Friday, October 17, 2008

Corrections Officer Patrick Gee Found Guilty of Having Sex with Inmates

A guilty verdict against a former Fluvanna County corrections officer accused of sex crimes against inmates.

Patrick Gee was found guilty of four counts of carnal knowledge of an inmate.

The jury recommend two and half years in jail for each count. This conviction was for the accusations made by one inmate.

Gee will stand trial for accusations made by two other inmates starting next week.

Three inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for women accuse Patrick Gee of sexual abuse, alleging it happened over a two-year period.

Officer Russell Mecano Arrested for Forcing Women to Have Sex with Him

A Los Angeles police officer is under investigation for allegedly trying to force women he met while on duty to have sex with him, law enforcement sources said Friday.

Police officials confirmed that Officer Russell Mecano, an eight-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of soliciting a sex act, but declined to release further details in the case, saying a judge had ordered that court records in the ongoing probe remain secret. Specifically, the judge has ordered that a criminal indictment against Mecano be sealed.

Mecano, 40, was taken into custody at the West Los Angeles police station, where he worked as a patrol officer, LAPD spokesman Lt. John Romero said. He was released a short time later in lieu of $127,000 bail. Mecano is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 6.

Two law enforcement sources familiar with the case said the alleged victims were young women Mecano had met while on duty last summer. The sources said Mecano allegedly attempted to coerce women to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for not pursuing some sort of law enforcement action against them.

In one incident, detectives were investigating allegations that Mecano sexually assaulted a woman behind a building, sources said. In another incident, Mecano allegedly tried to force a woman to go to a motel with him, the sources said.

District attorney officials said they could not comment on the Mecano investigation because the case remains under seal.

Los Angeles Police Commission President Anthony Pacheco, who said he had been briefed on the probe, also declined to comment.

LAPD officials said they have ordered that Mecano be assigned to home pending the resolution of the investigation. A person answering the telephone at Mecano's residence Friday said he was not there.

LAPD Arrested Innocent People

Police have arrested innocent people due to faulty fingerprint analysis but have not determined how many cases were affected by such errors, police officials said.

A confidential police report details two cases in which charges were dropped after problems with the fingerprint analysis were discovered, the Los Angeles Times reported late Thursday. Police blame shoddy work and poor oversight for the mistakes.

"This is very, very serious," said Rhonda Sims-Lewis, chief of the Police Department's administrative and technical bureau. "We feel very compelled to take quick action when something like this arises. Guilty people can be set free and innocent people can be jailed."

One fingerprint analyst, who was involved in both the mishandled cases, was fired and three others were suspended last year after internal investigations, Sims-Lewis said. Two supervisors in the department's latent print unit were replaced.

"This is something of extraordinary concern," said Michael Judge, public defender for Los Angeles County. "Juries tend to afford the highest level of confidence to fingerprint evidence. This is the type of thing that easily could lead to innocent people being convicted."

The report details the case of a pregnant hospital technician who was charged with breaking into a store in February 2006 because of an erroneous fingerprint identification. The department said prints in that case were lost and could not be re-examined. The charge was dropped.

In another case, a man was extradited from Alabama to face burglary charges after an analyst matched his prints to those found at the scene. Two reviewers missed the mistake before a third caught it while preparing to testify at the trial.

The department has 78 forensic print specialists who run prints from a crime scene through automated databases to analyze possible matches. Two other analysts check each match for accuracy.

Department officials described a poorly run operation in which records and evidence were lost or misplaced.

"People were reviewing the work of friends and just rubber stamping it without really reviewing it," said Yvette Sanchez-Owens, commanding officer of the department's scientific investigation division.

Critics said the internal report challenges a belief that forensic matches are reliable.

Jack Weiss, chairman of the City Council's public safety committee, said there was "nothing more basic and more bread and butter than fingerprints. You have to be able to take each one of them to the bank." He said he will hold hearings on the issue and call fingerprint lab employees to testify.

"We want to know the extent of it and whether it affects any other cases. We want to know how far back it goes," he said.

Police officials had initially planned to hire an outside expert last year to review the fingerprints unit but could not get the $325,000 to $450,000 to fund the effort.

Sim-Lewis said she believes no innocent people have been convicted of crimes due to fingerprint mistakes by her department, but she acknowledged there was no way to be sure without a full review.

"We still want outside eyes to come in and make sure we're doing things right," she said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for district attorney's office, said her office was investigating how prosecutors could better guard against faulty evidence.

