Friday, July 31, 2009

Up Date on Trooper Bobby Howard Jr Arrested for Theft

A Lafayette police officer is facing charges, accused of stealing farm equipment and selling it in Mexico.

We've learned he wasn't acting alone. In fact, the man who may have been his partner in crime is another former Lafayette city employee.

Wednesday, officials told us that Brad Sonnier, who is also allegedly involved in his theft ring, is a former Lafayette fireman. Sonnier was arrested for felony theft and conspiracy to commit felony theft.

We also found out that the Lafayette Police officer arrested Tuesday, Bobby Howard Junior, was a former state trooper who worked for state police years ago and resigned to go work for the city.

During a press conference Wednesday, authorities said tractors, bulldozers and bobcats worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from Acadiana. But the theft ring is believed to be a statewide operation.

Officials say this is by far one of the biggest investigations they've ever had to deal with involving farm equipment.

Authorities say Sonnier's arrest led to Howard's. While officials have not released their exact involvement in the thefts investigators tell us there was a lot of communication between the two during the 9 months investigation.

Meanwhile, more arrests are expected in this case. If you have any information on the thefts, state police are asking you to cal 337-262-3341. All calls will remain anonymous.
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Former Officer Arthur 'Perry' Gooch Arrested for Sexual Abuse

A former Athens Police officer was taken into custody Thursday by Limestone County Sheriff’s investigators on a warrant from Madison County charging him with sexual abuse, a local official said.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said his office received a warrant to pick up Arthur “Perry” Gooch, 37, of Autumn Lane. County authorities transported Gooch to the Madison County line and released him to the custody of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.

The warrant stemmed from a Madison County grand jury indictment, Blakely said.

Gooch was initially arrested in Huntsville on a charge related to a November 2007 incident when a woman, the wife of an acquaintance, accused Gooch of kissing her and running his hand up her skirt while they were near the dance floor of the club on the night of Nov. 3, 2007.

The case was dismissed by the Madison County District Attorney in February 2008.

In 2008, Gooch denied the accusation but resigned from the force Nov. 9, 2007, after serving as a patrol officer for about five years.

A call to the Madison County District Attorney’s office to determine why the case was reopened was not returned Friday.

Gooch was taken to Madison County Jail and was released on bond.

Former Officer James Oakley Accused of Fondling Woman's Breast

The investigation continues into a former Providence, Kentucky police officer accused of serious on-the-job misconduct.

James Oakley is accused of fondling a woman's breast and having oral sex with her while he was on-duty.

He appeared before a judge in Webster County earlier in the week on a first degree official misconduct charge.

Now Kentucky State Police are determining whether to press additional charges against the ex-cop.

His next court appearance is scheduled for late September.

Deputy George Anderson Bryan III Arrested for Breaking Wife's Jaw

A Lenoir County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested earlier this week on a charge of fracturing his wife’s jaw.

George Anderson Bryan III allegedly punched his wife, Jamie Bryan, in the mouth on July 7, “causing a broken jaw which required surgery at Lenoir Memorial Hospital, surgery which included a plate being placed in her chin and four metal screws being placed in the gum area,” court documents state.

George Bryan was charged with felony assault inflicting serious injury on Wednesday — one day after his wife called the sheriff’s office to make the allegation.

“It’s a sad day at the sheriff’s office anytime one of our own has been charged with a criminal offense,” Maj. Chris Hill of the sheriff’s office said. “With that being said, the public expects us to do our job regardless of the adverse condition.”

District Attorney for the Eighth Prosecutorial District Branny Vickory said he did not officially know why it took Jamie Bryan three weeks to report the allegation, but said the sheriff’s office followed procedure in notifying him of the case.

“The sheriff himself (W.E. ‘Billy’ Smith) found out about it and informed me immediately on Tuesday,” Vickory said, “He and I jointly requested the SBI to get involved in the investigation (on Tuesday).”

George Bryan resigned from the sheriff’s office later that day. He was arrested Wednesday, spent the night in jail and made his first appearance in district court Thursday. He was released following the hearing after posting $500 bond.

“I don’t have no comment and don’t call my phone back,” George Bryan said Thursday afternoon.

Hill said he could not discuss whether Bryan has been disciplined by the office before, but called him an excellent deputy.

Bryan, listed at the same Kinston address as his wife in court documents, is 30 years old and worked with the patrol division. He was a member of the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office since 2004.

His probable cause hearing is set for Aug. 13.

Former Officer Jack Packett Accused of Raping Woman

A former Cincinnati police officer appeared in court this morning accused of raping a mentally disabled woman. 66-year old Jack Packett was arraigned on a rape charge.

According to court papers, Packett would have known about the alleged victim's mental disability. Court papers show he did admit to having sexual contact with her.

If Packett makes his $75,000 bond, he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

His attorney said in court that Packett was a Cincinnati police officer for 26 years.

Trooper Jay Gruwell Charged with Sexually Abusing 5-year-old

A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper has been charged with sexually abusing a child, according to documents released Wednesday by the Campbell County Attorney's Office.

The charges came after a 5-year-old girl alleged that Jay Gruwell made her touch his genitals, according to affidavit signed by a state agent.

The alleged abuse took place in May at a home in Gillette and the girl came forward shortly afterward, the document states. The affidavit indicates that Gruwell, who is stationed in Lusk, was off-duty at the time.

Gruwell, 54, did not respond to a message left Wednesday afternoon at a phone number listed for him in Lusk. He is charged with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor and faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.

In an interview with agents conducted four days after the allegations arose, he denied any wrongdoing. However, during a subsequent interview the same day, he said he remembered asking the girl if she wanted to touch him, authorities say.

Gruwell, who has been a trooper for 23 years, has been on administrative leave since May 20, said patrol administrator Col. Sam Powell.

Powell declined to comment on the allegations. He said Gruwell has an unblemished record with the patrol.

Gruwell is the second state trooper to face serious criminal allegations this year. Franklin Ryle Jr. pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal civil-rights charges in connection to an unlawful arrest he made as part of a scheme to kill a truck driver and stage a crash.

"I can certainly understand why people would be questioning certain things in the patrol of late," Powell said. "All I can do is reassure the people of Wyoming our selection process is solid. I would remind everyone, whether you are a police officer or not, that you are innocent until proven guilty."

Although the allegations against Gruwell date back two months, the Campbell County Attorney's Office could not acknowledge or discuss the case until Wednesday, after it was bound over to district court in Gillette. The office released Gruwell's charging document and a nine-page redacted affidavit signed by a special agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

According to that document, Gruwell was visiting a home in Gillette at the time the child made the allegations. One person, whose identity was blacked out in the affidavit, told investigators that Gruwell was in town to attend a graduation.

On the morning of the alleged incident, Gruwell went downstairs to check his e-mail. About an hour later, the child came upstairs and told someone that Gruwell had just made her look at his "privates."

The child made similar allegations to a forensic child interviewer, but in contrast to the earlier account, said Gruwell made her touch him.

In the affidavit, investigators indicate that someone else had reported a past incident where Gruwell exposed himself. Gruwell reportedly told the agents he couldn't recall anything like that happening.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jeff Luff Charged with Sexual Battery (New Updated Information July 5, 2011 Charges Dismissed)

A police officer entered a not guilty plea Thursday to charges of sexual battery.

Court records in the case against Jeff Luff show police taped a phone call between the officer and his accuser.

Luff's attorney entered the plea on his client's behalf. Luff, 25, faces charges of battery and sexual battery related to a June 27 incident.

Bakersfield police say Luff was on duty and in uniform that night, when he was called to a party in northeast Bakersfield on reports of loud noise.

Luff later gave two women from the party a ride home. One woman said he touched her inappropriately when he dropped them off. Defense attorney Kyle Humphrey said the accuser came to the police the next day.

"She arranged to go to the police department, showed up with her lap top and already had downloaded photos of Jeff at the party," Humphrey said.

Humphrey described the party as a "lingerie" party, and photos given to Eyewitness News show women in what look like nightgowns and bikini-type clothing.

Luff said he saw a friend from high school at that party, and she asked him to check on her later at another party, according to police. Humphrey said Luff hugged the girl he knew, and then the other woman asked for a hug.

Police Chief Bill Rector had described the allegation.

"He was giving one of the females a hug goodbye. During that instance he grabbed the buttock area and also the genital area," the chief told Eyewitness News when the department announced Luff's arrest.

Police investigators apparently had the accuser ask Luff about that incident during the taped call. Humphrey read from a transcript of the call.

"She's accusing (Luff) of touching her private area. He tells her, 'Honestly, I don't remember that. I do know I was touching your lower swimsuit near your leg, but I wouldn't have grabbed vagina like that,'" Humphrey read.

