Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lt Michael Leary Arrested for Real Estate Fraud

A Sacramento County sheriff's lieutenant who served on the Elk Grove city council has been arrested on charges of real estate fraud.

Sacramento County District Attorney's spokeswoman Shelly Orio says 49-year-old Michael Leary was arrested Friday on grand theft and forgery charges.

Leary is charged with stealing a $610,000 home he co-owned with his girlfriend by altering a grant deed in January 2006, and two counts of passing the document as being legitimate. Investigators say he later evicted his girlfriend.

A sheriff's spokesman says the 27-year veteran has been placed on paid leave.

Leary lost an election to retain his Elk Grove council seat last year.

He's posted $15,000 bail and is due in court for an Oct. 9 court hearing. There was no phone or attorney listing for him.

Drew Peterson's Trial Will Not be Moved

A judge on Friday refused to move Drew Peterson's murder trial and said a law that prosecutors want to use to allow his ex-wife he's accused of killing to "testify from the grave" is constitutional.

Will County Judge Stephen White's rulings were setbacks for Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer who garnered national attention after the October 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. White also will decide which statements prosecutors can use at Peterson's trial.

Peterson, 55, has pleaded innocent to first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He also is a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance. He has denied wrongdoing.

Peterson's attorneys had asked to move the trial, saying the often extensive and often inflammatory publicity surrounding Peterson made it impossible to receive a fair trial in Will County. They also said that that during Peterson's three decades as a police officer he might have arrested or ticketed potential jurors and their family members.

Prosecutors argued that Peterson and his attorneys have themselves to blame for much of the publicity, pointing to the numerous interviews they have given on local and national media.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow also has said that his office would agree to a change of venue if it became clear during jury selection that a fair trial was impossible.

Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, said the ruling on the change of venue was not a surprise. He said there still is a chance the judge could agree to moving the trial out of the county if it becomes clear during jury selection that prospective jurors are so biased against Peterson that he could not receive a fair trial.

White ruled that the state's so-called "hearsay" law is constitutional. Peterson's attorneys argued that it denies suspects' right to confront their accusers. But prosecutors said the Illinois law is in line with well-established federal law and, in fact, several other states have similar laws that have survived more than two dozen legal challenges.

Glasgow would not discuss which statements he intends to try to admit as evidence at the trial, but it is clear his office wants to let Savio herself tell jurors why Peterson wanted her dead.

"In essence, what you're basically allowing the victim of a violent crime to do is testify from the grave," he said shortly after Peterson was arrested in May.

Possible evidence in the case might include letters written by Savio, who was seeking orders of protection, in which she said Peterson would kill her to shut her up and her sister's testimony at a coroner's jury that Savio told her family it would be no accident if she died.

Brodsky said he has not decided whether to appeal the judge's decision on the hearsay law to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Police Brutality Could Cost Milwaukee $3 Million

In what could be the biggest police brutality settlement in Milwaukee history, City Attorney Grant Langley is recommending the city pay $3 million to a man who was paralyzed after his 2003 arrest.

The officer accused in the beating was later fired for covering up an incident in which he and other officers went sledding on duty.

If the Common Council agrees, the city would have to borrow the money to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Curtis Harris. Two council committees will consider the deal this week.

In December 2003, Officer Kevin Clark and his partner, Officer Joseph Schankey, arrested Harris at his sister's home after he was accused of threatening her and her children. Harris previously had been convicted of obstructing police. The officers also reported Harris was drunk, an allegation he denied.

While Harris was being booked at the 3rd District police station, Clark threw him to the floor. Clark claimed Harris was about to take a swing at him. Harris said that wasn't possible because Clark was behind him.

In his lawsuit, Harris alleged that Clark slammed Harris' head into a wall and drove his knee into Harris' back. As a result, Harris said he became a quadriplegic for life. He filed suit against Clark, Schankey and the city.

Less than two months after arresting Harris, Clark became entangled in a separate incident that eventually cost him his job.

