Saturday, September 05, 2009

Officer Anthony Battisti Arrested for Hiring Handyman to Kill His Ex-Wife

Anthony Battisti had asked his handyman to do odd jobs in the past.

But in January of this year, the New York City police officer came up with an especially odd one - killing his ex-wife, prosecutors said.

Friday morning, Battisti, 42, of Franklin Square, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder for allegedly hiring handyman Timothy Gersbeck, 37, of Levittown, to kill his ex-wife, Patricia, for $5,000.

If convicted of that and other charges, Battisti could face life in prison.

Gersbeck was charged in January with going to Patricia Battisti's Franklin Square home and stabbing her three times in the back of her neck with a screwdriver. Patricia Battisti, 44, survived the attack.

Gersbeck's case has since been sealed and prosecutors will not comment on it. Battisti's lawyer, Stephen Scaring of Garden City, said it's likely Gersbeck's case is sealed because he is cooperating with prosecutors.

At Battisti's arraignment in Mineola on Friday, prosecutor Michael Canty asked Nassau County Judge David Sullivan to hold Battisti without bail.

He also asked that Battisti be held in Suffolk County jail, rather than Nassau. He did not say why, but Scaring said it was to keep him separated from Gersbeck, who is being held in Nassau.

Sullivan ordered that Battisti be held in Suffolk until his next appearance Wednesday. He deferred a decision on bail until then.

"The people have a very strong case," prosecutor Michael Canty said in court.

According to New York City police, Battisti was suspended in January and remains suspended. In standard NYPD practice, an internal investigation will be conducted after the criminal proceedings are complete, they said.

Patricia Battisti, who was in serious condition after the attack, has since recovered.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice, in a statement, said, "I'm sickened by this officer's betrayal of the badge. We cannot let one single act by one officer overshadow the brave work by men and women who wear the uniform and put themselves in harm's way every day to protect our families and our neighborhoods."

Patricia Battisti was at the center of another court case recently, when she sued North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System for, she alleged, infecting her with syphilis during an operation in 2005.

When a second test showed that Battisti was not infected with the disease, the hospital countersued. That case has been resolved, Patricia Battisti's lawyer said, declining to provide specifics.

Former Officer Thomas Carey Accused of Demanding Sexual Favors

A former police office has been accused of using his position to do the unthinkable.

We've learned that Thomas Carey, a former Grand Haven police officer, is accused of demanding sexual favors before investigating citizen complaints.

Carey pleaded no contest Thursday to charges including gross indecency. Carey recently resigned from the force.

Newschannel 3 poured over court documents on Friday to find out exactly what Carey is accused of doing.

The accusations against Carey have shocked many. Court documents say that as a condition in furthering investigations for two women, Carey "did engage both women at different times in sexual activity, more specifically where the women would perform oral sex upon Mr. Carey."

"I was really surprised," said Sue Syverson, a former neighbor of Carey's. "I thought he had a good reputation in Grand Haven as far as he was always active in the torch run and Special Olympics and fund raising for a lot of different things."

Syverson was Carey's neighbor in the 1990s, at the time, Syverson says Carey lived with another Grand Haven police officer.

"They pretty much stuck to themselves, you'd see the police car come and go once in a while, but that was about it," said Syverson.

Carey's roommate at the time was Grand Haven police officer Scott Flahive, who was tragically shot in 1994. Newschannel 3 spoke to Carey not long after that shooting.

Flahive's death marked one of the darkest days in Grand Haven history, a day Dorothy Walker remembers well. Officer Flahive was her neighbor as well, and she recalls the sympathy she felt for Carey then, and can't believe what he's involved in now.

"Today was the first time I saw his name, it was in the paper," said Walker. "I'm sure there are a lot of kids here that looked up to Tom Carey, and you can't help but wonder how they feel now."

Carey will find out how the judge feels about his actions when he receives his sentence on November 2nd.

Officer Steven Jay Barriger Arrested for Drunk Driving

An off-duty Hurst police officer out celebrating a fellow officer’s promotion was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Friday in downtown Fort Worth as part of a holiday weekend crackdown.

Steven Jay Barriger, 27, was pulled over shortly after 1:30 a.m. by a Fort Worth DWI officer who had observed him driving erratically, according to a police report.

The officer reported seeing Barriger swerve in his Ford Mustang and almost rear-end a vehicle at a red light. After pulling the Mustang over in the 400 block of East Seventh Street, the officer smelled alcohol, according to the report.

The report states that Barriger initially denied that he had been drinking but later acknowledged that he and his passenger, fellow officer Jacob Eubanks, had been at The Library Bar celebrating Eubanks’ upcoming promotion to corporal.

Barriger was given a field sobriety test but refused to take a breath test, prompting the Fort Worth officer to obtain a search warrant for a mandatory blood draw, police said.

