Thursday, October 09, 2008

District Judge Jerry Patterson Accused of Retaliating


State judicial panel documents show that a district judge in north Arkansas has been accused of violating the state judicial code by becoming "very angry" over a staff shortage and retaliating against county officials.

District Judge Jerry Patterson of Marshall reportedly became angry that the Searcy (SUR'-see) County Quorum Court in December eliminated a part-time probation officer from his staff who had helped collect fines and fees for the court. That's according to a filing by Director David Stewart of the state Judicial Discipline and Disablity Commission.

Patterson then sent defendants to the county judge's office to pay fines, although the county judge, an administrator, cannot accept court fines and fees, the accusation said. In addition, Patterson told people who appeared in court June 25 on driving-while-intoxicated charges that their "fines are pardoned with amnesty," Stewart's filing said. He allegedly said, "The county doesn't need your money."

Patterson said in a telephone interview today that the accusation grossly mischaracterizes his actions. He said that he never became angry at the quorum court -- that he sent people to the county judge's office to ask where they should pay their fines because the judge's office had no one to collect money -- and that he forgave the fines owed by those who appeared before him June 25 because they could not pay a lump sum and he had no installment plan set up.

Officer Clarence Shepard Accused of Child Molestation

A former Evansville police officer and Vanderburgh County Sheriff is accused of child molestation.

A shocking story out of fort Myers, Florida where Clarence Shepard now lives in retirement.

The details of this incident came out Thursday night in an affidavit filed by the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Fort Myers, Florida.

The report outlines a possible sex crime involving a former Vanderburgh County Sheriff and a girl under the age of twelve.

According to that report, the victim told her mother that Clarence Shepard, 76, touched her inappropriately, made her kiss him and also made her touch his leg.

The girl told deputies the incident happened inside Shepard's house while he was showing her his wife's doll collection. The report also shows that the victim's family is friendly with the Shepards.

Following an interview with Clarence Shepard, sheriff's deputies charged him with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and booked him into the Lee County Jail in Florida.

Shepherd served the Evansville police department for 20 years before being elected Vanderburgh County Sheriff in 1983.

He was back in Evansville just about a week ago visiting former co-workers and touring the new Vanderburgh County Jail.

Jury Declines to Indict Judge Charged with Evading


A Harris County grand jury declined Thursday to indict a Houston municipal court judge who had been charged with evading arrest in a motor vehicle, a felony, after deputies said she interfered with the questioning of her two sons during an arrest, then sped away after an officer asked her to stop.

After hearing from several witnesses, the grand jury chose not to indict April Jill Walker, a part-time associate judge who also teaches law at Texas Southern University.

Walker's arrest in July was her second this year. She has filed a lawsuit against the Harris County Sheriff's Office in connection with an earlier arrest in January.

Walker and her attorney, Lloyd Kelley, claimed the deputies targeted her in retaliation for a formal complaint she made against the two who arrested her in January. In that incident, Walker was arrested after calling 911 because of suspicious activity in her neighborhood.

She was charged with impersonating a public official after identifying herself as a judge. The charges were dropped at her initial court appearance when officials determined she was, in fact, a judge.

The Harris County District Attorney's office does not plan to pursue the charges any further, spokeswoman Donna Hawkins said in a story in the Houston Chronicle.

"It takes pretty extraordinary circumstances to assemble another grand jury," Hawkins said. "It's not anticipated."

The July incident began when deputies were called to a house in northwest Harris County and detained Walker's two teenage sons, who were eventually charged with trespassing and possession of marijuana. Deputies said Walker heard about the incident, came to the scene and attempted to speak to the teenagers in the back of the patrol car.

Deputies said they told Walker she was at the scene of an active investigation and could talk with her sons later. They said she eventually left but did not follow a deputy's request to stop her car. A deputy followed her and after a confrontation in her driveway, Walker resisted before being arrested.

She said she did not speed when leaving the scene and that she did nothing to deserve arrest.

Officer James Guerra Arrested for Rape

Less than two months after DC's troubled Protected Services Police hired a new Chief, another officer in the department is facing scandalous allegations.

Officer James Guerra was arrested last Thursday and has been held without bond after being accused of raping a female acquaintance.

Court records show that the crime occurred inside Guerra's 4th Street Northeast home when the victim came to visit Guerra who had been sick. The victims say she had known Guerra for about a year.

Guerra and the victim reportedly began fighting when she told him she wanted to leave. When the victim screamed for help, Guerra allegedly put a blanket over her head, punched and choked her, handcuffed her, and bound her to a bed with a belt.

The victim alleges Guerra threatened her with a knife and told her he was going to kill her. The victim claims he then raped her and left her bound to the bed after giving her an icepack and some Tylenol for her injuries.

DC Protective Services Police are in charge of protecting the Mayor and city employees inside District-owned buildings like the Wilson Building and the Reeves Center. Six months ago, an investigation exposed several Protective Services Police officers that were allowed to carry weapons even though they had disciplinary and criminal records.

