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Man sues Pr. George’s government, police officer for $10 million

By Matt Zapotosky

A 20-year-old Cottage City man is suing the Prince George’s County government and a county police officer for $10 million, claiming in the lawsuit that he was jailed for months on fabricated charges after an officer hit him in the head with a gun and the weapon discharged, his attorney said Wednesday.
Ryan Dorm was arrested in February and charged with second-degree assault and other related counts, accused initially of attempting to disarm and assaulting a police officer. But soon after that, police internal affairs detectives uncovered a video that contradicted portions of the officer’s account, and prosecutors dropped some of the charges against Dorm.
The rest of those charges were dropped earlier this month, and Dorm was finally released from jail, according to court records, the state’s attorney’s office and his attorney, Jimmy A. Bell. Bell said he filed a lawsuit in Prince George’s County Circuit Court Wednesday, seeking $10 million for the assault, false imprisonment and emotional distress his client endured.
“They altered his life,” Bell said. “The reality of it is, if you have a police officer who makes up a story to try to cover himself, that’s the worst case scenario you can have.”
The February incident started when Prince George’s officers in the Brentwood area saw two people — at least one wearing a mask — go into the Lowest Price Gas station convenience store, authorities have said.
According to the account police first gave in charging documents, officers thought that the men were about to rob the store. Dorm, according to the documents, punched a detective and then ran. Another detective, Donald Taylor, chased him and saw what he thought was a gun fall from Dorm’s waistband, the charging papers allege. He drew his gun, and Dorm “charged towards” him and “attempted to disarm him.” The encounter caused Taylor’s gun to fire, according to the documents.
Bell said that telling of the story is almost wholly inaccurate. He said surveillance video shows an officer approach Dorm, draw his weapon and strike him in the head — while the teen makes no aggressive movements. At some point, police have said, the gun fired, but no one was injured.
Law enforcement sources who saw the video have corroborated Bell’s account.
Police suspended Taylor — who is named in the lawsuit — soon after the incident, but they continued to pursue some charges against Dorm, even procuring an indictment in March. Those charges were dropped on May 21, and Dorm was released from jail, according to court records and Bell.
John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors felt they did not have enough evidence to move the case forward.
“Obviously, it takes time to review everything,” Erzen said. “Once we did that, we didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to go forward with the charges.”
Taylor remains suspended with pay, said Julie Parker, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman. She said police’s internal investigation is continuing, and detectives were working with the state’s attorney’s office. Erzen said prosecutors had not determined yet whether criminal charges might be filed against Taylor.

Former Havana Police Officer Indicted in Okaloosa County

Tallahassee, FL -- May 30, 21012 --

Joey Floyd was a cop with the Havana Police Department from 2002 until 2006. From there he went to Crestview, FL, hired by his former chief in Havana, Brian Mitchell. Floyd was arrested for racketeering in March but a grand jury indictment from the state of Florida alleges much more.

The document has a list of accusations against the former Major. Included are allegations of excessive force such as ordering a female officer to "tase a suspect without cause, even though Floyd knew, at the time, that she was not certified to use a taser."

The indictment also alleges that while on a drug surveillance operation, Floyd purposely rammed his cruiser into the side of the truck leaving the scene. The truck flipped over, causing the pregnant passenger who was "not involved with the operation," to lose her baby.

There are also allegations of exchanging promotions for sexual favors in the office and sexually harassing coworkers.

Both Floyd and Brian Mitchell worked at Havana PD before heading to Crestiview, where they both were fired from their jobs. Floyd's trial is set for June 25th.

Illinois House votes to create Metro East police commission

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • The Illinois House today passed a bill to put the police departments of four troubled Metro East communities under one oversight entity. It now moves to the Senate.

The “Metro East Police District Commission” would encompass the police departments in East St. Louis, Washington Park, Alorton and Brooklyn. The commission would help secure new resources and press for new standards. The individual departments would still operate independently.

The commission would be funded by a mandatory $100 fine to be levied against defendants found guilty in St. Clair County.

The House voted 64-54 to pass the bill (SB549), with detractors questioning the propriety of a system that fines criminals more in one Illinois county than in the rest. The Senate, which unanimously passed a different version of the same proposal earlier this year, could consider it Thursday.

officer charged with straw purchase of firearms

Federal agents arrested a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Thursday accused of illegally purchasing firearms for someone else, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

Manuel Eduardo Pena, 38, appeared Friday morning before a U.S. magistrate judge.

Pena is on administrative leave pending adjudication of the charges, CBP spokesman Eddie Perez said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the Office of Professional Responsibility observed Pena purchasing hunting rifles from Academy Sports and Outdoors on two separate occasions in December, the complaint states.

The agents then saw Pena sell the weapons to a man in the parking lot, the complaint alleges.

After the first time, on Dec. 5, ICE and FBI agents tailed the buyer to his home and asked him about the purchase, the complaint says.

The man admitted to buying the rifle from Pena because as a legal permanent resident, he could not legally buy a weapon himself.

The agents took as evidence the receipt for the purchase and the rifle.

Several weeks later, on Dec. 19, agents surveying the Academy store again witnessed Pena purchase a hunting rifle for reimbursement from the same man.

The complaint states that upon purchasing the rifles, Pena wrote he was buying them for his own use.

Pena, who was released on $50,000 bond, is scheduled to appear in court again next week.

Police officer charged in arson seeks lower bond

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A Birmingham police officer charged with arson is asking a judge to lower his bond.

An attorney for Curtis Thornton filed a motion asking a court to reduce his bond from $315,000, which the motion says would present an undue burden on Thornton's family. He's seeking a bond of $100,000 or less.

Thornton is due in court for an initial appearance on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Thornton is accused on four charges that authorities say are linked to fires that occurred near his home in the Jefferson County town of Warrior.

His arrest came last week as officers investigated a string of more than a dozen fires in the section of Birmingham he patrolled, but Thornton hasn't been charged in those blazes.

A defense lawyer says Thornton is innocent.

