Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trial Begins for Three East Orange Officers

An Essex County Assistant Prosecutor described how East Orange Police Detective Hakeem Davis pushed the barrel of his gun into 17-year-old James Littlejohn’s mouth and warned, "start talking now or I’ll kill you right here," during opening arguments today of the trial against three East Orange officers.

Davis and his partner, Detective Jon Cato, are accused of dragging Littlejohn and his friend, Darrel Slappy, also 17 at the time, from a second-floor apartment to the front porch, then threatening to kill them. The officers believed the teens had thrown a rock at their squad car the night of May 31, 2008, said Assistant Prosecutor Peter Sepulveda, who is handling the case. The boys were later let go.

Davis, 36, and Cato, 32, are charged with 21 counts of assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and falsifying records. They have been suspended without pay.

The third detective, David Sheridan, 25, who allegedly did nothing to stop the officers, was also suspended without pay. He was charged with misconduct and conspiracy, but his attorney, Patrick Toscano, said he "did absolutely nothing wrong in this case."

Today, Andrea Poyser testified that her son, Slappy, entered their Beech Street home late that night with Littlejohn. A few minutes later, Davis and Cato arrived. They were dressed in plain clothes, did not display badges but were gripping guns, she said. They began cursing at the boys, and, "were very rude," Poyser added.

Lawyers for all three officers said they followed law enforcement guidelines and added their clients have been "salivating" to tell their story.

Ronald Ricci, who is Davis’ attorney, said subsequent lab tests on the officer’s gun revealed none of Littlejohn’s DNA.

Davis and Cato had been responding to a call of shots fired around 11:45 p.m. that night when their patrol car was struck by rocks at South Arlington Avenue and Beech Street.

The detectives apprehended two youths, then spotted two more running away and gave chase, said Vincent Scoca, Cato’s attorney.

Ricci said the officers followed the boys to what was Poyser’s home, on the 20 block of Beech Street. He said badges were dangling from the detectives’ necks.

They knocked on the second-floor door and Slappy opened it, then slammed it shut after seeing the officers, Ricci sad. Once inside, the two officers grabbed the teens and brought them to the front porch for questioning. When the officers couldn’t prove the teens were involved, they "let them go," he said.

But Sepulveda described a much more violent scene, which began when Davis banged on the Beech Street apartment door. Slappy answered the door and was "met with a punch to the face by Davis, and a gun to the chest," Sepulveda said. The teens were dragged to the front porch, where they were forced to lie face down at gunpoint, he said. "Davis has to know who threw the rock," Sepulveda said. "He wouldn’t let it go."

The trial, which resumes Tuesday, is expected to last more than a week.

Officer Robert Semyon Accused of Sexually Assaulting Unconscious Woman

A Luzerne County police officer accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has been ordered to trial.

Robert Semyon gave up his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday to see if there is enough evidence against him.

Robert Semyon, 46, is suspended from the Pittston Police Department.

Representatives from the attorney general's office said Semyon sexually assaulted an unconscious woman in September and took sexually explicit pictures of her.

The photos were found on a laptop belonging to the police department.

Semyon was suspended in October. He is charged with indecent assault and other crimes.

If he is found guilty, Semyon could be sentenced to spend up to 37 years in prison and pay up to $90,000 in fines.

No date has been set for his trial.

Officer Thomas Walker's Court Postponed After New Charges Filed

A South Fayette Township police officer accused of DUI after crashing into two Bridgeville police cars was in court on Thursday.

However, the hearing for Thomas Walker, 38, was postponed after prosecutors entered seven new charges in the case.

Investigators said Walker -- who was off duty at the time of the Dec. 18 crash -- was drunk when he slammed into two police cars that were blocking off Millers Run Road in Cecil Township.

Police suspected Walker was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, and the criminal complaint states that he refused a blood-alcohol test.

The two officers were taken to the hospital after the crash with non-life threatening injuries. One of them -- Sgt. Gary James -- will be off work for 12 weeks.

After the crash, police said they placed Walker in a police cruiser but he was spotted walking away. Police said they yelled for him to stop and arrested him when he continued walking.

At Thursday's hearing, Walker's attorney, Noah Geary, said that they didn't know more charges would be filed. Geary said that District Judge Valarie Costanzo granted a postponement for that reason.

The new charges include reckless driving, careless driving, resisting arrest, escape, recklessly endangering another person and fleeing the scene of an accident, Geary said.

