Thursday, January 22, 2009

Officer Gary Pignato Accused of Coercing a Woman into Sex

A suspended Greece police officer accused of coercing a woman into sex is now scheduled to go on trial June 1.

Officer Gary Pignato, 48, of Hilton is accused of a felony crime of accepting a bribe and two misdemeanor counts — coercion and official misconduct.

A Greece woman alleges that Pignato came to her home in August in response to a domestic dispute, then coerced her into a sexual encounter later.

Those allegations, however, are contained in legal papers filed by the woman in a notice that she intends to sue Pignato and the town of Greece.

In the woman's legal papers, filed Nov. 18, she alleges that Pignato responded to a domestic dispute at her home on Aug. 24. She told Pignato she had been drinking, a possible probation violation.

The woman alleges that Pignato told her she could "avoid going to jail" if she met him later that evening. She did meet Pignato and went to his home, she alleges. There, the notice alleges, Pignato "forcibly" required her to submit to sex.

Her attorney has said that the sex between the two was not consensual, but "was a coerced act under the threat of arrest and jail" and that the woman was on probation for a petit larceny of less than $50.

Prosecutors have not detailed specifics of the criminal allegations against Pignato, but do say it stems from his response as an officer to an argument at the Greece home.

The Democrat and Chronicle is not printing the name of the woman because she alleges she was the victim of sexual coercion in her legal papers.

Pignato has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer says Pignato did not commit a crime. He has been suspended without pay.

Former Probation Officer Daniel Hendrickson Accused of Inappropriately Touching Woman


A former Kent County probation officer accused of inappropriately touching a 24-year-old woman under his supervision will undergo a psychological exam.

A hearing for Daniel Neland Hendrickson, 35, was adjourned today because of the exam.

Hendrickson is charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for what investigators say was inappropriate contact with a woman who had to appear before him monthly on a drunken driving charge.

The alleged touching occurred at the Grand Rapids Township District Court building at 644 Kenmoor Ave. SE.

Information: Grand Rapids Press

Veteran Officer Jerry Starnes Indicted on 2 More Charges of Molesting Boys

A veteran Bennettsville police officer has been indicted on two more charges in connection with molesting young boys.

There are now six state grand jury indictments against Jerry Starnes.

According to the indictments, Starnes molested four boys between 1969 and 1981.

SLED began an investigation in 1997 after the initial complaint, but that case never made it to court.

Two more men came forward in 2004 and that lead to Starnes being arrested last year.

Court officials say his trial is scheduled to begin next month.

Starnes is on administrative leave without pay from the Bennettsville Police Department.

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Man Wins $20,000 Against Detroit Officer Who Squeezed His Genitals

A Wayne County man who said a Detroit Police officer groped him during a 2006 search settled a lawsuit against the city today for $20,000, an amount city officials say was not an admission of guilt but a way to end the case as cheaply as possible.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan for Elvis Ware, said Ware was stopped at a gas station in May 2006 when officers Michael Parish and Michael Osman approached him and questioned him about drugs. Ware claimed he was removed from his car, handcuffed and then searched by Parish. Ware claimed Parish shoved his bare hand down his pants and squeezed his genitals.

Ware’s suit had been scheduled for trial today in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Acting city corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon said the city could have been ordered to pay fees for Ware’s lawyers if it lost the case.

“The officers didn’t do anything wrong,” Crittendon said, adding that Parish and Osman both were investigated by Detroit police and federal authorities. “The officers were cleared,” she said.

The ACLU – which had refused to disclose the settlement amount – said as part of its settlement the city agreed to read search procedures to officers at roll call one day a month for three months.

Ware, 36, has no criminal record and was an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, said ACLU lawyer Mark Fancher. Fancher said the officers who stopped Ware are still on the force.

Ware said today he did not report the incident to Detroit Police because “I didn’t trust them.”