New York secrecy law that protects police is contemptible

Peter Schmitt, the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, must appear in court tomorrow to face a contempt charge. He had the audacity to let the public in on a few details from a report on outrageous police misconduct.

It's not Schmitt's candor that is contemptible. It's the sealing of that report in a misguided ruling by U.S. Magistrate Kathleen Thomlinson, handling the case for U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt, and the court's failure to see the critical public service that would have been performed by making the report public.

The report is about the case that cost Nassau County $7.7 million, because its police officers, by not properly enforcing a restraining order against Leonardo Valdez-Cruz, failed to protect his ex-girlfriend, Jo'Anna Bird. Valdez-Cruz, who was a police informant, is now serving life in prison for torturing and killing the mother of two. Schmitt discussed the report with News 12 Long Island, which, like Newsday, is owned by Cablevision.

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli demanded the report be sealed at the behest of the Police Benevolent Association on the eve of a news conference by Bird's lawyer to discuss it contents. As a result many questions are unanswered. How many officers were involved? What exactly did they do, wrong and right? Have they been disciplined, and if so, how? What processes have been changed in the department to prevent this from happening again?

Ciampoli argued the secrecy was required by a 1976 state law applied so broadly that it keeps practically all police, jail, prison guard and firefighter personnel records under wraps.

The law is known as 50-a, and its initial rationale was to keep defense attorneys from dredging up the employment histories of police officers testifying in criminal trials to damage the cops' credibility. But there are lots of things we don't allow in court, and we don't find it necessary to pass laws hiding every aspect of public servants' job performance from the eyes of the public. Judges can stop attorneys from using irrelevant personnel information about officers testifying in court.

The Bird case is only one of several in which details of serious police personnel problems have been hidden from the public. Recent well-publicized episodes include an intoxicated cop flashing a gun in a Farmingdale bar, a cabbie shot in Huntington after falling afoul of two allegedly drunken off-duty officers, an unarmed man shot by police in his Selden home, and a Nassau cop said to have spent his shifts napping and having sex at the home of a mistress. Little is known about what consequences will befall these officers.

The 50-a law often has bad consequences, and ought to go away. A paper from the state's Committee on Open Government came to the same conclusion in 2010, but little has been done. Even so, it was an overreach by the court to seal the Bird report.

Schmitt, who never signed any confidentiality agreement, is the head of the legislature, and was responsible for making sure the multimillion-dollar settlement by the county attorney was warranted. He was stunned by what he read in the report. His public comments are not contemptible but commendable.

Judge orders NJ police chief from office

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered a convicted New Jersey police chief to forfeit his job.

A jury convicted Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa of official misconduct and insurance fraud two weeks ago.

The Record newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/KcLaAF ) the judge granted a request from Zisa's lawyer to postpone a decision on whether Zisa will have to forfeit his pension until he's sentence on Aug. 15.

The judge says an attorney representing Zisa's ex-wife has said she's entitled to part of the pension under the couple's divorce settlement.

Zisa's attorney plans to appeal the conviction.

Zisa was police chief for 15 years and was a state assemblyman for 8 years. Members of his family held the top elected and appointed positions in Hackensack for decades

Strike Two for Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan

At the beginning of this year, it looked as if the decision in 2009 by Berkeley leaders to hire Seattle police Captain Michael Meehan as the city’s new police chief was a smart move. Meehan was successfully reforming Berkeley’s police department, implementing a zero-tolerance policy for police misconduct while slashing costly police overtime. And his get-tough stances with the city’s police union represented a refreshing break from the past. But in the past few months, the hiring of Meehan has started to look more like a mistake, as he ensnared himself unnecessarily in two mini-scandals that raise serious questions about his judgment and his priorities as Berkeley’s top cop.

Meehan’s troubles began when he dispatched police spokeswoman Mary Kusmiss to pay a late-night visit to the home of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley to demand a correction to an incorrect story that had been posted to the newspaper’s website. It was a dumb move. Although Meehan had every right to want the story corrected, he should have waited until the next business day. He later admitted as much and apologized for his actions, although questions remained as to whether the chief improperly used police resources to find Oakley’s home address.

Interim City Manager Christine Daniel — Meehan’s boss — hired an outside law firm to investigate the chief’s actions, but it appears that the inquiry uncovered no serious misconduct, because Meehan seems to have received no major reprimand. Daniel told the website Berkeleyside last week that the probe cost the city $15,000, and that “appropriate action” had already been taken against the chief.

Then came the news that earlier this year Berkeley police had dispatched ten cops to search for Meehan’s son’s stolen iPhone. The move represented another waste of city resources, and smacked of special treatment for the chief. Meehan later insisted that the sergeant in command made the decision to send the officers after the phone, not him, and that such moves were relatively routine.

But that seems like a pretty weak response from the chief. First, the sergeant-in-charge had to be influenced by the fact that the stolen phone belonged to his boss’ son. Second, if Berkeley police really do regularly dispatch ten cops, including some on overtime, to search for stolen phones that have tracking software, then the department’s priorities are screwed up.

As such, we view the iPhone incident as a second strike against Meehan. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s done a good job overall as police chief, particularly by standing up to the police union, we might be inclined to say that it’s time for Berkeley to get a new chief. But we’re not quite ready do say that — at least not yet.

Innocence Project, state bar push for justice reforms

Framing their case as a matter of justice for victims and the community at large as well as those accused, the Innocence Project and the state Bar Association held a press conference at the Capitol to push for two pre-trial reforms to criminal procedure. As described by the advocates:

• To prevent false confessions, they are calling for legislation requiring police to videotape interrogations in full so that there is a complete record of the interrogation that can be shown in court.