The attorney said Luff is heard on the tape apologizing for touching the woman's buttocks. Humphrey said it was then "human nature" for Luff to also respond with an apology for actions he's accused of but did not do.

"This is toward the end of the conversation where she's escalating the accusation, and she says, 'Well, yes you did, yes you did.' And he says, 'OK, you're right, you're right. I'll apologize, I didn't mean it,'" Humphrey said.

The attorney believes Luff apologized for something he didn't do, hoping to defuse the situation.

The officer realized he should not have given the women a ride.

"The refusal to create more trouble for himself by accusing her of being a liar, which is almost the scenario they force you into, well, people would equate with guilt," Humphrey said. "That's not really how the human mind works."

Kern County Assistant District Attorney Michael Saleen said there's more to the taped phone call.

"The facts speak for themselves" in this case, Saleen said.

But, Humphrey asserts Luff is not guilty of what he's been charged with.

"If you're a young guy in uniform and you get invited to a party where there's a bunch of women running around in nighties and see-throughs, it's very bad judgment to go, but it's not a crime," Humphrey said. "In the big scheme of things, do we fire someone like that? Do we take away their livelihood? Or do we say, 'You need more training, we've invested a lot in you, we need to help you grow up.'"

The case is set to be back in court in early September.

New Information: 

According to new information this officer was falsely accused of inappropriately touching a woman. After evidence was presented in court, and the accuser was caught lying, the case was dismissed. This officer has no other convictions and continues to serve and protect honorably. 

Officer James McGee Arrested on Felony Charges

A police officer for the south suburb of Robbins was arrested Thursday and stripped of his police powers on unspecified felony charges, authorities said.

Robbins Police Chief Johnny Holmes said Officer James McGee was charged in Lake County, Ind., where McGee lives. McGee was detained by Robbins police at about 3 p.m. after his department was contacted by Lake County, Holmes said.

McGee had just completed working the 7 a.m.-3 p.m. shift when he was arrested, Holmes said. McGee's badge and pistol were taken and he was held pending an extradition hearing Friday morning at the Markham Courthouse, Holmes said.

Holmes said he was only told the charges related to McGee were felonies, and he declined to provide additional details.

Officials with the Lake County prosecutor's office were unavailable late Thursday.

Former Deputy Michael Boulware Chared with Having Sex with Minor

A former Sumter County deputy has now been charged with having sex with an underage girl.

Michael Boulware, 26, has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Arrests warrants claim Boulware had sex with a 14-year-old girl near the Wedgefield Community sometime between June 1 and June 30 of this year.

Boulware was arrested earlier this month on three counts of contributing to the deliquency of a minor and three counts of transferring alcohol to a minor.

Deputies say Boulware gave alcohol to three people who were all under the age of seventeen. The claims were first reported on July 16, and Boulware was fired the next day after he was charged.

Boulware was a deputy assigned to the patrol division.

Chief Michael Classey Investigated for Inappropriate Conduct

Atlantic Beach Police Chief Michael Classey is being investigated after a female officer accused him of inappropriate conduct, a police labor union official said Wednesday.

The city has hired Jacksonville lawyer Margaret Zabijaka to investigate Officer Rene Jackson's claim against Classey, said Mike Scudiero, spokesman for the Coastal Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents Atlantic Beach's officers.

City officials and Zabijaka declined to comment, saying they don't discuss personnel matters.

Classey declined to discuss if there's an investigation into his conduct. But he reiterated earlier statements that some rank-and-file Police Department employees have resented him since he took over in October.

Scudiero said Zabijaka called the Benevolent Association to begin inquiries into the complaint.

"What we know for sure is the city has contracted with an attorney to investigate claims that one of our officers has made that there is harassment taking place from the chief toward her," Scudiero said.

"She felt uncomfortable around the chief," said Scudiero. "You can't just pass it off as an innocent, harmless act. I think it goes far beyond that. ... It was a situation where when she entered the building, the chief would run to find her. It's not the type of activity that's consistent with normal police department policy."

In April, Classey talked about tension in the department since he was promoted from captain to chief.

"People are going to look for things to fault me on," he said then.

On Wednesday, he said that should be considered in any complaint against his management of the department.

"I will reiterate those same comments," he said. "You've already got me on record with regards to what I had said in a previous situation about the changes in the department. Those situations remain current and in effect."

In response to a public records request this week, City Manager Jim Hanson said, "There are no public documents that you can get under public records [laws] at this point."

Scudiero said the latest complaint is more of a sign of tension between administrators and officers.

"Clearly there are some officers that have some concerns with what's going on there," he said.

Asked if the city is investigating complaints by Jackson against Classey, Hanson said, "I'm not going to discuss it. Any complaints about individual employees is not something I think would be appropriate to discuss with the press. ... I'm not even going to confirm or deny that there is such an investigation."

It's typical for labor unions to have hostility toward government administrators, Hanson said.

"We have had, over the years, a number of grievances filed by police officers as well as a number of employees from all departments. That's the nature of having unions," Hanson said.

Classey was subjected to one of the most thorough background checks in city history before he was hired in 2006 and his professional history is not consistent with any kind of misconduct, Hanson said.

Classey was hired with the intent of him starting as captain then becoming chief to replace David Thompson, who is now the assistant city manager.

Classey had been a lieutenant in the Kennesaw, Ga., Police Department outside Atlanta. He was hired after a nationwide search that included about 100 candidates for the Atlantic Beach post.

Deputy Darious Harper Accused of Soliciting Prostitute

A sheriff's deputy accused of attempting to solicit a prostitute bonded out of jail on Thursday.

Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Darious Harper was on leave during active duty with the National Guard.

But Orange County investigators arrested him after they said he offered to pay for sex with a known prostitute on Orange Blossom Trail.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office has launched an internal


Two DeKalb County Officers Accused of Running Background Check on Barack Obama

Two DeKalb County police officers have been accused of running a criminal background check on Barack Obama. The DeKalb County Police Department was informed by the U.S. Secret Service that DeKalb County computers were used to run a query on Obama. It isn't known what motive the officers may have had, but the department says they have both been put on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Perhaps they were bored and thought it would be fun. Perhaps they thought that they might find, with a simple background check, things that thousands of reporters, conservative pundits and, yes, even members of the Democratic Party were unable to find. Whatever the case, it was a stupid move. (Great, the one time Obama could have actually called two cops "stupid" and been correct and he's busy drinking beer with another cop and an old college buddy.)

As a private investigator, I don't know how many hundreds of "backgrounds" I've researched on "Subjects" , as we call them, the hard way - going through court records, talking with friends, family and neighbors, tracking down any scrap of information I could find to piece together a picture of someone I was hired to investigate. Of course, there are online services where you pay a fee to get some information, but it's usually not anywhere near the same information you get through old fashioned "leg work".

That's not the case with law enforcement agencies. They use the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to get a rundown on the person they're investigating. The thing is, they're only suppose to use that system when they are officially investigating someone. It might be as simple as a traffic stop by a uniformed police officer, but there has to be a legitimate reason to "run an NCIC". They are NOT suppose to use the system to just randomly check the backgrounds of individuals...and every cop knows that - every cop. They learn that in the academy about the time they learn to recite the "Miranda Rights".

Perhaps these guys were paid by someone who wanted them to dig up something on Obama. Or maybe they just wanted to see if they could unravel the riddle of where Obama was really born. It doesn't matter; what's done is done. The stupid thing was thinking they could do it and get away with it without anyone noticing. Yeah, there would have been no way for the Secret Service to trace a computer query on the President of The United States... right.

But here's a bigger question. Why is it illegal to check up on the president? Everytime I've ever covered or met with a U.S. President, or for that matter a foreign president, during my years a reporter, I've had to agree to a background check by the Secret Service - every single time. Now, I can understand that for reasons of national security, but if the guy is already sitting in the glass bowl, if he's paid by us and we put him there, what's wrong with anyone having the right to say, "Now, let's just see if you've ever shoplifted a candy bar or embezzled funds from an employer", no matter who he is or which side of the political aisle he comes from. I mean we already have the right to see his personal tax return each year. And I'm certain that the Russians have had ever detail they need about U.S. Presidents and their background information from the get-go. In fact, if you'll recall, we all saw more of Ronald Reagan than we bargained for when he had a colon exam. So, aside from that small matter of violating department policy, what was the real harm in a couple of cops checking up on the president?

Potential abuse - that's the problem. If people wearing sidearms and vested with the power to arrest aren't kept in check, some might take it upon themselves to abuse their power.

I'm a strong supporter of law enforcement. The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line - that "Thin Blue Line" - everyday to stand between us and evil. So that's why this is important for the DeKalb County Police Department - and just plain dumb for the DeKalb County cops. And it's a real shame.