Barriger was later booked into the Mansfield Jail on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He was released Friday afternoon after posting $500 bail.

Eubanks was released at the scene to Hurst police officials.

Hurst Assistant Police Chief Steve Niekamp said both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates. Barriger has been with the department since May 2008 and Eubanks since August 2001, Niekamp said.

The Fort Worth Police Department is among several law enforcement agencies participating in a statewide Texas Transportation Department campaign in which additional officers are on the streets looking for drunken drivers. The campaign began Aug. 21 and runs through Monday.

In addition, Fort Worth police are conducting a "Stop the Madness" detail this weekend, when drinking and driving is believed to be most prevalent.

The detail encompasses additional manpower aimed at finding drunken drivers and a no-refusal program in which search warrants for blood draws are obtained when suspected drunken drivers refuse a breath test.

Officer George Langan Arrested for Corruption

Washington County District Attorney Steven Toprani said that a Monongahela police officer arrested yesterday on drug and corruption charges represents a culture of corruption he has been wrestling with since he took office 20 months ago.

Monongahela patrolman George M. Langan thwarted the efforts of a Washington County drug task force by tipping off drug dealers and also operated as a drug dealer, Mr. Topriani said. He also threatened some people who authorities say purchased drugs from him.

He described the patrolman as "rogue" officer who was "an important figure in Monongahela's cocaine trade."

Mr. Langan's arrest brings to five the number of local police officers charged with corruption and related crimes under Mr. Toprani's brief regime.

"I view the allegations and arrest with a profound sense of sadness," said Mr. Toprani, who lives in neighboring Carroll. "My commitment to stamp out corruption remains firm."

Mr. Toprani's comments came during a news conference in front of the county courthouse yesterday, just hours after Officer Langan, 45, was arrested and lodged in the county jail on $500,000 bond.

Officer Langan, a 16-year veteran of the Monongahela police, was called into the police department about two hours into his shift yesterday morning and told to remove his gun and belt for a random drug test.

He was taken into custody and charged with 11 counts of violating the drug act, and 23 counts of public corruption, including official oppression, evidence tampering and criminal conspiracy.

His arrest stemmed from an indictment handed down Thursday from a new countywide grand jury empaneled earlier this year by Mr. Toprani.

The indictment capped a four-month investigation into corruption and drug dealing in the Mon Valley, and there could be more arrests, Mr. Toprani said.

He said Officer Langan was targeted by the grand jury after members of the drug task force became suspicious of possible police corruption in the Monongahela area.

The task force, made up of several dozen police officers from throughout the county, acts in secret to investigate and eliminate the local drug trade.

Detective Ronald J. Levi of the drug task force said doubts were raised recently when his team coordinated several undercover purchases of the narcotic painkiller oxycontin from a group of drug dealers in the Mon Valley.

Local police were notified shortly before a final buy and coordinating raid were planned, Detective Levi said, but it became obvious that the dealers had been tipped off and the plan went awry.

"We suspected something was up," he said.

The group didn't have far to look, as Mr. Langan -- called "G-Money" by friends -- had been under investigation for at least the last 10 years by the state attorney general's office, the state police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Toprani said.

The details of those investigations are unclear for now, but Monongahela police Chief Brian Tempest said during his 20-odd years as a local patrolman, he suspected Mr. Langan of wrongdoing and forwarded his concerns to then-chief Dennis Mendicino.

"I feel this has been going on for 10 years," said Chief Tempest, who was appointed chief in January 2008, when new Mayor Robert Kepics was elected. Ex-chief Mendicino, who still works on the force of 18 officers, was demoted to sergeant.

Chief Tempest said there were rumors for years that members of the police force were corrupt, and said he's glad to finally be able to address them.

"It's a sad day for law enforcement," he said. "I feel sad. He was my friend."

Although details will remain sketchy until the grand jury indictment is unsealed during a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday, the criminal complaint filed yesterday alleges Mr. Langan was in possession of cocaine on or about June 15 and June 17, when an undercover operation was launched.

During the same time period, he is accused of delivering cocaine to Sgt. Mendicino's ex-wife, Lori Mendicino, and to Mike Tatar, Nick Simon and Wendy Biagini -- who he has since been accused of threatening.

In April, police said Mr. Langan tipped off Mr. Tatar, Millie Schiffer and Kurt Neff to pending arrests and search warrants.

Mr. Langan's actions rose to the level of racketeering, the complaint alleges, and put the lives of other law enforcement officials in "grave danger."

Mr. Toprani said the investigation wouldn't have been possible without the grand jury, "a very effective tool," which hears confidential testimony and has the power to compel cooperation.

He said it's possible that more charges will be forthcoming, and that Mr. Langan wasn't acting alone.

"This is certainly a difficult day for law enforcement, but it's a necessary one," he said.