Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jonathan Bleiweiss Arrested for Sexual Assault

In a series of events that Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti called ``an abuse of power'' and ``a tarnish to the badge,'' law enforcement agents arrested one of their own Monday and accused him of sexually assaulting victims -- while in his uniform, in marked vehicles and on the job.

Jonathan Bleiweiss, 29, of Fort Lauderdale, who in March was honored as employee of the year for the Broward Sheriff's Office's Oakland Park District, was booked at 11 a.m. on 14 charges, including sexual battery, false imprisonment and stalking in connection with abusing one of the victims, a 30-year-old male. Bleiweiss was held without bail Monday.

Investigators said Monday they were preparing to file charges involving seven more male victims, and said there might be even more. The alleged victims range in age from 17 to 30, but all have something in common: They are undocumented immigrants, mostly from El Salvador and Mexico, who speak little English.

``I can't think of a worse betrayal of public trust,'' Lamberti told reporters Monday evening, adding: ``The fact is, he preyed on one of our most vulnerable communities.''

The investigation began in April, when an attorney contacted the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to say two of his clients claimed to have been assaulted by Bleiweiss. BSO's sex crimes unit took over the investigation.

Lamberti said they gave Bleiweiss ``the benefit of the doubt'' until they fully substantiated the allegations in July, which is when he was placed on restricted administrative duty. He is now suspended without pay.

Detectives said Bleiweiss used his authority to manipulate recent immigrants who feared the police. About 6 a.m. April 23, investigators said, Bleiweiss approached a 30-year-old man who was waiting for a ride to work outside the man's apartment complex.

The man told BSO that he was then frisked and fondled, with Bleiweiss sticking his hand inside his underwear. He said Bleiweiss demanded his cellphone number, then continuously called and sent him text messages.

According to the arrest warrant, Bleiweiss is accused of performing oral sex on the man on at least four occasions between that day and June 7. He ordered the man to comply or risk deportation, said BSO Detective Graciela Benito.

She said that when BSO investigators interviewed residents at the apartment complex, they discovered a similar pattern: On multiple occasions, she said, Bleiweiss stopped a victim, demanded an ID, then sexually abused them when he determined they were undocumented.

Bleiweiss, a graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, came to BSO in 2002 after serving almost two years with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

The only consistent criticism in his BSO personnel records concerned his penmanship. However, in March he was suspended for one day after improperly reporting an illness, according to an internal affairs report.

His base pay in 2008 was $61,098 a year.

In his 2008 nomination letter for the Oakland Park District's employee of the year, Sgt. Kelvin Phillips championed Bleiweiss as a deputy who projects ``a constant and present reminder of the Broward Sheriff's Office determination to serve the community.''

In March, Bleiweiss was featured in a glowing article in The South Florida Blade as a pioneering openly gay police officer.

Lamberti emphasized that immigrants should not be afraid to report crime, regardless of their status. He encouraged anyone else Bleiweiss may have abused to call Benito at 954-321-4249.

Barry Carpenter Charged with Breaking Into Sarah Jessica Parker's House

A police chief facing charges over a burglary at the home of the surrogate mother to Sarah Jessica Parker's twins has been put on leave.

The chief suspect in the surrogate mother's house burglary is no longer the chief of police in Martins Ferry. At least not for a while.

Barry Carpenter was notified in a letter from the mayor. He is indefinitely suspended.

The Ohio Valley was waiting for this decision, that was in the hands of one man, Martins Ferry Mayor Phil Wallace.

"The decision I made, it was a tough one," said Mayor Wallace. "I stayed up real late last night to make it. And I notified the chief about 2:45 today."

He suspended the 32-year-old police chief indefinitely, without pay. The mayor declined to discuss what led him to that decision.

As for Martins Ferry, he says the scandal dubbed "surro-gate" has put the city in the national spotlight, and not in a good way.

"I know what effect it's had on me," said Mayor Wallace. "On the city, I'm sure there are those out there who like that glory. I'm not a glory-seeker and I don't think this city is a glory-seeking city. We really wish it would have happened somewhere else but unfortunately it happened here and we've got to deal with it."

Overall, he says it's been a painful chapter in the city's history.

"It hurts everybody," the mayor said. "I mean, Chief Carpenter is a really nice guy. For something like this to pop up is hard to deal with."

Lt. Phil Hartman, the department's highest-ranking officer, is at the helm of the police department at this time.

Mayor Wallace says he plans to appoint an interim chief within a week.

Veteran Ohio Officer Steals Drugs and Overdoses

A 15-year-veteran police officer is suspected of stealing drugs from the police station and overdosing.

