Friday, March 06, 2009

Officer Phillip Mordick Arrested for Domestic Violence


A Dayton police officer was arrested overnight after he allegedly hit his girlfriend and threatened someone with a gun.

Philip Mordick, 34, was arrested by Riverside police early Friday morning.

In a 911 call received shortly after midnight, a woman told dispatchers Mordick was angry because she went out drinking with friends. She said he pulled a gun on her cousin and then struck her in the jaw when she stepped in front of him.

The woman said the incident was very out-of-character for Mordick. He now faces charges of aggravated menacing and domestic violence.

He posted bond Friday afternoon. Dayton police said Mordick is currently on restricted status, and has been forced to surrender his gun.

New Hampshire Firefighters Mad at Newport Officers

The Professional Firefighters Union of New Hampshire is upset with the Newport Police Department after officers disguised themselves as firefighters to make an arrest.

Police devised the plan to take 34-year-old Matthew Miller into custody. Police went to his apartment Tuesday night for a noise complaint. When Miller answered the door he was holding a baby, and allegedly pointed a shotgun at the officer's face.

The officer, who knew Miller had a violent past, left the scene to avoid a confrontation. So the next day the officers came back in a fire truck dressed as firemen. They told Miller he had to evacuate due to a carbon monoxide issue. He was then arrested without incident.

"We need to have the trust of the public when we respond. If we allow others to co-opt our image, trade on our good name, no matter the circumstances, we'd create a breach of trust with the public that will be impossible for us to repair," said David Lang, of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire.

"If we as police didn't handle it correctly it was going to be disastrous for innocent people. This was the best possible scenario. It worked and it was very quick. It was not harmful to anybody. It's not to degrade those professions, to make those professions unsafe in any way. It's to accomplish our mission safely, without causing harm to anybody," said Newport Police Chief David Hoyt.

Hoyt went on to say he'd rather have firefighters criticizing his decisions than others questioning why innocent people were injured and killed.

Newport Fire Chief Wayne Conroy was in on the plot, and says he does not think residents will lose trust in his department.


Officer James Arthur Jr Arrested for Possession of Stolen Firearm

A Vivian police officer was arrested today on charges he bought a stolen gun on the street and then sold it back to a drug dealer when he found out it was hot.

James Arthur Jr., 34, of Peach Street in Shreveport was arrested by Caddo Parish sheriff's deputies on charges of possession of a stolen firearm.

The charges involve a stolen Bushmaster XM15 assault rifle valued at $1,250.

The rifle and three others were reported stolen in Shreveport in March 2008. In November, one of the guns was recovered by local narcotics agents during a drug case.

Sheriff's Department detectives began an investigation into the stolen weapon and found that Arthur bought the gun on the street for $300, Prator said.

Afterward, Arthur got on a national crime information computer to check the weapon's history and found out it was stolen, Prator said. Instead of turning the gun in, he sold it on the street for $600 to a known drug dealer, Prator said.

Officer Bryan Spiotti Charged with Assaulting Person

A Wolcott police officer has been charged with assaulting a person who was being held at the police station, accused of driving under the influence.

Officer Bryan Spiotti, 42, a 12-year police veteran, is accused of assaulting the suspect at the end of January.

Spiotti's attorney, Hugh Keefe, takes issue with the police department investigating one of its own, particularly in light of the fact that his wife, Doreen Spiotti, is an officer on the same police force and won a substantial settlement in a harassment case brought against the same department.

Keefe said he requested that State Police handle the investigation but Wolcott police refused the request.

Bryan Spiotti turned himself in to Wolcott police Thursday morning and was released on a promise to appear.

Wolcott Police Chief Paul Scirpo Jr. said Spiotti has an average performance history with no documented abuse incidents.

Spiotti is on paid leave pending the outcome of the case and scheduled to be arraigned in Waterbury on March 11.