A spokesman for the DC Protective Services Police Department says the agency is not going to make a comment about the arrest. Guerra is scheduled to next appear in court on Friday.

More Information:

South Tucson Officer Fired for Stealing more then $300,000

New information has been released regarding a high-ranking South Tucson Police officer fired last summer after allegations of theft. The officer is believed to have stolen more than $300,000 in money and seized items.

"We suspect it's somewhere in the range of $300 - $400,000," says City Manager Enrique Serna.

The story began last may when FBI agents served search warrants at the South Tucson City Hall, the South Tucson Police Department and the former officer's west side home.

Officials say the former officer was solely responsible for the evidence room, including all seized assets and cash. Some of that money was to help fund the police department's $2 million budget.

The sheer amount of money and items stolen will not only affect the police department, but the community as well.

"It's going to hurt us," says Serna.

The police department was going to use part of the money to hire more officers.

South Tucson Police Chief Sharon Hayes Martinez says, "That's a huge loss for us monetarily because that is what we use to buy police cars, send people to training and equipment that we purchase."

Another thing hurting the bottom line of South Tucson's Police department is that they get no government money. Federal officials are holding back handing over funds until they are satisfied South Tucson has safeguards in place to keep this from happening again.

The investigation is now in the hands of the U.S. attorney's office. The DEA has reviewed the new policies and procedures and has resumed working with them on asset seizures.

The officer has not been publicly named because he is not yet been charged.

Officers Accused of Using Excessive Force

An East Dundee Wal-Mart employee has sued the village and two of its police officers, claiming they used excessive force during a medical emergency last year by shocking him twice with a Taser gun and breaking his arm.

The complaint, filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court, does not name the police officers involved.

In the suit, Johnny E. Ward claims as a result of unlawful and excessive force he incurred mental, emotional and physical injuries, humiliation, medical and legal expenses and mental distress and anguish.

The seven-count suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Ward says the incident occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2007 as he was trying to leave his job at the Wal-Mart store on Dundee Avenue to get medication for a diabetic condition.

The complaint says that as an ambulance arrived to assist Ward, multiple officers in several police squad cars also pulled up to the store, even though store employees had not requested police assistance.

After Ward discussed his condition with paramedics, the complaint says, one of the officers shot him in the back with a Taser, knocking him to the ground. Ward hit his head on the ground as a result of the unprovoked use of force, the complaint says.

The suit says Ward then heard one of the police officers make a racially derogatory comment to another officer before pulling the Taser trigger again, administering a second shock.

Ward's left arm was broken when the officers handcuffed him behind his back and lifted him from the ground to the ambulance, the suit says.

He was taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin where he was treated for a broken arm and other injuries. No report was completed documenting the police officers' use of force or use of the Taser device, the complaint says.

Calls to Ward's attorney, George Sachs, were not returned Wednesday.

East Dundee Police Chief Terry Mee said he had could not comment on the case because he had not yet seen the complaint.

Ward was not charged with violation of any law or ordinance.

Sergeant John Landahl Accused of Stealing Cooking Grease

Four Folsom police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, including a sergeant who is accused of stealing cooking oil, officials said Wednesday.

The actions have come as a result of four separate internal affairs investigations.

Sgt. John Landahl, a 22-year veteran of the Folsom Police Department, turned himself in Sept. 30 after he was accused of stealing $350 worth of cooking oil during a theft in March from the Malabar restaurant, police said.

"The police department has a duty to investigate all crimes regardless of who may be involved," Folsom Police Chief Sam Spiegel said in a statement. "Our investigation revealed a member of the department as a suspect."

The theft was reported by Sacramento Rendering Co., who are contracted to collect used cooking oil from local restaurants for recycling, police said.

Cooking oil is commonly used to convert to bio-diesel and other consumer products.

Landahl was released on his own recognizance the same day he turned himself in and has a court date set for later this month, officials said.

Last Thursday, three other officers were put on administrative leave for alleged misconduct.

"If the allegations are proven, than the department takes the appropriate steps necessary to impose the discipline that fits the crime," Lt. Perry Albers said.

Chop Shop Owner and two Officers Arrested


Georgetown County Sheriff’s Investigators and members of the Organized Crime Bureau (OCB) arrested 22-year-old Martin Grice of Jackson Village Road, Georgetown, 30-year-old Patrick Cumbee of Freddie Lane, Andrews, and 26-year-old Dedrick McCray of Spruce Street, Andrews yesterday afternoon. Grice, a Georgetown County Detention Center Correctional Officer, was charged with Misconduct in Office and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Cumbee, an Andrews Police Officer, was charged with Misconduct in Office and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, and McCray, owner of a chop shop, was charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Chop Shop, and Receiving Stolen Goods.