Former Officer Jeffery Holiday Charged with Stealing Weapons

A former Altoona police officer has been arrested on a theft charge for allegedly taking firearms from the police department's evidence locker.

Jeffery D. Holiday, 39, Altoona, was charged with second-degree of theft of property, Sheriff Todd Entrekin said in a news release.

The Altoona Police Department requested that the Etowah County Sheriff's Office conduct a special investigation involving the theft, Entrekin said.

Altoona Police Chief Anthony Davis said he asked the sheriff's department to investigate because it involved an employee in his department.

Davis said Holiday was served with a protection from abuse order and it was discovered a few days later that he had previously taken two firearms from the police department's evidence locker.

Holiday was employed with the Altoona Police Department at the time and was placed on suspension, Davis said. Holiday resigned July 7, he said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Officer Michael Wilson Arrested on Drug Charges

A Holly Springs, Mississippi police officer faces drug charges tonight. He's accused of selling drugs to an undercover narcotics officer.

The officer was arrested last week after being indicted by a grand jury. The Holly Springs Police Chief who says he was in shock when Sheriff's deputies showed up at his office to arrest one of his own.

Holly Springs Police Officer Michael Wilson was arrested on the job and in uniform at the Holly Springs Police Department last Tuesday.

Chief Robert Pearson says, "That is not only surprising, that hurts."

Wilson was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month. According to the indictment, the officer sold hydrocodone, to an undercover Marshall County narcotics officer in February.

Police Chief Robert Pearson, says Marshall County deputies arrested Wilson in his office.

Pearson says, "I summonsed him into my office, relieved him of his side arm and relieved him of duty and suspended him. At that time officers with the sheriff office took him into custody."

Wilson was booked into the Marshall County Jail on one count of selling a controlled substance. The police chief says the drugs Wilson allegedly sold, did not come from the police department.

Pearson says, "We always hate to see police officers get involved in that type of illegal activity it hurts the department and everyone else here."

Wilson was hired by the previous police chief and had been with the police department just 4 years. Chief Pearson described him as a "decent person", but says he has no sympathy for officers accused of breaking the law.

Pearson says, "What I would like people to know is I and most officers want to root out individuals who commit these illegal acts. That is a priority for me."

If convicted, Wilson faces up to 20 years in prison. The police chief says Wilson has a wife and 2 small children. He's out on bond.

We tried contacting him today but were unable to get in touch with him.
Photo & Information:

President Obama Calls Sgt. James Crowley

President Explains His Remarks About Henry Louis Gates Arrest In Surprise Appearance.

President Obama called the Cambridge police officer who arrested his friend, prominent Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., but did not go so far as to say he apologized to the sergeant for saying the police acted "stupidly" during the incident.

Late today, Gates' attorney, Charles Ogletree, told ABC News that his client was "relieved and excited" by the president's telephone outreach.

"It's going to bring together not only the parties to this particular episode but a larger community dialogue about how citizens and police can have more productive and effective exchanges," Ogletree said.

Representatives of Sgt. James Crowley released a statement saying Crowley was "profoundly grateful" for the phone call.

"It is clear to us from this conversation that the president respects police officers and the often difficult and dangerous situations we face on a daily basis. We appreciate his sincere interest and willingness to reconsider his remarks about the Cambridge Police Department," the statement read.

Earlier today in an unannounced trip to the White House press room, the president clarified remarks he made at the end of Wednesday night's press conference, reiterating his point that "there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home."

But Obama said he had a cordial conversation with Crowley, who had complained about the president's criticism. Obama said laughingly he had a discussion with Crowley about the three of them having beer at the White House.

The president's spokesman said it was Crowley's idea for the three to get together for a beer. According to Gates' attorney, Gates doesn't drink beer but he'll show-up for the meeting.

The president also called Gates following his impromptu remarks and invited the Harvard professor to join him at the White House with Crowley in the near future.

"Because this has been ratcheting up — and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up — I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately… gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically," the president said. "And I could've calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sgt. Crowley."

Chief David Baker Ends 40-year Career After DUI Arrest

Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker ended his 40-year career in law enforcement Tuesday with a short, melancholy letter to the members of his department, three days after his drunken driving arrest.

"It is with a great deal of humility and remorse that I announce my retirement from the Alexandria Police Department," he wrote. ". . . Words cannot describe the pride I feel having had the opportunity to lead such a great department."

His undoing came Saturday night in Arlington, where he collided with a car, sending the driver to the hospital. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, Arlington police said. He failed four field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence, court documents show.

City Manager James K. Hartmann accepted Baker's resignation and ended the internal investigation he opened Sunday into the incident. He said the resignation is effective Friday. Baker will receive his full retirement benefits.

"We hope that this unfortunate incident will not eclipse the stellar service and commitment that he has shown to the city of Alexandria," Mayor William D. Euille (D) said at a City Hall news conference. "Regretfully, this is a wise decision to allow the police department and the city to move forward."

City Attorney James L. Banks said Baker, who was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, resigned just before city officials were to meet with him as part of the investigation.

Banks said city officials do not know where Baker was before the accident or what he had to drink, because they did not have a chance to speak with him. With the investigation now closed, the officials will not interview him. Hartmann has said that Baker was not at an official city function.

Baker declined to comment through his attorney, James Clark, who said Baker thought his resignation would be best for the city.

"After a lot of introspection and a lot of lost sleep, it became crystal clear to him that for him to remain would be compromising the ideals that got him there: Giving the citizens the best he's got," Clark said. "He thought his ability to serve had been compromised."

Alexandria Sheriff Dana A. Lawhorne said Baker is a "stand-up guy" who loves the city.

"I think he did what he thought was best for the city," Lawhorne said. "He thought it was time for everybody to move on. It's his thing to deal with."

Details of Baker's arrest emerged this week. It happened about 10 p.m. near Interstate 66 and North Fairfax Drive in Arlington. Baker, driving a city-issued green Ford Explorer, tried to merge onto Interstate 66 and collided with a car.

Philadelphia Man Receives $200,000 in Police Brutality Lawsuit

A Philadelphia man, whose claims of brutality led to three Deptford police officers being charged in 2006, received $200,000 to settle a lawsuit he filed against the township.

The confidential agreement reached between Joseph Rao and the township earlier this year called for Deptford's insurance carrier to write the check. The township admitted no wrongdoing.

"It's a regrettable amount of money," Deptford Mayor Paul Medany said when reached for comment on Tuesday. "We don't want to pay any amount of money. ... We took the insurance company's suggestion of a settlement and we thought that was the best route to take."

Records show the agreement was approved in March and the case was dismissed in court in May. The agreement, which has been obtained by the Times, called for neither side to disclose any "facts, amounts and terms" of the deal.

Rao sought $4 million when he filed his federal lawsuit last year.

The decision was made to do "what's best for the taxpayers" and settle, according to Medany.

"The incident happened," said Medany. "There's nothing we can do about it. We're just trying to make things right."

The three officers, who faced prison terms, were cleared of all charges. Ptl. John Gillespie went to trial and was found not guilty. The Gloucester County prosecutor's office then dismissed its cases against Ptl. Timothy Parks and Ptl. Brian Green. All three officers have since returned to the force.

Medany called the whole situation an opportunity to improve how things are handled within the police department.

"In the meantime, we've changed our operating procedures and gone into better training," the mayor said. "We took the incident and learned from it, there's no doubt about that. It hasn't happened since and, hopefully, it will never happen again."
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Hollywood Officers Accused of Abuse of Power

After a Hollywood police officer rear-ended a car in February and then arrested its driver on drunken-driving charges, he and other officers talked about doctoring the report -- it said a jumpy cat created a distraction -- to cover up the cause of the crash.

Unknown to the officers, the exchange was recorded by a dashboard camera in one of the patrol cars.

``I don't want to make things up ever, because it's wrong, but if I need to bend it a little bit to protect a cop, I'm gonna,'' one of the officers can be heard saying. ``We'll do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop because it wouldn't have mattered because she is drunk anyway.''

Alexandra Gabriela Torrensvilas, 23, of Hollywood, ended up charged with four counts of drunken driving and cited for an improper lane change.

On Tuesday, Hollywood police officials placed Officer Dewey Pressley, 42; Officer Joel Francisco, 36; Sgt. Andrew Diaz, 39; and civilian Community Service Officer Karim Thomas, age unavailable, on administrative duty pending an internal affairs investigation and a review by the Broward state attorney's office, said department spokesman Lt. Scott Pardon.

Francisco was driving the car in the crash; Pressley wrote the report and made the arrest.

Pressley's report detailing the Feb. 17 midnight crash in the 2800 block of Sheridan Street said ``a large gray stray cat'' that had been sitting on Torrensvila's lap jumped out of her car window and distracted her, causing her to veer into Francisco's lane, where she abruptly braked, and he hit her.

