Friday, December 19, 2008

Trooper Andrew Mohan Arrested for Theft


Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced the arrest of Maryland State Police trooper Andrew A. Mohan, 36, following his indictment in Prince George’s County on charges of theft of money from the Maryland State Police and Misconduct in Office. The indictment alleges that Mohan stole money from the Maryland State Police (MSP) totaling over $3,200.

It is also alleged that TFC Mohan misused his official police duties to improperly access and disseminate restricted criminal records information and motor vehicle registration information in State and federal data systems. The pending case was investigated by the Maryland State Police and the Criminal Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

No trial date has been set.

While an indictment is merely an accusation of wrongdoing and every individual is presumed innocent unless the State proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, felony theft is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years or a fine of $25,000, or both. Misconduct in Office, a Common Law misdemeanor, is punishable by any sentence deemed not cruel and unusual.

Source: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

Officer Ernest Fimiano Jr Arrested for Assaulting His Girlfriend Will Avoid a Criminal Record

A former Forks Township police officer accused of assaulting his girlfriend was readmitted Friday into a state probationary program for first-time offenders, a move that will again allow him to avoid a criminal record.

Ernest D. Fimiano Jr., 44, of Palmer Township had been booted earlier from the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program after Northampton County Judge Paula Roscioli said she was unaware he was in law enforcement and had a drunken-driving charge pending in another county.

Fimiano was charged with simple assault and criminal mischief in the Dec. 24, 2007, fight with his girlfriend at her Forks Township home. He was accused of pushing Patricia Reilly into walls and breaking her cell phone during the dispute.

Fimiano was accepted into ARD in Columbia County in October, about a year after he was arrested on charges he led state troopers on a 40-mile chase east on Interstate 80 through Union, Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties.

In Friday's hearing, Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Taschner said someone placed into ARD for drunken driving is not ineligible for the program on other first-offense charges.

Reilly, who is now Fimiano's ex-girlfriend, wrote a letter also asking that he be let into the program. She said he has already been punished through the loss of his reputation, his livelihood and his driver's license.

''Isn't that enough?'' Reilly asked.

Forks police suspended Fimiano, a member of the force since 1999, after the drunken-driving arrest. He resigned a month after he was charged with assaulting Reilly.

In court, his attorney, Gregory Paglianite, said he doubts Fimiano will return to law enforcement soon, given the charges that were against him. He said the police chase was not as serious as has been described, and noted that Fimiano was hit by a car in April in an accident that landed him in the hospital.

Roscioli said she was satisfied that the probationary program was appropriate for Fimiano. She stressed that he is no longer a police officer, saying she had worried he had access to guns.

''That makes a big difference to me,'' Roscioli said. ''That was a major concern that I had.''

The ARD program allows first-time offenders to have the charges against them dropped provided they complete a period of probation and community service and pay fines and court costs. Roscioli also ordered Fimiano to have no weapons.

Sheriff Robert Chavez Arrested for Drunk Driving

The sheriff of Guadalupe County was arrested Friday morning in Santa Rosa and charged with drunken driving.

A state police spokesman says that Sheriff Robert Chavez was pulled over after running a stop sign.

Officials report that Chavez was not wearing a seatbelt and had open containers of alcohol in the car.

Chavez was booked into the De Baca County jail and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

More information:

Former Officer State Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate Arrested for Assault

State Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat, was arrested early Friday and accused of slashing his companion in the face with a broken drinking glass during an argument in his Jackson Heights apartment, the authorities said. He then drove her to a hospital outside the city, officials said, where she required 20 stitches.

Mr. Monserrate, 41, who is in his final days as a city councilman, was charged with second-degree assault, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, the police said. If Mr. Monserrate is convicted, state law requires that he be expelled from the Senate.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, after nearly 12 hours at the 105th Precinct headquarters in Queens, Mr. Monserrate, wearing a dark baseball hat and striped track pants, was led out in handcuffs and put into a police car. His lawyer was James Cullen.