• To prevent eyewitness misidentifications, they are seeking approval of a bill mandating that police identification procedures be conducted in a double-blind fashion, meaning that the officer who conducts the lineup does not know the identity of the suspect. This will ensure that the eyewitness is not influenced by clues delivered either directly or indirectly by police. These reforms were endorsed by the Bar Association’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions, which issued a report in April 2009. (www.nysba.org/wcreport)

Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project (and the O.J. Simpson trial) kicked off the press conference, which included statements from five exonerees who collectively had spent more than nine decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Scheck said New York was far behind most other states on these issues; he recalled making the case for videotaping in the late 1990s in testimony offered on a bill backed by “a little-known state senator” in Illinois: Barack Obama.

He expressed the hope that the proposed reforms wouldn’t emerge as a wedge issue in an election year. (Good luck with that.)

“We are all victims of wrongful convictions,” said Vince Doyle, president of the state Bar Association.

The exonerees — including Utica’s Steven Barnes, recently interviewed for Marie Cusick’s “New York Now” report on DNA evidence — submitted a joint letter that calls for the changes and concludes by saying, “We lost everything. How many more New Yorkers must suffer our fate?”

Also on hand: Barnes’ mother and Michele Mallin, who was horrified to learn that the man she identified as her attacker following her 1985 abduction and rape had been exonerated by DNA evidence — but only after dying in prison 14 years into a 25-year sentence.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol has introduced a bill that requires videotaping of confessions along with a number of other provisions; it currently lacks a Senate sponsor.

Lentol said even some of his fellow lawmakers have asked him, “Why are you bothering with this stuff? … You know they must be guilty of some crime.”

The state District Attorneys Association has endorsed an expansion of videotape protocols, but its support falls short of backing legislation to mandate the change. Scheck said his group and the state Bar Association made the decision to not reach out to the group or recruit individual DAs to attend the news conference.

The event also featured Reade Seligmann, the former Duke lacrosse player who was one of three players falsely charged with rape in a 2006 case that serves as a textbook example of law enforcement misconduct run amok. Seligmann, now a law student at Emory University, worked for similar reforms to the ones sought in New York during his days as an undergraduate at Brown University in Rhode Island.

The press conference ended just after one of the New York exonerees, Jeff Deskovic, called up Lorenzo Johnson of Yonkers, whose conviction was only this week reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Johnson’s conviction in a 1995 shotgun death was based on insufficient evidence.

And here’s the joint press release from the Bar Association and the Innocence Project:

The New York State Bar Association and the Innocence Project today urged state lawmakers to pass reform legislation that could significantly reduce the likelihood of innocent New Yorkers going to prison for crimes they did not commit.

The two bills would require police agencies to videotape all custodial interrogations and to adopt a more objective way of conducting police lineups for eyewitnesses.

At a press conference in Albany, Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III and Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck were joined by: five men who collectively spent more than 90 years in prison for crimes they did not commit; a Texas rape victim who mistakenly identified the wrong suspect; one of the three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape in 2006; and a North Carolina police captain whose department has successfully adopted interrogation and eyewitness reforms.

The Innocence Project today also released the results of its Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests of more than 500 New York police agencies seeking information about their eyewitness identification policies.

“New York has the third largest number of wrongful convictions in the country. When state legislators in March voted to expand the state’s DNA database, they hailed the move as wrongful conviction reform,” Scheck said. “But if they are really concerned about protecting the innocent, they will pass legislation this session to prevent misidentifications and false confessions, two of the leading causes of wrongful convictions. These reforms help protect all New Yorkers, from crime victims to innocent suspects, to the public at large because they enhance the ability of police to find the real perpetrators.”

“Our criminal justice system is supposed to protect us all, while respecting individual rights,” said Doyle of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo). “Wrongful convictions pervert the system – they rob innocent people of their liberty, while allowing guilty people to go free to commit additional crimes. We urge legislators to address this travesty of justice before leaving Albany next month.”

Seymour W. James, Jr. of New York City (The Legal Aid Society of New York), who assumes the presidency of the Bar Association on June 1, also attended the press conference.

The Innocence Project and State Bar are asking lawmakers to focus on two critical measures to address wrongful convictions.

• To prevent false confessions, they are calling for legislation requiring police to videotape interrogations in full so that there is a complete record of the interrogation that can be shown in court.

• To prevent eyewitness misidentifications, they are seeking approval of a bill mandating that police identification procedures be conducted in a double-blind fashion, meaning that the officer who conducts the lineup does not know the identity of the suspect. This will ensure that the eyewitness is not influenced by clues delivered either directly or indirectly by police. These reforms were endorsed by the Bar Association’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions, which issued a report in April 2009. (www.nysba.org/wcreport)

Underscoring the need for improved identification procedures, the Innocence Project released the results of a survey on whether police agencies around the state had formal identification procedure policies. The group last year sent FOIL requests to 505 police agencies. Of the 349 agencies that responded, 112 provided formal written policies. Of those 112, none entirely embraced the reform package endorsed by the New York State Bar Association and the Innocence Project, and only two provided written policies that directed the use of a blind administrator, the most important reform.

Also during the press conference, five New York men who were eventually exonerated after serving lengthy prison sentences presented a joint letter urging lawmakers to enact the reforms. Steven Barnes, wrongly convicted in Utica, NY; Fernando Bermudez, wrongly convicted in New York, NY; Jeff Deskovic, wrongly convicted in Westchester, NY; Alan Newton, wrongly convicted in Bronx, NY; and Frank Sterling, wrongly convicted in Rochester, NY; spent a collective 92 ? years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Deskovic’s newly formed foundation, The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, also supports the reforms: “The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice views legislation mandating identification reform and videotaping interrogations as essential tools to assist law enforcement in apprehending the right person, as opposed to sending innocent people to prison while the actual offender remains free and able to strike again.”

Sylvia Barnes, Steven’s mother, spoke about how wrongful convictions affect family members.

Reade Seligmann, who along with two lacrosse teammates at Duke University was falsely accused of rape in 2006, detailed his year-long ordeal to prove his innocence.

Michele Mallin, a rape victim from Texas, spoke about the pain she suffered after learning that she had repeatedly misidentified her attacker. Tim Cole served 14 years of a 25-year sentence before dying in prison. He was exonerated posthumously after Mallin’s real attacker confessed.

