Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Trooper Sgt. William Wheeler Jr Charged with Prescription Fraud

A state Highway Patrol trooper has been charged with prescription drug fraud, authorities said.

First Sgt. William Pete Wheeler Jr., 35,was charged with two counts of obtaining controlled substances by legal prescriptions by withholding information.

Warrants allege that Wheeler obtained a prescription for the painkiller hydrocodone in January from a physician but never told the doctor that he planned to see his primary-care physician a few days later. He also is accused of filling a hydrocodone prescription at a Cary pharmacy and then telling his doctor's office that the pharmacy was out of the drug and asking the office to phone in a prescription to second pharmacy.

Wheeler, who has been with the Highway Patrol since February 1998, works at the agency's training academy. He has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.


Two Fulton County Officers Arrested by FBI

DERONTAY ANTON LANGFORD, 34, of Fairburn, Georgia, a Fulton County Sheriff’s Detention Officer, and MITNEE MARKETTE JONES, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia, a Fulton County Deputy Sheriff, both of whom work as officers at the Fulton County Jail, were arrested today by FBI agents following their indictment by a federal grand jury on felony charges of filing a false report, making false statements to federal agents, and obstruction of justice. LANGFORD and JONES are expected to make their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “We are continuing to investigate this suspicious inmate death at the Fulton County Jail, as well as other incidents involving the alleged unreasonable use of force against inmates by jail officers. Whether or not we ultimately determine that other officers committed crimes against inmates, any officer who obstructs our efforts to find the truth should expect to be arrested and charged with serious federal felony offenses. Five officers have been charged with obstruction of justice already. Our message to Fulton County jail employees should be clear: you don't want to be next.”

Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson said, “This investigation is far from over. Any officer inside this jail who thinks they can beat an inmate or violate an inmate’s civil rights is looking at federal prosecution, and that means being in a federal prison as an inmate. The administration at this jail will continue to hold everyone to the highest professional standards, and that includes truthfulness when asked about any incident inside these walls.”

According to U. S. Attorney Nahmias, the indictment, and information in court: The indictment, unsealed and made public after the arrests today, charges that LANGFORD and JONES aided and abetted one another and former Fulton County Jail Detention Officer CURTIS JEROME BROWN, Jr., in engaging in misleading conduct by allegedly authoring and submitting incident reports that omitted material information regarding an encounter and physical contact with an inmate prior to the inmate’s in-custody death on March 18, 2008. BROWN was fired on October 22, 2008, and was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 24, 2008, for violating civil rights by using excessive force against a different inmate, filing a false report, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice. BROWN’s charges are still pending. The indictment unsealed today also charges LANGFORD and JONES with making false statements to federal agents and obstructing justice by falsifying and concealing material information during their testimony before a federal grand jury.

According to a criminal complaint filed in connection with BROWN’s related charges, on the night of March 18 and into March 19, 2008, a jail inmate was causing a commotion in his cell when BROWN and two other staff members, now identified as LANGFORD and JONES, allegedly entered the cell and engaged in a physical altercation with the inmate. According to eyewitness accounts, the inmate was on the floor when the three staff members left the cell. After they left, the inmate was discovered unresponsive and not breathing on the cell floor and was transported to Grady Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The federal investigation of that in-custody death and other incidents at the Fulton County Jail is continuing. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department is cooperating in the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 404-679-9000.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Brent Alan Gray and Angela M. Jordan are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact David E. Nahmias (pronounced NAH-me-us), United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Other Information: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wabe/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1501991&sectionID=1

Spring Lake Police Department Being Investigated


The Spring Lake Police Department was stripped of its remaining police powers Monday, and two of its officers were arrested.

Sgt. Alfonzo Devone Whittington Jr. and Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. were arrested after being indicted by a special Cumberland County grand jury.

About midafternoon, Sheriff Moose Butler and District Attorney Ed Grannis met with Police Chief A.C. Brown and Town Manager Larry Faison to discuss the action being taken against the Police Department.

They delivered an order from Chief District Court Judge Beth Keever saying that all criminal work within the town, including misdemeanors, would be handled by the Sheriff’s Office.

Grannis also said he plans to dismiss all pending misdemeanor cases filed by Spring Lake officers and will evaluate pending felony cases.

