Thursday, December 03, 2009

Former Officer Jeffery Garcia Guilty of Rape

A former Alexander police officer has been convicted of rape and sexual abuse of three children.

A Saline County jury deliberated just 15 minutes before finding Jeffrey Garcia guilty of two counts of rape and one count of second-degree sexual assault. Garcia was sentenced to a total of 100 years in prison.

The now 12, 13 and 14-year-old testified they were sexually molested and beaten.

Garcia did not testify but in a tape recorded interview with Benton police that was played for the jury he denied abusing the children.

Garcia resigned from the Alexander police force while in jail in the case.

Officer Donald Prine Charged with Domestic Battery

A Rockford police officer is on paid administrative leave after his arrest on an aggravated domestic battery charge.

Donald Prine, 43, a 19-year-veteran of the force, turned himself in to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department on Monday after a domestic battery warrant was issued for his arrest.

Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro said officers were called to Prine’s home Nov. 26 in reference to a domestic battery complaint. He said Prine was not arrested at the scene but deputies took down information and reviewed that information with the state’s attorney’s office.

A warrant was issued Monday for Prine’s arrest, and he turned himself in to the sheriff’s department.

Iasparro said the alleged victim was an adult female, but would not elaborate on the woman’s relationship to Prine.

“There were no injuries that required hospitalization,” Iasparro said.

According to a city of Rockford news release, Prine was off duty at the time of the alleged battery. He will remain on leave “pending the administrative and criminal review of the incident.”

Former Officer Jamie Sanchez Arrested for Assaulting Girlfriend

A former Valley Brook police officer was arrested in Oklahoma City.

Jamie Sanchez, 33, is accused of assaulting his 24-year-old girlfriend.

Oklahoma City police say when Sanchez's girlfriend tried to break up with him he threw her to the ground and handcuffed one of her wrists.

Police said he also followed her vehicle in his police car with lights and sirens blaring as she drove to an Oklahoma City police station to file a report.

"She did the right thing," Sgt. Gary Knight said. "She did not try to fight back she tried to get away from him ultimately she drove to a police station when she felt she was in danger."

The Valley Brook police chief said Sanchez resigned after he was released from jail.

Officer Brad Ahrensfield Charged with Making False Statements

A federal grand jury has charged an Albuquerque police officer with obstruction of justice for warning a business owner about a drug trafficking investigation.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said Thursday that Brad Ahrensfield also is charged with making a false statement to federal agents.

The indictment accuses Ahrensfield of telling the owner of an Albuquerque business called Car Shop about a joint state and federal drug trafficking investigation in September.

The Attorney's Office says when federal investigators confronted Ahrensfield about the leak, he lied about what he knew of the investigation and to whom he had given the information.

Ahrensfield faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of both charges.

Former Officer Keenan Colson Sentenced to Two Years

A former Lake Wales police officer was sentenced to two years in state prison Thursday on charges that he used police equipment to aid a member of a drug operation, including exposing the identity of an undercover sheriff's deputy.

Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen said it pained him to sentence Keenan Colson but said Colson should be held to a higher standard as a law enforcement officer.

"If I can't believe in law enforcement officers the whole system falls apart," Jacobsen said at the conclusion of a nearly three-hour hearing Thursday. He released Colson on the condition that he turn himself in by Dec. 30.

Colson, 51, was arrested last year as part of an eight-month, multi-agency investigation that included using wire taps to uncover an alleged drug operation in Haines City. The investigation revealed marijuana grow locations, and detectives seized about 20 pounds of marijuana and more than 160 marijuana plants, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Colson pleaded no contest to several charges in September.

Using his resources as a police officer, Colson supplied information and advice to Clayton Hoerler, 26, a personal friend and one of the drug ring's leaders. At Hoerler's request, Colson would run license tag numbers and check individuals for outstanding warrants. In one case, Colson ran a tag that belonged to an undercover sheriff's deputy and informed Hoerler.

Investigators played audio of a phone call in which Colson told Hoerler that he knew the deputy personally and had once worked with his father at the Bartow Police Department. During questioning on Thursday, Colson said he also was close to the young deputy's family and said the two had formerly worked together at the Lake Wales Police Department.

