Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Officer John Gore Charged with Arson

As firefighters battled three fires early Tuesday morning in the area of Wolters Industrial Park, a Mineral Wells police officer was taken into custody and later charged with three counts of arson.

Patrolman John Clifford Gore, who marked his third anniversary with the Mineral Wells Police Department on Monday, was taken into custody around 2 a.m. Tuesday after he was stopped by an on-duty police officer on Ellis White Road.

Gore was not on duty at the time, Mineral Wells Police Chief Mike McAllester said.

McAllester said Gore was stopped because his silver Ford pickup matched the description of a truck reported speeding in the area of Corrections Corporation of America’s prison minutes after the fires were reported.

The officer who stopped Gore observed a gas can in the bed of the pickup and noticed Gore smelled of gasoline and smoke so he was detained and transported to the police station for questioning, according to McAllester.

Around 4:30 a.m., Gore was arrested and charged with three counts of arson, including one charge of arson with injury because a volunteer firefighter reportedly sustained a minor injury while fighting the fire on Lee Road.

An empty former barracks building on Van Story Road belonging to New-Tronics Antenna Corp. was reported on fire around 1:30 a.m. about the same time as a fire at a building in the 400 block of Lee Road belonging to Evair Associates.

A fire at a fireworks stand at Ellis White Road and Farm-to-Market Road 1821 was called in minutes later.

Police officers who responded began looking for vehicles in the area “because of recent arson fires that had plagued that area,”

“We’re still investigating whether this page person may or may not have been involved with other arson fires,” McAllester said.

McAllester said the motive for the intentionally set fires is also under investigation.

The 26-year-old patrol officer has been with the Mineral Wells Police Department three years as of Monday.

“There’s never been any discipline involving this officer at all,” McAllester said. “Up until this point he’s been a model employee.”

“This case we handled as any other case would be,” McAllester said.

Another suspect has been questioned after the police department received information on a subject believed to be involved in a prior incident, according to McAllester.

An additional arrest is possible, McAllester said.

The Texas Rangers, arson investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Parker County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal’s Office are assisting in the investigation, according to McAllester.

The Mineral Wells Fire Department and volunteers from Mineral Wells, Millsap and Cool-Garner responded to the structure fires.

There was minor damage to the fireworks stand on Ellis White Road.

Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Chief Steve Perdue said the former barracks building on Van Story Road was fully involved when firefighters arrived. It burned to the ground.

Tina Chipps, plant manager at New-Tronics, said the building was empty and had been stripped.

It was the company’s second building burned in a suspected arson since a former barracks building used for storage was destroyed in mid-December in a string of four intentionally set fires across the city.

The fire at the brick building in the 400 block of Lee Road owned by Evair Associates was contained to the office portion, according to Perdue.

Monte Parker, a 19-year veteran of the MWVFD, sustained a minor back injury and was transported by ambulance to Palo Pinto General Hospital. He was later released, according to his wife, Connie Parker.

The building was used for storage. The main business office in the 200 block was not hurt.

Neil Evans said he lost most of the items he hoped to use as exhibits in a flight museum for the area.

For the last 12 years, the building has housed aviation artifacts, including old parts, fixtures and hundreds of large pictures, according to the family.

“You can’t get this stuff,” Neil Evans said.

“We’ve been collecting that stuff for years,” Sharlet Evans, office manager at the family-owned business, described as “the AutoZone for F-16s.”

About 1,000 brand new keyboards and computer mice to be donated to schools in Mineral Wells and Weatherford were also destroyed, according to Neil Evans.

In all, the Evans estimated their loss at between $500,000 and $1 million. They said the building was insured, though the contents were not.

Sharlet Evans said they found out about the fire when Jerry VanNatta with the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department called the office first thing Tuesday morning.

They were making arrangements to have somebody patrol the business during the nighttime hours when they were informed of the arrest.

“I’m shocked, I’ve known John Gore since he was a little boy,” Sharlet Evans said.

A Myspace page purportedly belonging to Gore and last updated on Monday displayed a quote from the fictional Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent in the movie “Dark Knight” saying “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

The page sports a black background with a picture of orange flames and several pictures of the character The Joker from the same movie.

A 2001 graduate of Mineral Wells High School, Gore was in the Palo Pinto County jail on $95,000 bond as of Tuesday morning.

Detective Thomas Garrett Arrested for Assaulting the Mother of his Child

A Milwaukie police officer is facing potentially career-ending charges, accused of assaulting the mother of his child while her other children watched.