The action, which Grannis later called unprecedented, has in effect stripped Spring Lake police of any remaining powers.

The Sheriff’s Office set up a mobile command unit at the Spring Lake Family Resource Center on Odell Road. Butler said roughly four deputies on rotating shifts will work out of that location.

Starting today, all 911calls in the town will be forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office. Residents who need non-emergency assistance should call 323-1500.

Butler could not say how long his officers would handle Spring Lake’s investigations.

“We’re stretched, but we’re going to be here till the issue’s resolved,” he said.

Butler and Grannis met with four members of the county Board of Commissioners behind closed doors following Monday’s arrests.

After the hour-long meeting, board Chairwoman Jeannette Council said the commissioners support Butler providing law enforcement for Spring Lake residents until at least June 3. Council said the county can afford the expense without a special appropriation.

After June 3, the commissioners urged Spring Lake officials to contract with the sheriff to continue the service until town leaders reconstitute the Police Department “as a fully functioning law enforcement agency.”

Late Monday, many Spring Lake officers said they did not know whether they should show up for work today or what the future holds for them.

Town leaders evaded those questions Monday.

“Give us a little time,” Mayor Ethel Clark said before leaving Town Hall. “We’re still formalizing a plan.”

Brown remained in his office after Grannis and Butler left and would not answer questions from reporters. He surfaced briefly to check his vehicle and said, “I got a hot one,” before going back inside.

Faison referred all questions to a news release he said he faxed. He then slipped out of Town Hall to avoid reporters waiting at the rear of the building. The Observer did not receive a fax.

2 officers charged

Whittington, who joined the department in October 2005, was charged with 11 crimes, including embezzlement by public officer, obtaining property by false pretenses, larceny and obstruction of justice. The charges stem from $2,900 that was allegedly taken from the department’s evidence room. Whittington, who also served as the department’s evidence custodian and internal affairs investigator, allegedly took the money between September and January, according to the indictment. He then directed officers to alter reports and lie about the handling of the money. His bail was set at $100,000.

Coulter, who has been with the department since July 1999, was charged with 20 crimes, including breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice.

The charges stem from an April 27, 2008, incident at a home on the 400 block of Vass Road.

According to the indictments, Coulter broke into the home, which was occupied by Mark Anthony Jones Jr., Jimmy Jovan Taylor and Samuel Darnell Wallace. He assaulted the men and forcibly removed them from the home while threatening them with a handgun and a shotgun, kidnapped them and then held them against their will by handcuffing the men.

The indictments allege that Coulter, while supervising three officers also involved in the false arrests, had no legal justification for the actions.

Coulter also was indicted for his alleged actions during an investigation at the Sleep Inn Motel. According to the indictment, Coulter lied when he said he smelled marijuana in a room from which officers seized $2,900. That’s the same money that Whittington is accused of later taking from the evidence room. His bail was set at $250,000.

Both officers appeared before Senior Resident Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson about 4:30 p.m. They were escorted into the courtroom by agents with the State Bureau of Investigation. Johnson read the charges against them and told them the maximum penalty they face for each.

According to Johnson, Whittington could face 24 years, two months in prison if convicted on all charges. Coulter could face 32 years, four months in prison.

Whittington said he planned to hire his own lawyer. Coulter asked for a court-appointed lawyer, which the judge said would have to come from outside the county’s public defender’s office.

String of problems
Monday’s arrests are the latest in a string of problems for the Police Department.

In a letter to the county’s two top judges Monday, Grannis said he first realized the department had troubles in December 2006. It was at that time, the District Attorney’s Office learned Spring Lake officers mishandled child abuse allegations and the subsequent death investigation of 3-year-old Anijah Burr.

He later asked that all homicides be investigated by the Sheriff’s Office and then expanded that request to include all felonies.

In mid-2007, Grannis said he asked the SBI to conduct a criminal inquiry into the department’s narcotics division.

An independent assessment of the department, done at the request of the town Board of Aldermen in late 2007, found a number of problems, including a lack of training for officers, a lack of written directives and the leadership of Brown.

Originally, Grannis said he was concerned that the department lacked trained manpower and expertise. Now, he said, he has a much deeper concern.

Grannis wrote that the department still was under investigation by state agents.

He said the SBI’s report made him “genuinely disheartened” and that many of the questions raised in the report came from officers within the department.

