Monday, July 20, 2009

Officer Philip Spaman Arrested for Forcible Touching Child

An Ilion police officer Monday became the fifth law enforcement officer this year to face criminal charges in the Mohawk Valley.

Ilion Officer Philip Spaman, 47, of Herkimer, was arraigned in Herkimer County Court on Monday on misdemeanor charges involving the touching of a child.

He faces one count each of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Carpenter said the two misdemeanor charges against Spaman were handed up in a sealed indictment from a grand jury.

The charges stem from alleged events involving a child under the age of 17 that occurred between September 2007 and October 2008, Carpenter said.

Because of the nature of the case, no information on the victim or his or her relationship to Spaman is being released, prosecutors said.

Ilion police Chief Timothy Parisi said Monday evening that Spaman had been suspended from duty with pay while internal and criminal proceedings against him move forward. Spaman has been a member of the department for almost 8 years.

“The criminal justice system must now take its course,” Parisi said in released statement that directed additional questions to the District Attorney’s Office. “I ask that you respect the judicial process and seek no further comment from the Ilion Police Department.”

Spaman was processed by the Herkimer village police department Monday morning prior to his arraignment, Herkimer police said.

He was represented at the arraignment by attorney George Aney and pleaded not guilty to both charges, Carpenter said. Aney did not return calls Monday.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Earlier this year, two members of the state police and two other local police officers were charged with crimes. None of those cases has been resolved:

*State police Investigator Matthew Sullivan, who is suspended without pay, was indicted in April on 10 misdemeanor charges and traffic violations stemming from a Feb. 6 traffic stop in Trenton. The charges include driving while intoxicated, speeding, unlawfully fleeing a police officer, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, passing a red light, failure to keep right and failure to comply with a police officer.

*Trooper David Volz, who is assigned to the Herkimer state police barracks, was charged April 23 with misdemeanor petit larceny in connection with the alleged mulch theft in Rome. He was suspended without pay.

*Then-Dolgeville Officer Greg Malta Jr. was charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal mischief, after police said he drove his patrol car around the school's baseball field. Malta was fired from the force.

*Herkimer Village Police Investigator Robert Risi, an 18-year veteran, stole $9,600 from an evidence locker, prosecutors. Risi faces a felony charge of third-degree larceny. He has been suspended without pay.

Trial Begins for Former Deputy Milton Pruitt Accused of Having Child Porn

The Federal Court trial of a former Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy accused of receiving and possessing child pornography began Monday in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

Prosecutor Brent Gray in his opening argument told the jury the reason they are in court is because former Deputy Sergeant Milton Scott Pruitt said he was 'just curious'; the problem is, he was just curious two years ago about child pornography.

Gray said Pruitt is accused of opening and viewing images of unclothed children from criminal investigative files he should not have opened using a sheriff’s laptop computer in his patrol car.

Investigators later found hundreds of child porn images on his home computer.
Gray invited the jury of eight women and six men to study the evidence, use their common sense and find Pruitt guilty.

Defense attorney Ann Fitz urged the jury to find Pruitt innocent, saying this is not the case of a pedophile with a fetish.

Fitz said there is no evidence that Pruitt purchased, solicited or produced child porn and that only 20 of the 328 images were clearly identified as child pornography. Fitz added that there is no evidence Pruitt made repeat visits to the porno sites and that he did not 'knowingly' receive the images.

The prosecution's first witness as the trial opened was Forsyth County's Information Technology Director John David Rusk.

Rusk testified he found child pornography images linked to Pruitt while investigating unusual activity on the county's computer system.

Officer Derrick Saunders Points Weapon on McDonalds Employee

A Denver police officer faces felony menacing and weapons charges based on an allegation he pointed a pistol to speed up his order at an Aurora McDonald's in May.

An employee at the McDonald's at 18181 E. Hampden Ave. told investigators two Denver police officers were waiting for their order at the drive-through window in the early-morning hours when Derrick Curtis Saunders, 29, grew impatient and pulled a weapon.

In addition to the menacing and weapons charges, Saunders is also charged with prohibited use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct, the Aurora Police Department said Monday.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Saunders has been suspended with pay during the investigation, but would be put on unpaid leave once the department is formally notified of the charges.

Jackson said neither he nor Police Chief Gerald Whitman would comment on the case.

"It would be inappropriate for us to make any comment about another department's case, especially an ongoing, active investigation," Jackson said.

Saunders was most recently assigned to Denver International Airport. His booking photograph was not available from Aurora police Monday.

Family Sues After Police Taser 12-year-old

A federal right lawsuit has been filed against a southern Illinois sheriff's deputy who used a stun gun on three children at an emergency shelter.

The children's guardian is suing the Jefferson County deputies, the county and Sheriff Roger Mulch, reports Associated Press.

According to the lawsuit, the deputies responded to a call from a shelter near Mount Vernon last summer to handle a situation that was labeled out of control, in which, two 12-year olds and an 11-year-old were involved and later stunned with a taser gun. After the children were shocked, they were allegedly forced into a closet along with another child. Other children who tried to intervene prompted the call.

No criminal charges have been filed, and Mulch confirmed the investigations are underway and believes the deputies acted appropriately.

FBI Investigate Several DC Officers for Gambling Connected to Homicides

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that several D.C.-area law enforcement officers were involved in a Maryland gambling ring that may also be connected to homicides, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The probe has targeted five Prince George’s County police officers, a District police official and a former D.C. Housing Authority officer, the report said. The officers allegedly helped protect illegal gambling sites that rotated around Southern Maryland. Sometimes the officers reportedly wore uniforms while providing security for high-stakes craps games with pots as high as $100,000.

Prince George’s County Police Chief Roberto Hylton said he turned over the entire probe to the FBI after he took over the department earlier this year. Three of the suspected officers have retired or are on leave. The probe has been under way since 2007.