``I will do the narrative for you,'' one of the officers says on the tape. ``I know how I am going to word this, the cat gets him off the hook.''

Torrensvilas' attorney, Larry Meltzer, said this was a disturbing ``abuse of power.''

``Actually seeing it transpire on video in front of you, it really kind of sickens you,'' he said. ``It's really nauseating to sit there and watch your client's rights go out the window.''

Torrensvilas' four DUI charges carry a maximum penalty of almost three years in jail, Meltzer said.

He declined to say what would become of her case: ``In my opinion, as of this time, it's being handled appropriately.''

A spokesman for the Broward State Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case or how it would proceed.

Pressley, a 21-year veteran with the department, wrote that when Francisco approached Torrensvilas' car after the crash, she blurted: ``It just jumped out.''

The ``it'' was ``a large, gray stray cat'' that had been sitting on her lap while she drove, the report said.

Francisco, who has been with the department for almost 11 years, smelled ``a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.''

Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein on Tuesday sent a letter to Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner calling for answers and accountability.

``Not only did these officers make a conscious decision to shift the blame to this young woman, but they made a concerted effort to write a narrative to fit `their facts,' '' Finkelstein wrote. He said his office has at least 27 pending cases in which these four officers are listed as material state witnesses.

Pardon, the police department's spokesman, declined to respond to the allegations. ``We'll see where the investigation goes,'' he said.

Officer Martin Montgomery Arrested for Forcing Woman to Perform Oral Sex

An Evansville Police Department officer recently under scrutiny from the agency's chief has turned himself in at the Vanderburgh County Jail and will face a charge of criminal deviate conduct.

Martin Montgomery, 28, was booked into jail shortly before 12:30 p.m. Bond was initially set at $2,500 cash but later lowered to $1,500 cash after Montgomery made an initial appearance in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court.

According to a police affidavit obtained by the Courier & Press, the charge stems from a sexual encounter Montgomery had with a woman while on duty. The victim told investigators it was non-consensual.

Montgomery was recommended for termination by Chief Brad Hill following an undisclosed violation of police rules and procedures that occurred June 16. A grand jury also considered criminal charges against Montgomery for that incident, though they ultimately voted not to file them.

While being questioned about the June 16 incident, police say Montgomery admitted a separate incident in which he had sex with a woman after being dispatched to a run in the 3900 block of Fulton Avenue. It allegedly occurred on March 1.

According to the affidavit, Montgomery in that case broke up a fight between two women and then agreed to take one of them home to a residence in the 2500 block of North Kentucky Avenue.

The investigator located the police run in question and learned Montgomery had responded and called off other officers, the affidavit said.

Detectives then located the woman, who identified Montgomery from a photo lineup and said he followed her into her apartment, shut the door and asked if she wanted to have sex, according to the affidavit.

Police say Montgomery asked multiple times and that the woman said no repeatedly.

"(The victim) said Montgomery approached her and put his hands on her shoulders and began applying pressure to her shoulders in an attempt to force her down," Detective Jim Harpenau wrote in the affidavit. "(The victim) said after Montgomery began pushing her down, she quit resisting, went to her knees and performed oral sex on Montgomery against her will."

According to Indiana Code, a criminal deviate conduct charge is filed when a person "knowingly or intentionally causes another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct when the other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force."

Asked why he filed a charge in this case and convened a grand jury for the other allegations, Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney Stan Levco said "they are two separate sets of facts."

"I thought and I said at the time that the grand jury had a difficult case that I thought could go either way," he said.

Levco said he could not talk about the facts in the criminal deviate conduct case or why specifically he decided to file the charge.

The specifics of the June 16 incident have not been divulged. The affidavit refers to that case as a "sensitive incident ... in regards to the conduct of Evansville Police Officer Martin Montgomery."

Montgomery had been scheduled to appear Monday before the Merit Commission to appeal the chief's recommendation for termination. That hearing has since been canceled.

Montgomery made a brief court appearance Wednesday, during which his bond was lowered and his next appearance was set for Thursday at 9 a.m.

Levco said Montgomery's bond reflects his lack of a criminal record and the fact that he is not considered a flight risk.

An official at the Vanderburgh County Jail said Montgomery must appear in front of a judge before he can consider media requests for interviews.
Updated information:

Investigator James Talford Arrested for Harassment

A 21-year veteran of the State Police found himself on the other side of the law today after he was arrested for the alleged aggravated harassment against two Ontario residents, troopers said.

Investigator James W. Talford, 45, who is assigned to the Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit in Buffalo, was issued appearance tickets for misdemeanor charges including two counts of aggravated harassment, attempted falsifying of business records and official misconduct.

State Police officials would not disclose additional information about the specifics of Talford's alleged actions except to say an investigation is continuing.

"The criminal and internal investigation is ongoing at this point," said Trooper Rebecca Gibbons, State Police spokeswoman.

Talford -- who, according to public records, lists a home address in East Amherst -- is currently suspended without pay pending the internal affairs probe, Gibbons said.

State Police were involved in the joint investigation of Talford that also included investigators from the Erie County District Attorney's office and the Niagara Regional Police in St. Catharines, Ont.

Niagara Regional Police were not able to provide details late Wednesday as to the complaints alleged against Talford by the apparent victims, who live in the Niagara Region.

Talford is expected to be back in Buffalo City Court at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 to answer the alleged criminal charges against him.

Ex-Officer Michael Curtin Jr Arrested Again

A fired Munhall police officer who is serving a five-year probation sentence for unlawful sexual contact with minors was arrested last night on charges he violated conditions of his release.

Michael Curtin Jr., 37, had faced 11 counts in connection with soliciting girls for sex acts. He pleaded guilty in February to two counts of unlawful sexual contact with minors and one count of corruption of minors.

Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel sentenced Mr. Curtin to five years probation. Condition of his probation included his prohibition from using computers or texting on his cell phone.

A warrant was issued yesterday for his arrest in connection with an undisclosed probation violation that occurred at the Waterfront in Homestead.

Mr. Curtin is being held on a detainer in the Allegheny County Jail, pending arraignment on his arrest.

Judge McDaniel, before the arrest, had granted Mr. Curtin permission to leave the state tomorrow to vacation with his parents in Delaware until Aug. 10.

That permission now is expected to be be revoked.

Mr. Curtin also is scheduled for a Sept. 10 hearing before Judge McDaniel to consider whether he should be classified as a sexually violent predator.

Mr. Curtin was fired in February 2008 from the Munhall Police Department following his arrest. He had been investigated for soliciting teenage girls online for sex and offering them money to allow him to suck their toes.
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Other Information:

Former Officer Joseph Mignano Charged with Robbing Man

A former Providence police officer is charged with robbing a man.

Police say Joseph Mignano, of Fall River, Mass., was impersonating a police officer when he robbed a man in the Silver Lake section of the city on July 18.

The 32-year-old Mignano was arraigned Tuesday on charges of second-degree robbery and impersonating an officer. He was held on bail as a probation violator.

Police Captain James Desmarais tells The Providence Journal that the police are investigating similar incidents in which people claimed that they were robbed by a man who identified himself as a police officer and proceeded to search them and steal their money.

It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Sheriff's Clerk Sammetta Tennial Arrested for Stealing Money

A clerk from an administrative bureau at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was arrested today for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from an office account and official misconduct. Sammetta Tennial, 37, was taken into custody by Sheriff’s Deputies about 1 p.m. today at her 10th floor office at the Criminal Justice Center.

Tennial works in the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Commissions and Compliance. The bureau handles a variety of duties including the issuing of Special Deputy Commissions, the registration of convicted sex offenders, bail bond employees, private process servers who deliver court papers and tracks Sheriff’s Deputies who work additional jobs outside the Sheriff’s Office.

Fees are required by some of those who register at the office. A supervisor discovered money missing while reconciling the daily receipts and deposits. Detectives from the Sheriff’s General Investigation Bureau and White Collar Crimes Bureau from the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office led the investigation.

“Once aware of the discrepancy, an investigation began immediately. Let this be a message to all employees the net is always out. Those who choose to break the law will be held accountable,” said Shelby County Sheriff Mark H. Luttrell, Jr.

Detectives believe Tennial took small amounts of money over the past two years totaling as much as $6,000. Investigators believe she acted alone in the scheme. Tennial has been a clerk with the Sheriff’s Office since 2000. She’s was assigned to the Commissions and Compliance Bureau in 2005.

Sammetta Tennial was indicted today by the Shelby County Grand Jury for Theft of Property over $1,000 and two counts of Official Misconduct. She is being held at the Shelby County Jail facility for women on a $10,000 bond. Her employee picture is being sent with this news release in a separate file.

