Friday, July 24, 2009

Officer Bryan Pinto Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The South Valley police officer accused of sexual misconduct in a recent claim against the city is telling his side of the story.

Officer Bryan Pinto says he's being wrongly accused by a young man who he believes, is simply out for money.

Bryan Pinto says he's being falsely accused by a now, 18 year old young man with a greedy motive. Pinto says the accuser has come over to his home before, but he denies anything sexual happened between the two.

In fact, he says the accuser was more friends with his partner than him.

Bryan Pinto says he's shocked and angry about the latest allegations made in court documents filed Monday, accusing him of having a sexual relationship with a senior at Mount Whitney High.

"None of that ever happened. Absolutely not, never," said Pinto.

Pinto says the accuser, who we are not identifying because he was a minor at the time, is making up the allegations for financial gain to tarnish the officer's name.
Pinto said, "I need to get my word out there and get the truth out there."

Pinto says the accusations are also suspicious because they were made just days after he won a prestigious award for making 57 DUI arrests.

An internal affairs investigation is still underway. Pinto is expecting to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

"Absolutely I've done nothing wrong in this situation. There was never anything that crossed any lines, anything that was unprofessional nothing that occurred on duty, off duty to be accused of anything," said Pinto.

According to a search warrant, officers searched Pinto's Visalia home in May after investigators used a forensic device to retrieve two text messages from Pinto's iphone. Both were sent to the accuser and are sexual in nature.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office told Action News after a thorough investigation, they are not pursuing any criminal charges.

Pinto claims the accuser is a wayward teen merely after deep pockets.
Pinto said, "I think money is ultimately the factor here."

Melina Benninghoff is Pinto's attorney, she says she hired an investigator who also came to the conclusion there is no evidence to support the claims.

Benninghoff said, "The allegations of sexual misconduct are completely unfounded. Completely unfounded. My client did absolutely nothing wrong. He just was a vulnerable target."

Pinto says he's confident the truth will eventually come out.

"It hurts to know that people would think that I would put myself in that situation again after everything that I've already been through and everything that I've already worked so hard to do so good at the Visalia Police Department that this accusation has now brought everything to a screeching halt again," said Pinto.

Pinto was fired in 2003 for similar misconduct allegations. But after a jury trial cleared him of those charges, he also won his job back. The Visalia Police Department said they have no comment on anything relating to Officer Pinto.

Sgt. James Crowley Accused of Racial Profiling Black Scholar is Profiling Expert

The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.

Friends and fellow officers — black and white — say Sgt. James Crowley is a principled cop and family man who is being unfairly described as racist.

"If people are looking for a guy who's abusive or arrogant, they got the wrong guy," said Andy Meyer, of Natick, who has vacationed with Crowley, coached youth sports with him and is his teammate on a men's softball team. "This is not a racist, rogue cop. This is a fine, upstanding man. And if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place."

Gates accused the 11-year department veteran of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week.

Crowley confronted Gates in his home after a woman passing by summoned police for a possible burglary. The sergeant said he arrested Gates after the scholar repeatedly accused him of racism and made derogatory remarks about his mother, allegations the professor challenges. Gates has labeled Crowley a "rogue cop," demanded an apology and said he may sue the police department.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama elevated the dispute, when he said Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" during the encounter.

Later, Obama stepped back, telling ABC News, "From what I can tell, the sergeant who was involved is an outstanding police officer, but my suspicion is probably that it would have been better if cooler heads had prevailed."

Crowley didn't immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

He has said he has no reason to apologize and, on Thursday, told a radio station Obama went too far.

"I support the president of the United States 110 percent," he told WBZ-AM. "I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts, as he himself stated before he made that comment."

The sergeant added: "I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too."

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, in his first public comments on the arrest, said Thursday that Crowley was a decorated officer who followed procedure. The department is putting together an independent panel to review the arrest, but Haas said he did not think the whole story had been told.

"Sgt. Crowley is a stellar member of this department. I rely on his judgment every day. ... I don't consider him a rogue cop in any way," Haas said. "I think he basically did the best in the situation that was presented to him."

But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, once the top civil rights official in the Clinton administration and now, like Obama, the first black to hold his job, labeled the arrest "every black man's nightmare."

The governor told reporters: "You ought to be able to raise your voice in your own house without risk of arrest."