The patrolman overdosed in late-May at his home in Summit County and was rushed to the hospital, Chief Rick Porrello said. The officer resigned from his job but is exhausting his sick hours until sometime next month, the chief said.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office notified Porrello when deputies found the officer at his home. He declined to name the drug taken by the officer because of the ongoing investigation, but said it was small amount, the chief said.

The officer recovered.

Porrello said he was shocked when he learned the drugs may have been taken from the police headquarters. He described the cop as a good officer who will face consequences for his bad decision.

"He will be held accountable criminally," Porrello said. "He will no longer be a police officer in Lyndhurst or anywhere for that matter."

Porrello asked the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to investigate the case. The inquiry is nearly over and will be given to prosecutors, he said.

"He was a great cop," Porello added. "Nobody had any idea that he would make a choice like that."

Officer Dustin Lee Harris Arrested for Stealing Money During Traffic Stop

A Macon police officer is accused of stealing money from a driver's vehicle during a traffic stop.

According to a police news release, they arrested 28-year-old Dustin Lee Harris of Gray and charged him with theft by taking and violating his oath of office.

Macon police Sgt. Melanie Hofmann said money was missing from a traffic violator's vehicle after a traffic stop last weekend. She said she didn't know how much money was missing, but that the officer was charged after the driver complained about the missing money.

She said Harris is a patrol officer in East Macon's 1st Precinct.

The release says he's worked for the police department since March 30 and that he's on administrative leave pending termination.

Harris was released from the Bibb County jail on $6,250 bond Monday night, according to jail records.

Two Troopers on Leave in Conjunction with Franklin Ryle Jr Investigation

Two state troopers put on leave in conjunction with the investigation of former trooper Franklin Ryle Jr. no longer work for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

As of Tuesday, Adam Longo and Devan Henderson were no longer employed by the patrol, said the agency's top administrator, Col. Sam Powell.

Powell said he couldn't go into further detail because it was a personnel matter. However, he did say the patrol is swiftly working to fill the vacancies with two recruits who've already accepted positions with the patrol.

Longo and Henderson had been stationed in Casper.

"We are going to move as quickly as we can to fill those vacancies," Powell said.

Longo had been on leave since Feb. 5. Henderson was put on leave Feb. 19.

The men were unavailable for comment Tuesday. Neither has a listed phone number.

In May, the patrol disclosed that both men were on paid leave. At that time, Powell did not explain exactly what prompted the move other than to say it was done in conjunction with the Ryle investigation.

Ryle, a former Douglas-based trooper, pleaded guilty last month to federal civil rights charges. He admitted to arresting a Wal-Mart truck driver in January as part of scheme to kill the driver and stage a crash with his patrol vehicle in order to collect a financial settlement.

Neither Henderson nor Longo has been arrested or charged with any crime.

Henderson told investigators he smuggled steroids from Mexico into the United States in 2003 or 2004, according to an FBI affidavit detailing the Ryle investigation. He claimed he and Ryle used the steroids as part of a body building program.

Ryle was also accused of soliciting Henderson to participate in his scheme to stage a crash with the Wal-Mart truck.

Henderson told an FBI agent he did not report Ryle to anyone because he wasn't sure Ryle was serious and because he didn't want to be considered a rat if the statements proved false, according to the affidavit.

Longo is not mentioned in any of the court documents.

Ryle, who was not indicted on any charges related to the steroid allegations, is awaiting sentencing next month.
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Deputy Accused of Road Rage

A Buncombe County deputy accused of road rage has been suspended without pay.

Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said the alleged incident happened on July 9. He said that was when a woman claimed that the deputy pounded on her car window near the intersection of Patton Avenue and Leicester Highway.

Duncan said that both the woman and the deputy made separate 911 calls.

The first 911 call came from the woman:

Dispatcher: “He tried to get into your car? Is that what you’re saying?”

Woman: “Yes. He tried to pull me out of the truck and now he’s up behind me.”

Dispatcher: “Why did he try to pull you out of the truck ma’am?”

Woman: “Because he cut me off and I honked at him and when we got to the light he jumped out and came to my truck.”

The second 911 call from the deputy tells a much different story:

Dispatcher: “And she’s just road rage or something?”

Deputy: “Yeah. I got over and I didn’t cut her off or nothing and then she gets over on my rear end and I look in the mirror and she’s flipping me off. So I get out of the car to see what the problem is and she’s all cussing and raising Cain, you know? So I ain’t even going to deal with this, so I called.”

Duncan said that he cannot prove the woman’s claim.

The State Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case, Duncan said.