Walker is due back in court Feb. 10.

The South Fayette police chief told Channel 4 Action News that Walker has been with the department for three years.
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Probation Officer Kimberly Kibbe Arrested for Animal Cruelty

An animal cruelty trial is set March 8 for an East Texas probation officer.

Kimberly Gale Kibbe is accused of keeping 10 cats and five dogs in filthy conditions at a home in Gregg County. Another five cats were found dead.

Kibbe, who worked for the Gregg County Probation Office, is accused of failing to provide necessary care or shelter for at least 12 of the animals.

Officer Frank Carter Arrested for Falsifying Records

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a Melbourne police officer Thursday afternoon on five felony and several misdemeanor charges.

Officer Frank Carter was arrested as a result of an investigation by the FDLE, said resident-agent-in-charge Wayne Ivey.

“He faces five felony charges of official misconduct and misdemeanor charges of falsifying records,” Ivey said. “We have been investigating him for the last two months.”

Ivey said Carter conducted traffic stops for infractions that the drivers did not commit, and subsequently wrote them tickets. According to information released by Melbourne police, the traffic stops and citations were made on “people of color.” The investigation began after a complaint made by a citizen, according to Melbourne police.

Melbourne Police Cmdr. Ron Bell said that “Officer Carter is on administrative leave.” Bell did not comment on whether there had been an internal investigation by Melbourne police into the conduct of Carter and did not answer any other questions about him.

“This is based on union politics and retaliation,” said Reed Cary, an attorney for Carter. He said Carter was a union leader with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Carter was held on a $2,000 bond before being released.

Carter is a 21-year-veteran of Melbourne police and was assigned to uniform patrol.

Officer Brandon Valdez & Officer Patrick Fitzgerald Arrested for Assault

LAPD Officer Brandon Valdez, 29, and LAPD Officer Patrick Fitzgerald, 38, were arrested Tuesday night by Whittier police on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after the victim was hospitalized with head trauma. The elite LAPD Metro Division officers, who have been with the department since 2002, were immediately placed on administrative leave.

"The victim suffered serious injuries to his head as a result of assault," Whittier Officer Mike Dekowski said. The 31-year-old man was treated at a hospital and released.

Reached by phone, Valdez, who along with Fitzgerald was released on $30,000 bail, declined to comment. The incident began when Valdez got into an argument with his girlfriend about 8 p.m. Tuesday outside a Panera Bread restaurant in the 15600 block of Whittwood Lane, according to Dekowski. Witnesses told police that the officer took issue with a bystander who was watching the altercation while talking on his cellphone, and struck the bystander in the face.

A fight ensued, during which Valdez "pulled out a handgun and began hitting the victim in the head," police said.

The 31-year-old victim was able to break free, but both off-duty officers chased him and tackled him, and continued to attack, police said.

The victim escaped by running into a nearby store just as Whittier police took the LAPD officers into custody. Authorities believe the LAPD officers may have been drinking before the incident.

Valdez was featured prominently in a November 2007 Times front page story on the work of gang beat officers in South Los Angeles. Valdez displayed a mild manner and polite personality, even as he stopped and quizzed gang members.

Valdez also saw combat in Iraq in 2004 as a Marine reservist in Ramadi. He returned to the U.S. after being wounded by a roadside bomb.

In the second off-duty incident, which occurred about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday at Figueroa Street and Avenue 60, an unidentified female sheriff's deputy and another woman began fighting outside a cocktail bar. The 29-year-old deputy was cut with a sharp object, while her 25-year-old opponent was shot with a handgun.

A relative of the deputy, Taylor Olivarez, 20, was booked on charges of attempted murder, police said. A handgun belonging to the deputy was recovered at the scene.

Former Officer Nelson Salinas Wanted for Aggravated Sexual Battery on Minor

U.S. Marshals are on the hunt for a former Peruvian police officer accused of molesting his friend's daughter, and authorities want to catch him before he leaves the country.

"Time is of the essence," said Rob Fernandez, commander of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force. "We want to get this guy before he runs back to his homeland."

Nelson Salinas, 54, is wanted by Fairfax County police on two counts of aggravated sexual battery on a minor.

Authorities said Salinas and the victim's father were police officers in Peru before both families immigrated to the United States and settled in the Alexandria and Arlington area.

The girl's family temporarily stayed with Salinas' family. Police said Salinas snuck into the girl's bed twice and touched her inappropriately. She was about 11 years old.

