Monday, March 08, 2010

Former Officer Jason Laurin Has History of Misconducts

Former Police Officer Jason L. Laurin resigned under pressure in November after he was caught in an extramarital affair while on duty and then lied about it to his superiors, according to records in his disciplinary file.

Laurin had lied about other incidents during his 11½-year career and had a record of "progressive discipline" that included a reprimand and a suspension without pay in 2008, the records show.

In 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2009, Laurin was disciplined for using his police cell phone for personal calls and texts - several hundred in all, many of them sexual in nature and made while he was on duty. The 2008 investigation determined he fabricated one call to establish an alibi.

His conduct "has certainly brought this department into disrepute," an internal investigative report concluded Nov. 18, 2009.

But, when Police Chief Joe Collins issued a short press release about the resignation on Nov. 24, it said Laurin’s departure "was related to personal matters." The release said Laurin had been investigated for "a violation of work rules," and the investigation "was not related to any criminal activity and the safety of the community was never compromised."

The announcement did not mention specific misconduct or lying because, as it turned out, the Police Department had agreed to keep the details secret unless forced by legal action to share them. Even then, in response to a formal Open Records request submitted by the Herald Times Reporter, the city denied access to Laurin’s records on Dec. 30, citing protection of employee reputation, morale and the need to preserve the city’s ability to recruit quality candidates.

Faced with a possible Open Records lawsuit, the city reversed its position and made Laurin’s personnel files available to the HTR last month. Those records revealed Laurin’s disciplinary history and the events that forced his resignation, including his efforts to disguise and deny the dozens of daylight trysts that occurred once or twice a week for almost a year, sometimes while he was on duty.
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Officer Joe Fenison Arrested for Domestic Violence

A Birmingham police officer is in the city jail today after being arrested on a domestic violence charge, jail records show.

West Precinct Officer Joe Fenison was booked into the city jail at 12:46 a.m., according to the jail log. Sgt. James Jackson, a domestic violence supervisor, confirmed Fenison was arrested between 8:30 and 9 p.m. at a residence in the 600 block of Brussels Circle.

Police said the arrest followed an altercation over a child visitation issue.

Fenison is charged with third-degree domestic violence, a misdemeanor.

Former Officer Michael Lohman Pleas Guilty to Shooting

A former lieutenant of the New Orleans Police Department, who is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, has entered a guilty plea. He is alleged of having helped cover up fellow officers’ fatal shootings of two unarmed people during the chaotic period following Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Lohman, 42, was not initially present at the scene of the shootings, which took place on the Danziger Bridge and which injured four people in addition to the two who were killed. However, Lohman later went to the scene and concluded that the shooting was unjustified, but nevertheless file false police reports. Additionally, as the officer in charge of investigating the shooting, he allegedly looked the other way when another investigator planted a gun at the scene of the crime, asking only if the weapon in question was “clean” — police parlance for a gun that cannot be traced back to a prior crime.

According to survivors of the September 4, 2005 incident, the police fired at people who were crossing the bridge in search of food, during the aftermath of the infamous hurricane which threw the city into turmoil. None of those people were armed.

Killed by police gunfire were a 40-year-old mentally disable man, Ronald Madison, and a teenager, 19-year-old James Brissette.

A recently unsealed indictment says that Lohman and two sergeants, who remain unidentified, wrote two different accounts of the bridge shootings, both false reports. One of claims made was that a victim had come forward to say that her nephew was among those firing guns at police. Federal officials contend that Lohman, unhappy with a false report written by a fellow investigator, then crafted his own false report. He also allegedly told the investigator to collude with the shooters, to make sure that they were “OK with” the bogus report and with giving statements that would back it up.

Seven officers had been charged with murder or attempted murder in the shooting, but a state judge dismissed those charges in 2008, making Lohman the first person to face justice. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 26.

In the days following Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that resulted, there were numerous reports of violence against police and rescue personnel, many of which were later proven untrue. The shootings on the bridge were one of the most highly publicized events, and this notoriety may account for the subsequent cover-up, which U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has called “a pretty elaborate ongoing conspiracy.”

Former Officer Kills Man at Sports Bar

A former Chisholm police officer is facing possible murder charges after a shooting at a sports bar on Saturday night.

Authorities say a 47-year-old patron was killed and another suffered life-threatening injuries when the suspect opened fire with one of two handguns inside Jim's Sports Club Bar and Grill just before 10 p.m.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Andy Skoogman said that the suspect had been kicked out of the bar minutes earlier after an altercation with a group of people sitting in the bar with his former wife.

Skoogman said the suspect, a former police officer in the '80s, returned minutes after being kicked out of the bar with two handguns.

"He fired off 5 shots, injuring two people and fatally shooting a third person," Skoogman said. "All three were sitting at the same table as his ex-wife and all three were shot at close range.

"We believe this was a domestic dispute that took place in a public place. It escalated to an extremely violent situation and the true tragedy here is that the victims are all individuals who tried to keep the peace."

A third patron was also wounded in the shooting, and authorities say as many as 100 people may have been in the bar at the time.

Police say a bystander knocked out the suspect with a chair to end the shooting.

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Retired Officer Stephen Young Accused of Molesting Children

Ada County Prosecutors said Monday that former Boise police officer Stephen R. Young is accused of molesting at least 13 children over the past 30 years. He has been charged for his interactions with four specific children, but more charges are coming, Deputy Prosecutor Jean Fisher said.

He turned himself in after he abruptly retired at the end of February, and is being held on a $250,000 bond.

Prosecutors said Young is estranged from his family, including his wife and family members are cooperating with the investigation.

Boise police officials say they were not aware of any criminal investigation into Young, and Ada County Sheriff’s detectives did not begin their criminal investigation into Young until early last week — after he retired.