Officer Justin Barrett Suspended for Racially Charged Language

A Boston police officer was suspended and faces dismissal after he allegedly sent a letter including “racially charged language” about Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, a department spokeswoman said.

Police learned of the letter yesterday, said Elaine Driscoll, the spokeswoman. She didn’t elaborate on how police got the information. The Boston Herald reported a racial slur was in a mass e-mail to Officer Justin Barrett’s colleagues in the National Guard.

“Police Commissioner Ed Davis moved immediately to strip the officer of his badge and gun and proceeded toward a termination hearing,” Driscoll said.

A local telephone number for a Justin Barrett wasn’t answered when called by Bloomberg News.

Gates, 58, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African & African American Research at Harvard, in neighboring Cambridge, has been at the center of a controversy about race since he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on July 16. Police responding to the report of a break-in arrested Gates at his home. Prosecutors dropped the charge.

Driscoll said Barrett, 36, would remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the hearing. She said a date hasn’t been set.

Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association President Thomas Nee wasn’t prepared to comment immediately on the Barrett case, although a statement is planned, said Ann Parolin, the union’s office manager.

The Gates arrest got even more attention last week when President Barack Obama said Cambridge police “acted stupidly in arresting someone where there was already proof that they were in their own home.”

On July 24, Obama phoned Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley, the white officer who arrested the black professor, and said he didn’t mean to malign Crowley or his department. Obama invited Gates and Crowley to the White House tomorrow night for a beer.

Another Waco Officer Accused of 'Double Dipping'

There was new information Tuesday about the Waco Police "double-dipping" scandal.

News Channel 25 acquired copies of two more letters firing police officers, two letters of retirement and one letter of resignation.

Among the two firing letters, was one belonging to Sgt. Peter Mottley. He was fired Monday, making him the fifth officer to be terminated for claiming to be on the clock at the Police Department, while logging hours for the federally-funded Waco Housing Authority. He was unable to be reached by phone Tuesday and has eight remaining days to appeal the decision.

News Channel 25 also got a copy of the letter firing Allen Thompson. He is the only police officer to challenge the Police Department's decision so far.

"Each of these officers, at least the ones I'm dealing with, worked their time," said Thompson's attorney John Cullar. "It may not be the exactly what was written down, but the exact number of hours is accurate."

We also obtained Cris Doles's resignation letter, as well as letters of retirement from Reggie Johnson and Tyrone Robinson. However, Robinson will not retired until August 4th, a move personally signed off on by Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman.

News Channel 25 will sit down with the police chief Wednesday for his first public comments since the investigation began months ago.

Officer Boby Howard Jr Arrested for Theft

A 14-year veteran of the Lafayette Police Department has been placed in the Acadia Parish Jail charged with Principal to Felony Theft and conspiracy to Commit felony theft following a nine-month investigation.

According to Acadia Parish Wayne Melancon his office began receiving report of farm equipment thefts including tractors, bulldozers, and bobcats throughout the parish in November of 2008.

Melancon said that a break in the investigation came when his office received a report that a John Deere tractor with front loader was stolen from a shop on South Riceland road near Rayne. A local bank contacted law enforcement officials when someone attempted to make a loan to purchase the tractor that was stolen on South Riceland Road. Investigators learned that when the serial numbers were ran through John Deere in came back as stolen.

Investigators from Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office, Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office, Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Livestock & Brand Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigations joined forces to investigate the 28 thefts that occurred in five neighboring parishes.

Following an extensive investigation Bobby Howard, Jr., age 39, of Scott was arrested by Investigators with the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office Tuesday afternoon in Lafayette and charged with principal to felony theft and conspiracy to commit felony theft.

Howard was transported to the Acadia Parish Jail where his bond was set at $250-thousand-dollars.

Also, arrested was Brad Sonnier, age 29, of Scott. He is also being charged with felony theft and conspiracy to commit felony theft. He is presently being held in the Lafayette Parish Jail.

Enid Police Taser Nursing Home Patient

Police in Enid use a taser to subdue a 69-year-old nursing home patient. Investigators say the elderly man, Lester Harris, had become disruptive over the weekend. That's when staff at Enid Senior Care called 911.

When officers arrived, Harris supposedly hit one of the officers in the stomach. To get control of Harris, police twice used their tasers.

Harris' daughter says her dad suffered a stroke 2 weeks ago, and thinks police used excessive force.

"There's just so much that's wrong. Why taze a 70-year old man in a nursing home?" said Linda Ward.

Enid police defend their actions.

"We have to make sure the staff and officers are protected, and of course the person were arresting," said Lt. Eric Holtzclaw.

Harris was arrested for assault and battery on a police officer.

He's since been released on bond and is being kept at a hospital in Enid where he's doing fine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sgt Timothy Richissin Faces More Charges of Voyeurism

A police officer already accused of recording women with a hidden bathroom camera, now faces more charges.

Suspended Cleveland Sergeant Timothy Richissin was charged with two more counts of voyeurism in Medina County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors say last year, Richissin hid a small camera inside the bathroom of the Hinckley warehouse where he ran a business.

Earlier this year, he was charged with tampering with evidence, voyeurism, obstructing official business and possessing criminal tools, after a female employee found the camera and called police.

"The sheriff's department went and did their investigation, located victim one, then they obtained computers pursuant to a search warrant, the computers were sent to Ohio BCI for analysis, and that analysis turned up the second victim," said Medina County prosecutor Dean Holman.

Richissin plead not guilty to the new charges. He also hired a new attorney to represent him.

Trial For Officer DeWayne Curtis Hart Postponed

A Pittsburgh police officer charged with fondling a woman instead of taking her to jail on an outstanding warrant was set to go to trial this week, but the case has been postponed until the fall.

DeWayne Curtis Hart, 45, a 14-year veteran who was transferred to the records department after the incident, was charged last year with indecent assault, obstruction of justice and official oppression.

Officer Hart, who originally represented himself, recently hired attorney William Difenderfer, who last week asked Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III for a continuance.

The judge granted it and scheduled the trial for October.

Mr. Difenderfer couldn't be reached for comment.

According to an affidavit filed by Lyle Graber, a detective with the district attorney's office, Officer Hart assaulted the woman in December 2007 at her house on Bergman Street in Sheraden.

The Post-Gazette does not identify sex crime victims or accusers.

Officer Hart responded to a burglary report at the woman's home shortly before 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 after she called 911. The woman said she believed her sister had broken into the house.

Officer Hart took down the items she believed were stolen, completed his report and left.

A few minutes later, while the woman was on a cell phone with another sister, she said Officer Hart walked back into the house without knocking and asked her if she knew there was a warrant for her arrest.

The woman was wanted in connection with a robbery and assault.

According to the affidavit, she said Officer Hart asked her, "What are you gonna do?" and told her he could take her to jail. She said he would have to do that. He then told her, "The only thing keeping me back is your cookies" and said the jail would be full and that she'd have to stay there all day.

He then said he would come to arrest her the next day at 9 a.m., but she told him to take her to jail immediately. Officer Hart then repeated his comment about her "cookies."

After she asked what he meant, he reached inside her shirt and fondled her. She was still holding her cell phone and told her sister that she had to go. When her sister said she didn't have to go anywhere, according to the affidavit, the woman said Officer Hart was "nodding in the affirmative."

After she hung up, she said, he grabbed her hand and made her fondle him before he backed away and said, "9 o'clock -- be there."

Officer Hart drove away. The woman said she ran down Hillsboro Street and got a ride to her sister's house, where her family discussed what to do. She finally called 911 to report the assault and the outstanding warrant.

City officers investigated and took her statement the day after the alleged incident on Dec. 8. She picked Officer Hart out of a photo lineup.

The case was later referred to the district attorney's office. Detective Graber interviewed the woman on April 29, 2008, and said her statement to him was the same as the one she gave city officers.

Judge Charles Nebel Arrested for Drunk Driving

Authorities say an Upper Peninsula judge has been arrested for suspected drunken driving after police clocked him speeding more than 100 miles an hour.

The Mining Journal of Marquette reports Charles Nebel was arrested Friday evening in Schoolcraft County.

The county prosecutor's office says Nebel's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He was arrested and lodged overnight in the county jail.

Schoolcraft County Prosecuting Attorney Peter Hollenbeck says the case has been turned over to Attorney General Mike Cox for a decision on any charges.

Nebel said in a statement he "made a series of bad and inappropriate decisions" and is prepared to face the consequences.

Nebel is a probate judge for Schoolcraft and Alger counties.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Man Tasered in the Butt by Boise Police Plans to Sue

A man who was tased, and threatened with tasering between his genital and anal regions plans to sue the Boise Police Department for excessive use of force.

It all started on Feb. 14 of this year. Two Boise, ID police officers were called to a possible domestic disturbance between a man — the complainant — who had in fact just been released from jail, and a woman. A 3-year-old boy was also present.