Salinas was charged with sexual battery after the victim conducted a phone sting and the man admitted to the accusations, police said.

A warrant was issued for his arrest, and police would like the public to provide information to help bring him to justice.

Salinas is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 175 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on Salinas' whereabouts is urged to call the U.S. Marshals Service at 800-336-0102. The Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, run by the U.S. Marshals Service, comprises 30 federal, state and local agencies from Baltimore to Norfolk. Since its creation in 2004, the unit has captured more than 29,000 wanted fugitives.

Former Officer Drew Peterson's 4th Wife Feared for Her Life

Former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson's sister-in-law says Stacy Peterson warned two days before she disappeared that if anything happened to her, Drew Peterson was involved.

Cassandra Cales testified Thursday at a pretrial hearing to determine what hearsay evidence can be admitted at Drew Peterson's upcoming trial on charges of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Stacy Peterson is his fourth wife, who disappeared in October 2007.

Cales, Stacy Peterson's younger sister, says the whispered conversation took place in the Petersons' bathroom two nights before her sister disappeared. Drew Peterson is the only suspect in her disappearance but has not been charged.

The former Bolingbrook police sergeant has pleaded not guilty to charges of killing Savio in 2004.

Former Officer Michael Polen Arrested for Failing to Return Taser Weapon

A former officer accused of taking a Perry Township Police Department Taser gun now faces a felony theft charge.

Michael P. Polen, 30, remains free on bond. He was arrested Wednesday on a felony theft-in-office charge.

Polen is accused of removing an $820 Taser X-26 gun and cartridge while still employed with the Police Department. He failed to return both upon his termination, court records say.

Polen denied the allegation when reached Thursday.

“It’s something that happened a year ago. I forgot that I had it. I had put it in a safe, and it was returned,” Polen said.

“They have it in their possession, so I don’t see how it’s theft.”

Polen was fired after he was found guilty of driving drunk while off-duty in 2008. State troopers said they found him passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle.

Polen will be arraigned on the theft allegation Friday in Municipal Court.
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Officer Joe Serrato Charged with Drunk Driving

Things went from bad to worse for an officer with the San Antonio Police Department on Sunday, Jan. 24. Joe Serrato, 36, of Mico, was arrested on FM 1283 in Lakehills, charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

According to Chief Deputy Richard Smith, a driver notified emergency dispatch about a possible intoxicated driver on Highway 173 from Hondo. The vehicle then turned east on Highway 16, apparently traveling at a high rate of speed. Complaints to emergency dispatch continued. On FM 1283, reports indicated that Serrato’s vehicle had crossed a yellow centerline several times.

Bandera County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputy Casey Young eventually stopped Serrato by Lakewood Park Estates on FM 1283.

When asked for his driver’s license, Serrato instead flashed a SAPD badge. Casey had to request the driver’s license several times before Serrato finally produced it, Smith said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Glenn Scales, who assisted with the traffic stop, conducted a field sobriety test, which Serrato subsequently failed. Based on the failure, a strong smell of alcohol and obvious signs of intoxication, Casey arrested Serrato and transported him to the Bandera County Jail at approximately 8:30 pm.

While at the jail, Serrato refused an intoxilyzer test. According to Smith, it is standard operating procedure to offer an intoxilyzer test to motorists arrested on DWI charges.

In Texas, such refusal can lead to suspension of a driver’s license. It is against the law to operate a vehicle – or to even “attempt” to operate a vehicle – at or above .08 percent blood alcohol concentration.

BCSO Cpl. Mike Dickerson transported a passenger in Serrato’s vehicle to a convenience store in Lakehills. The passenger exhibited no signs of intoxication and was not arrested.

Serrato posted bond and was released from jail on Monday, Jan. 22. This was his first DWI arrest.

As a courtesy, Smith called the office of San Antonio Police Chief William McManus to inform him one of his officers had been arrested for DWI.

DetentionOfficer Lt Pedro Trevino Charged with Sexual Harassment

A nurse filed a sexual harassment complaint against an Hidalgo County detention officer. Lt. Pedro "Pete" Trevino was charged with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.

The 39-year-old was arrested after an internal investigation by the county's public integrity unit. We're told Trevino confessed and was fired at the time of his arrest.

"We will continue to enforce our zero-tolerance policy, because we believe that nobody should be subjected to that type of treatment by a work supervisor," says Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino.