Officer William Edwards Sr Charged with Sexual Assault of Child

New London Community Police Officer William R. Edwards Sr. appeared in Norwich Superior Court this morning on charges related to the sexual assault of a child.

Edwards, 45, has been charged with third-degree sexual assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, tampering with a witness and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. He was arrested this morning by state police at Troop E in Montville.

New London Police Chief Bruce Rinehart suspended Edwards without pay following Edwards' arrest.

The suspension was effective immediately, said Rinehart, and will be in effect pending the outcome of the court case. Rinehart had been unable to suspend Edwards until his arrest because Edwards had been hospitalized since early December.

The chief and New London Police Capt. Margaret Ackley met Edwards at Troop E where state police processed him.

“It's an unfortunate thing,'' Rinehart said. “Law enforcement is one big family and when these things happen to our brothers and sisters, these things affect us all.''

He said the department is also conducting an internal investigation into the allegations.

Edwards was accompanied in court by his attorney, Paul Guernsey, and by his brother, Kenneth Edwards, a former New London police officer. He posted $100,000 bond.

Judge Barbara Jongbloed issued a full protective order forbidding William Edwards from having any contact with the victim and added the condition that he cooperate with the Institute of the Living, a psychiatric institution in Hartford, where he had been hospitalized since early December.

His case has been transferred to Danielson Superior Court and his next appearance is scheduled for Feb. 11

Steven Bass Arrested for Throwing Snowball at Officer

Greenville, NC

A freshman college student was placed in handcuffs by a police officer during a snowball fight involving more than 200 students.

Greenville police confirm Steven Bass was arrested after allegedly throwing a snowball at an officer during the snowball fight.

Campus police say some injuries were a result of the fight and an officer even had to use pepper spray.

Officers say they were called out three time Tuesday afternoon to control the situation.

No one was seriously hurt.

The incident was later posted to popular video sharing website The video shows an officer chasing the student before tackling him on the snowy ground.

ON THE WEB: Additional snowball fight video
WARNING: Audio does contain language that may not be appropriate for all viewers.

WTF??? It was a SNOWBALL!!! Poor little pussy with it.

Officer Wilfredo Rosario Charged with 4th Rape


A New York City police officer who was previously charged with sexually abusing three women has been charged with raping a fourth victim.

Wilfredo Rosario was arrested Thursday and arraigned in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges including felony rape and sexual abuse.

He pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer, Glenn Morak, says he will fight the charges vigorously.

Rosario is suspended from duty at the 26th Precinct in Harlem.

Prosecutors say Rosario raped a woman in her apartment in 2003 and then stalked her in 2008.

He was previously indicted twice on sexual abuse charges involving three different women.

Prosecutors say all of the women had asked about after-school programs for their children.

Rosario is being held on $150,000 bail.

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Officer Naham James Perry Sentenced to 4 years for Sexually Abusing Stepdaughter


A former University of Maryland Eastern Shore police officer accused of sexually abusing his teenage stepdaughter was sentenced to serve four years in jail by a Somerset County judge on Wednesday.

Naham James Perry, a 41-year-old Princess Anne resident, faced seven charges, including multiple counts of sex abuse.

Perry entered an Alford plea, a plea that does not admit guilt but concedes there is sufficient evidence to win a conviction, in October on the sex abuse of a minor charge and was found guilty.

The state dismissed the other six charges.

In court Wednesday, the judge sentenced Perry to eight years in prison, but suspended four years. He will also serve two years of supervised probation and is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with the victim or other minors. He must also attend sex abuse counseling.

Perry admitted to one sexual encounter with the teenage victim during the sentencing hearing, but said he was sleeping when the teen performed a sex act on him.

The problem, according to defense attorney James E. Crawford Jr., occurred when Perry told his supervisor and others at his job.

"Boom. It gets blown up and pushed against him," Crawford said.