Those who know the 42-year-old Crowley say is calm, reliable and committed to everyday interests like playing softball and coaching his children's youth teams.

"He's a guy that you hope shows up for the game, because he adds some levity. He's a team guy and he hangs out after the game," said Joe Ranieri, who plays softball with Crowley in suburban Natick.

Dan Keefe, a town parks official who knows Crowley from his work coaching youth swim, softball, basketball and baseball teams, said: "I would give him my daughter to coach in a blink of an eye, and I can't say any stronger opinion than that."

Crowley grew up in Cambridge's Fresh Pond neighborhood and attended the city's racially diverse public schools, including Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. His brothers Jack and Joseph also work for the police department. His third sibling, Daniel, is a Middlesex County deputy sheriff.

Now married with three children of his own, Crowley lives about 15 miles from the city where he works.

He joined the Cambridge Police Department about 11 years ago and oversees the evidence room, records unit and paid police details.

For five of the past six years, Crowley also has volunteered alongside a black colleague in teaching 60 cadets per year about how to avoid targeting suspects merely because of their race, and how to respond to an array of scenarios they might encounter on the beat. Thomas Fleming, director of the Lowell Police Academy, said Crowley was asked by former police Lowell Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, to be an instructor.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming said.

David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, lives in Cambridge, had a brother on the force there and said Crowley is from a "tremendous family."

"Everybody in the community loves this guy. All his peers love him," Holway said. "Everyone speaks highly of him."

Crowley's encounter with Gates his not his first with a high-profile black man, although on the prior occasion he was lauded for his response.

He was a campus cop at Brandeis University in suburban Waltham when was summoned to the school gymnasium in July 1993 after Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis collapsed of an apparent heart attack. Crowley, also a trained emergency medical technician, not only pumped the local legend's chest, but put his mouth to Lewis' own and attempted to breathe life back into the fallen athlete.

"Looking back on it, he was probably already gone," Crowley said Thursday during an interview with WEEI-AM in Boston. "But I did to him what I would do to anything else in that situation."
Other information:

Animal Control Officer Andy Ray Lane Accused of Extortion

An animal control officer has been accused of using his job to con a southern Oregon man out of 2 horses.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says 53-year-old Andy Ray Lane told a Wimer man in April that the horses were being kept in inadequate enclosures. The man tried to fix the problem over the next few weeks, but decided to sell the horses when he couldn't satisfy the officer.

When a buyer couldn't be found, Lane returned with a trailer and took the horses. He also allegedly grabbed some fence panels, telling the resident they were needed to help corral the animals.

Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan says animal control officers generally deal with issues such as dogs and rabies, and do not take livestock from owners.

Lane was arrested Thursday on charges of coercion, theft by extortion and official misconduct.

Information from: Mail Tribune,

EMT Says Trooper Daniel Martin Should Be Reassigned

An ambulance driver who was at the heart of a traffic stop that led to a scuffle between a state trooper and a paramedic believes the officer should be reassigned elsewhere.

Paul Franks said Trooper Daniel Martin should be reassigned to the Panhandle or to southeastern Oklahoma's Little Dixie.

Though Martin lives north of Okemah and patrols the Okfuskee County area, he works for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's Troop D, which is based in McAlester, the reputed capital of "Little Dixie."

Troop D covers Okfuskee, Seminole, Hughes, Pittsburg, Latimer and LeFlore counties.

On Wednesday, the OHP announced it had suspended Martin for five days without pay for "conduct unbecoming an officer" in connection with a May 24 traffic stop of a Creek Nation ambulance, driven by Franks.

The suspension is in effect through next Tuesday.

Martin had stopped the ambulance at Paden after he thought Franks had made an obscene finger gesture, which the trooper felt was an "act of defiance."

Franks denied ever making such a gesture.

A few minutes earlier, on U.S. 62 east of Paden, Martin had encountered the ambulance, which was taking a woman from Boley to the hospital in Prague. The ambulance was not running with its emergency lights or siren.

Martin's cruiser, however, had its lights and siren on, and he was heading to an officer-needing-assistance call on a stolen-car report at Paden.

The ambulance didn't immediately yield to Martin's car, prompting a radio-to-radio warning from Martin that the ambulance crew should be more observant.

Once he was at Paden, Martin saw the ambulance pass by and decided to give chase after he thought the driver made the gesture.