Court documents state the sexual harassment happened while Pedro Trevino was on duty earlier this month. The nurse claims he cornered her up against the wall of his office, kissed her, and touched her inappropriately.

Officer Todd Lappegaard Accused of Tasering Cooperative Teen

A Minneapolis police officer accused of Tasering a compliant suspect to the ground has been fired from the force, a source close to the department said.

Todd Lappegaard, who faces a federal lawsuit over the April 30, 2009, incident, sent an e-mail to many in the police department in the past several days in which he said he had been let go. He said in the e-mail that he was proud to serve with the city department, according to the source.

Jesse Garcia, police department spokesman, said he could not confirm the termination due to rules regarding personnel matters. Lappegaard, who was hired in 1993, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit stems from an arrest that took place shortly before midnight in which Rolando Ruiz, 18, was suspected of damaging a police cruiser parked at the Second Precinct on Central Avenue. The arrest, recorded by a video camera on Lappegaard's cruiser, began with Ruiz standing in front of Lappegaard's car with his hands on the hood. Lappegaard then places a Taser on Ruiz's neck and stuns him.

"As plaintiff Ruiz slumped to the ground, Lappegaard held his knee on the plaintiff's back to prevent him from avoiding the electrical shock of the Taser device," the lawsuit reads. "Lappegaard held his free hand on the squad car hood to brace himself as he pinned Ruiz to the ground and continued shocking him."

Along with the civil rights violations, the suit lists nine causes of action. Among them it cites a 2002 incident in which Lappegaard was driving a squad car that made contact with a sport utility vehicle driven by a woman fleeing police. She later drove the SUV off the street, hitting and killing a Richfield man who was jogging.

Ruiz has sued for damages between $75,000 and $400,000 as well as punitive damages. A jury trial has been placed on the U.S. District Court schedule for 2012.

Former Officer Bob Ingle Convicted of Raping Child

A Mobile County Jury convicted a former Chickasaw Police Officer of sexually abusing his step-daughter. Bob Ingle was convicted of raping and sodomizing the 10-year-old. For Rebecca McEvoy's family, the verdict has been long overdue.

It took several years for the case to make it to a courtroom. But it took a jury less than two hours to find Bob Ingle guilty of raping and sodomizing his ten year old step daughter, Rebecca McEvoy.

It's a bitter sweet verdict for Rebecca's father.

"Been a long three years and Rebecca finally got justice, and took a pervert off the streets so other kids can be safe," said Aden McEvoy, Rebecca's father.

Rebecca died in a car accident in 2008, before the case could be heard. Her death played a part in the delay because in Alabama, a defendant has the right to cross examine a witness.

So, Assistant District Attorney Ella Byrd called on Rebecca's best friend, and Rebecca's sister to tell her story of sexual abuse. The state showed Rebecca shared with them, the horror she suffered at the hands of her step father.

"I didn't know what the verdict was going to be, if they were going to find him innocent, I didn't know how I would act. When they said guilty, all I could do was look up and say thank you Becca, thank you God," said Nina Tucker, Rebecca's sister.

Bob Ingle, now a convicted child rapist, faces life in prison for raping and sodomizing Rebecca. A little girl whom her father said had a contagious smile.

Ingle will be allowed to remain out on bond until a hearing in February. Judge Michael Youngpeter ordered Ingle to wear a monitoring device and have no contact with children. Ingle will be sentenced February 25, 2010.
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Officer Michael Kavenius & Sgt. Paul Brown Firing Upheld for Tasering 76-year-old Man

Officials in the small Wyoming town of Glenrock have upheld the firing of two police officers who chased and Tasered a 76-year-old man driving a tractor in a parade.

The Glenrock Town Council voted Monday night to uphold last year's terminations of Officer Michael Kavenius and Sgt. Paul Brown.

According to a state review of the incident, Bud Grose was shocked five times with Kavenius' Taser during Glenrock's annual Deer Creek Days Parade in August.

Grose was driving an antique tractor in the parade and disobeyed Kavenius' traffic command, police said. Brown pulled a police vehicle in front of Grose's tractor, and the tractor collided with it.

Neither former officer was present at the council meeting. A lawyer representing the two has said they violated no police policies or procedures and deserved to be reinstated.

"Sgt. Brown and Officer Kavenius are decent, hardworking men who have generously volunteered to the community and worked in the law enforcement establishment for years," Casper lawyer John H. Robinson said last year.