Family Wants Trooper Dale Derr Fired

The family of a Finksburg man who died in a 2006 collision with a Maryland State Police trooper on Md. 140 has asked the governor to remove the trooper from the state police force after an alleged incident with the dead man’s brother Sunday.

A lawyer for Joseph Blizzard, whose brother Randy Rakes died after being struck by trooper Dale Derr’s patrol car while he was walking across Md. 140 in November 2006, has asked Gov. Martin O’Malley to terminate Derr after Derr allegedly confronted Blizzard after he’d been arrested Sunday.

According to the letter to O’Malley from lawyer David Ellin, who represents Rakes’ family, Derr responded to the scene where Blizzard was being detained by other troopers, then verbally and physically confronted Blizzard before throwing him to the ground, allegedly breaking Blizzard’s thumb.

Blizzard’s arrest involved allegations of forging checks, Ellin said.

Randy Rakes’ death is the subject of a $15.8 million wrongful death suit between the family and the state police.

State police have received the complaint and are investigating the allegations, said spokesman Greg Shipley.

The agency will thoroughly investigate the complaint and, if warranted, take appropriate action, he said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Ellin said that because of the nature of the allegations and the history of the case, Derr should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

No charges were filed against Derr in the Nov. 29, 2006, incident that resulted in Rakes’ death.

A report by the state police crash team determined Derr was driving 83 mph when he struck Rakes on Md. 140 near the intersection of Sandymount Road.

State police initially said Derr was on his way to back up another trooper on a call, but Derr told investigators he’d finished his shift and was on his way back to the Westminster barrack to turn in paperwork when the crash occurred.

Rakes had been drinking the night of the incident, according to the report.

Prosecutors decided in May 2007 there wasn’t enough information to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Derr’s speed was the cause of the collision, said Kirsten Brown of the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, who handled the case.

Officer John Kersley in Jail for Aggravated Assault


A WaKeeney police officer remains in the Trego County jail pending the filing of aggravated assault charges.

Authorities, however, have yet to divulge details surrounding his arrest.

Formal charges have not yet been filed against officer John Kersley, 41, according to WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle. Bond has been set at $50,000. He has been an officer with the WaKeeney Police Department since November 2005, Eberle said.

Kersley was arrested at about 1 a.m. Tuesday in connection with an incident in WaKeeney.

Assistant Trego County Attorney Dave Basgall said he has been given until 10 a.m. Wednesday to file charges in connection with the incident.

Although he said he likely would file the charges before then, he said no additional information would be provided until that happens.

"As soon as charges are filed, if any, we anticipate doing a press release," he said.

Eberle also declined to provide any details concerning the nature of the incident or even where it happened, instead referring questions to Basgall.

Basgall said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident.

"I have not seen an official police report yet," Basgall said.

Eberle said Kersley is being kept in isolation in the Trego County jail.

Sheriff Reymundo Guerra Helped Aid Mexican Gulf Cartel

McALLEN, Texas

A South Texas sheriff arrested this week on drug trafficking charges made it easier for the Mexican Gulf Cartel to operate in his county and endangered fellow law enforcement agents by sharing names of confidential informants, a federal prosecutor said Friday.

FBI agents arrested Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra on Tuesday at his office in Rio Grande City. Guerra faces three counts of a sprawling 19-count indictment implicating him and 14 others in a drug smuggling conspiracy.

At his arraignment Friday, Guerra pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutor Toni Trevino asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos to hold Guerra without bond until his trial, contending the sheriff was a danger to the community.

"This is an issue of trust and he's shown he's willing to violate that trust," Trevino said.

Of particular concern to Ramos was that Starr County Judge Eloy Vera had said Guerra could resume his duties as sheriff pending trial.

Guerra's attorney Philip Hilder said Friday that Guerra would be willing to take a leave of absence if granted bond.

Guerra's wife, Severita Guerra, testified that her husband of 26 years was a devoted family man and active member of their Catholic church in Rio Grande City. She and two of Guerra's stepdaughters would guarantee his bond if the judge would grant it, Hilder said.

The judge said she would issue her ruling on the bond question Monday.

An indictment accuses Guerra of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana; accessory after the fact, for an alleged suggestion he made to a co-defendant to use false documents to avoid apprehension; and, facilitating the drug trafficking conspiracy through use of a telephone.

The first count alone carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life as well as a $4 million fine.

FBI agent Katherine Gutierrez testified about recorded phone conversations between Guerra and co-defendant Jose Carlos Hinojosa, a Mexico native living in Roma, Texas. Investigators allege Hinojosa worked for a member of the Zetas — the Gulf Cartel's enforcers.

