Saturday, February 13, 2010

Deputy Justin Oliver Accused of Misconduct

A Brown County deputy assigned to a regional drug task force is on leave pending a state investigation into allegations of misconduct with a woman who claims to be a confidential informant for him.

Bethany Selby, 19, of Mount Sterling said in an emergency order of protection filed Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court that she feared Deputy Justin Oliver might harm her or himself if she came forward about his actions.

Selby claims that during the five months she has been working as a confidential informant with the West Central Task Force, she and the deputy had a dating relationship and that they engaged in sexual acts in his police car and at his Mount Sterling residence. She also accused Oliver of pressuring her to set up a drug buy with a man she knew was not dealing drugs.

The order of protection was granted by Pike County Circuit Judge Michael Roseberry. Oliver was not present at the hearing.

Selby’s attorney, Jesse Gilsdorf, said that because there were no Brown County judges available Thursday they went to Pike County, which is the same judicial circuit.

Sheriff Tom Snowden said he learned of the allegations for the first time after they were presented in court. The sheriff placed Oliver on administrative leave with pay and the investigation was turned over to Illinois State Police. The state agency was closed Friday because of the state holiday.

Snowden declined to say whether Oliver denied the allegations when told he was being placed on administrative leave.

“I will say that these allegations are out of character for deputy Oliver,” Snowden said.

Oliver, who does not a have a listed telephone number, was unavailable Friday for comment.

Oliver will remain on paid leave “until we can validate or invalidate these allegations,” Snowden said.

Oliver has been employed with the sheriff’s department for four years and assigned for about two years to work full-time with the drug task force.

Emergency order of protections are civil proceedings, do not require proof the acts occurred and can be granted without both parties being present at the hearing.
In her request for the order, Selby contends Oliver “keeps a bullet in his car in his dashboard” and “has threatened to shoot himself with the bullet if I should ever tell anyone about our activities.”

Selby said she had a relationship with the deputy for about five months
“He has told me that if I told anyone about our relationship he would lose all of his cases and would lose his job,” she said in the court document. “This badly frightened me.”

The woman also accused Oliver of directing her to go to a man’s residence to try to buy drugs even though she told him the man was not dealing. Oliver “directed me to set up [the man] so that he could be arrested for drug dealing,” she said in court documents.

Both Snowden and Selby’s attorney declined to say how she became an informant. Gilsdorf declined to say what prompted her to seek the order of protection.

Selby has a driving under the influence case pending in Brown County and also has a previous arrest on a charge of possession of cannabis.

The temporary order could be made permanent at a hearing March 4 in Brown County Circuit Court.

Deputy Lt Shane Fletcher Pleads Guilty to Placing Tracking Device on Coach's Car

A Terrebonne Parish detective pleaded guilty Friday to criminal mischief in connection with the illegal placement of a GPS tracking device on a high-school coach’s car.

The device was allegedly placed there on behalf of a local businessman by a state trooper, who faces a similar charge and is the subject of a State Police investigation.

Lt. Shane Fletcher, 42, the Terrebonne detective, entered the guilty plea in Lafourche Parish District Court. He was fined $100 and ordered to pay court costs. Officials at the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office said an internal investigation of the detective’s actions is under way.

The businessman, 60-year-old John Ledet Jr., is charged as a principal to criminal mischief. He is scheduled to appear in court March 12.

Senior Trooper Travis “Bucky” Colombel has not been charged with a crime, but has been notified by prosecutors that he is a potential grand-jury target.

“We have information to show that the trooper placed the device on the vehicle, Fletcher retrieved the device from Thibodaux Police, and the coach suspects Ledet to be involved,” Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said.

Long-standing problems between Ledet and Shane Trosclair, 32, a baseball coach at E.D. White Catholic High, came to police attention Sept. 18, when Thibodaux officers were called to the school.

Trosclair told officers that Ledet was “stalking him because he refused to allow his son to play baseball for the school,” the police report says.