Capt. Michael Smathers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department explained how his department responded to the adoption of new procedures guiding eyewitness and confession evidence: “Changes in practices always produce some stress and concern over the real-life impacts that might present themselves after a decision is made on such an important issue. The reality has been that these procedures have done nothing to hinder us in the clearance of our cases. In fact, the robbery unit’s clearance rate is well above the national average. Our cases are strong and are harder to impugn with these procedures in place. It is also important to note that I believe these changes have increased the public’s confidence in our work, which is vital to our relationship with the community we serve.”

Jonathan Gradess, executive director of the New York State Defenders Association, also spoke about the need for prosecutors to share evidence that might be favorable to the accused prior to a trial.

Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. Ruth Hassel-Thompson (D-Bronx) spoke about wrongful conviction bills they introduced in the Legislature that would reduce the possibility that innocent persons are convicted of crimes they did not commit.

The Innocence Project, a non-profit public policy and litigation organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, is dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States. It was founded in 1876.

Answers in memo concealed by Beach Police

According to a published news article entitled “Beach chief’s accusers lose use of crime computers”, Michelle Price, an administrative assistant for the St Augustine Beach Police Department, is said to have sent, by e-mail, an unsigned memo notifying those officers who complained about the police administration that their computer access had been suspended.

The article goes on to quote specifics, presumably taken from the Price e-mail.

Access to databases maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Justice through the state and national Criminal Justice Information System, are essential to law enforcement officers in the day-to-day performance of their duties; and, without access to the information, an officer’s safety is arguably compromised and information necessary to investigate crimes is otherwise unavailable.

If this is true, it is a significant piece of public information. Historic City News readers, residents of the City of St Augustine Beach, and other law enforcement officers who may be depending on these apparently hamstrung patrol officers, need to know those limitations.

At issue is whether in filing their complaint, which spans about seventy pages in length, the whistleblowers went too far by disclosing protected CJIS information as proof of their allegations against Chief Richard Hedges and his assistant chief, Dan DeCoursey.

Historic City News purchased a copy of the police officers allegations from the City Clerk when this story first broke. As you read the document, it is apparent that it contains hyperlinks to evidentiary documents contained on a CD that was part of their complaint.

The city will not release the CD because they say it contains criminal information that is protected — such as the identity of a sexual assault victim, Social Security numbers and victim addresses. If it was protected information, it should not be used for any purpose other than the law enforcement purpose for which it was collected.

If one or more of the officers published protected information that was obtained from confidential law enforcement databases to third parties, including City Commissioners, members of the media, or members of the public, they will be dealt with by those who administer those vital systems.

However, this morning, Historic City News attempted to verify if, in fact, any of those police officers had their CJIS credentials suspended or terminated. We did not ask for any of the information alleged to have been improperly released; we merely asked to see the e-mail and memo to the officers informing them of the suspension claimed.

We began with the City Manager’s office. At 7:58 AM, Sharon Widdifield explained that, with the exception of police personnel files, all police records are maintained in the Police Department. We were directed to contact Michelle Price — the author of the sought after e-mail.

So, we contacted Price and received an e-mail reply at 8:28 AM. Price said:
Please be advised that on the advice of counsel, the email that you are referring to is not public record at this time, as it is part of an ongoing investigation.
Michelle Price
Administrative Assistant
St. Augustine Beach Police Department

The news article raised another question. It said that Price’s e-mailed memo also informed the officers that Chief Hedges, who is on paid administrative leave, “made a special arrangement with Sheriff Shoar and FDLE to allow the officers limited third-party (criminal justice information) access to complete necessary paperwork and investigations.”

If the FDLE has just suspended the police officer’s access to the system because it is alleged that they misused criminal justice information that they obtained from it, why would they turn around and allow the same officers to continue to obtain the same criminal justice information through an intermediary — such as the Sheriff?

Again, the answers may be contained in that memo; and, in any event, the memo to the officers from the administrative assistant and e-mail is clearly public record.

Next, we contacted the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office and received a response from Sgt. Charles E. Mulligan, Public Information Officer for the agency at 10:17 AM.

“The access is granted or suspended by FDLE,” Mulligan wrote in his response. “Therefore, FDLE would be the appropriate agency to contact regarding the allegation …”

Historic City News did just that, and, at 11:05 AM, FDLE Communications Coordinator Keith Kameg, in the Office of External Affairs, responded, “Mike, you need to contact St. Aug. Beach PD for info on your request, take care, Keith”.

So, whether FDLE suspended the officers or not, Mulligan defended what was taking place and said, “I would not categorize the decision to allow the officers access through the SJSO as a work around to the suspension.”

Inferring that some restriction was imposed against the officers, Mulligan went on to say, “We are allowing the officers to run tags, warrants, etc., through our COMM Center “via radio”, in order to perform their service to the public.” Mulligan also reported, “They do not have direct access to our terminals.”

City officer receives stiffest sentence yet in kickback scheme

Officer Rodney Cintron took his car, damaged in an accident, to Majestic Auto Repair in Rosedale on the advice of a colleague, not realizing that the man was getting paid to send him there.

When the city police officer found out, he signed on to the scheme, according to court records. That decision four years ago would lead to a federal prison term and the end of his brief career.

The U.S. attorney's office for Maryland announced Wednesday that Cintron, 32, had been sentenced to 42 months in prison and was ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution, half to the Police Department and half split among several insurance companies, for accepting kickbacks from the car shop's owners.

The extortion scheme involved up to 50 Baltimore officers, 15 of whom were convicted in federal court, according to court records. Cintron's sentence is the longest any officer has received thus far — a full year more than any other offender.

Prosecutors describe the Middle River man as a leader of the conspiracy, which involved referring car-crash customers to Majestic in exchange for cash. He falsified accident reports to bolster insurance claims, added damage to vehicles and filed phony claims for his own car, according to his plea agreement. He brought his wife into the scheme, allowing her to pick up illegal payments on his behalf, documents say.