Grose didn't attend the meeting either but said in a telephone interview afterward he was grateful to the Glenrock community and the council. Glenrock has a population of about 2,300 and is about 25 miles east of Casper.

"It just kind of shows what people can accomplish when they hang together," Grose said. He said he's been consulting with a lawyer but hasn't decided whether he will sue over the incident.

The incident drew an angry mob, with many people shouting that police mishandled the situation, according to investigators' reports. It has since focused attention on the performance of Glenrock's seven-member police department.

"About everybody thinks it was uncalled for, it could have been handled strictly different," Grose said.

His son, Mike Grose, attended Monday's meeting and thanked the council for making what he called a hard but just decision.

Councilor Bruce Vinolla was among the three who voted to uphold the officers' firings. "As the process went forward, everything just kind of pointed toward the decision," he said after the meeting. "It just kind of made itself."

Vinolla said he believes many in the community were concerned that the situation would be swept under the rug. But he noted that the town called in outside law enforcement agencies to investigate, and said such things take time.

Glenrock Mayor Steve Cielinski and a fourth councilor didn't take part in the vote; the mayor was involved in the investigation, and the councilor had connections to people involved.

Glenrock Police Chief Tom Sweet said after the council vote that he had recommended the firings be upheld. He said the officers were put on administrative leave in August and terminated in September.

"It's been highly emotional for the community - for everyone involved," Sweet said. He said he expects to have two new officers working by this summer.

"I just hope that the community will have confidence in and support the police department as a whole, and the individual officers as they're trying to do their jobs," Sweet said. "I think this incident kind of brought to light even bad things happen in small communities, and your officers have to be professional whether they're in Glenrock, Wyoming, or New York City."

Officer Nick Petrone Accused of Firing Weapon During Argument with Wife

Bond was set Thursday morning at $1,500 for an Horry County police officer charged a day earlier with criminal domestic violence after being accused of firing a shot during an argument with his wife.

Nick Petrone, 40, was charged Wednesday after being taken into custody on Sunday, police said. The bond requires cash or surety before Petrone will be released from J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

Petrone, a patrol officer who has been an employee of the department since February 2006, has been suspended without pay, according to Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier.

An Horry County police officer was arrested on criminal domestic violence charges after being accused of firing a shot during an argument with his wife.

Patrol Officer Nick Petrone was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday, and a bond hearing for him is pending, according to jail officials.

Petrone, 40, an employee of the department since February 2006, has been suspended without pay, according to Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier.

An Horry County police officer was arrested today and charged with criminal domestic violence.

A statement released by Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Bourcier says Patrol Officer Nick Petrone has been booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center on the charge.

Petrone, 40, who worked for the department since February 2006, also has been suspended without pay, according Bourcier.

Authorities say a South Carolina police officer was charged with criminal domestic violence after firing a gun and threatening his wife in their coastal home.

Investigators say 40-year-old Horry County police officer Nick Petrone was arrested Sunday after he became angry with his wife because she wouldn't hang out with his friends, breaking bar stools in his garage and damaging the door.

Authorities say Petrone and his wife kept arguing and he grabbed a gun and walked outside. She called 911 after hearing a gunshot.

On Sunday, police said Petrone grabbed a loaded semi-automatic handgun and fired a shot while friends were at his home, making his wife afraid for her life after the two argued in their Loris-area home, according to the arrest warrant.

Petrone denied the allegations when interviewed by Horry County police.

An incident report said Petrone was put in emergency protective custody immediately after the incident and was taken Sunday to Conway Medical Center to be evaluated.

Police said Petrone and his wife argued after she went inside to cook dinner, while he was drinking and hanging out in the garage with friends.

She told officers that Petrone became upset because she wasn't hanging out, and tried to talk her into coming back outside, according to the incident report.

After she told him to, "Just stop," Petrone allegedly went to the garage and began breaking bar stools and messing up the light over the pool table, according to the report.

His wife then went upstairs to hide his duty belt and his service weapon in a closet, because she was scared.

Petrone followed her to the bedroom, went to his night stand and took out a pistol, then went down the stairs, the police report stated.

His wife said she heard a shot as she was trying to leave through another exit with the children, and she said she heard Petrone say he "couldn't live like this."

She then called police.

The woman told officers that Sunday's behavior was out of character for her husband.

Police found Petrone sitting in the yard and found the pistol in his front pocket.