The man was tasered, and subdued, but the complaint he filed involved being tasered between his buttocks and genitals. An ombudsman's report (.PDF) of the incident was completed by Boise Community Ombudsman Pierce Murphy. The report did not mention either the names of the suspect or the officers involved, but it did highlight this exchange:

Officer #3: Do you feel this?
Complainant: Yes, sir.
Officer #3: Do you feel that? That’s my -
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: -Taser up your ass.
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: So don’t move.
Complainant: I’m trying not to. I can’t breathe.

You can listen to an MP3 of the incident here.

While the report addresses the entire incident, it also clearly states that the suspect certainly was tased between the buttocks.

The evidence clearly proves that the Complainant was tased on the inside of his right, lower buttock. The Complainant had visible injuries there ten days after the incident. The same marks were photographed during a forensic medical examination conducted thirteen days after the incident.

Based on the preponderance of evidence, Officer #3’s second use of the Taser on the Complainant while he was handcuffed was neither reasonable nor necessary. For this reason, I have issued a finding of Sustained to this allegation of excessive force.

While the ombudsman did find that excessive force was used, he did not find that a criminal act took place on the part of the officer.

While the report indicates the officer has been disciplined, the complainant's attorney, Ron Coulter, noted that the officer is still on the job.

“I don’t think he should be back on the street, but then I’m not the chief of police. When you do things like he did I’m not sure that person’s even fit to wear a uniform.”

Coulter added that he plans to file a lawsuit, and that his client's name will be revealed then.
Other Information:

Univeristy Officer Matthew Brill Arrested for Illegally Obtaining Prescription Drugs

An East Stroudsburg University police officer has been arrested on charges of illegally obtaining and possessing prescription narcotics for his own consumption.

Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendant as 36-year-old Matthew Brill of East Stroudsburg.

“Prescription strength pain relievers are powerful and highly addictive substances,” Corbett said. “Just like illegal narcotics, these drugs can cause a normally responsible adult to do things seemingly out of character. However, addiction does not excuse someone of his or her crimes.”

Court documents state that from March 2009 through June 2009 Brill filled 40 prescriptions for large quantities of Tussionex, Azithromycin, Carisoprodol, Ultram, Vicodin, Avelox, Soma, Alprazolam, Vicroprofen, and Lorazepam.

Prosecutors say that during this time period Brill was able to unlawfully obtain 1,135 tablets and 1,240 milliliters of various controlled substances and 459 tablets of non controlled substances.

According to the criminal complaint, Brill filled the prescriptions at eight different pharmacies in the Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg area and saw nine different doctors in order to obtain scripts for the drugs.

Brill is charged with one count of acquiring possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of unlawful acts under the Pharmacy Act.

He was arraigned before Stroudsburg Magisterial District Judge Thomas Shiffer and released on $5,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26, 2009.

Brill will be prosecuted in Monroe County by Monroe District Attorney E. David Christine Jr.’s office.

Chief David Baker Arrested for Drunk Driving

The police chief of Alexandria was arrested Saturday night for driving under the influence of alcohol, Arlington County Police say.

Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker was arrested around 11 p.m. after the unmarked city vehicle he was driving was involved in a car crash near the intersection of I-66 and North Fairfax Drive in Arlington County, police say. Officials say his blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit. "According to Arlington County Police, Chief Baker's blood alcohol level was .19 percent," said Dana Lawhorne, Alexandria sheriff.

The driver of the other vehicle suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital and released, police say. When officers arrived at the crash scene they say Baker appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. It is unclear where the police chief had been and where he was headed.

The 58-year-old Baker has been with the Alexandria department for 19 years and was a D.C. police officer for 21 years before that.

The police chief says he is disappointed in himself. "I think we all feel heart sick about it, and the person who feels the worst about it is him," said Jim Hartmann, Alexandria City manager.

The chief was booked and released. He is now on paid administrative leave. Alexandria Executive Deputy Chief of Police Earl Cook has been named acting chief of police. Cook is a 30-year veteran of the police department.

Hartmann has the authority to fire Baker right away but says he will wait for the findings of an internal review before making a decision.

"For all the citizens of Alexandria...this is a sad, sad day for us," said Alexandria Mayor William Euille.

Meanwhile, as city administrators are launching an internal investigation, fellow officers and the public say they are shocked and concerned.

"He should be treated just like every other citizen of Alexandria would be treated, with, you know, no exceptions," said Kristin Buczek, Alexandria resident.

Chief Baker released this statement to his officers: "While I can only imagine the disappointment you feel, I want you to know how proud I am of each of you, how privileged I am to work side by side with you and how disappointed and angry I am with myself."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Judge Bradley Sales Arrested for Trespassing

A Huron County magistrate found himself on the wrong side of law earlier this month after he was charged with trespassing for being in the wooded area of a highway rest stop after hours.

Bradley E. Sales, 48, Elyria, was ordered out of a wooded area at the rest stop on the eastbound side of Ohio 2 at 10:11 p.m. July 11 while troopers were investigating another man who was spotted coming out of the woods. The woods are closed to the public from dusk until dawn.

Vermilion Municipal Court, where the case is being heard, released a written statement of the incident written by the trooper who made the arrest.

Here is how the trooper from the Elyria post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the arrest unfolded:

Troopers John Toth and Shawn Kline were checking out the rest area when they spotted Albert Pezzenti, 55, Youngstown, walking out of the woods after dark.

When questioned Pezzenti told the troopers he'd been out for a walk and did not see the sign that said the park was closed to the public after dark.

While detaining Pezzenti in the back of a cruiser, the troopers heard branches breaking in the woods. When the troopers went toward the woods and heard branches breaking again, Toth yelled out into the dark, "If anybody is out there, come out with your hands up."

Sales stepped out of the woods while buttoning up his shirt. The troopers ordered him to the ground.

Sales told the troopers he lived in Elyria and was a magistrate. He works for the Huron County Common Pleas Court. He declined to answer further questions and requested a lawyer.

When reached by phone Friday, Sales declined to comment.

Troy Wisehart, Sales' attorney, said his client was doing nothing criminal. Sales was out for a walk and did not know the park was closed.

"It was a beautiful night, he has a convertible and he was out for a drive," Wisehart said.

Wisehart said there is a scenic overlook or trail at the rest stop that Sales was walking along.

Sales entered a not guilty plea to the trespassing charge on July 14 in Vermilion Municipal Court. The case is set for an 11 a.m. pretrial Aug. 25.

Pezzenti pleaded not guilty to the trespassing charge on July 21. He is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 1.

Trespassing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, Sales and Pezzenti face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Officer Benjamin Miles Cordova Accused of Misusing City Fuel Card

A police report says a North Las Vegas police officer accused of misusing a city fuel card had an expired driver's license and was using a pilfered license plate.

A police report says Benjamin Miles Cordova's 2005 Chevrolet pickup had a license plate that a woman said she turned over to a North Las Vegas police officer when she was stopped for driving with suspended plates.

Police say Cordova's truck hadn't been registered since 2005, and his license expired in 2007.

Cordova is 39 and a six-year veteran of the department. He's on paid administrative leave following his arrest Tuesday on six felony counts of credit card fraud.

He is accused of using the department credit card to refuel his pickup.

Update: Officer Gregory Zach Put on Administrative Leave

The city police officer accused of punching a woman last month applied to the Greenwich Police Department in 2005 but was disqualified over his background check, according to town records.

Gregory Zach, 26, who has been with the Stamford Police Department since 2005, was placed on administrative leave Thursday. Police Chief Brent Larrabee said it was not in the best interest of Zach or the public for the officer to continue to work extra-duty jobs.

Larrabee said Friday he had not reviewed Zach's file and did not know why he was not hired in Greenwich. He said candidates are asked during the application process whether they have applied for other departments and what the result was.

A disqualification from another department would have been investigated during Zach's background check and would not necessarily prevent him from serving in Stamford, because different communities have different standards, Larrabee said.

"It's difficult for me to comment on what another community did," he said. "I will say that we have taken candidates, even in my time here, who have been rejected, who did not pass another exam, who were not hired by another community, and they've turned out to be good employees."

It is also possible that Zach had not been rejected from Greenwich at the time his application was under review at Stamford, Larrabee said.

Zach was working an extra-duty job before the Alive@Five concert June 25 when he stopped Brenda Mazariegos, 40, a passenger in her friend Sandra Solis' car, when the two tried to park in a lot behind The Palms nightclub. Mazariegos is an owner of the club. The lot was restricted during the concert, and Zach would not let the car through.

According to police spokesman Lt. Sean Cooney, Mazariegos declined to provide her driver's license when asked and punched Zach when he tried to arrest her. Zach punched Mazariegos in response, Cooney has said.

