Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Officer John Barnett Arrested for Fraud

Diamonds, apparently, are not a man's best friend.

A Franklin Square man who works as a police officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been arrested and charged with filing a fraudulent $28,375 insurance claim for a diamond ring he reported missing -- while his fiancee was still wearing the 2.3-carat sparkler.

John Barnett, 40, of Franklin Square was arrested Sept. 12 by Investigator Rosalind Thomas of the New York State Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau, assisted by New York City Police. He was released with no bail.

The insurance department has turned the case over to the Queens district attorney's integrity bureau. An MTA spokesman said Barnett has been suspended without pay.

Forrest Hills attorney Michael Dreishpoon, who represents Barnett, said his client entered a not guilty plea when he was arrested.

"I am still investigating the allegations," Dreishpoon said yesterday.

Barnett, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, bought the diamond for $15,000 in July 2006 from USAA, a San Antonio, Texas, insurance company that provides services for current and former military personnel. Barnett then had the diamond put into a $2,200, 18-karat gold setting and insured it in December 2006 with USAA for $28,375, officials said.

Early in 2007, Barnett reported that he lost the ring while taking it to a jeweler to be cleaned and filed an insurance claim with USAA, officials said.

State insurance spokesman Ron Klug said his department and USAA began investigating the case around the same time. "The insurance company was suspicious because he brought the policy in December 2006 and a short time later, in April 2007, reported it missing," Klug said.

Barnett is charged with insurance fraud, a felony, and could be sentenced to 21/3 to 7 years in prison if convicted.


Officer Skip Brinkley Accused of Murder Thought of as a Nice Guy


People in this quiet countryside knew Iraq war veteran Skip Brinkley as a friendly, peaceable man – “the perfect neighbor,” one of his neighbors said Monday.

Brinkley and his fiancée, Jennifer Foutty, bought about 35 acres on Fox Winkler Road about a year ago, built a barn at the base of a mountain and had recently started constructing a house.

The image is in stark contrast to the crimes he's accused of: Authorities say Brinkley shot two Caldwell County sheriff's deputies Friday night, one fatally, before fleeing.

They were still searching for him Monday evening but had gotten no strong leads nor any confirmed sightings. SWAT teams stood on standby in case someone spots him.

Investigators focused on canvassing the neighborhood around the Brinkley property for information, while an N.C. Highway Patrol helicopter flew over the area and deputies guarded children at nearby Oak Hill Elementary School.

Brinkley, an S.C. native who recently changed his name from Larry Wayne Brucke Jr., had given neighbors no inkling of a violent nature.

In fact, his neighbor across the road, Elaine Hatley, said he wanted to shield his family from harm, recently mentioning to her that he didn't want anybody hunting on his property “because he didn't want guns around his children.”

News of the shootings stunned Hatley. “I never saw this side of him,” she said, “and as far as I was concerned, he was the perfect neighbor to me.”

Brinkley has no criminal record in North Carolina but was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault and battery in his home state in 2004, according to S.C. Law Enforcement Division records.

But his service in the Army appears to have been commendable, according to his service record. Brinkley received the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

He joined the N.C. National Guard in 1994. He was stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky., on active duty from June 1996 to June 1999 before being transferred to the Army's Individual Ready Reserve and discharged in February 2002.

In December 2005, Brinkley enlisted in the N.C. Army National Guard, holding the rank of specialist when he served in Iraq with the National Guard from May 2006 to April 2007.

Since May, he's been in the Army's Individual Ready Reserve, available to fill vacancies in Army Reserve units and replace soldiers in active and reserve units.

“He just looks like a regular soldier who did his job,” Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, said Monday after reviewing his public military service record.

In Oak Hill, he pursued a quiet, domestic life in the foothills between Lenoir and Taylorsville.

Hatley said Brinkley and Foutty built an apartment onto the end of the barn they had constructed for their horses and mules, living there with Foutty's three children while their house was being built.

The family became acquainted with Hatley, a retiree who said Brinkley occasionally stopped at her home to check on her well-being. He even granted her a favor recently.

Hatley's grandfather originally owned the property Brinkley bought, and she had asked him if she could have a few of the large rocks her grandfather had used to build the foundation and chimney of his farmhouse, which burned years ago.

“One day, he came up with a tractor and a load of rocks and put them around the front of my house where I wanted them,” Hatley said. “He was proud of what he did with (my grandfather's) place, and he showed me around.”

Last Friday, Hatley noticed Brinkley working mules on his farm. He'd hitched them to a one-seat wagon and was driving them up and down Fox Winkler Road, a narrow ribbon of blacktop with no striping.

Then that night, Hatley and other neighbors heard gunshots, but Hatley didn't pay any attention because guns are a common part of country life.

Then she and the rest of Oak Hill learned what had happened. They mourned for the family of sheriff's Deputy Adam William Klutz, the rookie officer who died early Saturday after being shot in the head. Lt. Chris Martin, who was backing up Klutz on a 911 hang-up call from the Brinkley home, survived three gunshots to the chest, saved by a bullet-proof vest.

