking revenge, saying the slaying was "unrelated to any act" by police.

Attorney Bobby G. Henry Jr., who represented White's family, urged the U.S. Department of Justice to join the investigation.

"Something is dreadfully wrong with our system," he said.

County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey said his office would convene a grand jury to review evidence in the case. He said investigators were scrutinizing seven correctional officers who had access to White, who was being held separately from other inmates. Ivey also said other workers at the county jail and inmates would be questioned.

"We'll follow the evidence wherever it leads," he said.

Rich Wolf, an FBI spokesman in Baltimore, confirmed that the agency had opened a civil rights case, but he would not comment on the investigation. Calls to state police were not immediately returned.

White's death is the latest in a series of security lapses at the jail, which is 20 miles outside Washington in one of Maryland's largest counties. Last month, the county's corrections director was fired after guns vanished from the armory. In February, a former police official convicted of second-degree murder was found with a handcuffs key.

A corrections officer suspected of being a gang member was charged in March with bringing cell phones to inmates who were members of the Bloods street gang. And earlier this year, two female officers were suspended for allegedly having sexual contact with inmates.

More than 450 guards work at the 20-year-old facility, which had an average daily population of 1,489 prisoners during the 2007 fiscal year. White was being held in a cell by himself, to protect him from other prisoners, because of the high profile of his alleged crime.

"This shouldn't happen," Johnson said Monday night. "Every citizen we bring into our custody should be protected."

Curtis Knowles, head of the county's correctional officers union, said Tuesday that union lawyers advised him not to comment on the case because of the investigation. On Monday, he urged people not to reach any conclusions before the investigation had run its course.

Corrections officials have said White had no visible signs of trauma on his body when guards bringing him a meal found him slumped on the floor next to his bed about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. He had been checked 15 minutes earlier and appeared to be well. A preliminary autopsy by the state medical examiner in Baltimore ruled the death a homicide and found two broken bones in his neck.

None of the seven guards or an unspecified number of supervisors who could have had contact with White have been suspended or placed on leave during the investigation, according to Vicki Duncan, spokeswoman for the corrections division.

White had a prior criminal record that included serving time for drug charges.

Members of his family did not attend a news conference Tuesday held by their attorney, and they could not be immediately reached.

Findley, 39, was a 10-year veteran of the county police force. A funeral was scheduled for Thursday, and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff until then.

Corrections Officer Arrested in Jail Sex Case

A corrections officer from the Saline County Sheriff's Office was arrested Monday in connection with a sex case involving three inmates at the Saline County Jail.

Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says that 27-year-old Eric Taylor was fired, and arrested, on Monday. He is accused of inappropriately touching three female inmates at the Saline County Jail on June 24th.

According to Kochanowski, Taylor was arrested following a simultaneous criminal and internal affairs investigation. Investigators believe that this was a one time event, and had not been on-going.

Taylor had been employed since June of 2006 as a corrections officer at the sheriff's office. He could face felony charges that include three counts of unlawful sexual relations by a law enforcement officer with an inmate over the age of sixteen.