However, the prosecutor, Wicomico County Assistant State's Attorney Jamie Dykes, said Perry, the victim and the victim's mother told investigators that multiple sexual incidents took place between April 2005 and June 2008. Perry's wife told Maryland State Police investigators that she had to put a stop to the "playful biting"(WTF???? and she didn't say anything else?) between the victim and Perry, Dykes said.

"This victim was in the twilight zone," Dykes said. "It appeared there were no sexual boundaries in the home."

Perry's wife requested her husband not serve any jail time. She said her daughter had a history of lying and made the allegations against her husband because she was jealous of their relationship.

"She's lied on her father and said he was mistreating her and that's how I got custody of her," Perry's wife told the judge.

The victim had previously made false accusations about a board of education employee stalking her.

"He's a good person," Perry's wife said. "He's been upfront and honest with me"

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Officer Joshua Calder Resigns After Drunk Driving Charge


A Farmington police officer accused of drunken driving has resigned to take another job.

Police Chief Jim Runnels says Joshua Calder gave the department two weeks' notice Wednesday because he'd found another job.

He did not say whether the drunken driving charge played a part in his decision.

Calder was charged with aggravated drunken driving earlier this month.

The charge arose from an August motorcycle crash that injured Calder's passenger.

A San Juan County deputy says Calder reported drinking three beers before the crash. Calder's friends say he drank a beer and a half.

Authorities say Calder's blood-alcohol was 0.06. Drivers with blood-alcohol between 0.04 and 0.08 are considered to have driven drunk only with additional evidence.

Information from: The Daily Times,

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Officer Kurt Rosenthal Accused of Leaving Sexually Explicit Messages on Cell Phone While Driving Drunk


The Iowa Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a ruling that allows a Dubuque police officer who left a drunken, sexually explicit telephone message with a female officer to keep his job.

Officer Kurt Rosenthal was accused of placing calls to the female officer's cell phone while out drinking with other off-duty officers in October 2007. Court records said he left one sexually explicit message. He also was accused of driving around the city the same evening while intoxicated.

The following month, Rosenthal was fired and he challenged the termination. The Dubuque Civil Service Commission reduced his punishment to a 30-day suspension without pay, but the city appealed that decision to the Dubuque County District Court.

That court upheld the suspension, finding that the firing of Rosenthal, an officer since 2002 with no prior disciplinary record, wasn't warranted. The city also appealed that decision.

Barry Lindahl, an attorney for the city of Dubuque, said Thursday morning that even the majority of the three-member appeals court panel "thought it was a close case." He said he'll speak with the chief of police and city manager to consider further legal options including asking the full appeals court to review the case, or applying for the supreme court to hear the case.

Lindahl said Rosenthal remains on paid administrative leave as the case works its way through the courts. He confirmed that the female officer continues to work for the police department.

In its ruling, the appeals court said there is "no question that Rosenthal's actions constituted misconduct," but it notes his prior record and lack of any previous discipline.

"In fact, his personnel file is replete with letters of commendation from his superiors and notes of appreciation from members of the public," the court wrote in its ruling. "The absence of a disciplinary history militates in favor of suspension rather than termination."

The court also points out that the day after the incident Rosenthal called the female officer to apologize for his phone calls the night before, and the following month he enrolled in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

"That apology reflects an understanding of the severity of his misconduct and reflects remorse for that conduct," the court wrote.

Finally, the court examined Rosenthal's action on the public, saying he placed members of the community at risk by driving while intoxicated and he affected the "prestige of the police department." However, it found that his record suggests the misconduct was an isolated incident.

Chief Judge Rosemary Shaw Sackett dissented from the majority opinion. She would reverse the district court opinion, saying the "officer's conduct is such that the police chief was clearly justified in firing him."

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What about the Drunk Driving? Just because he didn't get caught and he has a clean record...he's good to go? He's just another bad cop that hasn't got caught yet.

Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard Investigating Claim of Excessive Force

The Peoria Police Chief responds to a lawsuit claiming his officers used excessive force in an arrest. Peoria Police Officers say Bryce Scott was resisting arrest. Scott's Attorney calls it a case of police brutality. Chief Steve Settingsgaard is now conducting an investigation.

