Monday, July 07, 2008

Several Officers Arrested on Drug Charges


Two Toronto police officers and three correctional officers were among 20 people arrested in a sweep of area houses used to grow marijuana, police said.

Early Thursday, police executed 63 search warrants in the York region, north of the city and Peel region to the west, the Toronto Sun reported.

Professional Standards Superintendent Jim Ramer told reporters police seized three homes, five vehicles, $60,000 in cash, 16 pounds of marijuana, drug-making equipment and small amounts of ecstasy and steroids.

Police allege the group arrested used a real estate agent to buy and sell properties they converted to hydroponic marijuana farms known in Canada as "grow-ops," the Toronto Star said.

Police Chief Bill Blair was obviously upset about the two officers' arrests, saying at a news conference it was "more than merely a betrayal of their oath of office," but a slap in the face to every honest officer.

Asked about the officers' employment, Blair was terse, the Star said.

"They'll get full salary until we can deal with employment status," the chief said.

Former Fremont Officer Nick Maureer Charged with Assault


A 26-year-old former Fremont police officer Nick Maurer, is expected to be arraigned today on seven misdemeanor counts stemming from an assault on a Richmond firefighter last month after a country music concert at AT&T Park.

Nick Maurer, who at the time of the June 8 incident was employed by the Fremont Police Department, was cited by BART police and released from custody after a fight with a 41-year-old firefighter at the Embarcadero BART station.

Maurer, who is out of custody, is expected to be arraigned on three counts of assault with force possibly causing great bodily injury, three counts of battery on a transportation passenger and a single count of public intoxication.

Prosecutors announced the charges Friday afternoon, nearly a month after the incident happened. Fremont authorities wouldn't comment on the case Friday, stating only that Maurer is no longer employed by the city.

"It's a personnel matter, and we cannot comment," said Fremont police Detective Bill Veteran. All he would say is that "(Maurer) is separated from service with the department."

The facts of the case have not been fully disclosed by police or prosecutors, but the incident apparently started on a MUNI train that took concertgoers from AT&T Park to the Embarcadero BART station.

According to BART Police Chief Gary Gee — who spoke briefly with The Argus about the case a few days after it happened but has since refused comment — the firefighter's wife warned Maurer's friend, Vince Bedolla, also a Fremont police officer attending the Kenny Chesney concert, about Maurer leaning against the door of the train.

At some point, someone hit Bedolla in the face, which apparently sparked a skirmish minutes later at the BART station, Gee said.

The altercation did not take place on the platform near any moving trains, the chief said.

No one was seriously hurt, although one published report indicated that Bedolla may have suffered a broken nose, and the firefighter suffered cuts and bruises to his face.

Maurer was placed under citizen's arrest at the station, but later was released with a citation to appear in court.

San Francisco prosecutors received the case from investigators about a week after the incident and said they had 30 days to make a decision about charges. Their intention to charge Maurer was not publicized until Friday afternoon.

Bedolla was questioned after the incident but not arrested. It remained unclear Thursday if he was still employed by the city of Fremont. Veteran said he could not comment on Bedolla's status. However, his name is no longer listed on the department's roster of employees.

Multiple Complaints Received Against Lieutenant Arnson


Buckeye Police Lieutenant Derek Arnson, favored by some Town Council members as the next police chief is on paid leave after the town received "multiple complaints" against him, documents show.

Lt. Arnson was notified June 5 of a formal investigation into complaints of intimidation and inappropriate comments.

The notice of investigation indicates the probe is exploring "multiple complaints of ongoing intimidation of employees coupled with threats of job loss; intimidation regarding hiring practices; inappropriate comments regarding an employee's sexual orientation, and inappropriate comments regarding employee employment status."

The document is a preliminary form to notify employees of an investigation. Details of the allegations were unavailable.

Arnson's attorney, Edmundo Robaina, said he was unable to comment because Arnson is prohibited from discussing the investigation.

Former mayoral candidate Michael Todd said Buckeye Vice Mayor Elaine May and Councilman David Hardesty advocated for Arnson to be picked as chief during talks around the time of the town's March 11 council primary.

May ran as an unopposed incumbent. Hardesty was not up for re-election.

"Arnson had two council members lobbying for him, telling me, 'We want this guy,' " Todd said, referring to May and Hardesty.

Arnson's promotion to commander "was a push by two council members to make Arnson chief," Todd added.

Arnson rose to the rank of sergeant during his 16-year tenure with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. He served last year as operational supervisor for DPS' Gang and Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission, the state gang task force, which received a 2007 Director's Unit Citation.

Arnson joined Buckeye as a lieutenant in December under then-Police Chief Dan Saban and briefly served as an acting commander under Assistant Town Manager Scott Rounds. Rounds later reassigned Arnson to lieutenant when he named Mark Mann interim chief.

Arnson has confirmed he applied for chief after Saban decided to retire to run for Maricopa County sheriff. A list of four finalists released last week did not include him or any other internal candidates.

"You don't go that low and pull people up and then bump them back down," Todd said. "It's part of a good ol' boy deal. I can't believe we would have council members so blind to say, 'This is the guy we need,' without ever seeing what's out there. I was a little troubled by that."

Because he was the subject of an active inquiry, May said she would decline to talk about claims that she favored Arnson. Buckeye Human Resources Director Nancy Love expects Arnson's investigation to be completed this week.

Todd lost his mayoral bid to Jackie Meck by 49 votes in the May 20 general election and remains closely involved in town politics.