Colson said he didn't realize the deputy was working undercover at the time his name was disclosed to Hoerler. When asked whether he knew he was endangering the deputy, Colson said he thought Hoerler to be nonviolent.

Colson said he befriended Hoerler about seven years ago. They shared an enthusiasm for motorcycles, and Hoerler would sometimes accompany Colson and other officers on ride-alongs.

Colson said he gradually learned that Hoerler sold marijuana and began assisting him with information, but said he never received favors or compensation in return.

"Big lapse in judgment. That's something I should have never done," Colson said Thursday. "In my mind Clayton was a person and not a drug dealer, but that's no excuse."

Earlier this year Hoerler was sentenced to 18 months in state prison as part of a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty Feb. 18 to conspiracy to engage in racketeering.

Several friends and family members spoke in support of Colson on Thursday, describing the Bartow native as a role model in the city's black community and an exemplary officer who rose to the rank of lieutenant at BPD. He had worked for the department from 1981 until his termination in 1997 after an internal affairs investigation regarding an arson case involving his girlfriend. He earned about $45,000 yearly as a Lake Wales officer until resigning after his arrest Aug. 13, 2008.

Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley said Thursday that Colson betrayed the community that looked up to him by cooperating with a drug dealer like Hoerler.

In delivering the sentence, Jacobsen said he was disturbed that Colson would reveal the identity of a fellow law enforcement officer and friend, as well as help a drug dealer, on an ongoing basis.

"To say this was a lapse in judgment is an understatement," Jacobsen said.

Deputy Jeffrey Swartz Accused of Assaulting Wife Will Return to Duty

Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent will allow a deputy accused of assaulting his wife to return to duty, even though he said he is disappointed by the deputy's conduct and "poor judgment.''

In a memo, Nugent told Jeffrey Swartz, 34, that he had reviewed the internal affairs investigation of the Oct. 3 incident at Swartz's Spring Hill home in which the deputy got into an argument with his wife, Joyanna, that turned physical.

According to a sheriff's report, Swartz pushed his wife to the floor of their bedroom and placed his arms around her neck, but she broke free. He tried to restrain her by grabbing her arms, but she fended him off and called the Sheriff's Office for help, the report said.

Swartz was arrested on a count of misdemeanor domestic battery and was placed on administrative leave. Prosecutors later recommended that the charge be dropped.

The sheriff noted in his memo, dated Tuesday, that the investigation into whether Swartz violated the conduct-unbecoming policy was hampered by a lack of cooperation from Swartz's wife and his friends, who were at the deputy's home when the incident occurred.

According to a report by the State Attorney's Office, Swartz's wife had been drinking heavily that evening. Joyanna Swartz said "she got intoxicated and blew up and got out of control," the report said, adding, "She admitted that she had almost a complete blackout of the events."

During the evening, Swartz's wife reportedly became angry and despondent and wielded a butcher knife and a razor. Swartz said he grabbed her to prevent her from harming herself, and she later had trouble recounting the events of the evening.

The couple's friends told prosecutors that Joyanna Swartz had gotten "out of control" and that Swartz was merely trying to calm her down.

The report notes that Joyanna Swartz was clearly intoxicated during her 911 call and couldn't even recall her home phone number.

The photos of her injuries were "consistent with someone having tried to gain control" of her.

Nugent said in his memo to Swartz that he would not change the disposition of "unfounded" made by the internal affairs investigator and that Swartz would be returned promptly to duties as a sworn deputy.

But Nugent had stern words in his memo for Swartz, who has worked at the Sheriff's Office since April 2001.

"It is my opinion that the exercise of poor judgment on your part contributed directly to the incident at your home,'' he wrote. "Your statement that the event has resulted in embarrassment for both your family and this agency is correct.''
Previous Post

Officer Robert Cahill Suspended after Assault Charge

A charge against a police officer convicted of attempted third-degree assault was conditionally discharged, but the officer has been suspended by the town for six months without pay.

Robert D. Cahill was found innocent of one count of misdemeanor assault during a September trial that involved video evidence, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of attempted third-degree assault, also a misdemeanor.

Cahill's attorney, Jon Blechman, argued his client was acting in self-defense when he punched Patrick DiNottia on Nov. 26, 2008, at Giblin's, a popular Johnson City hangout frequented by police and firefighters.

