Sunday, March 15, 2009

Officer James Watson Charged with Solicitation of Sodomy

James Watson, 27, a Nashville police officer, was arrested Friday night and charged with one count of solicitation of sodomy.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the Berrien County Sheriff's office received a complaint and turned the matter over to the GBI to investigate.

Watson was not on duty at the time of his arrest.

Officials with the Nashville police department and Sheriff's office declined to comment on this case, saying it is an on-going investigation.

Officer Joseph D'Amelio Charged with Drug Trafficking

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was arrested last night immediately after he and another man received a FedEx package containing hundreds of prescription painkillers, including OxyContin, police said.

Officer Joseph D'Amelio, 38, of East Boston, and Anthony Christallo, 39, of Derry, N.H., face a minimum of 10 years in prison on drug trafficking charges.

Based on FedEx's "internal policies," the company became suspicious of a package addressed to a London Street auto garage in East Boston and notified State Police narcotics detectives. State Police, working in conjunction with Boston police, the Suffolk district attorney's office, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement set up a controlled delivery of the package in an attempt to catch the intended recipients.

According to the district attorney's office, D'Amelio showed up at the garage, Advanced Automotive, shortly after 6 p.m. yesterday to accept the package. He was in a marked MIT police cruiser and wearing his police uniform.

D'Amelio and Christallo were arrested, and the package was seized, along with $12,000. The package reportedly contained 360 OxyContin tablets and an additional quantity of Roxicodone tablets. Roxicodone and OxyContin are brand names for the opioid narcotic painkiller Oxycodone.

The doses in the package are among the strongest available. There was no word on who sent the package.

A spokeswoman for MIT said D'Amelio has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and that the school was cooperating with police.

The men are being held in custody and will be arraigned tomorrow in East Boston District Court.


Former Sheriff Bill Keating & 16 others Indicted


For months, perhaps longer, the Montague County Jail was "Animal House" meets Mayberry.

Inside the small brick building across from the courthouse, inmates had the run of the place, having sex with their jailer girlfriends, bringing in recliners, taking drugs and chatting on cell phones supplied by friends or guards, according to authorities. They also disabled some of the surveillance cameras and made weapons out of nails.

The doors to two groups of cells didn't lock, but apparently no one tried to escape — perhaps because they had everything they needed inside.

The jailhouse escapades — some of which date to 2006, according to authorities — have rocked Montague (pronounced mahn-TAYG), a farming and ranching town of several hundred people near the Oklahoma line, about 65 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

There were whispers in the past year about an affair between a female jailer and male inmate, but folks dismissed the rumors as small-town gossip. It was not until late last month, when a Texas grand jury returned a 106-count indictment against the former sheriff and 16 others, that the inmates-gone-wild scandal broke wide open.

The indictment charged Bill Keating, sheriff from 2004 until December, with official oppression and having sex with female inmates. The others indicted include nine guards — seven women and two men — who were charged with various offenses involving sex or drugs and other contraband. Four inmates also were charged.

Local, state and federal authorities are still trying to figure out how this small-town Texas jail was turned into something resembling a frat house.

The new sheriff, Paul Cunningham, said he was stunned while touring the jail for the first time just hours after being sworn into office Jan. 1. He saw partitions made of paper towels that blocked jailers' view into cells, and pills scattered about.

Cunningham, who had not worked for the county before his election in November, immediately ordered the jail closed and moved the nearly 60 inmates to another institution.

"It literally scared me — not for myself but for the employees," Cunningham said. "How somebody kept from being killed was beyond me."

Cunningham, who defeated Keating in the Republican primary last spring, suggested that Keating lost interest in the jail after that and turned his back on the place.

Separately from the indictment, Keating, 62, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in January to charges he coerced a woman into having sex with him by threatening to jail her on drug charges.

Keating's attorney, Mark Daniel, called the latest charges against the former sheriff "kind of silly in the face of the federal investigation, like piling on." He declined further comment.