Solis' husband, Nelson Solis, has said his wife left the car and that Zach later told Mazariegos to move it. When Mazariegos again tried to enter the lot, Zach demanded her license, Solis has said. When Solis and his wife tried to intervene, Zach pushed them both and punched Mazariegos, Solis has said. Solis and other witnesses who work for The Palms deny anyone punched Zach.

Mazariegos was charged with operating a motor vehicle without a license, second-degree breach of peace, interfering with an officer or resisting arrest, and assault on a public safety officer. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment July 10 and is to appear in court Aug. 5.

The incident spawned an internal investigation into Zach's actions after the case received media attention and photographs of Mazariegos with a large bump on her forehead were published. Zach was transferred from patrol to a desk-duty job with the youth bureau.

Zach's administrative leave is not punitive, and the investigation into the Mazariegos incident is ongoing, Larrabee said. Zach had a right to continue to work extra-duty jobs as an active police officer under the union contract, and the department could not order him to stop, he said.

Sgt. Joseph Kennedy, the Stamford Police Association president, said the department had a right to place Zach on nondisciplinary administrative leave, but it would not yet have a reason to remove Zach from extra-duty jobs if he were still working.

"Everybody wants to jump on and discipline this kid, but the investigation's not even done," Kennedy said.

The records from Greenwich, police department civil service test results, show Zach applied two years in a row to be a police officer for the town in which he was raised. Zach served in Iraq in 2003 and received extra points for his veteran status.

Zach may have qualified to work in the department the first time he applied, in the 2003 to 2004 application year, said Mary Jo Iannuccilli, assistant director of human resources for Greenwich. That year, Zach had a 93.4 percent score on the series of tests. His score was the second highest in the application cycle.

Iannuccilli said it appeared the department did not move to hire Zach at that time. Iannuccilli said she did not know whether the department had yet conducted a background check.

In the following year, his score dropped to 87.567 percent, and he was disqualified because of his background check.

She said applicants for Greenwich at that time underwent a background check conducted by the independent company Countermeasures Investigations & Surveillance LLC, as well as a more thorough background check by the Greenwich Police internal affairs department.

Iannuccilli said she could not say anything specific about Zach's rejection.

Court records show Zach was arrested by Greenwich police April 1, 2000, and charged with possession of liquor by a minor. Zach was 18 at the time. He was found guilty the following month and assessed a $200 fine, though it is not clear whether the charge, a violation, had anything to do with his disqualification.

Attempts to reach Zach on Friday were not successful.

Larrabee said it was not unusual for applicants to apply for jobs in more than one department at the same time, or for applicants to be hired by some departments despite rejections from others.
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Deputy Marcus Smith Arrested for Assault

A San Joaquin County sheriff's deputy has been indicted on an assault charge.

The indictment accuses Deputy Marcus Smith of using his hands and feet to assault an unidentified person.

The indictment doesn't say if the incident took place while Smith was on duty, but eight other members of the sheriff's staff testified before the grand jury, according to court papers.

Smith has worked for the sheriff's department for about seven years and is assigned to the Lathrop Police Department. The sheriff's office provides the city of Lathrop with police services under a contract.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Officer Bryan Pinto Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The South Valley police officer accused of sexual misconduct in a recent claim against the city is telling his side of the story.

Officer Bryan Pinto says he's being wrongly accused by a young man who he believes, is simply out for money.

Bryan Pinto says he's being falsely accused by a now, 18 year old young man with a greedy motive. Pinto says the accuser has come over to his home before, but he denies anything sexual happened between the two.

In fact, he says the accuser was more friends with his partner than him.

Bryan Pinto says he's shocked and angry about the latest allegations made in court documents filed Monday, accusing him of having a sexual relationship with a senior at Mount Whitney High.

"None of that ever happened. Absolutely not, never," said Pinto.

Pinto says the accuser, who we are not identifying because he was a minor at the time, is making up the allegations for financial gain to tarnish the officer's name.
Pinto said, "I need to get my word out there and get the truth out there."

Pinto says the accusations are also suspicious because they were made just days after he won a prestigious award for making 57 DUI arrests.

An internal affairs investigation is still underway. Pinto is expecting to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

"Absolutely I've done nothing wrong in this situation. There was never anything that crossed any lines, anything that was unprofessional nothing that occurred on duty, off duty to be accused of anything," said Pinto.

According to a search warrant, officers searched Pinto's Visalia home in May after investigators used a forensic device to retrieve two text messages from Pinto's iphone. Both were sent to the accuser and are sexual in nature.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office told Action News after a thorough investigation, they are not pursuing any criminal charges.

Pinto claims the accuser is a wayward teen merely after deep pockets.
Pinto said, "I think money is ultimately the factor here."

Melina Benninghoff is Pinto's attorney, she says she hired an investigator who also came to the conclusion there is no evidence to support the claims.

Benninghoff said, "The allegations of sexual misconduct are completely unfounded. Completely unfounded. My client did absolutely nothing wrong. He just was a vulnerable target."

Pinto says he's confident the truth will eventually come out.

"It hurts to know that people would think that I would put myself in that situation again after everything that I've already been through and everything that I've already worked so hard to do so good at the Visalia Police Department that this accusation has now brought everything to a screeching halt again," said Pinto.

Pinto was fired in 2003 for similar misconduct allegations. But after a jury trial cleared him of those charges, he also won his job back. The Visalia Police Department said they have no comment on anything relating to Officer Pinto.

Sgt. James Crowley Accused of Racial Profiling Black Scholar is Profiling Expert

The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.

Friends and fellow officers — black and white — say Sgt. James Crowley is a principled cop and family man who is being unfairly described as racist.

"If people are looking for a guy who's abusive or arrogant, they got the wrong guy," said Andy Meyer, of Natick, who has vacationed with Crowley, coached youth sports with him and is his teammate on a men's softball team. "This is not a racist, rogue cop. This is a fine, upstanding man. And if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place."

Gates accused the 11-year department veteran of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week.

Crowley confronted Gates in his home after a woman passing by summoned police for a possible burglary. The sergeant said he arrested Gates after the scholar repeatedly accused him of racism and made derogatory remarks about his mother, allegations the professor challenges. Gates has labeled Crowley a "rogue cop," demanded an apology and said he may sue the police department.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama elevated the dispute, when he said Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" during the encounter.

Later, Obama stepped back, telling ABC News, "From what I can tell, the sergeant who was involved is an outstanding police officer, but my suspicion is probably that it would have been better if cooler heads had prevailed."

Crowley didn't immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

He has said he has no reason to apologize and, on Thursday, told a radio station Obama went too far.

"I support the president of the United States 110 percent," he told WBZ-AM. "I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts, as he himself stated before he made that comment."

The sergeant added: "I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too."

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, in his first public comments on the arrest, said Thursday that Crowley was a decorated officer who followed procedure. The department is putting together an independent panel to review the arrest, but Haas said he did not think the whole story had been told.

"Sgt. Crowley is a stellar member of this department. I rely on his judgment every day. ... I don't consider him a rogue cop in any way," Haas said. "I think he basically did the best in the situation that was presented to him."

But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, once the top civil rights official in the Clinton administration and now, like Obama, the first black to hold his job, labeled the arrest "every black man's nightmare."

The governor told reporters: "You ought to be able to raise your voice in your own house without risk of arrest."

Those who know the 42-year-old Crowley say is calm, reliable and committed to everyday interests like playing softball and coaching his children's youth teams.

"He's a guy that you hope shows up for the game, because he adds some levity. He's a team guy and he hangs out after the game," said Joe Ranieri, who plays softball with Crowley in suburban Natick.

Dan Keefe, a town parks official who knows Crowley from his work coaching youth swim, softball, basketball and baseball teams, said: "I would give him my daughter to coach in a blink of an eye, and I can't say any stronger opinion than that."

Crowley grew up in Cambridge's Fresh Pond neighborhood and attended the city's racially diverse public schools, including Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. His brothers Jack and Joseph also work for the police department. His third sibling, Daniel, is a Middlesex County deputy sheriff.

Now married with three children of his own, Crowley lives about 15 miles from the city where he works.

He joined the Cambridge Police Department about 11 years ago and oversees the evidence room, records unit and paid police details.

For five of the past six years, Crowley also has volunteered alongside a black colleague in teaching 60 cadets per year about how to avoid targeting suspects merely because of their race, and how to respond to an array of scenarios they might encounter on the beat. Thomas Fleming, director of the Lowell Police Academy, said Crowley was asked by former police Lowell Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, to be an instructor.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming said.

David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, lives in Cambridge, had a brother on the force there and said Crowley is from a "tremendous family."

"Everybody in the community loves this guy. All his peers love him," Holway said. "Everyone speaks highly of him."