The total loss caused by Cintron is at least $120,000, prosecutors said, though only $13,000 went to Cintron, according to his Washington-based attorney, David Benowitz.

"At the time of his participation, he was struggling to support his family of five on his BPD salary of $42,000 per year," Benowitz wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "The proceeds of the scheme were used to make ends meet and to pay household bills."

Cintron joined the Baltimore force in May 2007 and was initially assigned to the Northeastern District. He was lured into the conspiracy in 2008, court records say, after his bumper was damaged in an accident.

Another officer recommended that he go see brothers Hernan and Edwin Mejia, who owned Majestic. Hernan Mejia told him that the officer who sent him "would get paid" for the referral and that "Cintron could make money for referring cars to Majestic as well," the plea agreement states.

Cintron sent customers to Majestic for commissions of $100 to $250 per vehicle. He told at least three other officers about the setup, bringing them on board.

Prosecutors characterized that as recruiting, but Cintron's lawyer played down the association.

"Mr. Cintron told colleagues about the referral fees he was receiving, and many of them chose to engage in the scheme with him," the sentencing memorandum states, putting the onus on the officers.

The sentencing memorandum describes Cintron as a family man who lives with his father-in-law, his wife, and their three boys, ages 5, 8 and 12. He coaches one son's baseball and football teams and volunteers at his children's elementary schools.

In letters submitted to the court, Cintron's friends and neighbors said he was a "person of good moral character," an attentive father and an inspirational coach, who put others before himself.

Cintron won a citation in 2009 for helping arrest a man armed with a .22-caliber revolver and was once named employee of the month. A letter from Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, also submitted to the court, thanks him for a "job well done" in January 2010.

Later that year, Cintron was suspended for reasons that have not been made public and reassigned to Central Records; police declined to explain why Wednesday. He was charged in the extortion scheme in February 2011.

Cintron now works as a property inspector for a private company, doing home occupant checks for banks.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, who oversaw his case, Cintron expressed regret for his actions.

"Words can never fully convey my remorse for the shame, disgrace and pain that I have inflicted on the department and my family, particularly my eldest son, who looked up to me and has now become a shell of the young vibrant boy I knew, and my parents, who always expected great things from me," he wrote. "I failed everyone, including my superiors and fellow officers in the department."

Cintron said he ended his relationship with Majestic a year before his arrest. His attorney recommended that Cintron be sentenced to probation or home detention.

But Blake disagreed, handing down the stiffest sentence in the scheme to date.

Ten officers have been sentenced to terms of between eight and 30 months. More than a dozen others have been suspended from the force, though they were not criminally charged.

Four officers, including the one who chose to go to trial, have yet to be sentenced, as have the Mejia brothers, who pleaded guilty in the conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement.

One officer was prosecuted in state court, receiving a sentence of probation before judgment that will allow him to keep a clean record if he follows certain rules.

In a statement, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department, which initiated the investigation, hopes the sentences and restitution orders send "a clear message that undermining the trust of the people of Baltimore and dishonoring the integrity of this agency will not be tolerated."

Said Benowitz in an interview: "I think he's sincerely remorseful for what happened. It was not his intent for things to sort of spiral this way."

Officer Suspended


A Denham Springs police officer, who was suspended, is now back on the streets.

Officer Jared Kreamer was serving a 90-day without pay suspension for allegedly violating departmental policies. But at an appeals hearing before the Denham Springs Fire and Police Civil Service Board, the board overturned that suspension and reinstated Officer Kreamer in a 3-2 vote.

Leaders at the Denham Springs Police Department initially wanted Officer Kreamer terminated, but decided on the 90-day suspension. Officer Kreamer and his attorney, Charlie Dirks, claimed the police bill of rights was violated, which helped dismiss the case.

Investigators claimed the officer remained idle for hours at time at the IHOP and a bingo hall in Denham Springs and worked a second job without approval.

The officer had been serving his suspension since April.

Kreamer will also receive pay for the previously-unpaid suspension.

City of Springfield in court for police brutality lawsuit


The city of Springfield will be in federal court Monday, defending itself against a police brutality lawsuit according to our media partner The Republican.

Terrence Thomas said 10 Springfield police officers yanked down his pants in the middle of a busy street and beat him during a 2007 arrest.

The lawsuit alleges conspiracy to violate civil rights, negligent hiring, assault and battery and infliction of emotional distress.

Federal lawsuit filed over 2010 death of Ogden man killed in police standoff

Lorna "Lori" Kimsey, the widow of Randall David Kimsey, an Ogden man shot by authorities following a standoff May 26, 2010 at his home, has filed a lawsuit against law enforcement agencies claiming alleged negligence, excessive force and violations of her husband's civil rights.
The federal lawsuit filed in Des Moines argues that Boone County sheriff's deputies, three Ogden police officers and an officer from the city of Boone "used excessive force and brutality" in the killing of the 50-year-old man.
On the evening of Tuesday, May 25 Boone County Deputy Zach Zeutenhorst responded to a residence at 443 E Sycamore Street to speak with Mr. Kimsey about harassing phone calls. According to Boone County Sheriff Ron Fehr, when Ogden officer Nate Spencer and Zeutenhorst approached the front door, they were confronted by Kimsey waving a handgun in a threatening manner.
According to court documents Kimsey's wife was urged by phone to leave the house and was taken into custody. Authorities say they spent hours in futile attempts to negotiate with Kimsey before six officers entered the home at nearly 1:23 a.m.
The documents state that "without a warrant, without provocation, without cause, without invitation, without knocking and without identifying themselves, the Ogden police officers, Boone County sheriff's deputies and the Boone County Special Response Team cut electric power to the Kimsey residence, entered the residence from both front and back doors and upon entering, the officer exploded several percussion flash (bombs)."
The team then "apparently proceeded upstairs and deployed a second flash bang device," the lawsuit says. "At that time, Kimsey appeared out of the bedroom door while allegedly carrying a gun."
According to the documents, Kimsey suffered at least 14 bullet wounds in the ensuing gun battle.
The lawsuit alleges various violations of Kimsey's rights involving excessive force, improper search and seizure, assault and loss of consortium. Court papers charge that defendants acted "with actual malice or in a manner of willful, wanton and reckless disregard of the legal and constructional rights" of the Kimseys.

