East Haven Connecticut Police Chief Leonard Gallo Quits In Disgrace For Handling Of Latino Abuse Allegations That Led To Arrest Of 4 Of His Officers

January 30, 2012

EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT – A police chief under fire for his handling of anti-Latino abuse allegations that led to the arrests of four officers last week is retiring from office, the mayor said Monday, describing his departure as a “selfless act” intended to help the town heal.

Leonard Gallo, chief of the East Haven Police Department, has been chastised by federal civil rights investigators for creating a hostile environment for witnesses, and his lawyer has acknowledged that last week’s indictment refers to him as an unnamed co-conspirator.

Gallo, 64, had been suspended as police chief in April 2010 after the FBI launched the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated to the post in November after his friend Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. took office.

“His decision to retire at this time is a selfless act, designed to assist in the healing process,” said Maturo, who described Gallo as a devoted public servant who “performed admirably in both his personal and professional life.”

The four officers, who were arrested Jan. 24 by the FBI, are accused of waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings, false arrests and harassment of those who threatened to report misconduct. They face charges including deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice; all of them have pleaded not guilty.

Maturo is also facing heavy criticism for saying last week that he “might have tacos” as a way to do something for the Latino community in the wake of the arrests. He later apologized for the remark.

Frederick Brow, chairman of the town’s police commission, said Monday that the commission is preparing to vote Tuesday night on whether to recommend to the mayor that Gallo be fired. He said he believes Gallo should not be allowed to retire.

“It’s been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it’s time for Gallo to be terminated,” Brow said.

He estimated that in retirement, Gallo would receive a severance lump sum of $130,000 to $150,000, plus an annual pension of $27,000 to $28,000. Brow said Gallo should not be rewarded for his conduct.

If the commission voted to recommend that Gallo be fired and Maturo agreed to fire him, Gallo would still get the pension but lose the severance pay, Brow said.

The FBI also is targeting additional suspects, and state officials say they are preparing for the possibility of widespread arrests that could cripple the town’s police department.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division, which was separate from the criminal probe, noted concerns in a December report that Gallo had helped created a hostile environment for people who cooperated with federal investigators. It said Gallo had warned staff that the Justice Department had agreed to provide him with the names of individuals who cooperated with the investigation, even though that was not the case.

The federal indictment refers to Gallo as co-conspirator 1, accusing him of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. Gallo’s attorney, Jon Einhorn, has denied those allegations.

Einhorn said Gallo is retiring because he does not want to be a distraction for the town, and his departure is not an admission of guilt. He said Gallo is the target of a lawsuit and could face charges in the criminal probe. He said his client will be vindicated and he does not believe criminal charges would be justified.

He said waiting until the end of the week will give the town time to settle on a retirement package for Gallo. Maturo said the retirement takes effect Friday, and a search for a new chief will begin immediately. Until a new chief is selected, Deputy Chief John Mannion will assume the duties.

More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Maturo to replace Gallo. The petition was started by Reform Immigration for America, the same group that sent hundreds of tacos to Maturo’s office to protest his remark.

State Rep. Andres Ayala Jr., D-Bridgeport, said he and members of the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission met with Maturo on Monday morning, but he declined to elaborate. Ayala and commission members are calling for the resignations of Maturo and Gallo.

“I think it’s the mayor’s responsibility that the police department represent everyone in the community,” Ayala said.

Maturo was mayor from 1997 to 2007 and was re-elected in the fall. After taking office in November, he reinstated Gallo, saying at the time that he did not believe the abuse allegations were true. The previous mayor, April Capone Almon, placed Gallo on administrative leave in April 2010.

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Aransas County Texas Judge William Adams Finally Suspended (But Still Not Charged) After Video Surfaces Of Him Beating His Daughter

November 23, 2011

McALLEN, TEXAS – The Texas Supreme Court suspended a judge Tuesday whose beating of his then-teenage daughter in 2004 was viewed millions of times on the Internet.

Aransas County court-at-law Judge William Adams was suspended immediately with pay pending the outcome of the inquiry started earlier this month by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to an order signed Tuesday by the clerk of the state’s highest court.

The order makes clear that while Adams agreed to the commission’s recommended temporary suspension and waived the hearing and notice requirements, he does not admit “guilt, fault or wrongdoing” regarding the allegations. His attorney did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Adams’ now 23-year-old daughter Hillary Adams uploaded the secretly-recorded 2004 video of her father beating her repeatedly with a belt for making illegal downloads from the internet.