Is it a case of police brutality or were officers justified in using their force?

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says he's conducting an investigation to find out the facts in a May 2008 arrest. Chief Settingsgaard says if he's going to do a full investigation he needs a statement from the alleged victim, Bryce Scott. He has yet to get one even though the incident happened eight months ago. Officers say Bryce Scott was resisting arrest. Scott's Attorney, Dan Cusack, calls it a case of police brutality. "It's not right. I think the tape will tell you it's not right.

That's the bottom line to the whole thing. Do you see the guy getting pepper sprayed. Was he resisting? That's when you saw his hands out the window," Cusack says. Cusack provided News 25 video from the dashboard of a Peoria Squad Car. The incident started as a police chase and ended up with what Cusack shows in pictures as a bloodied Bryce Scott. "I take these allegations very seriously. I have very serious questions about what I see on the video. But, I can't jump to any conclusions, and I need to conduct a thorough investigation before I can make any determination," Chief Settingsgaard says. Chief Settingsgaard does question why it took eight months for the lawsuit to be filed.

"Normally, when we have an allegation of misconduct or an allegation of excessive force, you learn very quickly after the incident was made," Settingsgaard says. "We're not going to go and participate with the school principal when my client the pupil got the hell beat out of him, ain't going to happen," Cusack says. The Chief says his officers report the struggle on the ground, which is not visible on the video tape, included the alleged victim battering an officer. "That officer indicated in his report that the suspect grabbed him by the inner thigh and wouldn't release him and was squeezing I guess very hard," Settingsgaard says.

Cusack is ready for the courts to decide whether this was excessive force as his client is seeking more than 50-thousand dollars in damages. The six officers involved in the incident remain on the job during the police chief's investigation.

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Officer William Cozzi Pleads Guilty to Beating 60-year-old Man in Wheelchair

Yesterday I wrote about Michael Ciancio, the ex-Chicago cop who plead guilty to extortion in a sting over cops shaking down tow truck companies to provide them work at accident scenes. Today, we have another ex-Chicago cop pleading guilty in Federal court over another crime: beating a 60-year old man in a wheelchair.

The Federal charge was a civil rights violation, brought against 51 year old ex-Chicago cop William Cozzi. Cozzi has been with the force since 1992, serving in the 25th District. The Chicago Sun Times broke the story further initially when they obtained a video of the police officer beating the victim, Randle Miles, who was handcuffed to a wheelchair.

Authorities state that Randle Miles, a stabbing victim, was brought to Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park on August 2, 2005. They also have stated that Miles was drunk and uncooperative with the hospital staff, leading to the police call to have Miles restrained. Officer Cozzi arrived at the scene, and handcuffed Miles to the wheelchair. Miles became beligerent with Cozzi, who then hit Miles 10 times to the face and torso with his police bludgeon, also known as a “sap.” The video tape clearly shows Miles not resisting, but he was charged by police for resisting arrest.

On August 2, Miles was stabbed by a young woman. His friends and family pleaded with him to go to a hospital for treatment, but instead he “downed a bottle of gin,” according to his lawyer, Timothy Whiting. His abusive behavior towards hospital staff was attributed to his drunkenness.

Cozzi was originally charged, plead guilty to and convicted in 2007 under a State statute of misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to 18 months probation. While on leave from the Chicago Police Department, the Sun Times discovered the video tape of the incident, and reported it to the Chicago Police Department. Superintendent Jody Weis then referred the case to the FBI, who pursued the civil rights charges against Cozzi in April of 2008.