The investigation began Monday, October 6, 2008, when members of the OCB received information from a Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office employee that Grice was attempting to sell a stolen motorcycle. Once members of the OCB received this information they, along with sheriff’s investigators, discovered that Grice sold the motorcycle to Cumbee.

As the investigation continued, sheriff’s investigators, members of the OCB and members of the Andrews Police Department found that Cumbee purchased the motorcycle from Grice and took the motorcycle to McCray’s chop shop for alleged mechanical work.

When the investigation led to the whereabouts of the motorcycle and other valuable evidence, a search warrant was obtained for McCray’s residence to retrieve the motorcycle. During the execution of the search warrant, members of the OCB and sheriff’s investigators located the motorcycle in addition to other motorcycles. At this point another search warrant was obtained for the additional motorcycles.

Once the second search warrant was obtained it was discovered that parts on the other motorcycles were from other stolen motorcycles combined to construct one along with removed VINs and stolen license plates. These motorcycles and the one Grice sold Cumbee were seized along with other evidence items relating to the operation of a chop shop.

Grice, Cumbee, and McCray turned themselves in at the sheriff’s office yesterday where they were arrested and transported to the Georgetown County Detention Center. All three are currently awaiting a bond hearing.

Deputy Accused of Stealing Nickles From Crash Site


At least one Brevard County sheriff's deputy is being investigated on suspicion of gathering some of the federal government's scattered nickels that remain along Interstate 95 nearly a month after a crash involving a U.S. Treasury truck.

Details of the internal investigation will not be made public until the inquiry is complete.

"All we are allowed to say is that there is an active internal investigation going on that started on Sept. 26," Brevard County sheriff's Sgt. Linda Moros said. "The investigation was authorized by the sheriff and it was brought about internally."

One motorist caught with $300 in nickels had to give them up but was let off with only a warning.

The freshly minted nickels are property of the U.S. Treasury, and, in this case, finders aren't keepers.

The nickels were en route from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia to the Federal Reserve Bank in Miami.

Two other people were injured in the crash, which shut down southbound I-95 just south of Scottsmoor for several hours while Treasury officials used heavy equipment to scrape up as many nickels as they could collect.

The Sept. 17 fatal wreck closed a stretch of I-95 for several hours in north Brevard County as Secret Service crews worked to clear the roadway of 3.7 million nickels. Most of the $185,000 was recovered.

The Florida Highway Patrol said that the armored truck carrying the booty rear-ended another truck, sending it into a guardrail on the west shoulder of the highway, just south of county Road 5A. The armored truck then overturned on its right side in the center median, killing a guard in the truck's sleeper cab and spilling tons of nickels.

The truck was on its way to the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, according to authorities.

Florida Highway Patrol officials have warned against anyone stopping to take the coins, as they are still property of the Treasury Department.

FHP spokeswoman Kim Miller said it is not only dangerous, but against the law.

"This isn't abandoned property," she said last month. "We know who the owner is."

September 22, 2008: Police Search For Motorists Who Stuffed Pockets With Nickels After Treasury Rig Crash
September 17, 2008: 4 Million Nickels Scattered On I-95 When U.S. Treasury Big Rig Crashes

Sgt Jerry Pace Jr Back on the Job After Being Arrested for Domestic Assault

Danville Police Sgt. Jerry L. Pace has returned to administrative desk duty after being on administrative leave, Chief Philip Broadfoot said in a statement released Wednesday.

Pace was arrested by the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 30 on a charge of domestic assault.

Pace was placed on administrative leave until his arraignment on Tuesday, Broadfoot said.

“I have reviewed the preliminary findings of the department’s internal affairs investigation into this matter,” Broadfoot said. “I have determined that it is appropriate to return Sgt. Pace to administrative desk duty, effective today (Wednesday), until the conclusion of the internal investigation and all court proceedings, at which time a final decision on the status of Sgt. Pace will be made.”

Pace, a member of the police department’s Investigations Division and president of the Fraternal Order of Police, was arrested and charged with assault after a deputy responded to a domestic violence call in the county, Sheriff Mike Taylor said Monday.

Authorities have not said whether the woman Pace is accused of assaulting is his girlfriend or wife, and have not released any other evidence from the case.

Pace was released on bond.

The sergeant also was charged with assault in December 2003 after a dispute with his girlfriend and her daughter, but those charges were dropped in May 2004.

Officer Mark Szweda Suspended for Drunk Driving


A South Bend police officer who admitted to drunk driving is now serving a 21-day unpaid suspension.

The Public Safety Board handed down the punishment Wednesday morning.

Nappanee Police arrested Mark Szweda in August. They say he was going 62 in a 35 mph zone.
In addition to the suspension Szweda will have to participate in an alcohol treatment program.

The punishment adopted was recommended by Police Chief Daryll Boykins.

“Anytime an officer, whether it’s DUI or any type of discipline, has to go through the Board of Works they can take my recommendation or go with their own,” Boykins explained.

A judge sentenced Szweda to one year in jail, but suspended that and placed him on probation.