William Adams has not sat on the bench since the video went viral. It has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.

The public outcry over the video was so great that in a rare move, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced publicly Nov. 2 that it had opened an investigation. A statement from the commission then said that it had been flooded with calls, emails and faxes regarding the video and Adams.

William Adams appeared in court Monday for a day-long hearing regarding the custody of his 10-year-old daughter. His wife had sought a change in their joint custody agreement, and another judge imposed a temporary restraining order effectively keeping William Adams from being alone with his younger daughter until he reached a decision. An order was expected in that dispute Wednesday.

As Aransas County’s top judge, William Adams has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children. A visiting judge has been handling his caseload.

After reviewing the investigation conducted by local police, the Aransas County district attorney said too much time had passed to bring charges against William Adams.

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Widespread Abuse Of Illegal Immigrants By U.S. Border Patrol Agents – Beatings, Denied Food And Water, Death Threats, Torture, Etc.

September 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Back in 2006, volunteers with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border, began hearing the same stories from many who had been in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Thwarted would-be unauthorized immigrants spoke of being denied water or food during their custody. Others said they were beaten.

The organization started properly documenting these allegations, and the stories added up to nearly 13,000 testimonies whose results were released in a report this week.

The findings went beyond denial of food and water. Migrants held by the Border Patrol spoke of being exposed to extreme heat or cold, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse such as blaring music with lyrics about migrants dying in the desert.

A previous report by No More Deaths in 2008 raised the same concerns, but now the number of recorded cases point to a systematic problem.

“By this point, the overwhelming weight of the corroborated evidence should eliminate any doubt that Border Patrol abuse is widespread,” the report states.

The Border Patrol responded with a statement highlighting the fact that respect for detainees is taught in training and consistently reinforced during an agent’s career.

“Mistreatment or agent misconduct will not be tolerated in any way,” the statement said. “We appreciate the efforts of individuals to report concerns as soon as they arise and we will continue to cooperate fully with any effort to investigate allegations of agent misconduct or mistreatment of individuals.”

The interviews were conducted with migrants in Naco, Nogales and Agua Prieta, in Mexico’s Sonora state who were in border patrol custody. Although No More Deaths conducted thousands of interviews, in places like Nogales they could only speak with a fraction of the migrants who crossed. This raised the issue of how representative their sample was, said Katerina Sinclair, a statistical consultant on the report.

But in Naco, a smaller town, they were able to speak with enough migrants to have a representative sample. So the report stays away from making conclusions about percentages except for the subset of interviewees from Naco. But despite the difficulties with such an ambitious project, the authors say that the numbers on their own are cause for concern.

Some 2,981 people reported they were denied food, and more than 11,000 said they were given insufficient food by the Border Patrol, the report states.

The report found that 863 people, many of whom were already dehydrated, were denied water.

There were nearly 6,000 cases of overcrowding reported, and almost 3,000 people had at least some personal belongings not returned, the report states.

In addition, 869 people — including 17 children and 41 teenagers — reported that they were split from their families and deported separately.

No More Deaths also recorded instances of sleep deprivation, death threats, and the forced holding of strenuous positions.

“There’s no question that there is systematic abuse of people in Border Patrol custody,” Danielle Alvarado, one of the report’s authors, told CNN.

Although the research focused on migrants in the Arizona border area, the findings are consistent with reports from Border Patrol sectors across the country, she said.

“This systematic abuse must be confronted aggressively at the institutional level, not denied or dismissed as a series of aberrational incidents attributable to a few rogue agents,” the report states.

In its statement, the Border Patrol responded that, “on a daily basis, agents make every effort to ensure that people in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed.”

“The sad reality is that between what they say on paper and the day-to-day reality there is a big disconnect,” Alvarado said.

Brandon Judd, president of Local 2544, the Tucson branch of the National Border Patrol Council, said that it is No More Deaths’ report that is disconnected from reality.

Border patrol agents are law-abiding citizens who believe in accountability, he said. “If these allegations are true, these are crimes,” he said.

There are 3,000 agents in the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, Judd said, and one complaint every two weeks would be considered a lot. Agents also police themselves, he said.

