Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Deputy Ken Turner Accused of Obtaining Prescription Pills Illegally


A Sarasota sheriff's deputy quit his job and is under criminal investigation for doctor shopping after being accused of obtaining thousands of prescription pills from local physicians.

Deputy Ken Turner resigned last month in the midst of an internal affairs investigation. The inquiry, authorities say, showed that Turner went to 11 local doctors, obtained more than 1,700 pills and often visited pharmacies in his sheriff's uniform.

Legal observers say the allegations may jeopardize criminal cases worked by Turner, and local defense attorneys plan to review his role in several trials.

"We will look at all the cases that he was involved in," said Elliott Metcalfe, the public defender.

"Any time you have an instance of criminal behavior, of lying, of drug addiction, a witness's credibility comes into question," he said. "It's something we have to look into."

The number of cases that Turner would have been called to testify in as a witness was not immediately clear, but Sheriff's Office records show that he made at least four arrests in the four months he is accused of buying the drugs.

Three of those cases are still open.

"The sheriff is concerned and he will be talking to the State Attorney's Office," said Lt. Chuck Lesaltato, an agency spokesman.

Turner started at the Sheriff's Office in November 2001, briefly worked in the community policing division and was on patrol since June 2005. He made $50,000 a year.

Internal affairs records show that department officials were tipped off to potential drug use in August, when he had a doctor's appointment and was prescribed a powerful narcotic, oxycodone.

When Turner did not tell his supervisors about the prescription -- as is the practice in most police agencies -- investigators began to check out local pharmacies, looking for instances where the deputy was obtaining drugs.

They reportedly found that between July and September, Turner received 24 prescriptions and 1,737 pills. Lt. Mike Mercurio spoke with several local doctors, who said they did not know that other physicians were prescribing the pills.

Turner resigned Oct. 6. He could not be reached for comment.

A few days later, internal investigators turned over their findings to criminal detectives. A department spokesman said Monday that a criminal investigation was ongoing.

Investigation Continues into Death of Woman at the Hand of the Police

Atlanta, the death of a 92-year-old woman at the hand of police has sparked yet another investigation.

While the federal probe is over and three former Atlanta police officers are serving time for crimes stemming from the botched drug raid that led to the Kathryn Johnston's death in November 2006, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington is creating a special task force to find out whether any other officers violated police procedures related to the drug raid that resulted in Johnston's death, the chief said in a statement Tuesday.

"Following this task force's investigation, it will make recommendations directly to me as to any administrative action which should be taken against any other members of this department," Pennington wrote.

The announcement came the day after the FBI turned over a report to the Police Department — the contents of where not made public, reports The Atlanta-Constitution. Pennington said in his statement that no other federal charges are anticipated, but federal authorities did indicate last week that the report was going to address other issues.

Johnston died when policed barged into her home with guns blazing as part of a drug raid at the wrong address. They shot her as she brandished her own gun, possibly thinking she was being robbed. U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said it would make recommendations that could lead to state prosecutions or administrative discipline for other officers who played a role in the raid.

Former Lt Thomas Fife Arrested or Possession of Child Porn

A longtime LSU police officer was charged Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possession of child pornography.

Former Lt. Thomas Eugene Fife, 62, worked for 21 years at the LSU Police Department before FBI agents seized his work computer in July. He immediately was placed on paid administrative leave, but resigned four days later.

Possession of child pornography is a felony offense that carries a possible prison term of 10 years. Any prison sentence imposed in such cases also requires a minimum of five years of supervision once a felon completes his or her term of incarceration, according to U.S. Attorney David Dugas.

The discovery of alleged pornographic images was made by LSU officers monitoring departmental computers with surveillance software, according to FBI officials.

After that discovery, LSU reported the matter to the FBI, which obtained a warrant to seize Fife’s computer, cell phone and other electronic devices from his office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Bourgeois is the prosecutor assigned to the case.

More Information:

Two Highway Patrol Troopers Fired Have been Reinstated?


Two Ohio Highway Patrol troopers fired for taking part in a KKK-type costume prank have been ordered reinstated to their jobs.

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that the May 2 firing violated the union's contract with the state.

The Ohio State Troopers Association had fought the dismissal of Craig Franklin and Eric Wlodarsky of the Sandusky post.

Franklin and Wlodarsky are to be reinstated with back pay and benefits, and the state cannot appeal the ruling.

Gov. Ted Strickland had asked that the men be fired after a patrol investigation found that on the day before Martin Luther King Day in January, Franklin put on a white cone, mask and cloth, and Wlodarsky took a photo with his cell phone and sent it to a colleague.

Strickland's spokesman said Wednesday that the governor is disappointed by the ruling but the administration will comply with it.