At Mr. Monserrate’s arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on Friday evening, the assistant district attorney, Scott Kessler, said that Mr. Monserrate told the police he was bringing his companion, Karla Giraldo, 30, a glass of water and leaned over and tripped, and the glass hit her. But the prosecutor said that Ms. Giraldo later said that the couple had a “loud and boisterous” argument about an item he found in her purse. He was holding a glass, which broke in his hand, she told officers.

“Then, in emotion, he stabbed her,” Mr. Kessler said.

He said Ms. Giraldo was now saying that it was an accident and that she did not want an order of protection. Mr. Kessler noted that that was common in domestic violence cases.

The police searched Mr. Monserrate’s apartment and found broken glass and blood on towels.

“Basically, your honor, this appears to be an accident,” Mr. Cullen said. He noted Mr. Monserrate’s family and supporters in the room, including his father, niece and nephew.

As is customary in these situations, the judge, Toko Serita, gave a full order of protection, which bars contact between Mr. Monserrate and Ms. Giraldo. She told Mr. Monserrate that he must stay completely away from her, by phone, e-mail or third-party contact, even if she reaches out to him.

“Do you understand?” Judge Serita asked him. He replied, “Yes.”

Bail was set at $5,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 16.

The authorities said Mr. Monserrate drove Ms. Giraldo to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park in Nassau County, near the Queens border. It was unclear why he chose a hospital outside the city and 12 miles from his apartment, on 83rd Street in Jackson Heights. There are at least three hospitals closer, including Elmhurst Hospital Center, five blocks away.

The incident took place several hours after Mr. Monserrate, a former police officer who has sponsored at least half a dozen domestic-violence bills in the City Council, gave a departing speech on Thursday in the Council, where colleagues praised his years of service. That evening he attended a holiday party held by Queens Democrats.

He is scheduled to be sworn into the State Senate in January, where he is part of an incoming class that promised to give Democrats control of the chamber for the first time in decades. However, three newly elected Democrats have refused to align with the party, and his arrest further clouds the party’s hopes. Colleagues who attended Thursday night’s party said Mr. Monserrate arrived alone at about 7:45 p.m. He appeared to be in good spirits but not intoxicated, they said. The party, held at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing, ended about 9 p.m.

At the hospital, officials said that when officers arrived, Ms. Giraldo said she did not want Mr. Monserrate arrested, but under state law, arrests are mandatory in domestic-violence cases.

It is unknown how long Mr. Monserrate and Ms. Giraldo have been romantically involved. In July, Ms. Giraldo gave a $20 campaign contribution to Julissa Ferreras, Mr. Monserrate’s chief of staff and a candidate for the Council seat he was vacating. Ms. Giraldo listed her occupation as student.

Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn called the allegations “deeply, deeply troubling.” She added, “Council member Monserrate, just like any individual in the city or anywhere else, is innocent until proven guilty, and I’m glad that the N.Y.P.D. is taking up these charges and is going to pursue them quickly and thoroughly.” Michael Nieves, a spokesman for Mr. Monserrate, declined to comment on the case.

Other colleagues said they were startled by the news.

“Yesterday was a happy day for Hiram and people were happy for him,” Councilman John C. Liu, a fellow Queens Democrat, said on Friday morning.

Mr. Monserrate — a former marine who served 12 years with the New York New YorkPolice Department — is less than two weeks away from resigning his seat on the City Council, where he has served since 2002, to join the Senate. He was the first Latino from Queens elected to the City Council.

His arrest caps a tumultuous year for Mr. Monserrate. In May, as the Council was in the midst of a slush-fund scandal, a law enforcement official said the authorities were investigating whether a Queens social service agency called Libre that was financed by Mr. Monserrate’s Council earmarks used that money to help Mr. Monserrate politically.