In late January 2004, he and other officers working on the 3rd District late shift decided to go sledding at Calvary Cemetery on W. Blue Mound Road. Clark crashed his sled and broke several ribs.

A sergeant in the group then ordered the officers to devise a coverup, in which they claimed Clark was injured while pursuing a burglary suspect. The sergeant even recommended Clark for a commendation, which was never awarded.

Clark collected $11,485 in worker's compensation before the scam was exposed. He pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, was fined $500 and fired by then-Police Chief Nannette Hegerty. The sergeant was convicted of misconduct in public office and resigned, and another officer involved in the coverup was convicted of obstructing justice and fired.

Langley said Clark's disciplinary record would have led to questions about his credibility if he had to testify before a jury.

With future medical expenses for Harris projected at more than $4 million, Langley said he was concerned jurors might award Harris more than the $3 million proposed in the settlement.

Langley said this would be the largest settlement of an excessive-force suit that he can recall in the 38 years he has worked for the city attorney's office, including 25 years in his current post.

The Harris settlement would be almost twice the $1.6 million that the city paid last year in a settlement with the family of Justin Fields, who was shot and killed while fleeing police in 2003. The family of Daniel Bell, who was killed by police in a 1958 incident that was covered up for 20 years, won $1.6 million in a jury trial.

Among other cases, the Harris settlement would be nearly as much as the $3.2 million total that the city paid in two separate 2007 reverse-discrimination settlements with 28 current and former police lieutenants who accused former Police Chief Arthur Jones of refusing to promote them to captain because they are white men.

But a much higher-profile police brutality case is still working its way through the courts. Frank Jude Jr. is seeking $30 million in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and eight former officers linked to his beating at a 2004 Bay View party.

Six of those officers have been convicted of criminal civil rights violations, including five who were fired and one who resigned. A seventh officer was acquitted and reinstated, and the eighth was never charged.

Deputy Manuel Silva Arrested for Extortion

A Broward County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested on extortion, burglary and drug charges, marking the third time this year a Broward deputy has been charged with a crime.

Manuel Silva, 34, was arrested Friday under allegations that he possessed oxycodone and other drugs without a prescription.

Sheriff officials have not released any more information, including whether he committed crimes while on duty.

He remains in jail, according to the Broward County Jail website.

Broward County Sheriff Manuel Silva was arrested on drug, burglary and extortion charges on Friday, marking the third Broward deputy to be criminally charged this year In August, Broward Sheriff’s deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss was arrested for allegedly using his authority to coerce sex from male illegal immigrants. He faces 58 charges.

In April, Broward Sheriff’s deputy Charles Grady resigned after he was sentenced to two years probation for inappropriately touching women during traffic stops.

Deputy Jeffrey Swartz Charged with Domestic Violence

A deputy with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office is accused of assaulting his wife.

Jeffrey P. Swartz, 34, was charged Saturday with domestic battery and placed on administrative leave, according to a sheriff's office report.

Swartz has been employed with the agency since April 2001 and is currently assigned as a District 2 detective.

Swartz had a "get together" at his residence in which alcoholic beverages were consumed, the report said.

An argument between Swartz and his wife took place, which turned into a physical altercation, the report stated.

Swartz pushed his wife onto the floor of their bedroom. Swartz then placed his arms around her neck, but she was able to break free, the report stated.

The deputy continued being aggressive and grabbed his wife's arms, which prevented her from moving them, the report stated. After breaking Swartz' grasp, she was able to call the sheriff's office for help, the report stated.

The wife sustained red marks on the front of her neck and right arm, which is consistent with her allegations, the report stated.

Swartz had red marks on his right arm. Neither Swartz nor the victim required medical attention, the report stated.

A witness who was at the residence during part of the battery said Swartz threw the victim to the bedroom floor, the report stated. Swartz was transported to the Hernando County Jail without incident.

Sgt. Donna Black, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, declined to comment further about the case.