“I can tell you that our agents are the ones who report mistreatment if they see it,” he said.

He was skeptical about the types of questions that were asked and the credibility of the interviewees who were freshly repatriated.

“There’s some glaring weaknesses in the story,” he said.

But Sinclair said that care was taken to make sure that all conclusions were drawn from the Naco sample, which also happened to report the lowest rate of incidents. The questions were also phrased in a way to give credit to the Border Patrol where due.

“We gave them every benefit of the doubt,” she said. But their research shows that “it only gets worse from here.”

“It just doesn’t ring true,” Judd said.

The reports of abuses come as the number of apprehensions along the border has decreased. Increased border enforcement and a slow economic recovery in the United States have reduced the amount of illegal traffic across the border.

Also, No More Deaths reported, the demographics of those being deported have changed. A number of the migrants they interviewed were older and had been in the United States longer. One sample of 100 migrants revealed an average of 14.4 years of living in the United States before deportation.

In light of its report, its authors argue for legally enforceable standards, and a tougher oversight mechanism.

From October of last year to the present, about 115,000 migrants were apprehended by the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

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Oklahoma City Oklahoma Police Officer Maurice Martinez Arrested, Faces 36 Felony Charges For Sexually Abusing Children, Child Pornography, And Child Abuse

April 22, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — An Oklahoma City police officer was in jail Friday night and officially charged with 36 felonies and one misdemeanor for the alleged sexual abuse of several children.

Officer Maurice Martinez has been under investigation since January, when six of his adopted children were taken into state custody. He was arrested and a search warrant executed on their home.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Martinez was abusing children as young as 12.

Investigators said the behavior went on for years, but the officer was repeatedly allowed to adopt children and bring them into his home.

Investigators said Martinez had several images if children on his iPhone and computer. They said he kept his phone locked all the time and only allowed the children to use the phone in his presence.

According to court documents, he allowed his adopted children to physically abuse each other and never notified the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Investigators said they seized videos from his home showing children getting “pummeled by other children” and “hit over the head by Martinez.” A child said he had “food poured on him” and he was “locked outside,” police said.

Since the investigation and Martinez’s first arrest in January, police said he has accused of intimidating witnesses from cooperating with police, conspired with a teenager to break into his home and steal evidence before police could seize it and gave $400 to another victim to send him on a bus to Utah to obstruct the investigation.

Martinez was booked into jail on April 15. He is still in jail, and a bond has not been set.

Martinez is charged with 32 counts of sexual abuse of a child, one count of possession of child pornography and one count of child abuse, among other charges.

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Medford Oregon Police Officer Tyler Terrell Chase Arrested, Charged With Sexual Abuse Of A Minor

April 8, 2011

MEDFORD, OREGON – A Medford police officer has been arrested on a sexual abuse charge for reportedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

The case was investigated by the Central Point Police Department. The details were released Thursday.

Officer Tyler Terrell Chase, 23, was charged with third-degree sexual abuse and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor.

Both are misdemeanor charges.

Central Point police said the girl lives in Central Point.

“At the conclusion of our investigation, it is alleged that Tyler Chase had a sexual relationship with the 17-year-old female,” Central Point police Capt. Chuck Newell said in a news release.

Calls to Central Point police for comment were not immediately returned Thursday night.

A person commits third-degree sexual abuse when the victim does not consent to the sexual contact or the victim is incapable of consent because he or she is not 18 years old.

Chase was lodged in the Jackson County Jail Thursday on $8,000 bail.

He posted bail and was released.

According to the Medford Police Department’s weekly newsletter, Chase was hired by the department in 2009.

He previously served as a community service officer with the department and was assigned to North Medford High School as the school resource officer.

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State Department Official Quits After Criticizing U.S. Military’s Abuse Of WikiLeaks Army Soldier

March 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has resigned after publicly crossing swords with the Pentagon over the treatment of an Army soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military reports and sensitive diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. 

The chain of events that led to Crowley’s exit was set in motion Thursday when Crowley appeared at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar and called the Pentagon’s handling of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is detained at the brig at Quantico, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Crowley’s public criticism angered some at the Pentagon and others across the administration because it put him directly at odds with Defense Department officials who have spent weeks trying to defend Manning’s treatment. The soldier is being detained under near-constant lockdown, and he filed a formal complaint about being forced to strip each night at bedtime.