As Martin approached Franks at the stop to discuss the earlier failure to yield and the supposed gesture, paramedic Maurice White Jr. came out of the ambulance.

White repeatedly told Martin that they were taking a woman to the hospital, and asked if they could continue the dispute there.

But Martin told White to back off, and then tried twice to arrest White for obstructing an officer. Those two arrest attempts led to two scuffles between the pair.

Much of the incident — which led to a national furor — was captured on cell-phone video by one of the patient's family members, who was following the ambulance.

The OHP also released the video from Martin's dashboard camera.

In its ruling on Martin, the OHP said Martin had probable cause to stop the ambulance for failure to yield, and he was justified in trying to arrest White.

However, the OHP said Martin should have allowed the ambulance to go to the hospital once he learned a patient was on board.

The patrol took aim, though, at Martin's demeanor and language in dealing with Franks, which it called "unprofessional and contrary to what is expected of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper."

Reflecting on his encounter with Martin, Franks said Thursday, "I was basically shocked and surprised by the entire incident.

"I never saw anything like it in my life. I'm still amazed by what happened," said Franks, 48, who has been an emergency medical technician for a year.

Before becoming an EMT, Franks said, he operated a small convenience store in Okemah, and "I never had a bad dealing with an officer until then. Ever."

After the scuffles between Martin and White, the ambulance was allowed to continue to the hospital. White was never arrested; Franks was given a warning for failure to yield.

Franks said he should never have received the warning because the entire stop was built on the supposed gesture.

"A person can give the finger with both hands — not that I ever would. That's not illegal. It's free speech."

Franks was noncommittal on whether the OHP went far enough in disciplining Martin.

He said he just felt that in addition to the suspension, Martin should patrol some other area.

One thing he knows for certain, the entire controversy won't go away anytime soon.

Pointing out that White has already filed a lawsuit against Martin in federal court, Franks said the saga will drag on for some time.

"I'll probably be subpoenaed, past records will be called up, and things will get ugly," Franks said.
YouTube Video:

Officer Noah Laughlin Accused of Possessing Stolen Laptop

A former Oil City police officer is accused of possessing a stolen laptop computer he recovered during a burglary investigation in February.

Noah Laughlin, 23, was booked this week into Caddo Correctional Center, according to the Caddo sheriff's office.

When the computer malfunctioned, deputies say, Laughlin asked a fellow officer to repair it. The colleague became suspicious, checked a criminal database and determined the computer had been stolen, authorities said.

Laughlin resigned from the department in June and moved to Sulphur.

Officer Anthony Foster Charged with Theft

A veteran Houston police officer has been charged with theft by a public servant, the result of an undercover police sting driven by citizen complaints, police said on Friday.

Anthony R. Foster, 43, a Northeast Patrol Division officer who has been on the force since early 1994, was arrested Thursday and has been removed from duty, Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties said.

“Apparently, it was a proactive internal affairs operation that was set up, and it was complaint-driven," Senties said. “He has been relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the investigation."

The charge accuses Foster of taking more than $500 “by virtue of his status as a public servant” from the undercover officer.

Houston police officials declined provide any details of the charge or complaints against Foster.

“Anytime there is a complaint, they are fully investigated,“ Senties said. “It's an investigation that is ongoing with the Internal Affairs Division and that's where it stands.”

However, Houston police union officials likened Foster's arrest to a bribery case against a Houston police officer in 2007.

“It's a strategy that the proactive detail inside Internal Affairs has used before. And the last time it resulted in criminal charges against an officer, that when he went to trial, were dismissed,” said Mark Clark, executive director of the Houston Police Officers' Union.

A jury acquitted HPD officer Alfred Alaniz in June 2007 of accepting a $200 bribe not to issue a ticket to a motorist.

Alaniz, one of the department's highest paid officers, who earned more than $100,000 in overtime during a two-year period, claimed he had been set up by internal affairs.

He later relinquished his peace officer's license and retired from the department, part of a plea bargain to dismiss related charges of evidence tampering.

Foster is represented by union attorney Sally Ring, who said she had not yet met with Harris County prosecutors to review their evidence against the officer.

“He is presumed innocent until proven guilty, he has the same constitutional rights as a citizen,“ Ring said. “Just because he is a police officer, I don't think anyone should jump to the conclusion he's guilty.”