Detective Thomas E. Garrett was arrested by Clackamas County sheriff's deputies Tuesday at the Milwaukie Police Station.

Garrett, 36, of Southeast Portland, is a six-year Milwaukie police veteran. If convicted of the charge, a Class C felony, he would be barred from possessing a firearm, which would make it impossible for him to continue as a police officer.

He was placed on immediate paid administrative leave.

Detective Jim Strovink, Clackamas County sheriff's spokesman, said a 30-year-old woman acknowledged to be the mother of Garrett's 1-year-old child visited the sheriff's Clackamas-area headquarters at 8 a.m. Tuesday to report that Garrett assaulted her with one or more of her three other children present. The woman, whose name was not released, said the assault occurred at her home in an unincorporated area outside Milwaukie.

The woman did not require medical care, Strovink said. Garrett and the woman are not married.

After conducting interviews, the sheriff's Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, with cooperation from Milwaukie police, arrested Garrett at work without incident.

Oregon's domestic-violence laws require police to arrest a suspect accused of assault by someone who claims to be a victim. Physical evidence of an assault is not required.

Garrett was hired by Milwaukie police in April 2004. He began as a patrol officer and then worked as a school resource officer, mostly at Milwaukie High School, before most recently joining detectives.

"As far as our experience with him, he's always done a commendable job as an investigator," said Officer Ulli Neitch, Milwaukie police spokeswoman.

Police Chief Bob Jordan said Garrett was recognized for his work investigating the case of Christopher John Klitgord, a Milwaukie High math teacher convicted last year of second-degree sexual abuse for his relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Garrett also was recognized for instituting a truancy court at Milwaukie High to deal with chronically absent students.

He has no disciplinary actions on file.

Garrett was booked into the Clackamas County Jail on accusation of fourth-degree assault. He posted bond against $15,000 bail and was released. He is scheduled to be arraigned March 15 in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

Officer Nick McKinley Faces Suspension for Hitting Fleeing Suspect with Patrol Car

A city police officer faces a 30-day suspension after he allegedly hit a fleeing suspect with his patrol car.

Patrolman Nick McKinley is accused of running his car into 54-year-old Donnie Neely of South Bend just after 1 a.m. Nov. 5 after Neely allegedly dragged a different officer with his car and then tried to flee on foot.

Those allegations were presented to the Board of Public Safety today in a letter written by Police Chief Darryl Boykins.

In the letter, Boykins stated that McKinley was backing up Patrolman Kyle Dombrowski as he was conducting a vehicle stop.

But Dombrowski’s arm and shoulder were injured in the incident, after Neely sped off, dragging him down the street and around the corner until he fell free from the car.

Then, "McKinley got into his police mechanical and started pursuing the suspect vehicle," Boykins stated. "The suspect stopped his vehicle and fled on foot. Patrolman McKinley struck the suspect, who was fleeing on foot, with his patrol car."

That story is different than the initial reports of the incident told to The Tribune the day of the incident.

According to a Nov. 6, 2009, crime brief, police initially reported that Neely tripped getting out of his car and fell on the ground, breaking his knee cap in the process and also cutting himself, later requiring four stitches.

Capt. Phil Trent, reading the report today, said there was no mention of Neely being struck by the police car in the report, but it did say he fractured a knee cap and required four stitches.

Trent said that a later internal investigation into the incident led police to discover that Neely had actually been struck by the bumper of a patrol car.

Dombrowski, the officer dragged by the car, suffered only minor injuries.

Boykins’ told the board that McKinley’s actions violated four different sections of the department’s duty manual, including improper use of a police car and unnecessary force.

The chief recommended that McKinley be suspended for 30 days without pay.

McKinley can request a hearing to dispute the charges, and no final decision about the suspension has been made by the board.

According to Tribune archives, McKinley is a 2008 graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

Officer David Reilly Accused of Using Internet to Extort Money

A Naugatuck police officer accused of extortion has resigned from the police department.

David Reilly is accused of using the Internet to extort money from a Wallingford woman in order to pay gambling debts.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Reilly threatened to send humiliating information about the woman's sex life to her employer and parents.

The mayor's office confirmed Tuesday that the 40-year-old Reilly, who joined the police force in 1996, had resigned.

Reilly has pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion, coercion and computer crimes and is due back in Meriden Superior Court on March 8. He is free after posting a $25,000 bond.