“Within our democratic society, we entrust law enforcement with significant authority and responsibility in carrying out our criminal laws,” he wrote. “... This report raises genuine questions concerning the entrusting of such significant responsibilities to the Spring Lake Police Department.”

Other Information: http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=325750

Torture: Unreliable, Ineffective, Illegal

The issue of torture and security keeps reemerging in the news, as we debate matters of national survival and our core values. The issue is often posed in the following way: What if a terrorist had information about an urgent threat to American lives and the only way to obtain that information would be to torture it out of him? The responses range from: No, even if we were under grave threat, torture would violate our principles and we should never do it; to, torture doesn’t work or produces unreliable information, so, we violate our principles and get nothing for it.

My own view is that principles and values are important. We should not torture because it is wrong and it violates the spirit of U.S. and International law. We know that in the real world, people violate principles all of the time. Does that mean we should have no principles? Does that mean we should develop less stringent ones? One of our most deeply held ethical principles is about the sanctity of human life. The commandment is: “Thou shall not kill”. It does not say: “don’t kill except in self defense”. The principle is don’t kill. Yet, we kill all of the time. Does that mean the principle should be watered down? One could argue that it has never been an absolute principle. Wars and capital punishment have long violated this principle. Nevertheless, its presence has influenced human behavior for thousands of years. It has not eliminated brutality but it has delegitimized it.

Since we can’t operate a civil order without killing people, we focus on the method of killing. When we remove someone from life, it should be done with a minimum of pain in the process. The eighth amendment of the United States constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment”. Water boarding is a cruel punishment, although we have recently learned it is not as unusual as we thought. By holding accused terrorists as “enemy combatants”, they do not receive the protections of the American constitution. Alumni of the Bush Administration and its defenders argue that without torture, America would have been subjected to further terrorist attacks. It is a claim that logically cannot be proven or disproven, but is, of course, irrelevant.

The danger in eliminating the ban on torture as a method of investigation is that it erodes a critical principle. We know that the principle will be violated during times of duress, but if it is eliminated, torture will be legitimized and its day to day use will be increased. Is that the type of world that America wants to build? Are those the values that we have raised the world’s strongest military to defend? America's claim to moral leadership is fundamentally debased by the defense of torture.

It is a tough world out there and there are evil people who are out to do us harm. No one living in New York City or Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001 could ever deny that point. We need to be aggressive and vigilant in defending our families, property and ideals. But in the process of doing that we need to defend our way of life—and that includes our values and self image.

If America is subjected to another large scale terrorist attack, you can be certain that Dick Cheney and his pals will blame it on the “softer” approach to defense and interrogation advocated by President Obama. I believe this is a ridiculous argument. It is also a political argument and an effort to restore the post-Vietnam image of the Democrats as the party that is soft on defense. We do not need to use brutal tactics to reduce criminal behavior. Vigilance, intelligence, skill and strategic thinking are far more effective. Here in New York City nearly two decades of increasingly professionalized policing has taken place along side steady reductions in crime. While civilian complaints against police misconduct continue, and that misconduct continues, no one would argue that the increased safety of New Yorkers was accomplished through increased incidences of police brutality.

Brutality is not a cost free strategy. When police act within the law and behave with professionalism and dignity, it delegitimizes outlaw conduct. George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson’s famous broken window theory states that if one window in an abandoned building is broken, soon the rest will be broken as well. Misconduct is contagious. The importance of order and rules of correct behavior should never be underestimated. I would argue that if the “window” is broken by the police, if our government tortures prisoners, the situation is worse. If the people who are responsible for enforcing our laws—and our principles—violate those laws and principles, it fosters disrespect for all principles and laws. Ultimately that makes us less safe. That is the case on the streets of New York City. When our police act within the law, they build respect for law. If police are corrupt and brutal, the fabric of public order becomes frayed. While the analogy is far from perfect, I think it works that way in the international arena as well.

While I find torture personally abhorrent, and I suspect it is not all that effective as an interrogation method; the central point is that torture is not the type of behavior we expect from civilized, law abiding nations. When we look for loopholes in the Geneva Conventions we undermine the rule of law. Torture is ineffective, illegal, and a violation or our principles. The arguments in favor of it are far weaker than the arguments against it. President Obama is correct in prohibiting torture, and we should applaud his efforts to end its practice.