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WTF??? I don't know if they should lose their jobs, but they do need some serious discipline.

More Information on Deputy who Accused Sheriff of Assault

A Defiance County sheriff's deputy who says he was assaulted by his boss, the sheriff, believes his days with the department are numbered.

In an interview, Deputy Austin Cape accused Sheriff Dave Westrick of assaulting him because Cape failed to write a ticket to a critic of the sheriff's for illegal burning.

In an interview that aired Oct. 31, 2008, the sheriff denied the allegations saying, "The absolute most I would do is put my hand on his shoulder". But Cape's lawyer, Terry Lodge says that is an assault.

"When I saw the segment, I thought that's remarkable.", Lodge says, "You have a law enforcement officer saying they just put hands on an employee."

According to the Ohio Revised Code section 2903.13 "No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to another." and "If the victim of the offense is a peace officer... assault is a felony of the fourth degree".

Lodge says, that means the sheriff could be charged with felony assault.

Cape, meanwhile, was suspended today until a pre-disciplinary hearing November 14th.

The notice he was given says he can offer an explanation, but does not say what he's being disciplined for. Cape also hand delivered a letter to the county prosecutor today requesting a state investigation into his claims. The prosecutor and the sheriff have not returned our calls for comment.

Cape's attorney now plans to ask the governor's office to step in and request a state investigation.

Sergeant Arrested for Murder

South Africa

A KwaZulu-Natal police officer was arrested on Wednesday morning in connection with the killing of three people in Shongweni near Hillcrest in Durban, police said.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said the police officer was arrested in Pinetown by the National Intervention Unit at the offices of his attorney.

The officer, who holds the rank of sergeant, is expected to appear in the Pinetown magistrates court shortly.

It is alleged that the officer in his forties, went to a house in Shongweni and called a person to come outside around 4.15pm on Saturday.

The rest of the family became suspicious and also went outside.

He allegedly pulled out his firearm and shot at the family - four men and a woman. Three people - Sibonelo Ngcongo, Bonginkosi Ngcongo and Muzi Ngcongo - died on the scene while two were admitted to hospital.

It was initially reported that one of the two admitted to hospital had died on Sunday, however Mdunge said the person was still in a critical condition.

The Mercury newspaper reported on Wednesday that a shop owned by the police officer was burnt down.

Mdunge was quoted as saying: "It is believed the police officer's truck shop was set alight on Sunday night by angry community members who had heard about the shootings.

"Three adjoining rooms that the officer rents to people were also burnt.

"No one was injured in the fire and no arrests have been made."

Mdunge said police wanted to discourage the community from engaging in acts of this nature.

"The situation cannot be resolved by people committing more crimes."

The police officer faces three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Two Officers Arrested for Stealing From Wal-Mart

Police officers from the Town of Montgomery and the Village of Tuxedo Park were among four people arrested Tuesday and Wednesday, after an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Wal-Mart security and the State Dept. of Taxation and Finance uncovered an alleged theft scam at two local Wal-Marts.

Clifford M. Barber III, 41, of Walden, and Kevin Burchell, 26, of Montgomery were both arrested Tuesday, along with a Wal-mart employee, Bryan Dunn, 36, of Maybrook. Those arrests followed the execution of seven search warrants, with state and local police fanning out across the towns of Montgomery, Newburgh and New Windsor, as well as locations in Ulster County.

Barber is a part-time Town of Montgomery police officer. Burchell is a Tuxedo Park police officer. A fourth suspect, Laquionus “Q” Pressley, 29 of Newburgh, surrendered to police Wednesday morning.

All four are accused of participating in the thefts of hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from the Wal-Mart on Union Avenue in the Town of Newburgh and Route 211E in the Town of Wallkill between April 2006 and April 2008. Some of the alleged thefts were captured on Wal-Mart’s internal store cameras, according to a complaint against Barber.

Barber was arraigned Tuesday night before Newburgh Town Justice Richard Clarino and released on his own recognizance pending an appearance in Town Court on Nov. 17. He’s charged with third-degree grand larceny, first degree offering a false instrument for filing, and filing a false personal income tax return, all felonies. He was also suspended from the Town of Montgomery police dept, where he has worked since 2003, said Police Chief Arnold Amthor.

Dunn and Burchell, also were released on their own recognizance. Pressley arraignment is pending Wednesday morning.

Amthor said town police assisted in the investigation, and that the department was "both disturbed and saddened" by the allegations against Barber.

"We are confident in the investigation that was conducted, and confident, as well, that justice will be served in this case," Amthor said in a prepared statement.

Burchell has worked full-time in Tuxedo Park since May of this year.

More details will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the Times Herald-Record.