Thursday, August 13, 2009

Felony Cases Under Review Following Arrest of Jonathan Bleiweiss

The slayings of Broward sheriff's deputies Paul Rein and Brian Tephford are among the dozens of felony cases under review following last week's arrest of Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss.

Prosecutors Wednesday released a list of 118 cases in which Bleiweiss' name is listed as either a witness or an arresting officer.

Of those cases, 56 were felonies, including first-degree murder, sexual assault and felony fraud, according to the list provided by the Broward State Attorney's Office.

Bleiweiss, 29, is accused of performing sexual acts on at least eight undocumented migrants he picked up during traffic stops in Oakland Park.

His role in each of the pending criminal cases was not immediately available. Prosecutors and defense attorneys say his involvement could be as mundane as being the deputy directing traffic at a crime scene or as significant as being the lead officer in an arrest.

Prosecutors have been reviewing each case to determine whether they would be able to move forward without Bleiweiss' testimony, said State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy. At least one felony case has already been dismissed.

Late Tuesday, prosecutors announced to Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen that they were no longer seeking charges against Michael King, 53, arrested in March and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

Ishoy said Bleiweiss was the alleged victim in the case and the only witness.

The two deputy slayings are the highest-profile cases on the list. Tephford was killed in November 2006 while conducting a traffic stop in Tamarac. There are three defendants.

Michael Mazza is accused of killing Rein on Nov. 7, 2007, while en route to trial on a bank-robbery charge. He could be sentenced to death.

Among the other cases under review are two unrelated first-degree murders, two DUIs with injuries, several robberies and stalking. The rest of the cases are misdemeanors.

Bleiweiss is being held in protective custody without bail. A bond hearing is scheduled for Friday. His attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, wants to question Bleiweiss' alleged victims, whose names have not been released.

``My client has been sitting in a jail cell for weeks now based on their accusations. We want the ability to debunk and cross-examine these undocumented immigrants,'' Schwartzreich told the judge.
Previous Post:

Anthony Rollins Accused of Sexual Assault Gets Free Attorney

Prosecutors are unhappy with a judge's decision to provide a court-appointed attorney to an Anchorage police officer accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty.

Assistant District Attorney Brittany Dunlop filed a motion asking for a hearing to review Superior Court Judge Philip Volland's decision. She said suspended officer Anthony Rollins and his wife own housing and land valued at more than $1.1 million.

Besides the property, the motion noted that Rollins was making at least $35 an hour, with about $70 an hour for overtime. Rollins' wife, Denise Rollins, is also an officer with the Anchorage Police Department.

To qualify for a free lawyer in Alaska, the accused has to be an "indigent person" with few assets and little income, according to state law.

Rollins, 41, was indicted by a grand jury last month on multiple charges of sexual assault and other offenses. He pleaded not guilty to 14 felonies and six misdemeanors. The authorities allege he assaulted six women over a span of three years.

The lawyer Rollins initially hired dropped out after realizing how much work was involved and how unlikely it would be for the officer to pay him. Rollins would be paying attorney's fees at $250 to $500 an hour, plus money for experts, independent investigators and voluminous court documents and evidence.

"At this point, I think the case is large and complex enough that Mr. Rollins is going to need appointed counsel," the lawyer, Steve Wells, told the Anchorage Daily News.

Rollins and his wife own their Anchorage home and two rental properties, a four-unit building in Fairview and another four-unit building in Muldoon. They also own a tract of land worth about $140,000, according to a database of public records.

David Weber, the officer's court-appointed lawyer, told the court that Rollins owes more on the houses than they are worth.

No date has been set for a review of whether a free lawyer in justified. Rollins remains in the city jail pending a bail hearing Friday. The prosecution wants the judge to keep bail set at $100,000.

Officer Devin Staten Accused of Molesting 14-year-old

An LAX police officer is out on bail after being accused of molesting a 14-year-old foster child under the care of his mother.

Police were called to the Inglewood home after a report of a possible sexual assault, said Mike McBride of the Inglewood Police Department.

A teenager at the home accused Officer Devin Staten of touching her in an "inappropriate way" Monday night, McBride said.

The foster care home is owned and operated by Staten's mother.

The 31-year old officer also lives at the house in a converted garage.

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has been notified.

Investigators say two 18-year-old foster girls and a 10-year-old foster boy also live at the home, McBride said.

Deputy Donald Harder Charged with Forcing Woman into Sex Act

A Saratoga County sheriff's deputy is charged with a felony tonight, accused of forcing a woman into a sex act while he was on duty in his patrol car.

According to Sheriff James Bowen, 28-year-old Donald Harder had just finished helping someone move a trailer in Edinburgh, when he struck up a conversation with a 27-year-old woman who happened to be there.

The sheriff says those two wound up in the front seat of the patrol car around 8:00 last night.

Bowen would not discuss evidence, nor would he say exactly how the woman was forced. He says the State Police crime lab was part of the investigation.

Sgt Jeff Vanderwiere Accused of Assaulting Teen

A Kalamazoo Public Safety officer was recently suspended, accused of assaulting a teenage suspect.

Sergeant Jeff Vanderwiere was suspended for ten days for hitting a handcuffed teen, an incident that was caught on tape.

The teenager was approached by police around 1:45 on the morning of April 5th, in the 1300 block of Cobb Avenue. Sergeant Vanderwiere and another officer were investigating a report of shots fired. They approached a group of three people, when the 16 year old became belligerent, yelling profanities at police.

