Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UPDATE: Officer Will Remain Behind Bars

A Silverton policeman will remain behind bars as the courts process sex abuse charges against him and investigators ready a case for a grand jury that will consider the killing of a 20-year-old Irish citizen.

Officer Tony Gonzalez, who fatally shot an Irish national during a burglary call earlier this month, was arraigned in court Tuesday on sex abuse charges.

Cop in court for alleged sex abuse

Gonzalez was accused of molesting a teenage family member on at least 60 separate occasions. During his arraignment in court Tuesday, he was visibly emotional but said little.

Judge Joseph Ochoa rejected a bail request. Gonzalez is due back in court later in July.

He faces five counts of sex abuse and up to 13 years in prison, if convicted.

Gonzalez was booked into jail on Sunday. According to a Probable Cause Statement written by investigators, the victim told police that “The first incident of sexual abuse occurred when she was in the sixth or seventh grade.”

The abuse eventually stopped. But, it started up again last week, say investigators. The victim, accompanied by her mother, reported the abuse to police on Saturday.

Officer Gonzales was already on paid leave and under intense scrutiny after the June 30th shooting of A.J. Hanlon.

The 35-year old officer was responding to a burglary call when he shot and killed the Irish national in Silverton.

Prosecutors say the two cases are unrelated and will be handled independently.

Gonzales is scheduled to appear in a Marion County courtroom tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: Officer Xavier Herrera to Remain in Custody

Two defendants-including an East Chicago, Ind., police officer-accused of conspiracy to possess and distribute three kilograms of cocaine remained in federal custody after a hearing Wednesday at the Dirksen Federal Building.

Officer Xavier Herrera, 47 was arrested on July 3 after he tried to purchase $60,000 worth of cocaine from an informant working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a federal complaint. Chicago residents Juan Gutierrez, 29, and Fredrick Farmer, 34, were also arrested. Farmer was the ultimate purchaser of the drug, and Gutierrez was brokering the transaction with Herrera, according to the complaint.

At Wednesday's hearing, Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox announced that Herrera, who was led into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs with Farmer and Gutierrez, will remain in federal custody until Friday, when it will be decided whether or not he will be released on bond. Herrera's attorney, Frank Cece Jr., said the decision was not reached today because of "paperwork that has yet to be gathered."

At the time of Herrera's arrest, the officer signed a written statement admitting to his role in the drug ring, according to the complaint. However, when asked about the statement Cece replied, "The charging documents are not accurate relative to any involvement he may have had."

"He's an 18-year vet. He has several commendations, no criminal background," Cece said. "He's a good and decent guy."

The U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on Cece's statement about the charging documents.

While Farmer also remains in federal custody after waiving his right to a detention hearing, Gutierrez was released on conditions including that he turn over his passport, enroll in a substance abuse program, relinquish any firearms and remain in northern Illinois. The news came as a relief to Gutierrez's family, who filled much of the courtroom.

"We all want him home, and hopefully we get this all behind us and move on," said Gutierrez's brother, Luis Ruiz. "Hopefully it works out for everybody," he added. "You hate to see anybody put away."

Man Dies Hours after Officers Use Taser on Him

A man accused of burglarizing a home has died at Memorial Hermann Hospital hours after police used a Taser to subdue him hours earlier in northeast Houston.

The burglary suspect was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 a.m. Monday at the northwest branch of Memorial Hermann.

The suspect had tried to run from the location of a burglary on the 2700 block of Galaxy, according to Houston police.

Four other suspects were found in the home when officers arrived. An officer chased the runaway suspect and ended up in a struggle with him in a wooded area near the 9700 block of North Wayside Drive a short time later.

A back-up officer responded to his call for help and told his partner to step away before he fired his Taser once at the suspect.

The suspect was still combative, so the officer said he reloaded his Taser and fired it again, finally subduing the man.

The suspect went into convulsions for approximately fifteen minutes after the second Taser attempt by officers.

Police say the suspect was then taken to the hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead.

The officer who fought with the suspect was taken by ambulance to the hospital suffering from heat exhaustion. After he was treated for a few hours, the officer was able to go home, according to Houston Police Department spokesman John Cannon.

The four people who stayed in the house were taken to the police station for questioning.

The Harris County Medical Examiner will determine what caused the death of the suspect.

Cannon said that before this incident, HPD officers had deployed their Tasers 1,600 times since December 2004. He added that the Medical Examiner has yet to rule that a Taser has been the cause of any injury or death.

Moving Company Owned By Police Officer Accused Of Holding Furniture

DeLAND, Fla.

Customers who claim they were cheated by a local moving company were stunned to find out the owner wears a badge.

By day Detective Ignatius Jones takes aim at crime for the DeLand Police Department but found consumers who want Detective Jones investigated.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Jones.