The State spokesman’s predicament may have worsened further Friday afternoon, when ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Obama during a White House press conference whether he agreed with Crowley.

“With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are,” Obama said. “I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety as well.”

When Tapper pressed the president further, Obama replied tersely, “I think I gave you an answer to the substantive issue.”

Obama never said explicitly whether he agreed with the military’s handling of Manning. White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to elaborate on the president’s remarks.

In a statement Sunday, Crowley, notably made no apology for his remarks, but acknowledged that they made his continued service untenable.

“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law. My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values,” Crowley said.

“Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State,” Crowley said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that she accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret.”

His service, she wrote, “is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.”

According to administration officials, Crowley had been on the outs with Clinton, and rarely accompanied her on her travels abroad. Michael Hammer, President Barack Obama’s NSC spokesman, had been sent to State earlier this year, and some officials expected  him to succeed Crowley, those sources said.

However, other officials offered a somewhat conflicting version of events, saying that Crowley asked for Hammer as a deputy. The two men worked closely together at the NSC when both were spokesmen there during the Clinton Administration. One source denied any rift between Clinton and Crowley, saying the decision for him not to travel was made largely so Crowley could better oversee State’s large public affairs staff.

Crowley made his remarks about Manning in response to a question at an MIT new media roundtable Thursday in Cambridge, Mass.

“I spent 26 years in the Air Force,” Crowley, a retired colonel, said, according to blog posts by two of those present at the MIT discussion. “What is happening to Manning is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don’t know why the DoD is doing it. Nevertheless, Manning is in the right place” in detention.

Manning has formally complained that guards at the brig have harassed him and that commanders there have punished him since he was placed in custody in July.

Manning, 25, faces a possible court-martial for leaking vast troves of classified information. The Army recently upgraded the preliminary charges against him to include aiding the enemy. That can be punishable by death, though Army prosecutors said they did not plan to seek capital punishment in Manning’s case.

Earlier this month, guards began demanding that he strip off all his clothes at night. Defense officials have suggested that the measure was needed to keep Manning from attempting suicide. But Manning’s official complaint notes that Navy psychiatrists who have examined him don’t believe he’s a suicide risk.

Journalist Philippa Thomas and Internet researcher Ethan Zuckerman, who both were at the MIT discussion conference, reported Crowley’s comments.

Thomas said she later asked Crowley if his remarks were on the record. She said he had a one-word reply: “‘Sure.’”

“What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official [U.S. government] policy position,” Crowley told Foreign Policy magazine on Friday. “I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”

“We are aware of Mr. Crowley’s remarks and have since sent him the facts on PFC Manning’s pre-trial confinement,” a Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Dave Lapan, said Saturday.

On Thursday, Manning’s defense lawyer released his client’s latest complaint about his treatment, an 11-page memo that claimed he’s being improperly held on a “prevention of injury” status and required to hand over his clothes to guards each night. The complaint said he was recently given a “smock” to wear at night.

“The determination to strip me of my clothing every night since 2 March 2011 is without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment,” Manning wrote. He said Navy psychiatrists have repeatedly recommended lifting the prevention of injury restrictions but brig commanders have declined.

The order for Manning to strip at night apparently followed what he described as a sarcastic comment he made to guards — that if he were intent on strangling himself, he could use his underwear or flip-flops.

“As the result of concerns for PFC Manning’s personal safety, his undergarments were taken from him during sleeping hours,” Lapan confirmed. “PFC Manning at all times had a bed and a blanket to cover himself. He was not made to stand naked for morning count but, but on one day, he chose to do so. There were no female personnel present at the time. PFC Manning has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night.”

There were immediate signs Sunday that, as a result of his firing, Crowley was becoming a kind of cult hero for the left.

Jane Hamsher, writing on the liberal Firedoglake website, branded Crowley’s abrupt departure as Obama’s “Saturday Night Massacre” — a reference to the resignation of Attorney General Eliot Richardson and his deputy after they refused to carry out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

In recent months, Crowley had been a key spokesperson for the administration on the WikiLeaks issue, sometimes offering harsh assessments of Manning’s alleged conduct.

“Someone inside the United States government violated the trust and confidence placed in him. He downloaded material and passed it to people not authorized to have it. That is a crime. We’re investigating that crime and we’re going to prosecute those responsible,” Crowley told CNN in December.

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