There was a scuffle, and Sergeant Vanderwiere took the already handcuffed teen to the ground. An internal report says that Vanderwiere put his knee on the teens chest to keep him on the ground.

On the video which captured the event, it appears that the teen spits at the officer, to which Vanderwiere responds with three quick punches to the head of the teen.

Officers took the screaming 16 year old to the patrol call, and on the ride to the county jail, he continued kicking the car, yelling out profanities and threats.

An internal investigation found that Sergeant Vanderwiere was over the line when he punched the teen, that it was not reasonable force. It also says the Sergeant failed to photograph any injuries, and that he failed to have his microphone on.

A report submitted by Assistant Chief Lynn Wetmore says that Vanderwiere gave no verbal warning, didn't consider using other techniques to get the teen to stop spitting, and didn't request assistance from the other nearby officer.

The report also concludes that the strikes were delivered out of frustration that the teen wasn't compliant.

When interviewed about the incident, Vanderwiere told investigators that the teen had spit directly into his face, and that the spit went into his eyes.

The reports states that Vanderwiere says it was an assault on his person, and he didn't want to get spit on again, so he delivered the jabs.

The Kalamazoo Police Supervisors Association has reportedly filed a grievance on the suspension.

Officer Ronald Montgomery Arrested for Domestic Violence

A Tulsa police officer is on the other side of the law. Bixby police arrested Tulsa officer Ronald Montgomery Friday.

Montgomery was charged Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court with domestic assault and battery in the presence of a child, pointing a weapon and interfering with an emergency telephone call.

Bixby Police say he got into an argument with his wife and she told them Montgomery pulled his service weapon on her.

Records show she later showed up at a Tulsa hospital with bruising and swelling and that Montgomery told officers there had been an argument, but it wasn't physical.

In a news release, Tulsa Police say Montgomery has been on administrative leave without pay since last Friday.

Man Dies After Being Tasered

A man who allegedly failed to obey police commands died after officers shot him with a Taser gun in Moreno Valley, authorities said today.

The man became unruly after he was confronted Sunday morning by officers from the Moreno Valley Police Department in the middle of a residential street, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the incident. The officers had responded to reports of a man who was banging on doors.

After the man was Tasered, he was handcuffed, then began suffering from a seizure, the department said. Officers began giving the man first aid until an ambulance arrived. He was taken to Riverside County Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

His name was not released pending notification of relatives.

Ranger Dorian Curry Arrested for Sexual Assault

Both victims in a pair of Glacier Bay National Park sexual assault cases were coworkers with their alleged attacker and had both passed out drunk before being violated, according to court documents fleshing out the charges.

Seasonal law enforcement ranger Dorian B. Curry, 31, was arrested Monday by the Alaska State Troopers on two felony counts of sexual assault. The District Attorney's office is expected to present the case to a grand jury on Friday. The state alleges Curry had sex with the two women on separate occasions near Gustavus.

One victim told investigators that she had drank alcohol on July 4 until she blacked out, according to court documents. She told investigators that she woke up on the floor next to Curry on July 5 and said her groin hurt like she had had "rough sex."

Curry admitted to her that they had sex, and obtained a morning after pill for her, according to court documents. The victim told investigators she was not aware that Curry was having sex with her after she passed out.

Court documents allege that another incident occurred in 2008 under similar circumstances. Two witnesses said they watched Curry carry a passed out woman into his bedroom.

The National Park Service contacted the state troopers in mid-July after conducting an internal investigation into the sexual assault of the two park employees.

"Once it became apparent that there was some kind of potential illegal behavior actually taking place, that's when they contacted us," state trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Investigators looked into the 2008 case after the July case came to light. That victim alleged Curry had intercourse with her while she was passed out after a party at the park lodge in Bartlett Cove on Sept. 1, 2008. She said she went to Curry's house with several other park employees and woke up the next day in bed with Curry with no pants or underwear on and a used condom on the bed, according to court documents. She confronted Curry, who denied having sex with her.

Troopers interviewed the defendant's former roommate, who said he witnessed Curry pick up the victim while she was passed out and take her into his bedroom, according to court documents. A second witness said the victim had been drinking a lot and passed out on the floor before Curry picked her up and dragged her into his room to have sex with her.

Curry later admitted to troopers that he had sex with both alleged victims, according to court documents.

As the investigation proceeded, Curry was put on administrative leave with the park service and his law enforcement commission was suspended, according to a press release. The federal agency is taking steps to terminate his employment.

A seasonal law enforcement ranger has a variety of duties at Glacier Bay National Park, from monitoring possible fishing violations to backcountry patrols. Seasonal rangers are required to go through a special National Park Service law enforcement academy.

Curry is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

This is not the first law enforcement official in Alaska to be arrested this summer on charges of sexual assault. Anchorage Police Department officer Anthony Rollins was arrested last month for allegedly sexually assaulting six women over the past three years.

"In the public's eye (law enforcement officials) are certainly held to a higher standard and when something like this does happen it seems to catch everyone's attention and they are appalled by it, rightfully so," Peters said.

Peters stressed that at this point Curry has been accused of committing sexual assault.

"Whether or not he is found guilty is to be determined," she said.

The felony charges are each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Curry, who has been living in Washington when not working in Alaska, is being held in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $20,000 bail.