Colleagues said Klutz, a Granite Falls native, had an easy smile and happy nature.

“He had a bright career ahead of him,” said Caldwell sheriff's spokesman B.J. Fore.

“I feel for the family of the officer,” Hatley said. “I'm praying for them every day, and I know that won't bring him back. I'm also praying for Skip.”

-- The Charlotte Observer

Police in 3 precincts accused of writing fake summonses

Nearly six months after two rookie cops in Queens were accused of writing bogus summonses, Internal Affairs is now investigating officers in three other precincts for the same wrongdoing, according to police sources.

Sources told Newsday in May that the two rookies were working at the 113th Precinct in the early spring when they wrote 40 red-light and seat-belt summonses in one tour - a number considered difficult to reach because the officers were working regular patrol, responding to 911 calls.

A few days later their supervising sergeant determined the officers had submitted fraudulent overtime - claiming the summonses were written while working extra hours, police sources said.

The rookies were suspended, served their 30-day suspensions and have been on modified assignment ever since. The department has not publicly identified them, and it was not clear if they will be further disciplined.

Chief of Internal Affairs Charles Campisi did not respond to requests for comment, and the NYPD would only confirm the rookies are still on modified assignment.

A source close to Campisi says that shortly after the rookies' tickets were scrutinized Internal Affairs learned of other officers who may have written suspicious tickets.

The source wouldn't identify where those other cops are assigned, but two other sources familiar with the matter said the growing probe involves the 102nd, 103rd and 105th precincts. The sources also said at least several officers are under suspicion.

Steve Worth, a lawyer for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, declined to comment.

Problems involving phony tickets is nothing new.

An officer with the Housing Bureau is under investigation for writing about 80 such tickets.

And last August four NYPD traffic enforcement agents were arrested after Internal Affairs caught them making up infractions so they could fill out tickets and spend the rest of their shifts hanging out.

Two of the agents pleaded guilty to forgery and were placed on probation, and the other two pleaded to disorderly conduct and were then conditionally discharged.

UPDATE: Former Sheriff Mike Burgess Pleads Not Guilty

Former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess has pleaded not guilty to 36 charges of forcing female inmates to provide sexual favors.

Burgess entered the plea during arraignment Tuesday in Major County District Court where the hearing was held to accommodate the judge.

Burgess faces charges of rape, rape by instrumentation, kidnapping, sexual battery and oral sodomy of female drug court participants.

Several women testified during a preliminary hearing they were afraid they'd be sent to prison if they didn't give in to Burgess' sex demands.

Trial is set for Dec. 1 in Custer County but defense attorney Steve Huddleston says he'll decide within two weeks whether to ask for a change of venue.

Veteran Tulsa Officer Investigated for Sexual Misconduct

A Tulsa police officer is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.

The alleged incident happened early Monday morning while he was on patrol in south Tulsa. The officer has been suspended with pay while the police department's sex crimes squad investigates the allegations.

The 32-year-old officer is assigned to Uniform Division Southwest. He is a seven-year veteran of the Tulsa police force.

Police say the officer picked up a 32-year-old Owasso woman who was walking alone near 39th and Sheridan after midnight Sunday night. He allegedly told her she had an outstanding warrant, which was later determined to have been taken care of. The officer allegedly asked the woman for sex, but she refused.

"She alleges, gave information to us, that the officer inappropriately fondled her and exposed himself to her," says Chief Ron Palmer.

Palmer says the allegations are now a part of a complex criminal investigation. The victim has undergone a rape victim's examination and hair samples and clothing stains are being looked at.

"There may be additional tests," Palmer says. "We've got his police car that we're doing forensics on. The investigation began yesterday and is continuing today."

Chief Palmer says investigations like this don't happen very often. He adds allegations of sexual misconduct against his officers are a rarity and that it will take several more days to complete the report and turn it over to the district attorney for possible criminal charges.

Former Deputy Amanda Wolf Charged with Stealing Confiscated Marijuana

A former Rock Island County sheriff’s deputy charged with stealing and delivering confiscated marijuana was arrested during a traffic stop Tuesday in Milan, Ill.

Amanda Wolf, 33, of Milan, is charged with a felony count of official misconduct in Rock Island County Circuit Court.

According to the charges, Wolf stole the confiscated marijuana from the Metropolitan Enforcement Group, where she was assigned at the time.

A nationwide search warrant was issued for Wolf, but Chris Endress, MEG director, said Rock Island County sheriff’s deputies arrested Wolf during a traffic stop.

“We’re glad that the arrest is made, and we can take this farther and get this thing completed,” Endress said.

Wolf has resigned from her job as a deputy and was believed to be residing in Texas, Endress said Monday. Endress said at the time of the incident, Wolf was on assignment with MEG — a covert, undercover narcotics operation in which local law enforcement officers are assigned to the group for periods of time.