Two Former Detectives Convicted of Being Assassins for Mob

Two highly decorated former detectives who were convicted of serving as assassins for the mob, helping to kill at least eight men in one of the most spectacular police corruption scandals in New York City’s history, were sentenced on Friday to life in prison — for the second time. (The sentencing is the topic of Jim Dwyer’s About New York column, which notes that both men have been drawing tax-free disability pensions.)

The two men, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, were convicted of murder in 2006 and were to be sentenced to life in prison. But then, in a stunning reversal, the federal judge overseeing the case, Jack B. Weinstein, threw out the convictions. He ruled that although there was little doubt that Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa had “kidnapped, murdered, and assisted kidnappers and murderers,” he had no choice but to let them go because the five-year statute of limitations in conspiracy cases had run out.

Federal prosecutors appealed Judge Weinstein’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which last September reinstated the convictions.

The appellate court concluded that Judge Weinstein’s view of the conspiracy was too narrow, and that it had continued to exist within five years of when the men were charged. Although murders and other serious crimes that the men were accused of occurred in Brooklyn in the 1980s and 1990s, prosecutors used more recent and less serious charges — money laundering and narcotics distribution in Las Vegas in 2004 and 2005 — to bring the earlier acts under the umbrella of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

The two former detectives were defiant in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Friday, as the life sentences were imposed.

“I was a hard-working cop,” Mr. Eppolito told Judge Weinstein, as reported by The Associated Press. “I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody. … I never did any of this.”

Mr. Caracappa told the judge, “You’ll never take away my will to prove how innocent I am.”

In addition to the life sentences, Mr. Eppolito, 61, received an additional 100 years for various other offenses including money laundering, and was fined $4.7 million. Mr. Caracappa, 67, received an additional 80 years, and a $4.2 million fine.

In a statement, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, Benton J. Campbell, said he hoped the sentences would “bring some closure for the families of the victims of these defendants’ unspeakable crimes and for the citizens of the city whose trust they betrayed.”

The two men, who logged a combined 44 years on the job, were found guilty of secretly being on the payroll of the Luchese underboss, Anthony Casso, starting in the mid 1980s.

The A.P. reported:

Caracappa left the New York Police Department in 1992 after establishing a special unit for mob murder investigations. Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, was a decorated officer who went on to play a bit part in “GoodFellas” and launch an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter.

The pair were arrested a 2005 drug sting in Las Vegas, where they had retired.


Officer William Skett Pleads Not Guilty to DUI

A 34-year-old Los Angeles Police Department officer pleaded not guilty to three felony counts this week for allegedly driving his Hummer over two people and leaving the scene of the crime.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kristi Lousteau ordered William Skett to return to court March 23 for preliminary hearings in the drunk-driving case.

Skett, 34, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to driving under the influence, DUI causing injury and leaving the scene, all felonies.

Skett allegedly backed his Hummer into a man and a woman in a Saugus parking lot. Skett saw the victims lying on the ground and allegedly fled, leaving his Hummer behind.

"Apparently he just backed over the people and left," sheriff's Lt. Tom Bryski said.

He said Skett was arrested at home after Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's deputies looked up the registration of the offending vehicle.

The woman hit by the Hummer suffered multiple broken ribs and collapsed lung. The man hit by the SUV suffered minor cuts and bruises.

Deputies found the abandoned Hummer on the night of the incident and arrested Skett at his home.

If convicted, Skett faces up to seven years and eight months in prison.

Cpl Michael Kazouris Resigns After Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

A police officer who initially faced allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old Tarpon Springs High School student he worked with has resigned today.

Tarpon Springs Police Department Cpl. Michael Kazouris was cleared last month of any criminal wrongdoing. On Monday, the department's interim chief will evaluate the status of an internal investigation, police say.

In a letter today to the department's acting chief, Kazouris wrote that he always has prided himself on his commitment to the community but that he needed to resign due to the "frivolous allegations and one-sided investigation against me."

Interim Police Chief Robert Kochen accepted the resignation this evening.