Maine Justice Donald Magill this week followed the recommendation of the Broome County probation office's pre-sentence investigation for a conditional discharge. Cahill will be responsible for $205 in court fees.

Blechman said Cahill's discharge could be revoked if his client is convicted of a crime in the course of the year.

Vestal Supervisor Peter Andreasen said the town board decided to suspend Cahill shortly after the trial ended. Cahill has already gone two months without pay and has about four months remaining in his suspension, said Andreasen.

"He understands he has to stay out of trouble," said Andreasen.

DiNottia couldn't be reached for comment, but his parents weren't pleased with the sentencing.

"It is my understanding the tape is very detailed about what occurred, and the public needs to see that tape and make their opinions whether the sentencing was fair or not," said his mother, Janet DiNottia, referring to a video taken during the altercation.

His father, also named Patrick, added: "The tape is very clear as to what happened. Three approached one. He hit my son ... The officers then take off."

Blechman said the jury thoroughly reviewed that tape and found Cahill didn't cause any injuries to the victim, if there were even injuries suffered.

"The jury took a look at the facts," he said. "The fact is if he was above the law, there would never have been a trial and the case wouldn't have occurred."

Former Officer Bob Brabo Sentenced for Stealing from Department

A former Craig police officer has been sentenced to 48 hours of community service after pleading guilty to stealing about $500 from the departments drug task force.

Bob Brabo also received a one-year deferred sentence and was ordered to pay $484.50 in fines during a hearing Tuesday. Brabo resigned Nov. 5 and later pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor theft.

The money Brabo pleaded guilty to stealing was taken from drug funds from the department's All Crimes Enforcement Team.

The district attorney's office says Brabo received no special treatment and that his sentence is typical of first-time offenders charged with the same offense.


Information from: Craig Daily Press,

Lt Richard Bolduc Admitts to Conduct Unbecoming an Officer

A state police lieutenant has admitted he acted in a manner unbecoming a police officer when he left his department-issued gun unlocked in a bureau inside his Sandwich home 18 months ago, a state police spokesman said.

Lt. Richard Bolduc, 52, of Sandwich accepted responsibility for the lapse just as his case was set to go before a state police trial board Tuesday, state police spokesman David Procopio said yesterday. The trial board is a military-style court used by the state police to hear internal cases.

In June 2008, the veteran trooper's son, who was 12 at the time, grabbed Bolduc's Sig Sauer P226 .40-caliber handgun from an unlocked bureau, took it to a neighbor's house, pointed it at a 5-year-old girl and pulled the trigger. The gun was not loaded, according to Sandwich police, but during their investigation, police found a loaded clip in the same unlocked drawer.

Procopio refused to say what punishment Bolduc was given.

But a law enforcement source said Bolduc, who earns a base salary of $90,564.76, was allowed to give up 20 vacation days for violating two department regulations — the policy requiring guns to be safely stored and conduct unbecoming a police officer. By avoiding a suspension, Bolduc doesn't lose any seniority, said the source, who is familiar with state police discipline.

Procopio said Bolduc gets 25 vacation days annually.

The veteran trooper could have faced anything from a letter in his file to being terminated for his actions, Procopio said. Procopio said state police policy prohibits him from disclosing the punishment, but acknowledged forfeiting time off is one of the punishments allowed by the state police. "I can't confirm or comment on the discipline of any department member," he said.

Procopio also refused comment on whether Bolduc expressed any remorse for the incident, which terrorized the young girl and her sisters.

Reached yesterday, Bolduc refused comment. "Never call my phone again," he said.

Bolduc is assigned to the state police barracks in Holden.

Brian Cunha, who represents the girl's family in a civil suit against Bolduc, declined to comment on the trooper's punishment, but said the girl has been undergoing psychological treatment since the incident.

"Having a gun pointed at your head and having the trigger pulled has to be one of the most traumatic things in your life," Cunha said. "She's traumatized, no doubt about it."

Sandwich police charged Bolduc with improper storage of a firearm, which is a felony, but that case was dismissed by a judge citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that called the constitutionality of gun storage laws into question. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted of that charge.

Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard testimony in a gun storage case similar to the Bolduc case but has not yet issued a decision. District attorneys across the state, including Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe, signed on in support of the Middlesex County appeal and are awaiting the ruling from the state's highest court.

Bolduc's son was charged in juvenile court, but those cases are not open to the media.

Procopio said Tuesday's admission by Bolduc ends the internal investigation. The Times requested a copy of that investigation in September but was told it was still considered an active investigation until a resolution was reached. The newspaper again requested a copy of the state police report yesterday but has not yet received it.

Former Deputy Chief Charles Bassett Asks for Clemency

A former Pekin police officer who stole money from the police department has applied to Gov. Pat Quinn for executive clemency to expunge a felony from his record.

Former Pekin Police Deputy Chief Charles W. Bassett, 60, of Tremont, is scheduled for Jan. 14 clemency hearing in Springfield.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation refused to renew a professional license held by Bassett because he did not report his criminal past. The renewal was denied because of “multiple violations of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security and Locksmith Act and the Rules for Administration Act,” according to IDFPR documents.

IDFPR spokeswoman Susan Hofer said that was all the information that could be released. She said she does not know in which line of business Bassett works.

Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz said Tuesday that he had received a notice informing him of the clemency hearing and that he could submit a written response to the petition for clemency or appear in person before the board hearing the case.

Umholtz said he is still reviewing the petition to determine how he will respond and that he was unaware of the IDFPR decision.

“When I look at a petition for clemency or for pardon, I evaluate whether the person was honest in their petition, if they acknowledge their responsibility for their criminal conduct and have they presented evidence that they are entitled to this relief,” Umholtz said. “Usually there has to be something they have done with their life after their conviction.

“My thought process is that I want people who screwed up and committed crimes to become successful. We don’t want convicted criminals to continue to come back into the criminal justice system — we want it to knock some sense into them so they improve their lives and become useful members of the community.”


Bassett was a 30-year veteran of the department at the time of the theft.

On Oct. 10, 2002, then-Police Chief Tim Gillespie asked the Illinois State Police to investigate the missing money. Bassett was placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 10, 2002, and resigned from the department on Dec. 2, 2002.

According to court records, Bassett stole $624 from the department’s seize fund and $1,235 from the petty cash fund, of which he had control, to gamble and to repay debts associated with a failed business venture.

He was sentenced to 30 months probation on Aug. 28, 2003, for official misconduct. He served 100 community service hours and paid restitution for the theft.

Bassett lost a pension valued at $1 million. He received $40,218.10 in pension benefits from December 2002 to September 2003 and had paid $94,404.24 into the pension fund during his career. The pension board terminated his pension benefits on Sept. 30, 2003, and refunded his contributions in the amount of $54,186.14.

Bassett filed a civil suit against the pension board seeking a refund of the total amount he had contributed with interest. The 10th Judicial Circuit Court ruled in Bassett’s favor, with the exception of granting him interest. The pension board appealed to the 3rd District Appellate Court, which upheld the circuit court’s ruling but also ruled that Bassett should receive the interest.

Officer Barbara Chandler Arrested for Family Violence

A Dallas police officer was arrested in Duncanville early Wednesday on a misdemeanor family violence assault charge.

Barbara Ann Chandler, a four-year veteran, has been placed on restricted duty. She faces a Class A misdemeanor assault charge, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $4,000 fine.

Chandler, 29, is assigned to the city's south central patrol station.

The Duncanville Police Department did not respond immediately Wednesday morning to a request for additional details.

Corrections Officer Robert Johnson Arrested for Domestic Violence

A corrections officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has been arrested for the second time in two months on domestic violence charges.

Chattanooga Police received a call Wednesday around 10:00 a.m. form a woman needing help at the Lake Resort Terrace Apartments.

The investigation resulted in Hamilton County Corrections Officer Robert L. Johnson, Jr. being charged with Simple Assault Domestic , Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Vandalism Domestic.

Police took him to the Hamilton County Jail where he was booked and received a $15,000 bond by the magistrate. If he cannot make bond, he will be transferred to the Bradley County Jail.