The investigation, by the Queens district attorney’s office and the city’s Department of Investigation, is looking into allegations that more than two dozen workers for the nonprofit agency collected signatures to help Mr. Monserrate get on the ballot in 2006 during his unsuccessful primary battle with Senator John D. Sabini for the incumbent’s State Senate seat. Mr. Monserrate, who has directed more than $2.7 million in earmarks to the group, has said that he was unaware of any investigation and knew nothing about any efforts by Libre to collect signatures for him.

In June, Gov. David A. Paterson announced that he would nominate Mr. Sabini to be chairman of the State Racing and Wagering Board, sparing the party another divisive primary. Uncontested in the primary, Mr. Monserrate sailed to election in November.

Mr. Monserrate’s legal troubles are only the latest complication for the imperiled Senate Democratic caucus, which is struggling to cobble together a majority before the new Legislature convenes in January. Although 32 Democrats were elected to Senate seats in November, three holdouts have refused to align themselves with the current party leadership, leaving open the possibility that the Republicans could retain the majority.

Malcolm A. Smith, the Senate Democratic leader, said little in a written statement.

“These are very serious charges that will be addressed by the proper authorities,” he said. “We will await the determination of these charges before we make any further comment.”

A spokesman for the Senate Republicans, John McArdle, declined to comment.

On Friday night, residents of Corona, one of the neighborhoods Mr. Monserrate represents, said they would stand by him.

At a holiday event for children at the Elmcor Community Center, Jose Castillo, 36, a livery-cab driver who distributed leaflets for Mr. Monserrate four years ago, said he was reluctant to believe the charges against him. “I think they’re making this thing up,” he said. “He helped the people a lot for eight years. He’s helped out the Hispanic people.”

Carlos Salazar, 37, a limousine driver, said he supported Mr. Monserrate because he fought to change a state law on insurance compensation for limo drivers. “He’s always open to hear what you have to say,” he said.

Deputy Had Previous Restraining Order


Domestic violence victim advocates said they're concerned about the events that led up to the arrest of a Milwaukee County sheriff's deputy accused of shooting his girlfriend.

The 39-year-old deputy's ex-wife got a restraining order against him just two years ago, saying he threatened to kill her.

The deputy's ex-wife told a judge in 2006 the deputy threatened to kill her.

The judge found her claims credible enough to issue a restraining order, but the judge didn't bar him from carrying a firearm. He didn't ever turn that gun on her, but his new girlfriend is now accusing him of shooting her in the face.

It was a terrifying night Monday near 91st Street and Brown Deer Road when the 31-year-old woman fled from her condominium with a gaping gunshot wound to her face.

She said the 39-year-old deputy -- her boyfriend and the father of her child -- followed her, firing five times into a neighbor's home where she ran for help.

A 12-year-old girl there was wounded.

"It's an illustration that anybody who is in the situation is, can be potentially hurt -- bystanders, advocates, neighbors, people who are trying to intervene. It's a very lethal and dangerous situation when a perpetrator decides to kill or harm their victim," said Carmen Pitre of the Task Force on Family Violence.

Domestic abuse victim advocates said even when there are warning signs, when the abuser is in law enforcement, the cases can be especially difficult.

The deputy's ex-wife had a restraining order granted against him in 2006, writing, "He will kill me. He said it doesn't matter who I tell. No one can protect me. He would make it his mission in life to hurt me."

"Law enforcement officers have access to more resources, more power, and this issue really is about power and control. When I read the statement that he said, 'I'll make it my mission in life to hurt you,' what that means for a law enforcement official is they do have the power. They have institutionalized power behind them," Pitre said.

The ex-wife continued her statement saying, "He said he will do it, and he won't get caught."

"As a community, ordinary citizens, we should all be concerned about people who have issues with power and control, who are law enforcement officers, because they make us all less safe," Pitre said.

Bohr asked for an interview with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke about whether he was aware of the prior restraining order against the deputy, but he did not answer the request.

The case is still being reviewed by the district attorney. There are no charges yet. The deputy remains in jail.

Previous Story: December 16, 2008: Updated: Deputy Arrested In Connection With Shooting