Crowley's encounter with Gates his not his first with a high-profile black man, although on the prior occasion he was lauded for his response.

He was a campus cop at Brandeis University in suburban Waltham when was summoned to the school gymnasium in July 1993 after Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis collapsed of an apparent heart attack. Crowley, also a trained emergency medical technician, not only pumped the local legend's chest, but put his mouth to Lewis' own and attempted to breathe life back into the fallen athlete.

"Looking back on it, he was probably already gone," Crowley said Thursday during an interview with WEEI-AM in Boston. "But I did to him what I would do to anything else in that situation."
Other information:

Animal Control Officer Andy Ray Lane Accused of Extortion

An animal control officer has been accused of using his job to con a southern Oregon man out of 2 horses.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says 53-year-old Andy Ray Lane told a Wimer man in April that the horses were being kept in inadequate enclosures. The man tried to fix the problem over the next few weeks, but decided to sell the horses when he couldn't satisfy the officer.

When a buyer couldn't be found, Lane returned with a trailer and took the horses. He also allegedly grabbed some fence panels, telling the resident they were needed to help corral the animals.

Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan says animal control officers generally deal with issues such as dogs and rabies, and do not take livestock from owners.

Lane was arrested Thursday on charges of coercion, theft by extortion and official misconduct.

Information from: Mail Tribune,

EMT Says Trooper Daniel Martin Should Be Reassigned

An ambulance driver who was at the heart of a traffic stop that led to a scuffle between a state trooper and a paramedic believes the officer should be reassigned elsewhere.

Paul Franks said Trooper Daniel Martin should be reassigned to the Panhandle or to southeastern Oklahoma's Little Dixie.

Though Martin lives north of Okemah and patrols the Okfuskee County area, he works for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's Troop D, which is based in McAlester, the reputed capital of "Little Dixie."

Troop D covers Okfuskee, Seminole, Hughes, Pittsburg, Latimer and LeFlore counties.

On Wednesday, the OHP announced it had suspended Martin for five days without pay for "conduct unbecoming an officer" in connection with a May 24 traffic stop of a Creek Nation ambulance, driven by Franks.

The suspension is in effect through next Tuesday.

Martin had stopped the ambulance at Paden after he thought Franks had made an obscene finger gesture, which the trooper felt was an "act of defiance."

Franks denied ever making such a gesture.

A few minutes earlier, on U.S. 62 east of Paden, Martin had encountered the ambulance, which was taking a woman from Boley to the hospital in Prague. The ambulance was not running with its emergency lights or siren.

Martin's cruiser, however, had its lights and siren on, and he was heading to an officer-needing-assistance call on a stolen-car report at Paden.

The ambulance didn't immediately yield to Martin's car, prompting a radio-to-radio warning from Martin that the ambulance crew should be more observant.

Once he was at Paden, Martin saw the ambulance pass by and decided to give chase after he thought the driver made the gesture.

As Martin approached Franks at the stop to discuss the earlier failure to yield and the supposed gesture, paramedic Maurice White Jr. came out of the ambulance.

White repeatedly told Martin that they were taking a woman to the hospital, and asked if they could continue the dispute there.

But Martin told White to back off, and then tried twice to arrest White for obstructing an officer. Those two arrest attempts led to two scuffles between the pair.

Much of the incident — which led to a national furor — was captured on cell-phone video by one of the patient's family members, who was following the ambulance.

The OHP also released the video from Martin's dashboard camera.

In its ruling on Martin, the OHP said Martin had probable cause to stop the ambulance for failure to yield, and he was justified in trying to arrest White.

However, the OHP said Martin should have allowed the ambulance to go to the hospital once he learned a patient was on board.

The patrol took aim, though, at Martin's demeanor and language in dealing with Franks, which it called "unprofessional and contrary to what is expected of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper."

Reflecting on his encounter with Martin, Franks said Thursday, "I was basically shocked and surprised by the entire incident.

"I never saw anything like it in my life. I'm still amazed by what happened," said Franks, 48, who has been an emergency medical technician for a year.

Before becoming an EMT, Franks said, he operated a small convenience store in Okemah, and "I never had a bad dealing with an officer until then. Ever."

After the scuffles between Martin and White, the ambulance was allowed to continue to the hospital. White was never arrested; Franks was given a warning for failure to yield.

Franks said he should never have received the warning because the entire stop was built on the supposed gesture.

"A person can give the finger with both hands — not that I ever would. That's not illegal. It's free speech."

Franks was noncommittal on whether the OHP went far enough in disciplining Martin.

He said he just felt that in addition to the suspension, Martin should patrol some other area.

One thing he knows for certain, the entire controversy won't go away anytime soon.

Pointing out that White has already filed a lawsuit against Martin in federal court, Franks said the saga will drag on for some time.

"I'll probably be subpoenaed, past records will be called up, and things will get ugly," Franks said.
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Officer Noah Laughlin Accused of Possessing Stolen Laptop

A former Oil City police officer is accused of possessing a stolen laptop computer he recovered during a burglary investigation in February.

Noah Laughlin, 23, was booked this week into Caddo Correctional Center, according to the Caddo sheriff's office.

When the computer malfunctioned, deputies say, Laughlin asked a fellow officer to repair it. The colleague became suspicious, checked a criminal database and determined the computer had been stolen, authorities said.

Laughlin resigned from the department in June and moved to Sulphur.

Officer Anthony Foster Charged with Theft

A veteran Houston police officer has been charged with theft by a public servant, the result of an undercover police sting driven by citizen complaints, police said on Friday.

Anthony R. Foster, 43, a Northeast Patrol Division officer who has been on the force since early 1994, was arrested Thursday and has been removed from duty, Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties said.

“Apparently, it was a proactive internal affairs operation that was set up, and it was complaint-driven," Senties said. “He has been relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the investigation."

The charge accuses Foster of taking more than $500 “by virtue of his status as a public servant” from the undercover officer.

Houston police officials declined provide any details of the charge or complaints against Foster.

“Anytime there is a complaint, they are fully investigated,“ Senties said. “It's an investigation that is ongoing with the Internal Affairs Division and that's where it stands.”

However, Houston police union officials likened Foster's arrest to a bribery case against a Houston police officer in 2007.

“It's a strategy that the proactive detail inside Internal Affairs has used before. And the last time it resulted in criminal charges against an officer, that when he went to trial, were dismissed,” said Mark Clark, executive director of the Houston Police Officers' Union.

A jury acquitted HPD officer Alfred Alaniz in June 2007 of accepting a $200 bribe not to issue a ticket to a motorist.

Alaniz, one of the department's highest paid officers, who earned more than $100,000 in overtime during a two-year period, claimed he had been set up by internal affairs.

He later relinquished his peace officer's license and retired from the department, part of a plea bargain to dismiss related charges of evidence tampering.

Foster is represented by union attorney Sally Ring, who said she had not yet met with Harris County prosecutors to review their evidence against the officer.

“He is presumed innocent until proven guilty, he has the same constitutional rights as a citizen,“ Ring said. “Just because he is a police officer, I don't think anyone should jump to the conclusion he's guilty.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jayson Stell Alleges Police Brutality

Addressing the Vilonia City Council Tuesday night, Jayson Stell asked the governing body to do their job and police their own force.

Stell, who said he has lived in Vilonia all of his life, detailed a traffic stop in the parking lot at Vilonia High School that occurred last week early on Tuesday morning where he said he became the victim of alleged “police brutality and excessive force” including being tasered.

“I never resisted,” he said. The incident, he told the council, happened in “broad daylight,” in front of a lot of witnesses.

Stell said he was not in the original vehicle that was stopped but instead was responding due to his knowledge that two underage boys were in the vehicle. The boys were reportedly being driven to the high school, and it was the adult driver of that car that was initially stopped. As well, Stell said, a third party (a female responding due to the presence of the minor boys) also allegedly experienced excessive force by officers and she received charges.

“What happened was wrong ... just wrong,” Stell said, calling for the council to be objective. The boys, he said, had no involvement in any wrong doing.

His addressing the council, he said, is an “official request,” asking the council to review audio and video from the dash cam of police cars and also the tape recordings of what happened in the police station as well as statements made by witnesses and be objective. In conclusion, he said he has retained council. A court date, he said, concerning his charges has been set for Aug. 10.

Mayor James Firestone responded to Stell’s request saying the matter is under investigation by Chief of Police Brad McNew. From the audience, McNew, echoed Firestone’s answer. McNew briefly addressed Stell saying it is a case that is under investigation and that has been turned over to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

That said, the meeting was adjourned with Stell taking his seat.

Alderman Kathy French was the only council member to speak out on the matter.

“Will we, as a council, get to see this and hear them,” she addressed McNew. To which, he answered, yes.