Monday, April 27, 2009

Officers Kenneth Moreno & Franklin Mata Charged with Rape

A grand jury in Manhattan has voted to indict two New York City police officers in the December rape of a woman who claimed she was sexually attacked after the officers escorted her from a taxicab to her apartment in the East Village while she was intoxicated, according to law enforcement officials and other people familiar with the case.

The grand jury last week charged both officers — Kenneth Moreno and Franklin L. Mata — though the details of the indictment were not immediately disclosed, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officers, who have been on modified duty, stripped of their guns and badges and working in administrative assignments, are expected to surrender on Tuesday morning and face arraignment in criminal court.

“Since I haven’t been advised of the formal charges, I am not in a position to comment at this time,” said Edward J. Mandery, a lawyer for Officer Mata.

Stephen C. Worth, a lawyer for Officer Moreno, said: “My client will appear in court tomorrow and enter a plea of not guilty. We look forward to a rigorous examination of the district attorney’s evidence.”

The case came to light in March when officials disclosed the nature of the investigation. Officials said the woman, who was not identified, went to the hospital on Dec. 7, the morning of the reported rape, and also contacted prosecutors who notified the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, law enforcement officials said.

Although both officers were at the woman’s apartment, only one of them is suspected of raping the woman, according to a person who has been briefed on the investigation. Investigators have been looking at a theory of rape in which someone has intercourse with a person too intoxicated to give consent, the person said. State law differentiates between rape under that circumstance and forcible sex.

Video surveillance helped internal investigators unravel what they say occurred.

The video, from a surveillance camera at a bar near the woman’s building, shows two uniformed officers helping her into the building at 1:10 a.m. and then returning twice over the next two hours — spending 34 minutes in the building during their final visit, according to the bar owner, who gave the video to the district attorney’s office.

During the investigation, the authorities said, officials were unable to find Officer Mata’s memo book — a notebook officers use to log their activities and movements.

At some point after the officers escorted the woman back to her apartment, they were dispatched on a ”radio run,” to report to the scene of an accident, according to one person briefed on the investigation.

After finishing at the accident scene, the officers returned to the woman’s apartment, but they did not report that they had completed their run, the person said. Instead, according to the surveillance tape, the officers did not indicate that their duties at the accident site were completed until after they left the woman’s apartment for the final time, at 3:33 a.m., the person said.

In a search of Officer Moreno’s locker on Dec. 19, police officials found a packet of heroin, the authorities said. The drugs were believed to be unrelated to the rape allegations, but it is unclear why the heroin was in the locker.

The person familiar with the case said the officer could be charged with possession of a controlled substance — though the officer could argue that he had confiscated the heroin but simply forgot to formally turn it in as evidence.

Alicia Maxey Greene, a spokeswoman for the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, declined to comment on the developments.

Sheriff Charlie Morris Pleads Not Guilty to Money Laundering

A suspended Florida sheriff pleaded not guilty to money laundering and conspiracy charges on Monday, two days after two of his former deputies were killed by a National Guard soldier they were trying to arrest.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris and Teresa Adams, his administrative assistant, made no comments following the brief hearing.

On Sunday, Interim Sheriff Ed Spooner, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to take over the troubled department just eight weeks ago, met with his department's 300 employees to try and explain what went wrong in the weekend shooting that left two deputies and the man they were trying to arrest for domestic battery dead.

Another deputy, Anthony Forgione, died in July after he was shot by a suicidal man who had barricaded himself in a home.

"All the things that keep happening, it's like a scab that keeps getting peeled back over and over," said Larry Carter, the department's senior chaplain.

FBI agents arrested Morris in February while he was on a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

Morris and Adams were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in a scheme to create fictitious bonuses for department employees and pocket the money.

Carter said employees had been preparing a May memorial service for Forgione and trying to put Morris' arrest behind them when Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York were killed.

Lopez and York had no warning a confrontation would occur when they tried to arrest Joshua Cartwright, 28, in the parking lot of a gun range, Spooner said. The deputies used a stun gun to subdue Cartwright, but he was able to start shooting at them from the ground.

"Within seconds he sat up and began firing a weapon that came out of nowhere, it was somewhere on his body we assume," Spooner said as employees joined hands in prayer, cried and hugged Sunday night.

Cartwright was killed in a shootout at a roadblock after a car chase into a neighboring county. The deputies had gone to a shooting range to arrest him after his wife sought treatment for domestic abuse injures at an area hospital.

Spooner said the deputies had no information to make them think Cartwright would turn his weapons on them.

"This went from zero to 100 in a matter of minutes. In three minutes it turned from a passive discussion to a shooting, it was one heck of a mess," the sheriff said.

According to a domestic violence report, Cartwright's wife, Elizabeth Marie Cartwright, 21, told deputies after her husband died that he believed the government was conspiring against him and that he had been upset by Barack Obama's election.

Authorities said the National Guard solider was interested in militias and in weapons training.

Both deputies were shot in areas not protected by their bulletproof vests, Spooner said.

In the chase that followed, Cartwright's truck flipped on its side after spikes at a roadblock punctured the tires. The soldier came out shooting, Spooner said.

Investigators say Cartwright and deputies at the roadblock exchanged about 60 rounds in 30 to 40 seconds before he was killed.

Both Lopez and York had retired from careers with the Air Force at nearby Eglin Air Force Base when they joined the department. A joint visitation for the officers is planned for Wednesday in Crestview. Lopez's funeral is set for Thursday afternoon in Niceville, and services for York are scheduled for Friday morning in Pensacola.

Capt. J.D. Peacock said Lopez, a father of five, was especially good at defusing tense situations such as domestic abuse calls.

"He was the person you would want in a confrontation because he calmed people down," he said.
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