He told officers he made no threats to himself or his wife and did not fire his weapon.

Petrone said he only damaged his property, but did not break any laws.

He said he just went for a walk and always carries a gun when he leaves the house.

When interviewed, the children said they heard a gunshot.

Officer Michael Minor Arrested for Beating Girlfriend

A Philadelphia police officer was arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her family.

Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Minor, 36, was arrested after Upper Darby police responded to a 911 call for an alleged domestic dispute 1:45 a.m. Wednesday at Minor’s home on the 7000 block of Clover Lane, police say.

“The officer was met by a 26-year-old female who stated her boyfriend, Michael Minor, struck her in the face and dragged her off the couch and onto the floor,” Chitwood said, according to “Furniture was broken. She said he threatened to come back and shoot the family.”

The couple has two children, Chitwood told the

The woman was brought to Delaware County Memorial Hospital where she was treated for a bruised and swollen forehead and abrasions on her neck and leg.

“The victim advised the emergency-room nurse that she was assaulted, choked, punched in the face multiple times and kicked by her son’s father,” Criminal Investigator Matthew Rowles wrote in the affidavit.

But a Fraternal Order of Police lawyer says he questions the alleged victim's story, saying it has changed at least once.

Minor was arraigned Wednesday and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail on charges including simple assault and harassment.

Pending its review of the arrest, the Philadelphia Police Department will be assigned to desk duty when he is released from Delaware County Prison.

Lt Howard Watson Arrested for Coercing Two Woman into Performing Sexual Acts on Him

A Dallas County constable lieutenant was arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple felonies as part of an investigation by the district attorney's office into activities at some constable offices, authorities said.

Lt. Howard Watson, 66, of Dallas is a senior officer in Constable Jaime Cortes' Precinct 5 office in Oak Cliff. His arrest is the first to come from a months-long investigation of constables by the DA's public integrity division.

Watson was booked into Dallas County Jail late Wednesday afternoon, sheriff's officials said. He is being charged with sexual assault, bribery, official oppression, the unauthorized use of two motor vehicles and tampering with government records.

Watson is accused of, among other things, coercing two women into performing sexual acts with him in exchange for not arresting them on outstanding warrants. Watson also used an incorrect address for a certificate that allowed him to help register voters, court records show.

Peter Schulte, an attorney for Cortes, said the constable "understands the seriousness of the allegations" and has placed Watson on leave until further notice.

Schulte said Cortes is opening an internal investigation on the matter.

Watson's wife, Janette, 64, also was arrested late Wednesday. She is charged with providing a false seller's name and previous owner's name on a vehicle title certificate. She also is charged with tampering with a government record by altering a vehicle title.

The Watsons were unavailable for comment.

Watson was one of several Precinct 5 officers who aroused suspicions in the county tax office about two years ago by driving personal vehicles with 30-day registration tags.

In August, The Dallas Morning News reported that the deputies had been renewing the temporary permits every month, paying $25 each time, leading some officials to wonder whether they had title to the vehicles.

The transactions raised questions about where the constables were getting the vehicles, some of which were in salvage yards after being damaged in crashes. The constables, however, wouldn't say where they got the vehicles.

At the time of the News report, County Judge Jim Foster said he wanted to make sure the vehicles did not come from Dowdy Ferry Auto Services, the towing company whose contracts with Cortes and Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans have been questioned by county officials.

Some constable officers using the paper tags only recently applied for titles to their vehicles, with Watson seeking a bonded title. A bonded title can protect your against future claims to a vehicle. It is generally sought after the state denies a title application because of a lack of proper ownership evidence.

It's unclear from the indictment whether the situation described by The News is tied to Watson's and his wife's arrests.

The News' investigation found that Watson received a bonded title in July for a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria he was driving with temporary tags, records show. He also was driving a 2001 Cadillac Catera with paper tags. That car, originally registered in Florida, was sold at auction in Texas in April 2007. Records don't indicate when and how Watson obtained the car.

Title records show that Watson's wife became the owner of the Cadillac in August.

Foster said some information compiled by a special investigator helped make the arrests possible. In September, county commissioners hired former FBI agent Danny Defenbaugh to conduct a civil investigation into operations at the Precinct 5 and Precinct 1 constable offices.

As part of that investigation, which is continuing, Defenbaugh turned over evidence of crimes to the DA's public integrity division.

The district attorney's office declined to comment on the arrests.