Ledet is owner of the Cajun Country Event Center on La. 182 in Raceland, a truck stop and restaurant. He formerly owned JB’s Coffee House in downtown Houma.
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Officer Jeffrey Grahn Kills Wife, Shoots 2 Others, Then Kills Self

The Clackamas County sheriff's sergeant who shot and killed himself and his wife Friday night had filed for divorce last August, but neighbors said the couple were still living together and appeared to be on good terms.

Jeffrey A. Grahn killed his wife, shot and killed another woman, then wounded a third woman before shooting himself at a crowded Gresham restaurant Friday night, police said.

Grahn of Boring killed his wife, Charlotte Grahn, 47, and her friend Kathleen Hoffmeister, 53, of Gresham. The two women were socializing at the M&M Restaurant and Lounge with their friend Victoria Schulmerich, 53, of Gresham, whom Grahn also shot. Schulmerich was in critical condition Saturday night at OHSU Hospital.

Grahn, 46, opened fire about 9:30 p.m., police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Hoffmeister. Charlotte Grahn was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where she died Saturday afternoon.

The Grahns had four children, ages 13 to 23.

Police released few details about the shooting Saturday, saying only that it involved a domestic dispute between the Grahns. Officers from the Gresham Police Department, the agency investigating the incident, gave no motive for the shootings and did not say whether Grahn used his service weapon. They also didn't say how many shots Grahn fired.

Grahn, a 15-year veteran of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, joined the department in February 1995 and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2003. He served as the head of security of Clackamas County Courthouse but had been reassigned as a swing shift supervisor away from the courthouse a year ago, according to Jim Strovink, a spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. He had no criminal record.

In 2007, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts issued a commendation to Grahn and to another deputy for their work while the courthouse was being renovated. Both deputies suggested security upgrades to go with the remodel.

"Sgt. Grahn also supervises transportation to and from the courthouse, and he's worked miracles with a limited staff," Roberts said in a news release at the time. "He has enhanced communication between the sheriff's office and judicial and legal staffers. He expanded the use of plans, mission sheets and briefings to improve security. Once the courthouse was completed, it wasn't just an upgrade of a building -- it was an upgrade of an entire system."

The shooting was the second in downtown Gresham in the past two weeks.

Police and Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis held a news conference Saturday to assure the public that the city is still safe.

A replica of a chef stands at the door of the closed M&M Restaurant and Lounge on Saturday morning. The M&M was the scene of a shooting Friday night.Two men who had been smoking outside the restaurant Friday night said they heard a shot and saw a blonde woman drop to the pavement. Then a man ran back into the lounge and they heard two more shots. The men said they often visit the M&M, at 137 N. Main Ave., and described it as a low-key club. A jazz band was playing there Friday night.

Business owner Cissy Heitzman, who wasn't present when the shooting occurred, said the restaurant has been at that location for about 25 years. The area, just north of Powell Boulevard, has a variety of small businesses, including several eateries, a toy store, a furniture outlet and a skate/snowboard shop.

On Saturday afternoon, neighbors of the Grahns quietly discussed the tragedy.

Dean Phelps and Steve Bates, who live on either side of the Grahns, said the couple often had neighborhood barbecues.

"They weren't people who stayed to themselves," Phelps said. "They were good people. And they did a lot of things together as a family."

Phelps said he knew the Grahns had filed for divorce and that they had seen a marriage counselor. He said he didn't talk to the couple about that aspect of their life.

Just a week ago, he said, Grahn, his wife and their youngest son came over to Phelps' home after Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw a pivotal fourth-quarter interception in the Super Bowl. "They both knew I was a big Colts fan," he said, and they brought over a box of tissues to console him after the Colts' loss.

Grahn was the type of person who would stop whatever he was doing to help a neighbor, Phelps said. One time, Grahn helped Phelps with a plumbing problem at his house.

Phelps said Grahn was once in the building industry and that he'd built the three-vehicle shop next to his four-bedroom, three-bath house at Southeast Sylvian Way near the center of Boring. The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Charlotte Grahn often stopped by the Phelps home.

"We'd have a knock on the back door," he said, "and it'd be Charlotte seeing what we were up to."