By Friday, detectives had established enough probable cause to charge Young with four counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16 and book him into the Ada County Jail.

Boise police and the Ada County Sheriff's officials say the charges involved incidents in the past five years and did not appear to involve on-duty work.

Sheriff’s officials say all four victims — all children between the ages of one month to 21 months — were known to Young and the abuse occurred at various homes in Ada County between 2005 and 2008. None of the victims lived at Young’s home. Detectives continue to investigate the case and are trying to find out if there are any other victims.

The 58-year-old Young worked for the Boise Police department for 30 years.

Young had several assignments with the BPD, including 10 years as a school resource officer between 1995 to 2005, spending much of that time assigned to Boise High School. Young also worked as an SRO at South Jr. High School.

Young was an officer with the Boise Police Department from October 1978 until he retired Feb. 28. He was a patrol officer from 1978 to 1994; a motorcycle officer from 1994 to 1995; a school resource officer from 1995 to 2005; and a patrol officer from 2005 until his retirement.

The charge of lewd conduct is punishable by up to life in prison.

Young has no previous criminal record in Idaho, according to state court records.

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson said Monday his officers fully cooperating with investigators from the Ada County Sheriff's office.

"Masterson also released a statement to the public on the department's Facebook Web page Monday. Here is the full text of that message:

"As a former BPD employee goes to court today on charges of Lewd Conduct with a minor, I'd like to communicate two important thoughts; first, I know I speak for all in saying our hearts go out to the alleged victims and their families.... The allegations against Mr. Young are more disturbing than I can put into words.

"Children are truly the most innocent of victims.

"Following Mr. Young's retirement, when the criminal allegations surfaced, we have cooperated fully with investigators from the Ada County Sheriff's Office.

"Secondly, it saddens me greatly that the thousands of fine men and woman who serve as peace officers risk being judged as a whole by the actions of one.

"Law Enforcement is a challenging, rewarding profession. I am reassured to know that within the Boise Police department our employees know that actions that may compromise the integrity of this profession are not tolerated, either within the ranks of officers or by their supervisors.

"My appreciation goes out to those who quietly and honorably wear the badge, who serve, lead and protect the citizens throughout Boise, Idaho and the nation. To the heroes who do not make headlines, you deserve our admiration and gratitude each and every day.

"Finally, for the victims in this case and all cases, especially those involving children, we put our trust in the investigators that they will provide the proper and necessary answers for the community. And our faith is in our judicial system that justice will be served and healing can begin for all the affected families."

Third Officer Charged in Perfume Robbery

A third New York Police Department officer, Kelvin Jones, 28, of Yonkers, New York, was arrested today for his involvement in the robbery of a perfume distributor of $1 million in perfume, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The arrest was part of a continuing investigation by federal and state authorities into the heist of hundreds of boxes of high-end perfume from a warehouse used by a company known as In Style USA, Inc in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

On March 5th, the two other NYPD officers, Richard LeBlanca and Brian Checo, both of New York City, were arrested and charged with the same robbery in a criminal complaint, along with Gabriel Vargas of Brooklyn, Luis R. Morales of
Brooklyn, Anselmo Jimenes, a/k/a "Ansemo Jimenes", of Brooklyn, Alan A. Bannout of Brooklyn, and Orlando Garcia of New York.

The initial criminal complaint did not name Jones by name, but merely referred to him as one of the eight conspirators whose true name was unknown, but who used the alias "Mike Smith".

According to the complaint filed against Jones in federal court today, on February 9, 2010, Jones went to a truck rental company in Jersey City with some of the other men who participated in the heist, and rented a truck he had reserved in the name "Mike Smith". It is alleged that Jones attempted to pay for the truck in cash, but when that failed, Jones directed LeBlanca to pay for the rental truck, which was later used in the robbery, with LeBlanca's ATM debit card.

The complaint also alleges that Jones then participated in the ensuing perfume robbery of the Carlstadt warehouse where 11 company employees were restrained and held hostage. During the robbery, the complaint alleges that Jones, while reviewing sheets of paper that contained names on them, began yelling the names of several of the victims being held hostage. The complaint also indicates that law enforcement agents later recovered two sheets of paper that were thrown into a trash receptacle which contained personal identification information of an individual related to one of the victims of the robbery. Subsequent examination of these documents revealed that they were obtained from a database in the 46th NYPD precinct - the same precinct where Jones is employed.

"Though the arrest of police officers is discouraging news, the public should know that we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice, regardless of where or to whom that pursuit may lead," said Michael Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Newark Office. "Members of law enforcement are not above the law and if they forget that, they will be suject to the same penalties as ordinary citizens."

Jones will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo today to face this charge.

Jimenes, who is currently incarcerated in Bergen County on local charges, is also expected to appear before Magistrate Cox Arleo today. Bannout has not yet been arrested.

The charge set forth in the Complaint carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The FBI has requested that anyone having further information regarding this robbery, please call the FBI at (973) 684-6614.

Fishman again credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin B. Cruise, for the investigation. Fishman also thanked the Carlstadt Police Department and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Gramiccioni and Eric T. Kanefsky of the Office's Special Prosecutions Division and Criminal Division, respectively.

Sgt. David Romeo Found Guilty of Kicking Two Handcuffed Suspects

A southern New Jersey jury has found a Wildwood police officer guilty of kicking two handcuffed suspects.

Sgt. David Romeo was charged with official misconduct. The 39-year-old officer will remain free on bail until sentencing on April 16.

Prosecutors say Romeo kicked two handcuffed car burglary suspects in the head as they lay on the ground in a North Wildwood parking lot in July 2007.

The crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Romeo and defense attorney John Tumelty left the courtroom after the verdict today without commenting.