Following the stand-off two years ago, Sheriff Fehr reported that Kimsey was shot after a bullet from his gun struck a protective helmet worn by one of six officers who entered Kimsey's home at the end of the stand-off. "He fired two rounds before they could respond," Fehr stated.

A Suffolk County man subdued by a police stun gun

A Suffolk County man subdued by a police stun gun Tuesday claims he was the victim of police brutality.

Jeu Gonzalez, 21, was arrested outside a Copiague deli after police said he shouted obscenities at a female officer, then appeared to lunge at her.

Gonzalez claims the officers were the aggressors and showed stun gun marks on his legs and stomach. Cell phone video shot by a friend of Gonzalez captured part of the confrontation, showing four officers atop the college student, who screamed as the stun gun was deployed on him.

"It was unnecessary roughness," said Gonzalez outside Suffolk District Court in Central Islip Wednesday. "I felt violated."

Suffolk County Police have confirmed that an officer administered at least three stun gun shots to Gonzalez, who was later charged with resisting arrest and harassment. Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was freed on $1,000 bail.

"This was abuse, abuse, abuse because we are Hispanic," Gonzalez' mother Lorena said outside court.

When the officers confronted him, Gonzalez said the police directed foul language at him and he responded in kind. But it was the officers, he claimed, who escalated the incident into a physical confrontation.

"The male cop clothes-lined me into the car, grabbed me and we scuffled and went to the ground. I tried to comply with what he was telling me, but because of his force, I couldn't," said Gonzalez.

The incident remains under investigation, said police. Gonzalez is due back in court next week.

Three Strikes For Off-Duty Cop At Citi Field

A drunk, off-duty cop was thrown out of Citi Field in the middle of a May 16 Mets game and arrested when he refused to leave his illegally occupied seat.
Stadium security officers surrounded off-duty Police Officer Eduardo Cornejo, 30, after they realized he was settled into a much pricier seat than the one he paid for, police said.
“He was in a section he wasn’t supposed to be,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “They asked him to leave. He wouldn’t.
“The unarmed police sergeant asked him to leave. He wouldn’t, and he was arrested as a result,” Kelly said.
Cornejo, who works in the 67th Precinct in Brooklyn, was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on a criminal trespassing charge and was released without bail.
Cornejo was suspended from his job pending the outcome of the case, police said. He will also have to undergo an internal NYPD investigation at the end of the case and could be fired, police said.

Lucy’s back. Board of Supervisors Questions police action and demands less secrecy.

Fairfax County police spokes “woman” Lucy Caldwell ...........you remember Lucy…she was the one who threw a fit with a local reporter when the reporter dared to question citizens reaction to yet another murder by the Fairfax County Police……well, Lucy and her hair trigger temper and contempt for a free press  are back on the job as the police information officer.  Here’s the information Lucy gave out to the media concerning this week’s questionable shooting of a Mount Vernon area citizen.

What is the dead man’s name?

I’m not releasing that information

How many cops were at the scene of the shooting? 

I’m not sure.

How many were inside the residence when the shooting occurred?

I’m not sure.

How many shots were fired?

I can’t say.

What is the victim name?

I’m not going to reveal that information.

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expressed deep concerns of a second questionable shooting of a citizen by the Fairfax County Police in less than a month and over the lack of transparency by the cops in releasing even the most mundane information about the killing.

Naw…the last part didn’t happen.  Pretty much our elected officials are far too intimidated by the police to actually stand up to them.

We’re on our own.  

Beaumont Police Officer Accused of Blinding Woman Due in Court

Beaumont Police Officer Accused of Blinding Woman Due in Court
A Beaumont police officer who is accused of several counts of assault that led to the blinding of a woman during a DUI stop is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning.
Enoch Clark was indicted by a criminal grand jury last month on four counts: assault under the color or authority, assault with a less lethal weapon, use of force causing serious bodily injury, and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury-- along with an enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office.
On Tuesday, he's slated to appear at a trial readiness conference at 8:30 a.m. in Riverside, according to court documents.
Grand jury transcripts obtained by Banning-Beaumont Patch indicated that Clark was well-trained on the JPX pepper spray device that was allegedly used at a distance no greater than 10 inches from Monique Hernandez's eyes on the night of Feb. 21.
However, that high-powered pepper spray gun-- which shoots out a pepper-spray mixture at a speed around 400 mph-- is not to be used any closer than five feet away, according to the district attorney's office and grand jury testimony. Doctors say one of the woman's eyes was completely destroyed in the incident, and that she'll likely never see again.
Clark told investigators that he was in fear for his life when he was arresting Hernandez for suspicion of DUI, and thought she would "gouge his eyes out" using the handcuffs, according to the transcripts.
His attorney has said Clark is anxious to appear in court, and tell his side of the story.

Judge recuses over friendship with ex-police commissioner

A judge yesterday recused himself from the criminal trial of three retired Nassau County police officers in order to avoid an "appearance of impropriety" due to his friendship with the ex-police commissioner. Nassau County Court Judge John Kase (See Profile), the court's supervising judge, said he would not preside over the trial of the three men who were indicted for allegedly conspiring to prevent the arrest of the son of a donor to the police department.
Reading a statement from the bench during a court appearance in People v. Flanagan, 338N/12, Kase noted he has been a friend of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey for the past five years and has been "in his company at professional as well as social events." Mulvey was the police commissioner at the time of the officers' alleged crime.
Noting that "transparency and trust" in the legal process is "of paramount importance," Kase said, "The mere appearance of impropriety is as strong a reason for recusal as impropriety itself. Therefore, I believe that my presiding over this case could create an appearance of impropriety."
The case has been reassigned to Nassau County Court Judge George Peck (See Profile). The three officers are William Flanagan, former second deputy commissioner, whose charges include receiving a reward for official misconduct. Charges against John Hunter, former deputy chief inspector, include two counts of sixth-degree official misconduct and conspiracy. Alan Sharpe, a former detective sergeant, faces counts including offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree.