Former Detention Officer Denita Shaw Pleads Guilty to Beating Handcuffed Inmate

A former Fulton County Sheriff’s Detention Officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a civil rights violation at the Fulton County Jail for beating a handcuffed inmate with a milk crate.

Denita Renae Shaw, 41, of Smyrna, Ga., was a detention officer at the Fulton County Jail. On Jan. 26, 2009, she used excessive force against the inmate and was fired because of the incident.

The felony charge brings a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is set for May 4.

“The inhumane treatment of persons in custody must cease,” Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson said in a prepared statement. “This case continues to show that excessive force and the disregard of policies and procedures at the Fulton County Jail will not be tolerated. When the civil rights of inmates are violated, we will pursue criminal charges and coordinate with federal authorities to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

Former Officer Anthony Bickerton Sentenced for Making False Statements to FBI

A former Stoughton police officer pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to FBI investigators in a 2008 police corruption probe.

Federal prosecutors will recommend that Anthony Bickerton, 60, of Stoughton spend 12 to 18 months in prison as part of a plea deal for lying about his role in a fake, FBI-arranged, stolen goods ring with two other Stoughton officers who have resigned from the force.

In conversations secretly taped in 2008 by a convicted criminal turned cooperating witness, the former detective arranged for discounted high-definition televisions for his daughter and other police officers and a power washer for himself. He thought the goods were stolen, but they were provided as part of the FBI’s probe. Prosecutors said he tried to hide the power washer at a fellow officer’s house after the FBI questioned him.

“Mr. Bickerton’s actions are an affront to the many honest men and women in the law enforcement community who serve the public with dedication and integrity,’’ US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “Today’s plea should be a reminder to the public that we will continue to aggressively pursue all investigations and prosecutions of corrupt and dishonest public officials.’’

Prosecutors had also alleged that Bickerton illegally obtained Registry of Motor Vehicles records for the informant, but as part of the plea, he will not have to admit to that.

Appearing before Judge Richard Stearns, Bickerton displayed much different behavior yesterday afternoon than he did in January, when he was escorted into the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in jeans and handcuffs. In the January proceedings, Bickerton broke down and cried while addressing Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler. Yesterday, he appeared relaxed, calm, and even smiled at Stearns while the judge questioned him.

His wife, Rose, wiped away tears as the 45-minute proceeding drew to a close. No other friends or family of Bickerton, a father of three who was raised in Mattapan, were in court yesterday. No one from the Stoughton Police Department attended.

If the case had gone to trial, Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly said, two other former police officers would have been called to testify against Bickerton. He would have faced a maximum of five years in prison for giving false statements and 10 years for obstruction of justice.

Bickerton was released on his existing bond, and he will be back in court May 11 for sentencing. He left the courthouse with his wife, and declined to comment. His lawyer, Kevin Reddington, called the process fair and said his client was looking forward to resolving the case.

Former Officer Alfredo Palacios Arrested for Indecency with Child

A former Pharr police officer was arrested in Port Isabel Tuesday afternoon on an outstanding warrant charging him with indecency with a child, court records show.

Alfredo Palacios turned himself in to Cameron County Precinct 1 Constable Horacio Zamora and was then taken to Justice of the Peace Benny Ochoa, who set his bond at $15,000.

Details of the case were not immediately available, but Zamora said it involves a female teenager and the offense took place in July of last year at Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island.

Palacios was terminated from his job with the Pharr Police Department last week after he was charged with indecency with a child in another case, that is, with the same female but in Hidalgo County, court records show.

Palacios was free on bond in the Hidalgo County case before being taken into custody on the new charge.

Rick Salinas, the attorney representing Palacios, said there are a number of facts in the case, in conjunction with his background as a former police officer, that will clear his client’s name.

Salinas asked Ochoa to grant Palacios a personal recognizance bond; however, the request was denied.

Officer Andrew Cohen Resigns from Department

A San Francisco police officer who produced videos parodying life on the force that were denounced as racist, sexist and homophobic is resigning.

Andrew Cohen said Tuesday he'll leave the department in July.

The 44-year-old Cohen was the department videographer when he filmed controversial skits in 2005. One video showed an officer running over a homeless woman, one showed a male officer ogling a female motorist, and another showed officers heading into a massage parlor.

The department's internal affairs division launched an investigation after the videos were discovered on a Web site. Then-Police Chief Heather Fong later suspended two dozen officers.

Cohen, who is out on disability, says he is tired of fighting the numerous disciplinary cases against him and wants to move on with his life.

The police department declined to comment on his resignation.
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