Friday, February 06, 2009

Judge James Heath Begged Officers Not to Arrest him for Drunk Driving


A Warren County judge accused of drunken driving berated the state trooper who pulled him over, according to video footage shot by police.

The arrest took place in October, but recently released videotape showed Common Pleas Court Judge James Heath urging the trooper not to arrest him.

The state trooper said he spotted Heath swerving as he drove on Locust Street in Wilmington, and authorities also said the judge ran a stoplight.

Heath told police that side effects from chemotherapy treatment had killed nerve endings in his hands and impaired his vision.

The trooper asked the judge if the treatments also affected the way he walked and stood.

“Yeah, big time,” Heath said.

The judge admitted to drinking alcohol, but denied that he was intoxicated.

“I had like two glasses of wine, a long time ago, a long time ago,” Heath told the trooper.

The trooper administered a field sobriety test to Heath, who begged the officer not to arrest him.

“I'm a judge,” Heath said. “I don't want to go through with all this. I don't want to go through the whole thing. We work with your court, too.”

Heath continued pleading with the trooper.

“Please don't do this,” Heath said. “Don't do this. It will ruin my career. It will ruin yours.”

The trooper told Heath that he must perform his job duties and asked the judge to be understanding.

“I understand, but I also understand that I work nonstop with you guys,” Heath said. “The highway patrol down there, they come to my house 24-7. I am the judge they always come to. I'm the guy they come to.”

The trooper asked Heath to stop, but the judge cut him off.

“I’m not ‘Mister’ Heath,” he said. “I’m Judge Heath.”

The judge was charged with driving under the influence, but he later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless operation.


More Information on Former Deputy Marc Diaz Accused of Rape

Former Riverside County Sheriff's deputy accused of raping a woman in La Quinta on Saturday left the department in 2004 after being arrested on suspicion of hiring a prostitute. Sources say that 35-year old Marc Diaz worked in the Coachella Valley Unified School District - the district had no comment.

According to Indio police, the solicitation took place on June 25, 2004, near Bliss and Oasis streets. At the time, Diaz was a nine-year veteran of the sheriff's department and was working in the Indio courthouse. Diaz is now accused of walking into a business in the 78000 block of Highway 111 and displaying a law enforcement badge. He then ordered a woman into his pickup truck and drove her to a secluded place near Washington and Country Club and raped her. He is being held on one-million dollars bail, and is expected to be arraigned today.

Sheriff Joe Craig Pleads Guilty to Contributing to Delinquency of Minor

Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig pleaded guilty today to two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and transporting an open container of liquor.

According to court documents Craig, 62, in March 2008 allowed a female minor to drink wine coolers and vodka while they rode in his vehicle. Craig also knowingly transported a soda bottle filled with vodka that he and the minor passenger could both reach.

Garvin County District Judge Candace L. Blalock ordered Craig to pay a $1,000 fine and serve 50 hours of community service at a juvenile delinquent and treatment center, court documents state.


Officer Patrick Muriel Arrested for Indecent Exposure

San Antonio police officer Patrick Muriel was arrested this week for indecent exposure after two female students at the University of Texas at San Antonio alleged he exposed himself.

Muriel, a five-year veteran patrolman, was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the UTSA investigation, according to SAPD.

The first report came from a student walking to her car in the parking lot, said David Hernandez, chief of the UTSA police force.

The woman said a man in a dark car called out to her. She thought he needed help, so she walked over. When she looked down, the man’s pants were down, Hernandez said.

The woman jumped back and the car sped off.

Security cameras helped police identify the car’s license plate, which led them to 29-year-old Muriel, an off-duty police officer. Both students identified Muriel from a photo lineup, Hernandez said.

Police were saddened to learn Muriel was an off-duty SAPD officer.

“When you have large number of employees, no matter how hard you screen, you are going to get some that sneak through,” Hernandez said. “There is no way to get inside a person’s heart and see what their deepest darkest secrets are. It is rare and we thank God for that."


Salinas Police Open Fire on Unarmed Couple for NO Reason

Salinas police are giving little information about a shooting Tuesday night in which two officers fired several shots at a vehicle during a traffic stop.

Cmdr. Dino Bardoni on Thursday gave no details about what led up to the gunfire, only that one of the officers thought he had been shot and the two opened fire.

No weapons were found in the Ford Expedition, which had been pulled over, and no arrests were made, he said.

The sport utility vehicle was stopped by an officer about 11:30p.m. near North Sanborn Road and Freedom Parkway because the license plate light was out, Bardoni said.

"It was just a routine traffic stop," he said.

A second officer arrived to assist and, while the first officer was contacting the female driver and her male passenger, he "perceived a threat" Bardoni said.

"The officer thought he'd been shot, and (the two officers) responded by discharging their firearms," he said. "Fortunately, there were no injuries."

Bardoni would not say where the officers were aiming, where they were standing while shooting or at what point and why the officers stopped shooting.

He would not give any other details, or comment on the officers' judgment or their use of force, because the department is conducting an investigation.

"We are looking at what led up to it and the facts surrounding it," he said.

The officers and the man and woman in the SUV have been interviewed or will be, Bardoni said.

The two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave as is department policy in an officer-involved shooting.

Police have not identified them or said what their law enforcement experience is.

The police investigation could take several weeks to complete, at which time a report will be sent to the District Attorney's Office for a determination of whether there was any criminal conduct by the officers.

It is the second shooting this year involving police officers in Salinas.

