Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marcus D Moore Dies After Being Tasered

The Winnebago County coroner says 40-year-old Marcus D. Moore from Freeport, has died from his injuries after being tasered by police.

Freeport Police say Moore was wanted for robbery. When they tracked him down Thursday night, they say he fought with authorities, causing them to use the stun gun.

Shortly after, Moore complained of being unable to breathe. He was taken to Rockford Memorial Hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Police think Moore was on drugs at the time of his arrest and that taser use was warranted. They won't say whether the responding offer will be reprimanded. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Trooper Paul Vera Pleads No Contest to Pointing Weapon

A state trooper has pleaded "no contest" after he was accused of storming into an ex-girlfriend's house in Groton and threatening her boyfriend with a gun.

Paul Vera of Waterford was charged with second degree breach of peace and third degree criminal mischief, both misdemeanors.

A judge ordered Vera to attend 26 sessions of an anti-domestic violence program. If he doesn't complete the program, he could be sentenced to six months in prison. Vera is a 22-year veteran of state police.


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57 Felony Counts Filed Against Ex-Judge Herman Thomas

A special Mobile County grand jury today returned indictments on 57 felony counts against ex-circuit court judge Herman Thomas, including ethics violations, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sex abuse, first-and-second-degree extortion and first-degree sodomy.

The indictments involve eight alleged victims Thomas supposedly extorted for sexual favors during his time as a judge. Thomas resigned from the circuit court just over two years ago amid an Alabama Judicial Inquiries Commission investigation into allegations he spanked inmates in a secret room in the courthouse and also surreptitiously removed cases from other judges’ dockets and had them placed on his own. Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, Jr. delivered the indictments during a 2:30 press conference at the Mobile County Courthouse.

Named as victims in the indictments were Jhordis Woods, Necester Warmack, Douglas Hill, Akil Figures, Mitee Meardry, Thaddeus Hale, Deangelo Daughtry, Marcus Vaughn and Darrius Lane. Figures is the son of State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures. All men are either currently housed in the Mobile Metro Jail, or have spent time there. Normally Lagniappe would not name victims of alleged sexual abuse, but given the highly charged political nature of this case we believe it is unrealistic to expect they will stay secret and even unfair to Thomas.

The grand jury charged Thomas with sexually violating all of the men and with using his position to solicit sexual favors from them. In the case of some alleged victims like Woods, the grand jury also found that Thomas used Woods’ labor for his private benefit to materially affect his financial interest. Tyson would not elaborate on the specifics of what the charges meant, saying he was going to be extremely careful with information surrounding the case, and that he was unhappy with what he considered to be the dissemination of sensitive information. “I’m really disturbed about some of the leaks that I have been reading about in that regard. We’re going to find out as best we can from where all that came,” Tyson said.

Thomas was arrested outside of Mobile County Metro Jail just minutes before Tyson’s press conference. His attorney “Cowboy” Bob Clark was holding his own press conference when D.A.’s investigators walked up and arrested Thomas and took him into the jail to be booked. Prior to the arrest, Clark categorized the indictments as a, “high-tech lynching. It’s racism at its finest by the white folks at the courthouse.”

Tyson dismissed the charges of racism out of hand. All of Thomas’ alleged victims are black.

Prior to Tyson’s press conference, there was a brief moment of drama when Clark showed up and was told by one of Tyson’s investigators, Tony Goubil, that he couldn’t stay. Clark said Goubilwould have to arrest him if he wanted him to leave. Finally the Goubil told Clark he was under arrest. “One of your goons is going to arrest me,” Clark hollered as he was lead down the hallway to an awaiting Tyson. After a short meeting, Clark was allowed to return, although he sat quietly. Tyson later made certain to point out that Clark was not under arrest.

Thomas faced a bond of $287,500. He was bonded out of jail Friday afternoon.

If convicted, the former judge could face an extremely long stretch in jail, as the charges against him carry some pretty severe penalties.

“The grand jury leveled what I consider to be very serious charges. The most serious is a Class A felony. There are a number of Class Bs here and Class C felonies. The Class A is punishable by a range of 10 to 99 Bs 2 to 20, Cs 1 to 10. I would say anytime you return a felony indictment in the judicial profession you have a very serious set of circumstances,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said he does not think Thomas poses a flight risk, but his office did set three conditions upon his release. He is to have no contact with any males under the age of 21, he is to have no contact with any of the complaining victims or family members of the complaining witness and he must surrender his passport. When asked whether Thomas’ work with the Mobile County School System, specifically the Phoenix Program which deals with at-risk youth, is something that concerns his office as the investigation moves forward, Tyson pointed out the stipulation that Thomas not have contact with young men under 21. Most of his alleged victims were young inmates in their late teens or early 20s at the time they claim Thomas abused them.

Tyson said his office has been in contact with the Alabama State Bar and gave them a copy of the indictments. The bar has been in contact with Thomas in the past month. Thomas is still practicing as an attorney with the Brandyburg firm.

If Thomas is eventually convicted, Tyson said it will create a situation in which the cases he presided over will have to be examined to determine what, if any, problems there may have been related to his behavior.

