Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Deputy Erin White Arrested for Disorderly Conduct


An off-duty Orange County sheriff's deputy has been released from jail after being arrested Sunday for getting into a verbal altercation with Orlando police officers.

Police said they were trying to take a man into custody around 2:30 a.m. Sunday in Downtown Orlando, when his girlfriend, off-duty deputy Erin White, got into a verbal altercation with authorities.

White, 28, was arrested and booked into the Orange County jail. She was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

White has been an Orange County deputy for less than a year.

It was unknown if White's boyfriend faces any charges.

Officer Mark Garcia Charged with Trashing Home

A former sheriff’s deputy in Dixie and Levy counties turned himself in Tuesday evening on a charge that he trashed someone’s home before flooding it with a hose.

Mark Antonio Garcia, 38, was charged with felony criminal mischief for the Oct. 17 incident in rural Dixie County. He was released on his own recognizance after being booked into the Dixie County Jail where he once worked.

Garcia worked for the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office three times for a total of about 9 1/2 years. Some of his time with the agency was as a correctional officer at the county jail and some of the time was as a law enforcement deputy. Employment records for the two counties show Garcia resigned from Dixie County about a year ago to accept a a job with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office. Garcia had worked as an investigator in the Levy County criminal investigations unit until his resignation on Friday.

According to court records, Garcia had been drinking Oct. 17 before he asked James “Buddy” Smith to drive him to his home in Levy County. While enroute, Garcia reportedly asked Smith to stop at all the bars along the way to find a former girlfriend whom he believed had his keys and wallet. Garcia also asked Smith to stop at Curtis Ray Snellgrove’s home, according to authorities. Investigators said Garcia and Snellgrove had both dated the same woman at different times.

Deputy Leslie Brannin said Smith told him that he parked outside a locked gate at Snellgrove’s home but had parked with his headlights pointed toward the residence. According to Brannin, Smith said he waited in the truck listening to music while Garcia took Smith’s flashlight and appeared to move around the property with it. According to authorities, when Garcia returned to the truck, he was reportedly laughing when he told Smith that he tore up the washer and dryer and turned on the waterhose, letting water run into the home.

Brannin said that when the residents returned to the home, the damage they found, in addition to water damage from the washing machine hose, included a waterline broken at the pump, the satellite dish moved, the security system tampered with, a large rock thrown through double-pane windows in the living room and the bottom of the back door damaged.

Officer Robert Melia Jr Accused of Molesting 3 Girls and Performing Sex Acts on Cows Pleads Not Guilty

A suspended Moorestown police officer who is accused of molesting three young girls pleaded not guilty yesterday in Superior Court in Burlington County.

Robert Melia Jr., 38, also pleaded not guilty to official misconduct, as well as to animal cruelty. In addition to the molestation charges, Melia is accused of performing sex acts on cows in Southampton.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office began investigating Melia after one of the girls reported an assault to her relative. She later told authorities she had been assaulted repeatedly inside Melia's Moorestown home.

Melia was arrested in April, along with his girlfriend, Heather Lewis, who is charged separately with sexually assaulting a juvenile male.

Melia, who was a patrolman, has been free on $410,000 bail since June.

If convicted, Melia and Lewis could spend the rest of their lives in prison, authorities said.

Detective Patrick Bannan Accused of Pressuring Rape Victim to Drop Complaint

A DETECTIVE pressured an alleged rape victim to drop her complaint after security footage revealed the man she was accusing was his own son, a court heard yesterday.

Sen-Det Patrick Bannan, 50, repeatedly rang the woman and had secret meetings with her in a bid to gain her sympathy and persuade her to change her mind, Bendigo Magistrates' Court was told.

He allegedly tried to manipulate her into believing her case had no merit and that it would become a "circus" if the matter went to court.

On one occasion at her home Sen-Det Bannan allegedly broke down crying and told her how stressful it was for his wife, and asked what he should tell his son her decision was.

The court heard the woman went to hospital saying she thought she had been raped on January 15 last year after a night out at a local hotel.

The woman said she had little recollection of the night, remembered seeing two male figures in her home and believed she had been drugged.

Sen-Det Bannan was one of the two main detectives investigating her allegations.

But he stood down from the case three days later when security footage showed his teenage son, Ainsley, and nephew Brenton McKinnon with the woman at the hotel.

The court heard that in a series of phone calls and meetings, Sen-Det Bannan told her she had collapsed at a cab rank and the boys came to her aid before driving her home.

She was also told she was "all over his son" in the car before dragging him into her bedroom and having sex.

"Patrick (Bannan) went on to say that if this goes to court it's going to be a 'circus' and that nothing will come of it," she said in a statement to the Office of Police Integrity.

Prosecutors dropped six charges against Sen-Det Bannan's son and nephew.

Sen-Det Bannan, of Kangaroo Flat, faces two counts of perverting the course of justice and four of using a position improperly to gain advantage.

The preliminary hearing before magistrate Jonathan Klestadt continues today.

Officer Lonnie Edwards Accused of being a Peeping Tom


A 15 year APD veteran officer is under investigation-- accused of being a peeping tom.

Lonnie Edwards' attorney says-- his client allegedly peeped through a window of a home on San Gabriel Street last month.That's in the West Campus area where thousands of college students live.A woman inside that home called police.

Some UT students say they can't believe an uniformed officer would do such a thing. UT junior, Rachel Coco says,"that's creepy cause that's supposed to be an authority figure."

UT sophomore, Matthew Hardin says, "it's a cop, it's somebody who's supposed to be protecting us and he's creeping in on windows. It's kind of weird."

And UT sophomore Daniel Bell-Garcia says, "that people think they are above the law once they are in that position and they use that position to their advantage which is unfair and kind of scary."

There is an internal affairs investigation open.

Edwards is on paid administrative leave and could face possible criminal and disciplinary action.


Chief LeDuff Speaks out about Officer Incidents Including Rape Charges

Several Baton Rouge police officers ended up on the other side of the law recently. The latest, an officer accused of simple rape. Tuesday, police chief Jeff LeDuff spoke out for the first time about the incidents and what you can expect from the city's finest.

First, Officer Ed Coulter was involved in a wreck and placed on administrative leave back on November third. Coulter was off duty and a test administered after the crash indicated alcohol was involved. Then, officer Jerald Holmes was arrested November fourth for allegedly falsifying time sheets he submitted to an extra duty employer. Now corporal Jeffery Scott Webb faces an alleged rape charge in Livingston parish. Chief LeDuff said, "I have men and women out here right now and yeah they wear it. We all wear it. We've had three incidents back to back and its not common for our department. You don't see this very often in our department."

Chief LeDuff says the justice system will process them like everyone else. The chief made no apologies only vowing to run the best department he can. Chief LeDuff said, "it's our job to find, recruit, train and give Baton Rouge the absolute best that we can and sometimes your best is just not good enough and so know we are not gonna waiver from this. We are going to continue to do the job. We continue to put our best foot forward and this too shall pass."

Because of civil service rules and legal issues the chief could not get specific about any of the recent alleged incidents. As of Tuesday night, officer Clouter is still on administrative leave, Jerald Holmes resigned from the force after his arrest and officer Webb is still being held without bond.