The investigation began with a tip last fall from inside the jail.

An official received a handwritten letter on notebook paper from an inmate arrested on charges of kidnapping his girlfriend. The inmate, Luke C. Bolton, said they met in 2007 when she was a jail guard and he was behind bars on another charge. He said their sexual relationship started in a jail shower and continued during her late-night visits to his cell.

"I'm just reaching out for help to show (the jailer) is a person who abused her power. She broke the law by having sex with me in cell #16 while I was an inmate. ... Please help me. I am telling the truth. Everybody knows I am," Bolton wrote, offering to take a polygraph.

The former jailer is among those indicted. Bolton remains in jail.

Current employees said they were shocked by the scandal.

"People say, `How could you not know?' Well, it didn't go on during our shift," said Jerrie Reed, who works the day shift. Reed said the then-sheriff sometimes asked to see female inmates privately in his office, but she assumed they were informants. She said none ever seemed upset as she led them shackled to and from Keating's office.

Cunningham said it appears that most of the illegal activities occurred in a certain section of the 100-bed, one-story jail, which has several long corridors that make it difficult for anyone to hear what is going on beyond their immediate areas.

The jail will reopen this week following about $1 million in repairs, needed after years of damage by inmates, Cunningham said. Also, the entire department is getting new uniforms, badges and vehicles.

"I just think this office needs to change the image completely," the new sheriff said. "I think we're well on our way to getting the public's confidence back."

Lt. Donnie Lowe Arrested for Drunk Driving Pleads Not Guilty

A Seattle police lieutenant who was allowed to supervise a Seattle Police Department security detail at President Obama's inauguration after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving pleaded not guilty this morning.

Donnie R. Lowe, 42, entered the plea through his attorney, Jeffrey Veitch, in King County District Court in Redmond.

Lowe was cited for driving under the influence Nov. 23 after being stopped on Interstate 5 in South Seattle by a State Patrol trooper.

A blood-alcohol test administered to Lowe about an hour after the stop registered 0.113 percent, above the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent for those over 21, according to a State Patrol report.

Officers convicted of drunken driving can face internal discipline, often a suspension.

A police spokesman previously declined to comment on the arrest.

But the spokesman noted that Lowe began working on the inauguration assignment before the incident and carried out his duty to supervise a 42-member Seattle police detail assisting in the Jan. 20 inaugural in Washington, D.C. Lowe works in the department's Homeland Security Bureau, overseeing planning for special events and disaster management.

Lowe, who was with a passenger, was stopped about 1:45 a.m. after a trooper noticed his car drifting in the lanes, the State Patrol report said.

The trooper recognized an odor of alcohol in the car and saw a glass filled with a dark-colored liquid that smelled of alcohol in the middle drink holder, the report said. Lowe had bloodshot and watery eyes, the trooper wrote.

Lowe's record with the Police Department includes a written reprimand following a June 2006 incident in which he entered a jail cell and made inappropriate physical contact with his son, then 13, who had been arrested for obstructing officers and was handcuffed.

The boy alleged he was punched and pushed against a wall, while Lowe told internal investigators he grabbed the boy by his sweat shirt and pulled him up from a bench in way that was "not gentle," according to police records.

The City Attorney's Office reviewed the case but declined to bring charges, citing proof problems and a parent's right to discipline a child, the records show.

Lowe also received an oral reprimand stemming from a September 2002 incident in which he entered a private home in an attempt to recover nude photographs of a woman he knew from a man who reportedly had been romantically involved with her.

In 2007, a citizen-review-board report cited that case as one of several in which Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske reduced disciplinary findings. The director of the department's Office of Professional Accountability had recommended findings of misuse of authority and violation of rules, regulations and laws, the board said.

Kerlikowske reached a lesser finding, concluding that the officer engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer, the report said.

Kerlikowske has come under scrutiny in recent years for softening officer discipline.