Jones co-owns T and J Moving and Storage in DeLand. It's a company Scott Chapman claims took him for a ride.

"It felt like ransom," said Chapman.

Chapman says an online moving broker gave him a $3,000 estimate to move from Tulsa to Ocala. T and J Moving got the job and Chapman claimed the bill was more than twice the estimate.

"$8,300," said Chapman.

Scott feared that if he didn’t pay, the drivers would drive off with all his stuff.

"I didn't think I would get them back unless I paid the money," said Chapman.

A former employee of T and G Moving says it was no accident. He says the company held customers' belongings hostage all the time.

"He's done it to every customer I had this week," said Kenny Dozier.

Dozier claims he quit T and J Moving after just 10 days because he was ordered to run up the bills.

"He charged them double what's on the contract and it's a written contract," said Dozier.

Florida's moving law prohibits a company from demanding cash only and it can't hold belongings hostage for payment.

"I don't know what's going on," said Jones, one of the company’s co-owners.

T and J Moving's other co-owner, Tev-el Benoon, said Dozier and several employees stole from the company. He said final bills only increased when customers added furniture or services.

Benoon himself, faces arraignment next month for a worthless check charge.

His customer, Scott Chapman, filed a complaint with the state.

"Where are the regulations? Where are these people," asked Chapman.

It was discovered Jones and Benoon had owned All American Van Lines, that shut down after a history of complaints.

DeLand Police said this is a personal matter for Detective Jones.

A number of mover complaints filed with the Division of Consumer Services has doubled in just a year.

When moving, insist on a binding written estimate, and whenever possible pay with a credit card, so you can dispute any questionable charges.

Drew Peterson Lawyers Seek to Dismiss Gun Charges

A Will County judge heard arguments Monday on whether to dismiss all felony gun charges against former Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson, who is suspected in the Oct. 28 disappearance of his wife, Stacy.

A grand jury last week indicted Peterson on two counts of unlawful use of a weapon for allegedly owning an assault rifle that was nearly 5 inches shorter than allowed by state law. The rifle was seized by authorities last fall as search warrants were executed in the Stacy Peterson case.

Drew Peterson's attorneys, Joel Brodsky and Andrew Abood, argued that under the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, Peterson was authorized to carry and possess the weapon despite a state law that says an assault rifle must be 16 inches long. The federal law permits law-enforcement officers and retired law-enforcement officers in good standing to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the U.S., regardless of most state or local laws.

His attorneys said Peterson used the semiautomatic assault rifle while he was a police officer, which makes him an exception under state and federal laws.

Drew Peterson news "Mr. Peterson was qualified to use this gun by his own [department]," Abood said. "This is a very unique area of the law."

But Assistant State's Atty. John Connor countered that Peterson was not charged with carrying a concealed weapon, but with possession of an illegal weapon, which he argued was not protected by the federal act. He pointed to literature from the National Rifle Association as an example of responsible gun owners knowing the difference between "carrying" and "possessing" weapons, and chastised that police officers, of all people, should know the difference.

"The people's position is this: The weapon as currently confiscated is illegal," Connor said.

Judge Richard Schoenstedt said he expected to make his ruling July 30.

After the court hearing, Brodsky produced documents for reporters that he said came from the Bolingbrook Police Department proving that it knew Peterson had the gun.

A Bolingbrook police spokesman, Lt. Ken Teppel, acknowledged there was a department document saying Peterson had a personal assault rifle as a secondary weapon. While Peterson had qualified to shoot the gun in 2005 or 2006 at a training session, he had never received permission from the police chief to carry it on duty, Teppel said. He also questioned whether the weapon had been modified at the time of the training.

At the news conference, Brodsky said the length of the barrel at the training session was irrelevant.

Peterson, 54, was arrested in April shortly before he was to regain possession of his weapons from state police, who had seized them as part of their investigation into his missing wife, Stacy, who was 23 when she disappeared. A week after Peterson's arrest, Schoenstedt ordered state police to return eight of Peterson's weapons to his son Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer. Peterson's firearm owner's identification card has been revoked.

The gun at the center of Peterson's felony case has remained in police custody.

Authorities also are conducting a murder investigation into the 2004 drowning of Peterson's previous wife, Kathleen Savio. Peterson has not been charged in either case involving his spouses and maintains he has done nothing wrong.

After the court hearing, Peterson said he was feeling "comfortable with everything that took place today."

When asked if he feels as though he's a target of state police, Peterson told reporters, "You think? Oh, yeah."

Officer Charged with Public Intoxication & Disorderly Conduct


Prosecutors charged a city police officer with a pair of misdemeanors Monday saying he tried to provoke another man into fighting several months ago.