Kazouris, who has spent more than 11 years as a school resource officer in Pinellas County schools and had had an unblemished record, was put on administrative leave Nov.12 after the allegation involving the teenager came to light.

"Corporal Kazouris continues to vehemently deny all allegations alleged and further maintains that he has never violated any policies or procedures of the Tarpon Springs Police Department," a letter to the acting chief from Kazouris attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos states.


Officer Nick Joseph Back in Court for Hit and Run

Rochester, N.Y.

The Greece Police officer accused in a hit-and-run that caused a woman to deliver her baby prematurely was back in court Friday.

Friday in court, the prosecution played surveillance video of Officer Nick Joseph drinking at Spenders, a bar on Lyell Avenue, the night before the hit-and-run.

They say Joseph received seven shots of alcohol in under an hour.

At 12:42 a.m., the prosecution says he received a double shot of Captain Morgan, a double shot of whiskey at 12:57, a single shot of an unidentifiable alcohol at 12:58, a single shot of vodka at 1:11, and a single shot of rum at 1:35.

The defense said he took a sip of each but didn’t necessarily finish all seven shots. They say there’s no way he could drink it all.

The bartender from Spenders testified, and said Joseph did not appear to be drunk.

Joseph is accused of crashing into a stalled car on 390, then leaving the scene of an accident in June of last year.

The woman in the stalled car was forced to deliver her baby 14 weeks early, leading to health complications for the child.

Joseph says he blacked out when he crashed the car, and doesn’t remember what happened next.


Attorney Accuses Officer of Malice


A Salisbury attorney acquitted of a November 2008 DWI charge implied in court that police were out to get him because he was a plaintiff's lawyer in a police brutality suit.

"I said, 'I understand what this was about,' " Sherwood Wescott testified Wednesday in District Court. "That particular night, I hadn't done anything out of the ordinary. No matter what I did, they were going to make it look like I was intoxicated."

Wescott was arrested for suspected driving under the influence last November. He refused a field sobriety test at his traffic stop and a breath test at the police station. He admitted to having three drinks after work in Salisbury, but nothing after 7 p.m. He testified that he and a friend arrived at Seacrets at 11 p.m., where he drank iced tea.

"I knew I had to drive," he said.

Judge R. Patrick Hayman said it was that lack of evidence that led to Wescott's acquittal, though "it has not escaped my attention that your client came out of a bar about midnight," he told attorney Melvin Jews.

Wescott, a former Delaware police officer, represented two Berlin teens who sued Ocean City and six police officers in July 2007 for alleged police brutality and false arrest. The 93-count, $18.6-million civil suit was dismissed in October 2008, about six weeks before Wescott's arrest in Ocean City.

Ocean City Police Cpl. Frank Wrench, one of the officers named in the suit, testified that he recognized Wescott leaving Seacrets on Nov. 29, 2008. He said Wescott was apparently intoxicated and was getting into the driver's seat of his SUV. Wrench said he made eye contact, prompting Wescott to exit the vehicle and pace beside it.

Wrench said moments later he turned to see the car backing out. Wrench said he tried to stop Wescott with gestures and yelling, but he drove away. Wrench radioed other officers to watch for the SUV, mentioning Wescott by name, he said.

Pfc. Patrick Flynn, parked at 62nd Street, testified that he heard the radio call and spotted Wescott driving north on Coastal Highway. Flynn said the vehicle pulled onto 64th Street after seeing his patrol car without its emergency lights on and said he thought the driver was trying to avoid him.

Flynn testified that Wescott smelled of alcohol and had glassy eyes and slurred speech. He said Wescott at first refused to exit his vehicle and had to be ordered to. When Wescott refused a field sobriety test, he was arrested.

Wescott said Flynn told him that he was being stopped for having a tail light out, not that he was suspected of driving drunk. Flynn said that was true.

"I figured that would be another element I could use to stop that vehicle," he said.