Foster said he hopes Wednesday's arrests are just the beginning.

"I just wish that this would have happened sooner," he said. "It's very serious. And I'm looking forward to all these issues being resolved."

Cortes hired Watson in July 2007 when county commissioners appointed Cortes to replace former Constable Mike Dupree, who resigned while facing criminal charges.

Previously, Watson worked briefly at two small Ellis County police departments – three months at the Maypearl Police Department and five months at the Life School ISD police department, state records show.

Watson lost his ability to park his Dallas County constable vehicle at his home about a year and a half ago after wrecking it while off-duty.

Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield said he hopes more arrests will follow.

In recent months, numerous current and former deputy constables from Precincts 1 and 5 have reported wrongdoing to some of the commissioners and to the district attorney.

Mayfield said several more deputies are scheduled to appear before the grand jury investigating constable affairs.

"It's somewhat encouraging," Mayfield said about Wednesday's arrests. "It's a good sign. We'll wait to see what follows."

Officer Alex Alvarez Avoids DWI Conviction After Arresting Officer Fails to Appear

An Hidalgo County judge killed a McAllen policeman’s criminal case after one of the defendant’s fellow officers failed to appear in court and testify against him, court records state.

Judge Jay Palacios of Hidalgo County Court-at-law No. 2 dealt a “fatal” blow to the prosecution’s case, Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said, when he granted a motion to suppress evidence in Officer Alex Alvarez’s pending case on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

McAllen police arrested Alvarez on July 5, 2009, after they found him in his red Ford pickup truck at Chili’s, 521 E. Nolana. An anti-theft locking device was still attached to the steering wheel as he allegedly attempted to leave the restaurant while drunk. In the process, his truck collided with a parked car.

“The outcome of last night may determine his future,” McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said the day after Alvarez’s arrest.

But in criminal court, at least, it appears Alvarez may have avoided a DWI conviction. The arresting officer failed to appear for a court hearing where he was to explain why Alvarez had been arrested.

“Nobody showed up to testify,” said Alvarez’s attorney, Toribio “Terry” Palacios. “We got all the evidence suppressed. There’s not much I can comment on.”

Alvarez refused a breath test and would not submit to other sobriety tests at the police station, according to Monitor archives.

Restaurant employees told police Alvarez had been bothering four female customers and was told to return to his table. The restaurant manager suspected Alvarez was too drunk to drive and called a taxi to take him home. While waiting for the cab to arrive, the manager tried to stall Alvarez, who apparently stripped a pair of glasses from his head and threw them to the floor.

District Attorney Guerra said he learned Wednesday that the case was set for dismissal when a Monitor reporter contacted him about the matter. Guerra said he would ask Palacios to reconsider his decision to suppress the evidence in the case.

“Legally, I don’t know if he can reconsider it,” the district attorney said. “I don’t know until I try.”

But why the arresting officer missed the court date remains unclear.

Court records show the officer was served a subpoena Jan. 12 to appear in court for the scheduled hearing one week later.

Guerra said he learned the arresting officer had worked the graveyard shift the night before the hearing and missed the Jan. 19 court date.

McAllen’s Police Chief Rodriguez said he believed the officer was hospitalized. Rodriguez provided no further details.

Two officers from the McAllen police force’s internal affairs division were in the courtroom that day as part of their administrative investigation, Guerra said.

“They knew he had been subpoenaed and failed to show up,” the district attorney said.

Alvarez, meanwhile, remains on unpaid administrative leave — as he has since his arrest last summer, Rodriguez said.

No decision has been made about any consequences the 14-year police veteran could face, the chief said, but those could range from suspension to Alvarez’s firing. The arresting officer could face administrative consequences for failing to appear in court, as well.

“Now I need to figure out what will happen in this one,” Rodriguez said.

Former Officer Pierre Dorsey Charged with Impersonating a Police Officer

A former city police officer is due in court this morning after being charged with posing as an undercover officer at a Southwest Baltimore high school.

School police say 26-year-old Pierre Dorsey of the 4400 block of Shamrock Ave. told an officer he was working for the principal of Edmondson High School on an undercover detail to investigate illegal activities occurring in the school and crimes that involved students at nearby Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

But Dorsey said he did not have any identification, and the principal said that she had not asked Dorsey to conduct any observation, according to records. She believed he had been assigned there by the Police Department. When she approached him, he had flashed a yellow Baltimore City license and said he was not required to carry a badge in his undercover capacity, records show.