“We’re going to have to take that on a case-by-case basis. I suspect we’ll get what we have been getting in that regard. I think there have been a number of inquiries, but we’ll have to do it on a case-by-case basis,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said he has been in touch with the state Supreme Court in order to begin the process of getting a judge to hear Thomas’ trial, as he expects all of the Mobile County Circuit Court judges to recuse themselves from the case.

“I don’t know if that has formally happened, but I expect it to,” he said.

He said he asked Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb to appoint a judge for the case.

“Once we’ve done that I suspect we’ll have an arraignment and set a calendar,” Tyson said.

He does expect the trial to take place in Mobile County.

Tyson has faced some criticism in recent months for the length of time Thomas has gone without being indicted. The first allegations of his paddling of prisoners and changing of court dockets started coming to light almost three years ago and he resigned from the bench just over two years ago. A series of articles in this publication brought to light complaints that Tyson’s office had stopped investigating Thomas, and also highlighted the efforts of attorney Joe Kulakowski who has independently investigated Thomas over the past two years. Tyson said this investigation has been going on for a long time, but did say the special grand jury was empanelled just a few weeks ago during the trial of Lam Luong, the man who was recently convicted of throwing his four children off the Dauphin Island Bridge.

“We used the cover of the Lam Luong trial to ask for the jurors for this special grand jury,” Tyson said. He added that they have not released the grand jury and that it will continue to investigate the case.

Clark summarized the entire list of indictments with one word – “bullshit.”

“This ain’t even close enough for government work. It ain’t close enough for hand grenades,” he said.

He went on to say the indictments came strictly from racism from other judges and members of the local legal community. He specifically named Circuit Judge Rusty Johnston and Kulakowski .

“I would start with the sixth floor then wander up to the seventh floor in this building, that’s where it’s coming from,” Clark said from the atrium of Government Plaza after Tyson’s press conference. “You don’t read the newspaper? They talked about Herman being suspended from Judge Johnston’s courtroom, Joe Koolaid hanging out in Judge Johnston’s courtroom all the time. That’s where it’s coming from, people who’ve got 20 and 30 years for Herman. If you went over to that jail and said say something bad about that judge that sentenced you we’ll let you go, they’d talk.”

Clark also disparaged the fact that the alleged victims are all people who have criminal histories.

“What’s unusual is to take the word of convicted felons and mash it into a 58-count (the grand jury handed out a 57- count indictment) indictment,” Clark said.

Asked why Thomas resigned his position on the bench if all the charges against him were false, Clark said he would have had different advice for the ex-judge.

“I didn’t represent the judge. It’s all made up. I didn’t represent the judge back then. I would not have handled it the way it was handled,” Clark said.


Two Officers Arrested - One Charged with Beating Pregnant Wife- Other Charged with Rape


Two police officers have been relieved of duty after one was charged with beating his pregnant wife while another was charged with raping a woman while his wife slept in the same bed, police said Friday.

The more recent arrest took place Thursday, when Officer Stephen Kenneth Olenchak, 34, was arrested for two counts of rape. According to an arrest report, the victim told investigators that Olenchak brought his wife a drink before going to bed on Sunday. When his wife fell asleep, he then brought the victim something to drink, according to the report.

Davie Police spokesman Lt. Bill Coyne said police are investigating whether drugs were used in the drinks. According to the report, Olenchak then fondled and had intercourse with the victim, who said she did not consent and was not coherent enough to call out to Olenchak's wife for help.

At one point, the report states, Olenchak's wife got up to use the bathroom, and the victim said she "looked like a zombie."

Olenchak, who has been with the Police Department 11 years, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He is out of jail on a $10,000 bond.

Earlier this month, police arrested Vally Getejanc, 25, who has been with the Davie department since September 2007. Getejanc has been charged with one count of battery for a February 27 incident during which he was accused of throwing his wife to the ground. The two had been married just four days, and the wife was five months pregnant, according to an arrest report.

Police on March 19 charged him with aggravated assault with a firearm following an investigation into more allegations brought by the wife, who said Getejanc took his duty weapon and held it to her head during a Feb. 3 argument, according to a separate arrest report.

Information on Getejanc's bond was not available, but he is not currently in the Broward jail system, according to records.

Corporal Fernando Martinez Arrested for Drunk Driving after Crashing his Cruiser


A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver's side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer's breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

Officer Kyle Hunter Arrested for Stealing Girlfriend's Car

Another schenectady police officer has been arrested. He's accused of stealing his girlfriend's car.

Police Chief Mark Chaires says patrolman Kyle Hunter has been charged.

According to Chaires, officers went to check out a domestic dispute allegation last night around quarter to six, when a woman's BMW had been taken.

Chaires says Hunter was located around 11:30 and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

He spent the night in jail and was suspended without pay for 30 days.

Chaires says Hunter joined the force in 2001--and he did say there is "a previous administrative history" with Hunter.

Hunter's arrest brings the total number of Schenectady cops in trouble to eight.