Other Information: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/05/torture-the-smoking-gun.html

Officer Alberto Perez Arrested for the Third Time

Avon Park Police Officer Alberto Perez was arrested Tuesday for the third time, this time facing perjury charges.

This stems from his previous arrest because he "testified under oath in an official proceeding that he has never taken money in exchange for a citation being issued or an arrest being made," according to the warrant affidavit filed by Sgt. Jason Lister of the APPD.

The testimony was taken during an interview with APPD Internal Affairs on April 23.

Perez was arrested a week later, on April 30, when an investigation into charges that he accepted money in lieu of making an arrest was substantiated by three witnesses.

He was booked into the Highlands County Jail on Tuesday and released on $5,000 bond.

Perez was initally arrested on Dec. 2 for extortion for allegedly taking $200 from a man during a traffic stop instead of writing a ticket. The April 30 arrest was for one additional count of extortion and one count of official misconduct stemming from a traffic crash where Perez allegedly falsified a crash report and took $300 in lieu of arresting a man for having a suspended license.

Perez is currently on unpaid administrative leave from the department.


Officer Kaneshia O'Malley Charged with Domestic Violence

A Cincinnati police officer was arrested after a dispute with her estranged husband - also a Cincinnati officer - turned into a struggle that involved a Taser and an ironing board.

Kaneshia O'Malley, 26, was charged with domestic violence. Her police powers have been suspended, Cincinnati police said.

Her husband, Daniel O'Malley, called Golf Manor police Monday and said his wife broke into his home in the 6200 block of Hammel Avenue.

"She broke a window and entered the residence," said Golf Manor Lt. Chris Campbell. "He contacted us and wanted her removed."

Officers believe the two were arguing over their 1-year-old daughter.

Before they arrived, the two struggled and at one point, Kaneshia O'Malley hit her husband with an ironing board, Campbell said. Daniel O'Malley also deployed a Taser but it did not hit his wife.

He was not injured but she had cuts on her hand from breaking out the window.

During her arraignment Tuesday, a judge released Kaneshia O'Malley on home arrest and ordered her to say away from her husband and daughter. She is scheduled to return to court on Friday.

Although her powers have been suspended, she remains on duty, Cincinnati police said. An internal investigation will be conducted.

Kaneshia O'Malley was hired by the Cincinnati Police Department in 2003 and her husband was hired in 2001.

Two Atlanta Officers Arrested for Firing Weapon Near Lake Allatoona

Two Atlanta Police officers are on paid administrative leave after authorities say they scared their neighbors by firing guns early Monday morning.

Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office tells WSB they began receiving multiple phone calls around 1 o'clock in the morning of numerous shots being fired near Lake Allatoona.

Deputies responded and determined that the gunshots were coming from a house in the Victoria Cottage Community on Cedar Drive.

"They apparently were on the back deck of their home, firing into the lake. Actually, there were some fishermen that were in the lake at that time. One of the deputies had gotten out and was walking the perimeter of the lake trying to locate the home, and one of the rounds struck in the water, near where he was standing," said Baker.

43-year-old Dan Rasmussen and 31-year-old Chad Armstrong, both Atlanta police officers, were charged with Reckless Conduct.

"Apparently, they had been drinking and alcohol and guns obviously do not mix very well. We were getting numerous calls. The people in that community did not know what was going on. Apparently, what we're thinking, at least 30 to 40 rounds were shot," said Baker.

22-year-old Robert Terza of Woodstock, was charged with Reckless Conduct. Rasmussen's wife, Toni, has been charged with obstruction.


More information and pictures: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/19363695/detail.html

Hearing Delayed for Former Sheriff Joe Craig


An appeal hearing regarding the suspension of former Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig's peace officer certification that was scheduled today has been continued.

Former Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig is seen at a hearing in this March 3 photo by Jim Beckel.

Craig's attorney, Rob Pyron, said he's not sure when Craig's hearing with the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training will be rescheduled. The hearing was set to determine whether Craig's certification was removed properly.

Craig's certification was suspended by the agency for one year in February after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor crimes including contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The suspension made him ineligible to serve as sheriff, prompting county commissioners to appoint Sheriff Shannon Smith on Feb. 23.

Click here to read the complete article at NewsOK.com