Prosecutor Thomas Broderick Jr. charged Anderson Police Officer Lincoln C. Brooks, 43, on Monday with public intoxication and disorderly conduct, both Class B misdemeanors, and provocation, a Class C infraction. The prosecutor claims Brooks tried to goad Mark A. Kumkoski into fighting him outside Kumkoski’s Home Avenue residence April 7.

Brooks, a 10-year department veteran currently assigned to desk duty, declined comment Monday. Police Chief Darron Sparks couldn’t be reached for comment.

Brooks’ attorney, Bryan Williams, said the officer realizes his mistake and wants to move on.

“We are pleased that it finally got charged,” Williams said, “because he’s ready to get it behind him and move on with his career.”

Broderick said he had two years to file charges, and he wanted to make sure the charges fit the allegations.

“I take the decision to file criminal charges as a serious matter,” the prosecutor said. “He’s entitled to fair review and deliberate review before the charges are filed.”

Brooks will not be arrested. Anderson City Court Prosecutor Eric Saltzmann said a summons will be sent to his home, citing him to make an initial court appearance on Aug. 1. A Class B misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 180 days behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed with the charges:

Kumkoski, 40, called police, after Brooks showed up at his home at about 4:45 a.m., banged on his door and tried goading him into a fight. Brooks was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the incident.

Officers arrived at the scene and took Brooks into custody and then to the police station. Brooks wasn’t arrested that day. Instead, he was questioned and released into the custody of a family member several hours later.

He admitted to drinking several beers before going to Kumkoski’s home, and “admitted that he intended to fight Kumkoski,” according to the affidavit. “(Brooks) stated that due to personal issues that he and Mr. Kumkoski had been having he decided to go to Kumkoski’s house to confront him and settle their differences.”

Brooks, who makes $42,000 a year, was placed on paid administrative leave until returning June 19 to serve desk duty, Williams said.

Kumkoski previously said that Brooks was dating his ex-wife. Kumkoski couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday. Saltzmann said Kumkoski doesn’t face any criminal charges.

“He is not going to be charged with any crime as a result of this incident,” Saltzmann said.

Sgt. William Casey, APD spokesman, said any discipline Brooks could face won’t be decided until the legal case has been adjudicated, likely in mid-September.

Williams said Brooks’ record with the department will likely minimize any discipline he receives.

“I’m confident that they’ll not seek termination,” the attorney said, “but I won’t speculate beyond that.

“What helps Linc when it comes to the department is his 10 years of clean conduct. He’s a good guy who’s very well thought of by the department and the community. He’s human.”

Brooks was given the police department’s Combat Cross Award in February for having faced an armed suspect. Brooks shot to death Cheyenne Miller, 27, in April 2007 after Miller pulled a knife that resembled a gun inside a darkened garage in the 400 block of West 34th Street.

Officers had gone to a house where Miller had been staying, also on West 34th, to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. An internal investigation cleared Brooks of any wrongdoing.

“Linc’s interest in getting this behind him is because he’s been on the department for 10 years without a write-up and now this hits him,” Williams said. “It’s caused him a lot of stress that not only he has embarrassed his family, but also the department.”

Boston Officer Accused of Choking Wife


A Boston police officer has been accused of choking his wife during an argument over the Fourth of July.

Antonio Rotger, 54, is on administrative leave and facing domestic violence charges.

Police said the assault happened while Rotger and his wife were vacationing in Florida.

Police said Rotger appeared drunk at the time of his arrest.

Officer Accused of Fraudulent Overtime


A 23-year veteran of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is being investigated for allegedly collecting up to $200,000 in overtime -- fraudulently.

Police are looking into whether she falsified her time sheets in order to collect the overtime.

Police said the officer turned in her badge and gun and has been reassigned to desk duty while the investigation continues. The officer will still continue to collect her normal salary.

According to D.C. Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham, the investigation has been handed over to the U.S. Attorney's office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.

The officer, who works are a firearms expert in the training division, allegedly submitted bogus time sheets, which sources say could amount up to $200,000 in fraudulent overtime payments.

Police say this was an isolated incident and no one else is under investigation.

This story reminds us that excessive overtime has long been a problem that plagues D.C. government agencies and costs the city money.

UPDATE: Officer Accused of Receiving Stolen Property


A Mount Gilead police officer was taken back into custody after several stolen items were allegedly found inside his home late last week.

Officer Joseph Q. Hughes, 26, of Bellville, was charged with five new counts of breaking and entering, grand theft and evidence tampering.

According to the Morrow County Sheriff's Office, police and deputies executed search warrants at two locations and found several stolen items, including an air conditioning unit that was located at the county courthouse.

Hughes was fired from his police officer job, according to the Morrow County sheriff.

Last week other air conditioning units were found at Hughes' house near the Richland-Morrow county line and another location, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Hughes posted a $500,000 bond on Wednesday before the warrants were executed later in the week.