Anthony Guglielmi, a city police spokesman, confirmed that Dorsey worked for the department from 2005 until his resignation in 2007. Citing personnel rules, Guglielmi said he could not reveal whether Dorsey had been facing internal discipline when he resigned.

Dorsey told school police that he was assigned to the Southwestern District and gave the name and phone number of Duane Verderaime from the City Union of Baltimore. Verderaime did not return phone messages.

Officers towed Dorsey's vehicle from the school and inside found a black bag with books containing tickets for traffic and criminal citations, as well as citizen contact tickets.

According to court records, Dorsey's wife, Centria Dorsey, works at Edmondson High School and also told police that her husband was working on behalf of the principal. Edie House-Foster, a city schools spokeswoman, confirmed that Centria Dorsey was an employee and said that Pierre Dorsey had been visiting the school beginning in October, though she said he was not there every day.

A phone number for Pierre and Centria Dorsey was out of service, and neither could be reached for comment. Records show that they faced foreclosure proceedings last month.

Officer Mark Young Pleads Guilty to Misuse of Data System

A former Marion police officer pleaded guilty to one count related to the misuse of the law enforcement automated data system.

Mark A. Young, 56, pleaded Wednesday in Marion County Common Pleas Court, said Assistant County Prosecutor Dave Stamolis.

Young's trial on three counts of improper use of a telecommunications device, all fifth-degree felonies, was to begin today. He resigned in February, the same day he pleaded not guilty to the three charges. His trial had been continued multiple times since then because of unavailability of counsel and witnesses.

He faces up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine on the single charge. The other two counts were dismissed in a plea agreement.

Stamolis said the prosecutor's office likely will recommend community-control with some jail time. He requested a presentence investigation.

Sentencing has not been scheduled.

Prosecutor Brent Yager said his office did the plea agreement in large part because the incidents "all happened fairly close to one another in time." He said he doubted the "outcome would be any different" regarding the sentence had Young been convicted of all three charges.

Local attorney J.C. Ratliff was appointed to represent Young. He could not be reached for comment.

Yager said Young's being a police officer wasn't a factor in the prosecutor's handling of the case.

"I think what you try to do is treat it like other cases," Yager said. "He broke the law. Should he be punished worse because he's a police officer? Maybe not, because being a police officer is why he had access to LEADS (the database). You really can't violate that section if you're not a police officer, and it's not a crime of violence or anything. We try to treat people equally."

If sentenced to serve time, it wouldn't be Young's first stay behind bars.

He was convicted of misdemeanor violation of a protection order after a fight with his estranged wife in December 1999. Young was fired the same month for using his badge to try to obtain information at a hotel about the estranged wife, who he suspected was there.

An arbitrator later ruled Young should be reinstated as a police officer, though the city had found four violations of general rules of officer conduct.

The arbitrator ruled three of the complaints were minor violations, not warranting termination. They included conduct unbecoming of an officer, abuse of official position and concealment of material facts.

The city had filed a final grievance - that Young had committed a criminal violation. But the arbitrator ruled Young had not been found guilty in court before his termination.

Before his February resignation, Young had signed a last-chance agreement after a series of conduct violations. Young was a police officer for about 19 years. He was paid $25.84 an hour and $53,747 a year.

Officer Philip Spaman Admitts to Fondling Teen

The Ilion police officer who admitted to charges this week in connection with the fondling a teenager is resigned from the department, officials said.

Philip Spaman submitted his resignation – effective immediately – to the Ilion Village Board during their meeting Wednesday night, Chief Timothy Parisi said today.

Spaman, 47, was with the department for more than eight years.

Initially accused of forcible touching, Spaman to have his case heard in front of a jury Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. He is due to be sentenced to three years of probation on Tuesday, March 23.

He will not have to register as a sex offender.

With Spaman’s immediate resignation, Parisi said the department can now move past the shadow of Spaman’s allegations.

“As far as the department performing its duties, we still have a job to do,” Parisi said. “Despite adversities, whether they come from internal or external forces, we still have those challenges to face on a daily basis to protect the community.”

According to a grand jury indictment, Spaman had grabbed the teen’s genitals on several occasions between September 2007 and October 2008. The teen is now 18.

Spaman was the regional representative for the New York Police Juvenile Officers Association, whose members attend training workshops that explore investigative techniques for dealing with sex crimes against children. Spaman was suspended from the group after he was charged.