Mesa police to release results of misconduct investigation in road-rage incident

by Jim Walsh - May. 25, 2012 09:47 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

Four months after a road-rage incident in northeast Mesa, police have concluded that a veteran officer was to blame, not the man he arrested.
Aggravated-assault charges against Randy Smyers were dropped after an investigation found inconsistencies in statements by Sgt. Mike Duke, who was off-duty when the incident occurred.
Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead said Friday that police believe it was Duke who landed the first blow during the incident. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is reviewing the investigation, which was handled by Scottsdale police to avoid a conflict of interest, and will decide whether Duke will be charged with any crimes.
"This conduct falls far below the standards of the police department and the community,'' Milstead said. "We were less than accurate in the reporting of this original incident.''
Milstead said any disciplinary action against Duke would be determined after the County Attorney's decision and the completion of an internal-affairs investigation.
"Mike Duke served the police department for 19 years," Milstead said. "What happened this day was very unfortunate and it will probably change his life forever.'
Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, confirmed that his office has received an investigative report from the Scottsdale police. He said the matter is under review and no charges have been filed.
But the Mesa Police Association, which represents Duke, said Duke was driving off-duty on a Sunday morning to an urgent-care center with his three sons "when he encountered an aggressive man engaging in road rage.''
The MPA press release said Smyers stopped his car in the middle of a street and approached Duke's car "in a threatening manner.''
The MPA said Duke was in pain and that he acted to protect himself, his children and the public's safety. Duke had suffered a knee injury while playing baseball and was driving to an urgent-care facility to seek medical treatment.
"Officers are compelled to act on and off duty,'' Sgt. Ryan Russell, president of the association, said in a statement. "Sgt. Duke could have fled the area, but I don't think that's what the public expects of their police officers. Duke clearly felt his children and the public were threatened by Randy Smyer's erratic actions.''
The incident occurred about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 18. According to court documents released at the time, Smyers became angry because he felt that Duke was tailgating him in his van, according to court document released by police after the incident.
Duke identified himself as a police officer and asked Smyers twice to move his car, but Smyers refused, shouted profanities at Duke and walked toward Duke's van, the report said.
But on a 911 tape released Friday by the department, it is Duke that is heard yelling profanities at Smyers, while Smyers asks Duke several times to identify himself.
"My ID's my gun, (expletive deleted),'' Duke told Smyers at one point. "I'll shoot you.''
Jerry Smyers, Randy's brother, told police that Randy just wanted Duke to drive around him when he stopped his pickup in the street, according to a police report.
Duke and Randy Smyers eventually got into a fight, during which Smyers suffered facial injuries and Duke injured his knee, the report said.
Debbie Spinner, Mesa's city attorney, said the city decided to negotiate a financial settlement with Randy and Jerry Smyers after they filed a notice of claim, a legal requirement before a lawsuit can be filed against a city.
Spinner said the settlements have not been completed.
A deputy city attorney said Mesa reached a $62,500 settlement with Jerry Smyers and negotiations with Randy Smyers are ongoing.
The police association said Duke's duties have included serving as a gang detective and gang-enforcement sergeant.

Passaic County sheriff's officer indicted in threat allegations

Passaic County Sheriff’s Officer Rafael “Rae” Galan was indicted Tuesday on charges that he threatened a former colleague who had accused him of corruption, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s office said.
The indictment follows a grand jury hearing last week. Galan, 40, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which included making terroristic threats and tampering with a witness.
The 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office was suspended without pay in November after an ex-officer, Darren Woolridge, filed two complaints against him in Totowa municipal court. Woolridge accused Galan of trying to intimidate him over the phone about a pending investigation, saying, “You’re going to get yours.”
The complaints did not specify the investigation. The case was sent to Superior Court in Paterson, where Galan made a brief appearance in late December.
In 2009, the county prosecutor’s office accused Galan of tipping off a Paterson drug dealer about an impending bust in 2004. Galan was suspended without pay. The charges eventually were dropped by the prosecutor’s office and Galan was reinstated that summer.
Curtis LaForge, Galan’s attorney, was confident Tuesday that his client would be vindicated.
“We wish very much to address this at trial,” he said.
Woolridge had put Galan at the center of a 2009 lawsuit claiming broad drug-related corruption within the Sheriff’s Office. The suit has since stalled without a settlement, though Woolridge’s new lawyer said he was filing an amendment to the complaint Wednesday that would present new allegations.
“We’re happy to have a second bite of the apple with what we’ve got,” said Gerald Saluti, the lawyer representing Woolridge. “I don’t want to be super specific about that yet.”
Bill Maer, spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said Galan was placed on unpaid suspension upon being charges.
“His status will remain unchanged until this matter is fully adjudicated,” he said.

Boulder cop Christian McCracken, charged with attempted murder, working on plea deal

A preliminary hearing for Boulder police Officer Christian McCracken, accused of planning the murder of his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, was postponed this afternoon until June 28.

McCracken, 32, told Boulder County Judge Norma Sierra that he wanted to waive his right to an immediate preliminary hearing. His attorney, David Moorhead, told the judge that he and his client were “working toward a potential disposition in the matter” with prosecutors.

The five-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department faces a count of attempted first-degree-murder, a count of felony menacing and three counts of felony stalking.

He was arrested in April after police say he told his roommate -- a fellow Boulder police officer -- that he intended to kill his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend in front of her, and then kill himself.

Both the ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend are Boulder police dispatchers.

McCracken, who had been on leave from the department since being injured in the line of duty last summer, also faces drug charges in relation to a Longmont case. The preliminary hearing in that case was also moved to June 28.