Officer Michael Roberts Accused of Corruption Pleads Not Guilty

Minneapolis Police officer Michael Roberts pleaded not guilty today to federal corruption charges.

Roberts’ attorney, F. Clayton Tyler, said Roberts never sought out the informant who allegedly gave Roberts $200 for information from the city’s and state’s computer systems. And he never asked for money, Clayton said.

Clayton called it "a typical case of entrapment."

Roberts' next appearance in federal court is Aug. 8 and his trial has been tentatively been set for Nov. 3.

Roberts, 57, a 29-year veteran of the department, was relieved of duty in April after the allegations came to light. On Monday, the grand jury indicted Roberts on two counts of depriving the citizens of Minnesota of his honest services and one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer.

According to the indictment:

On Aug. 9, 2007, Roberts met with a person, T.T., whom he understood was involved in criminal activity. During that meeting, Roberts put through an inquiry to the National Crime Information Center and obtained nonpublic information from the State Driver Vehicle System regarding a Minnesota license plate number. Roberts gave that information to T.T. in exchange for $100.

The following day, T.T. asked for more information. Roberts said he couldn't provide it at that time because he did not have a squad car. But on Aug. 14, Roberts met with T.T. in Roberts' squad car. At the beginning of the meeting, T.T. told Roberts that he was a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, and wanted information on someone who was allegedly providing information to police about T.T.'s drug dealing. Roberts accessed the Minneapolis Police Department's computer records system and provided information from the nonpublic portion of the system. Again, T.T. gave Roberts $100.

Shortly after taking the money, Roberts suspected that T.T. might be an informant, the indictment stated.

He filed a false police report, stating that when T.T. moved to shake Roberts' hand, he placed five $20 bills in the officer's hand. Roberts wrote that he later "property-inventoried" the money. But according to the indictment, the money was never put into inventory and Roberts instead "used it for his own private purposes."

Ron Edwards, a friend of Roberts and a member of the Police Community Relations Council, testified Monday before the grand jury that Roberts apparently then gave the money to him. Edwards said he accepted the money from Roberts without any reservations, considering it "a gift from a friend.'' Edwards said Roberts told him to use the money to buy a steak dinner for himself.

According to Edwards, Roberts explained he'd been given the money from an acquaintance in return for agreeing to look up information from the Police Department's computer system. That acquaintance, who reportedly told Roberts he needed the information because he'd supposedly been the victim of a crime, turned out to be the FBI's informant and a former cocaine dealer.

"I knew he [Roberts] had gotten the money from the informant,'' Edwards said.

Nothing in the indictment, however, says anything about T.T. asking for information on behalf of a crime victim.

Roberts is scheduled to appear in federal court at 11 a.m. today.

Dolan to comment today.

The Minneapolis Police Department declined to comment Monday because it hadn't seen a copy of the indictment, said spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia. Chief Tim Dolan will speak to the media about the indictment today, he said.

Roberts was one of two longtime Minneapolis police officers placed on paid administrative leave by Dolan in April. The other officer was Lt. Lee Edwards, one of five black officers suing the department over allegations of racial discrimination.

Lee Edwards, a former head of the Minneapolis Police Department's homicide unit, commanded the department's Fourth Precinct, on the North Side, until Dolan removed him from that job last summer. His removal followed allegations that he drove a squad car after drinking and made inappropriate sexual comments in front of colleagues.

Sources said an ongoing federal investigation, which resulted in Monday's indictment, played a role in Dolan's decisions.

Lt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, said: "These are really serious criminal allegations. But, because it's a criminal case, the union's not involved until it's over. And until that time, I really can't comment."

If convicted, Roberts faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of deprivation of honest services and up to five years for unauthorized access of a private computer.

Officer Accused of Stealing Money During a Traffic Stop


A man who spent the last several years serving and protecting south Louisiana communities now finds himself on the other side of the law.

The police chief in Brusly says this case surprised and sickened him all at the same time.

Officer Robert Williams is accused of stepping over the line to line his pockets, according to the chief.

Williams allegedly pulled a man over Thursday and while checking him found $2900 in one pocket and around $40 in another.

Detectives say Williams decided to help himself to the $2900. They say the money didn't make it to the police station, until it mysteriously showed up after people started asking questions.

Chief Jamie Whaley plans to return the money to the man. He says the man had just left a construction job and that's probably why he had so much cash on him.

Officer Williams has been suspended while the investigation into the matter continues.

Corrections Officer Elvis Wade Charged With Sexual Assault


A Sumner County corrections officer was fired in the wake of claims that he groped two female inmates.

Elvis Wade was arrested on Monday and charged with sexual battery.

A sheriff's department representative said the department has been investigating Wade for a few weeks.

According to a police affidavit, Wade touched women in the jail inappropriately and tried to bribe them so they wouldn't complain.