The couple had planned a trip together to Las Vegas for their daughter's 21st birthday, Phelps said, which they'd done for their eldest son when he turned 21.

Phelps said he viewed the trip as an indication the couple would reconcile.

"We hoped they'd get through this," he said.

Sherriff Joe Arpaio in Trouble for Destroying Evidence

A federal judge has imposed sanctions on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio must answer questions regarding an immigration file he kept.

U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow's order, released Friday, also calls on the Sheriff's Office to try to recover e-mails that were deleted and to swear under oath to steps it took to gather the records.

The racial-profiling lawsuit was filed in December 2007 following a sheriff's crime-suppression operation in Cave Creek that included the arrest of Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres.

Melendres is seeking to stop what he calls "illegal, discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against Hispanics in Maricopa County." The case now includes five individuals who claim deputies have detained them because of the color of their skin, and their lawyers have sought records from the sheriff's crime-suppression operations.

The Sheriff's Office has denied it engages in racial profiling, but the office has acknowledged it destroyed records from those sweeps and deleted e-mails among employees regarding those operations.

Peter Kozinets, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the ruling would give his clients access to e-mails if they are recovered, and the Sheriff's Office must describe in detail the measures it took to recover the electronic messages.

A key part of the order, Kozinets said, was the requirement that Arpaio answer questions about his 800-page immigration file that was turned over in late January.

"The judge clearly recognizes in the order the (Sheriff's Office) had an obligation to preserve other relevant evidence, and it destroyed the evidence," Kozinets said.

Arpaio on Friday evening said he and his office would comply with the judge's order.

"This is just another case. It's the nature of doing business," said Arpaio, who has faced numerous state and federal lawsuits.

Arpaio said he has won 12 straight federal cases filed against him, with most coming from county-jail inmates, and he expressed confidence his office would again prevail.

A hearing is set for March 19, when the judge will determine what additional information attorneys for the plaintiffs may seek from the sheriff based on new documents that may be produced.

Former Officer Donald Carr Arrested for Theft

Authorities say the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested a former Madison County investigator on charges of theft by taking, tampering with evidence and violation of his oath of office.

Madison County Chief Deputy Shawn Burns says Donald Glenn Carr is suspected of taking evidence from an evidence locker. Burns says Carr was booked into the Madison County Jail on Monday and released on $10,000 bond.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Burns says Carr resigned from sheriff’s office at the end of September, citing personal problems. He says that after Carr left, investigators discovered that evidence from Carr’s cases was missing.

Burns would not say what kind of evidence Carr is suspected of taking.

Officer Raphael Ospina Charged with Drunk Driving

An off-duty police officer was charged with drunken driving after his car hit a garbage truck and flipped onto the sidewalk in Midtown Manhattan early Saturday, knocking down a tree and scratching the marble-and-granite facade of Tiffany & Company’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, according to the police.

The officer, identified as Raphael Ospina, 27, was not seriously injured, the police said. The accident occurred about 3 a.m. at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.

According to police reports, the officer was heading east on 57th Street in a black Chrysler 300 sedan with two male passengers when his vehicle struck the private sanitation truck, which was westbound and turning south on Fifth Avenue. The sedan spun and turned over in front of Tiffany’s, littering the pavement with shattered glass and blood.

The driver was pinned inside the sedan, and emergency workers had to cut through the roof to get him out, according to a Fire Department spokesman. A passenger was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, and the other two occupants were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

All three were treated for cuts and bruises, and one passenger had a broken arm, the police said. The driver of the garbage truck was not hurt, the police added.

The officer is assigned to the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, according to officials. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, the police said. Under department protocol, his arrest would result in an automatic 30-day suspension without pay.

Nearly all traces of the crash had been removed by the time Tiffany’s opened at 10 a.m. on the eve of Valentine’s Day. White scrapes and black scuff marks lined part of the store’s wall, and the wall was slightly chipped near a display window stocked with red mailboxes filled with letters and sparkly heart-shaped jewelry. In a statement, a spokesman for Tiffany’s described the damage as “negligible.”