Jesse Pinon, a Monterey County sheriff's deputy assigned to the county gang task force, shot Carlos Fletes, 28, in the hand and stomach Jan. 15. Fletes allegedly pointed a gun at Pinon.

Fletes' family and attorney say he was holding a paint spray nozzle.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office is investigating that shooting.


Officer William McConigle Arrested for Drunk Driving


A Bloomington police officer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation into his arrest on drunken driving charges.

Officer G. William McGonigle, of Normal, was stopped in that city by an Illinois state trooper at 2:21 a.m. Saturday.

State police confirmed Thursday that the 35-year-old McGonigle, a six-year veteran of the department, was charged with speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Interim Bloomington Police Chief Randy McKinley says an investigation is being conducted to see if there were any violations of department policy, rules or regulations.

Information from: The Pantagraph,

Boston Officer Reassigned After using Cruiser to Escort Strippers

A Boston police officer has been reassigned to desk duty pending an internal affairs investigation of reports that he used a police cruiser without authority to escort two celebrity strippers, known as the "Brangelina" of the gay community, to a nightclub in the Theater District.

The officer, whose name was not released, is accused of picking up the two men, Arden and Jordan Jaric of California, from Logan Airport on Oct. 24 last year and taking them to the Roxy nightclub on Tremont Street, which often hosts gay-themed events, according to two police sources with knowledge of the investigation who requested anonymity.

"These are troubling allegations at a time when resources are stretched thin," police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said in a statement. "The department is taking this matter very seriously and it will be fully investigated."

Boston police brass became aware of the escort after the two men came under Providence police attention following a sexually graphic show they performed at Trixx All Male Revue, a male nude club on Allens Avenue in Providence, the sources said. Providence police investigated reports that the two men may have been escorted to the Rhode Island club by a law enforcement officer.

The men took pictures of a police cruiser in one of Boston's tunnels and referred to the escort on a blog, according to the sources, who confirmed a report aired on WJAR-TV in Providence.

The investigation was forwarded to Boston police when Rhode Island investigators determined the origin of the cruiser providing the escort. Boston police said yesterday that the incident is under investigation.

The sources said that investigators believe the escort to the Roxy occurred a day before the show in Rhode Island, was limited to the trip from Logan to Tremont Street, and the officer did not accompany the performers to Providence.

Boston police have varying standards for providing a police escort, but officials said they are primarily concerned with the allegations of inappropriate use of police resources without permission for the escort.

Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for Boston police, could not say yesterday how the officer may have been commissioned to provide a police escort.


Officer Carl Beckman Accused of Stealing $20,000

A 35-year veteran of the Sylvania Police Department has been indicted by a Lucas County grand jury on a charge of theft in office.

Carl Beckman, 58, is accused of stealing more than $20,000 from the department’s property room over a period of several years. Hired on in April, 1973, Mr. Beckman retired from his position Monday, Chief Gerald Sobb said.

According to the indictment filed on Thursday, the thefts occurred between January, 1996, and January, 2009. Because the amount taken was in excess of $5,000, the charge is a third-degree felony and is punishable with up to five years in prison.

As an officer in charge of the property room, Mr. Beckman was responsible for logging all evidence, Chief Sobb said. Included in the property was money confiscated during investigations.

After an investigation is completed, money is then either returned or forfeited to the department through the courts. Chief Sobb said it was when he ordered some of that money that had been forfeited to be brought up for deposit into the law enforcement fund that it was discovered thousands of dollars were missing.

No court dates for the former officer have yet been set.

Lawyers Recieves $1.4 Million in Legal Fees for Winning Taser Case

Lawyers who won $183,000 for the family of a man who died in 2005 after being Tasered dozens of times by Salinas, Calif., police have now been awarded $1.4 million in legal fees.

A federal judge yesterday ordered Taser International Inc. to pay the seven-figure amount, acknowledging that the $1,423,000 legal-fees bill is far more than the amount won by the family of Robert Heston. However, he said the award was appropriate because the lawyers took a significant risk in pursuing the case, which provided a significant public benefit, reports the Monterrey Herald.

The Arizona-based company says it will appeal the award to plaintiff attorneys John Burton and Peter Williamson.

"The case marked the first time Taser was found negligent in a death related to the use of its stun guns," the newspaper writes.

Heston's family originally was awarded more than $5 million in a jury verdict last year, for failing to warn Salinas police of the danger of multiple use of a Taser. However, U.S. District Judge James Ware reduced the award to $183,000, eliminating punitive damages, after finding that Heston, who was high on methamphetamine at the time, was 85 percent negligent in the incident.

Although the article does not explain the legal basis for the award of attorney's fees, it appears to have been made under a civil rights statute providing for the defendant to pay a prevailing plaintiff's legal costs.

Corrections Officer Melanie Madill Accused of Having Sex with Inmate

A Carbon County drug court supervisor is accused of having sex with an offender and tampering with drug tests. Melanie Madill is charged in state court with custodial sexual relations and five counts of evidence tampering. All the counts are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Madill was a jail corrections officer supervising offenders participating in the county's drug court. Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate said Madill developed a romantic relationship with one offender, then began helping him pass drug tests.

"She was tampering with the test to make the test come out favorable to the subjects," Strate said. "It appears on some tests she was substituting clean urine for urine from the subject." Madill then began helping a friend of that offender pass his drug tests, Strate said. In all, Madill may have helped four offenders pass drug screenings, he said.

Utah law forbids sex between law enforcement officers and inmates or people under state supervision. Madill is free on $15,000 bail. Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova on Friday said there also is an administrative investigation into Madill.