Police OT deserves more oversight

The Lowell (Mass.) Sun
Posted: 05/23/2012 07:00:58 AM EDT

With all the attention given to the rise in nighttime rowdiness in downtown Lowell and the increased police presence initiated to control it, Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee's recent City Council request for a $160,000 transfer into his department's overtime account didn't seem out of the ordinary.
Upon further review, however, we have to wonder whether the most recent infusion of cash reveals shortcomings in the department's control of its personnel.
We would expect overtime to be used for major crime investigations and emergency situations, such as adding downtown patrols to quell street violence during weekend bar-hopping and drinking binges. But just $19,000 -- or 11 percent of the total cash transfer -- is going for that purpose. The bulk of the extra taxpayers' money, however, is going to fill a bunch of personnel holes that, quite honestly, should be a function of the management process -- not a taxpayer bailout.
Overtime money is being used to maintain staffing levels during vacations, for officers on short or extended sick leave, for officers attending special training sessions, and other personnel issues.
With 11 officers out on long-term disability collecting full salaries, the chief has hired three officers from another community, while seven new officers will be on board in June.
Where's the funding for these positions in the new fiscal year?
An exodus of dispatchers either due to retirement -- expected -- or sick leave --
unexpected -- means others must be trained to assume those positions. So why wasn't there a plan in place to hire dispatchers to fill the retirees' positions? It shouldn't include overtime.
Another $1,000 will be used for additional hours for the city's one active animal-control officer, while the other one is out on a personnel-related issue. Will this situation be resolved soon?
All this has contributed to a ballooning of an OT budget from the originally funded $500,000 to just under $950,000. That's a 90 percent increase in 11 months.
We realize unanticipated circumstances can arise, necessitating the need for overtime, but a significant portion of the Police Department's OT seems to be used for ongoing situations that should have been anticipated in the original budget document approved in June 2011.
A thorough review of police personnel procedures should gain efficiencies that would trim the amount of police overtime and make sure what's left is used for appropriate reasons.
Given these times of belt-tightening, we're surprised councilors, aside from Councilor Rodney Elliott, approved this transfer without questioning it.
A better question might be: How does the city have such a large sum of money -- $160,000 -- just hanging around after 11 months of the fiscal year for a noncrisis, nonemergency Police Department bailout?
Are taxpayers being gouged to fuel an OT gravy train that sat mostly idle on the tracks during the recent recession?
Just a few days after the demise of good cholesterol, we know learn there's no need for men to undergo the commonly proscribed screening test for prostate cancer.
A government panel has concluded the harm caused by the PSA blood test outweighed its benefits.
The findings conclude the small upside can't compensate for the dangers of overdiagnosis and overtreatment of nonlethal cancers. Common side effects include urinary incontinence or impotence.
It seems most cancers discovered by the PSA are slow-growing, which would not be fatal.
Ultimately, it's still up to the individual and his physician to decide what course to take.

Culpeper Police Officer Indicted in Fatal Shooting

A Culpeper police officer has been indicted in a fatal February shooting. A special investigative grand jury indicted Daniel Harmon-Wright, 32, of Gainesville, charging him with one count of murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Harmon-Wright turned himself in to State Police without incident late Tuesday evening. He is being held at the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center without bond pending a June 8 hearing in Culpeper County Circuit Court.
The special investigative grand jury was convened at the request of the special prosecutor appointed to the case, Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Fisher.
“Without commenting on the particulars of the investigation, over the course of the month of May, this special investigative grand jury heard from more than 45 witnesses, received more than 100 separate exhibits and was presented with reams of documentary evidence,” said Fisher.
In addition, the special investigative grand jury also handed up three counts of uttering and three counts of forgery of public documents against Harmon-Wright’s mother, Bethany P. Sullivan, 55, of Orange, Va. Through the course of the special grand jury’s investigation into the shooting incident, evidence came to light concerning Ms. Sullivan’s role in forging public records in an attempt to purge Harmon-Wright’s personnel file of negative information.
Ms. Sullivan was employed as an administrative secretary to the chief of police at the time of Harmon-Wright’s hiring as a police officer. Ms. Sullivan left the police department in 2010.
Ms. Sullivan was taken into custody without incident late Tuesday night and was released on an unsecured bond of $5,000 per count.
The shooting incident occurred at about 10 a.m. Feb. 9, when the officer shot Patricia A. Cook, 54, of Culpeper. The shooting occurred during an apparent traffic stop in the 300 block of North East Street in Culpeper.
The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office’s Police Shooting Investigation Team conducted the investigation at the request of the Town of Culpeper Police chief

Wife of Ogden man shot by cops sues over death

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The wife of an Ogden man who was fatally shot by authorities during a May 2010 standoff has filed a federal lawsuit against law enforcement agencies, claiming they used excessive force and were negligent.

Lorna Kimsey said in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for Southern Iowa, that authorities violated Randall Kimsey's rights when they entered his home, sparking the fatal shooting.

The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/KTzaR5 ) reported that the filing claims officers who were investigating reports of harassing phone calls to a neighbor went to the Kimsey home and asked to speak with Randall, who was sleeping. He came to the door allegedly armed with a handgun, then turned his back to officers and retreated into his house. A standoff ensued.

Authorities tried for several hours to negotiate with Kimsey before power was cut to the home and six officers entered, setting off flash bombs, according to the lawsuit.

Kimsey came out of an upstairs bedroom and was shot. The lawsuit said Kimsey had 14 bullet wounds and officers left 33 shell casings at the scene.

Boone County Sheriff Ron Fehr declined to comment, saying he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit.

Fehr said in 2010 that officers decided to go into the house based on Kimsey's suicidal past and their inability to reach him by phone. He had said Kimsey was shot after he fired two rounds from his own weapon, striking one of the officer's protected helmets.

The lawsuit requests a jury trial and seeks unspecified monetary compensation

Had enough?  Write to the Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515 and demand federal hearings into the police problem in America.  Demand mandatory body cameras for cops, one strike rule on abuse, and a permanent  DOJ office on Police Misconduct.