Cozzi is still on suspension from the Chicago Police Department. In Federal court on Thursday, January 22, 2009, under U.S. District Judge Blanche M. Manning, Cozzi plead guilty to the civil rights charges. Cozzi told the judge, “I made a mistake. I should not have hit him because he was handcuffed and secured.” Cozzi is being defended by attorney Terence Gillespie, who stated that his client is looking forward to giving a more detailed explanation of the actions he committed, and that Cozzi is “very nervous and scared.” Cozzi is set to be sentenced on March 26, 2009, and his plea agreement should bring him 6-8 years in jail, with a maximum sentence of 10 years for the crime committed, with a maximum fine of $250,000. “I lost it,” Officer William Cozzi admitted in federal court.

Cozzi also admitted to the court that he prepared a false arrest report and misdemeanor complaints stating that Miles tried to punch him and two hospital security guards. He also filed a false tactical response report stating that he used an “open hand strike” on the victim but omitted that he struck the victim with a sap.

The Fraternal Order of Police has criticized Superintendent Weis for pushing the case to the FBI under the defense of “Double Jeopardy,” where a person can not be charged twice for the same crime. In this case, the charges seem justified as the State charge was for battery, and the Federal charge was for a civil rights violation. Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Loretta King, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office made the announcement of the plea agreement today. ”The defendant violated the public trust by abusing his law enforcement authority,” said King. “This prosecution demonstrates that the Civil Rights Division is committed to aggressively prosecuting law enforcement officers who willfully use excessive force.”

Glenn Seldon Dies After Being Jailed for Unpaid Parking Tickets

Unpaid parking tickets proved fatal for a terminally ill Queens man who died after callous cops locked him up for four days for a minor traffic offense, a lawsuit claims.

Glenn Seldon, 50, was battling advanced colon cancer in 2007 but still hoped his chemotherapy regimen would make him well enough to go on a family vacation being planned for Hawaii.

Then, on May 11, 2007, he was arrested for driving with a license that had been suspended for unpaid parking tickets.

According to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, cops disregarded his weakened condition and ignored his need for daily medication to control an infection and blood clots.

When he finally staggered out of Queens Criminal Court four nights behind bars, his clothing was soiled, he was gaunt from dehydration, incontinent and weeping uncontrollably, his family said. "They broke his spirit," said his wife, Angela Seldon. "Why couldn't they have just given him a summons and let him come home to us?"

Family attorney Fred Brewington called the officers' actions appalling.

"This matter could have been handled in a more compassionate and humane way," Brewington said.

A spokeswoman for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority refused to comment on the actions of its police officers.

Seldon was heading into Manhattan to pick up his wife at work when he apparently missed an exit for the Queensboro Bridge and stopped near the Midtown Tunnel to ask cops for directions.

It's unclear what happened next, but at some point the cops determined Seldon's license was suspended for failing to pay six tickets in Nassau County traffic court.

Seldon, an insurance claims adjuster for Geico, was once a strapping 320-pounder with a deep voice. His love of singing earned him the nickname "Barry White" after the crooner he resembled.

But cancer had taken its toll. Seldon shed more than 100 pounds, his skin was discolored and covered with scales, and he was unsteady on his feet.

His wife was able to track him to the 108th Precinct stationhouse and from there, to Elmhurst Hospital Center where, according to the suit, she found him handcuffed to a chair and sitting in his own waste.

He was not freed, and he was later taken to Central Booking and Criminal Court.

Authorities would not say why he was held so long. Seldon's daughter Criscelle Seldon, 24, was shocked at the sight of her father when she found him May 15 sitting nearly catatonic on a courthouse bench, his soiled pants hanging around his ankles. "He looked like he had been in a concentration camp," she recalled.

Concerned about his condition, relatives took him to North Shore University Hospital, where doctors said his infection had worsened and his blood platelet level was dangerously low.

"The doctors asked us, 'What happened to him?'" Criscelle Seldon recalled.

Two days later, Seldon was suffering seizures and ministrokes and was placed on a respirator. He died May 20, nine days after taking a wrong turn.

The death certificate says he died of cardiac arrest, but Angela Seldon said her husband's heart was broken by the cruelty the gentle giant endured during his last week on Earth.

"I believe the stress and the trauma accelerated his death," she said.