On November 3, Channel 3 Eyewitness News reported that Officer Johnson was involved in a similar alleged Domestic Assault incident with a different woman at Lake Resort Terrace. Chattanooga Police responded to that call as well and charged him with Simple Assault Domestic, Aggravated Assault Domestic and Kidnapping.

Mr. Johnson was released on a $5,000 bond and suspended with pay in early November pending the outcome of those first criminal charges and the Internal Affairs investigation. Sheriff Hammond is waiting for the results of the Internal Affairs investigation today on these last charges to determine any additional sheriff's office response to Officer Johnson at this time.

Johnson's girlfriend told Chattanooga Police in November the two got into a heated argument. We obtained the arrest report from the incident. In that report, Johnson's girlfriend told police the corrections officer punched her in the face, put his hands around her neck and over her mouth. She told police he then bit her on the thigh and the neck.

At that point, she claims he took his gun out of the holster on his hip and held it to her head and told her to "die." She said she was held against her will for several hours before being able to escape. The girlfriend told police Johnson wore the gun holstered on his hip the entire time.

Eyewitness News wanted to know more about the weapon. Johnson is a commissioned officer. Is this his issued weapon? According to an Investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department , the gun was, in fact, issued by the county.

A spokesperson for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says Johnson has been working as a second shift Corrections Officer in the county since October 13, 2008. She was unable to tell us at the time if he had been sanctioned by the department before.

Former Officer Bobby Cutts Jr Will Not Get Chance to Appeal

A former Canton police officer in prison for killing his pregnant girlfriend and unborn child will not get a chance to argue his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Bobby Cutts, Jr. is serving life in prison with a chance of parole after 57 years. His attorneys felt he deserved a new trial, but Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.

"We met with Bobby a couple of weeks ago, we talked about it, we were optimistic and quite frankly were surprised that the Supreme Court denied, will not grant jurisdiction hearing this matter," said defense attorney Fernando Mack.

Defense attorneys contend former Canton police officer Bobby Cutts, Jr. did not get a fair trial. In February 2008, Cutts was convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend Jessie Davis and their unborn daughter.

"I think we have always felt the brief we filed was meritorious," said Mack.

Cutts' attorneys claim there were several errors made during the trial. For example, they felt the judge in the case should have allowed jurors to consider a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

"It was our contention that it occurred when there was an elbow that struck Jessie Davis, and he accidentally killed her...we believe that at that point, 'cause we believe that the death was instantaneous, Mr. Cutts panicked," said defense attorney Myron Watson.

They also claim the verdicts were inconsistent. Cutts was found guilty of aggravated murder for baby Chloe, and a lesser charge of murder for Jessie Davis, even though it was the same act. After the trial, some jurors said they felt he could have called for help to save the unborn baby.

"That's a morality question because the deaths were not caused by his failure to call for aid," said Watson.

His attorneys also felt because of the intense media attention, the trial should have been held somewhere else.

"People within Stark County, probably 90 percent of them thought that he was guilty prior to even selecting the jury," Mack said.

Cutts' attorneys say they will consider appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fox 8 News spoke to Jessie Davis' mother, Patti Porter. In a phone interview, Porter said she has mixed feelings about the decision.

She says she hopes Bobby Cutts gets another chance someday, although she realizes her feelings may not be very popular.

Porter also goes on to say she forgives Cutts, and doesn't feel keeping him behind bars for the rest of his life does anything good for anyone involved.

Sgt. Deputy Clint Reynolds Arrested for Abusing his Wife

Sgt. Deputy Clint Reynolds of the Coweta County Sheriff's Office was arrested in Fairburn Wednesday afternoon for allegedly physically abusing his wife, Kimberly, according to authorities.

Reynolds was transported to the Coweta County Jail where he now faces criminal charges of battery and aggravated assault, according to Scott Dutton, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 2 assistant special agent in charge.

The GBI was asked by the sheriff's office last week to initiate an investigation into allegations of domestic abuse involving Reynolds, according to Dutton. Warrants for Reynolds' arrest were obtained on Wednesday, and the deputy was arrested without incident in Fairburn by members of the Fairburn Police Department, the GBI and the sheriff's office.

Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager first confirmed last week that the sheriff's office was aware and looking into the "personnel" matter. Calls to the sheriff's office for information were not returned Wednesday.