Hilder said that Guerra shared information with Hinojosa because he believed he worked for the Mexican equivalent of the district attorney's office. Hinojosa had helped Guerra locate fugitives in the past, Hilder said.

But Gutierrez said the recorded conversations were not like those between fellow law enforcement officers.

Senior Constable Arrested for Drunk Driving


A police officer will appear in court next month after today being charged with a traffic offence after an incident at Bligh Park this week.

Shortly after 1am on Tuesday 14 October, police from Hawkesbury Local Area Command were conducting patrols of the Bligh Park area when they received reports a motorcycle was being ridden erratically.

Officers spotted the motorcycle a short time later and attempting to stop the machine.

The cycle was then followed at low speed before it eventually stopped at a house in Guardian Crescent.

The rider was arrested and taken to Windsor Police Station where he was identified as being a police officer attached to Penrith Local Area Command.

Late this afternoon, the 33-year-old senior constable was issued a court attendance notice for the offence of driving under the influence.

He will appear at Parramatta Local Court on November 28.

Former Trooper Richard Keener Now Accused of Drunk Driving

A former state police trooper from Bellefonte who was on probation for assaulting a woman in Clinton County is now accused of crashing his car into a utility pole while driving drunk, seriously injuring his wife.

Spring Township police say 40-year-old Richard Scott Keener was standing outside his vehicle on the 1200 block of Airport Road covered in blood around 9 p.m. Sept. 6 when police arrived at the scene.

Keener denied being the driver of the car, refused medical treatment, and told officers that his wife — who was laying across the front seat, unconscious, bloody and had a noticeably broken arm — was “just sleeping,” police said.

His wife, Brenda Keener, wasn’t sleeping. Police say her brain was bruised and bleeding, she had a broken arm, cuts on her face and shoulder, and her pelvis, vertebrae and two ribs were fractured.

Keener smelled like alcohol and told police he had two beers, police said. Two beer cans were found at the scene and Keener, who refused any field sobriety tests, was arrested and later found to have a blood alcohol level of .234 percent.

Two witnesses to the crash told police Keener was in the driver’s seat when they stopped to check on the car’s occupants.

Keener, who lives at 102 Marble Lane, was a trooper in the Lamar barracks when he was accused last year of raping a woman in her apartment. He pleaded guilty to lesser offenses of simple assault, indecent assault of unlawful restraint in exchange for no jail time, but nearly nine years of probation.

He is now in jail for violating his probation.

“Obviously this was a very serious accident in which he almost lost the life of his wife and even his actions after the accident indicate no real concern for her,” said District Attorney Michael Madeira. “So, we’re going to push hard on this one.”

Keener waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday and will face trial on aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and other related charges.

His wife is still hospitalized at a HealthSouth rehab center.

Officer Robert Forman Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Three Women

A Riverside police officer is under arrest, accused of committing sex crimes while on duty and in uniform, according to the Riverside police department.

Three alleged victims have accused Officer Robert A. Forman of sexually assaulting them in separate incidents in attacks that spanned from February to April, 2008

Forman, who is 38 years old, was arrested Wednesday and booked into Robert Presley Detention Center. Bail has been set at $50,000, according to officials. He faces charges of committing a sex act by using his authority as a public official and one count of sexual battery, according to officials with the Riverside County Superior Court.

Forman is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 12.

Police are asking anyone with information about the case to call Lt. Robert Meier at 951-353-7112.
More Information:

Former Deputy David Pennington Accused of Unauthorized Use of LE Database


Almost a year after his case was dismissed because of its conflict with a federal probe, a fired Licking County Sheriff's Office deputy has been indicted again.

David E. Pennington, who was fired June 12, 2007, has been accused of unauthorized use of a law-enforcement database, a fifth-degree felony, in connection with running license plates through the LEADS system between March 18, 2007, and March 27, 2007.

He allegedly ran the plates for a friend, who was under federal scrutiny, and would identify if the registration came back as "not in file" and advised that such a classification could indicate the plates belonged to law enforcement, according to an unsuccessful motion against sealing the dismissed case last year.

At that time, Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt said agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had refused to share the information with local prosecutors on the grounds it could compromise their investigation.

Without that information, Oswalt said he was concerned about not being able to provide full discovery to the defense. The case was killed in November 2007.

Oswalt declined to comment Friday except to say, "We received information that we needed and as a result the case was presented to grand jury."

A summons was issued for Pennington to make an initial appearance Nov. 3 at the courtroom in the Licking County Justice Center.