Cadillac Michigan Police Officer Jordan Gross After Turning Up Drunk In Resident’s Backyard After Party

July 11, 2012

CADILLAC, MICHIGAN – A Cadillac bike patrol officer has been fired after he was arrested for disorderly conduct.

According to a press release from Cadillac Police, State Police were called to a home in Cherry Grove township after the resident said there was a person believed to be drunk and in the lake and backyard of their home.

He was identified as Jordan Goss, a seasonal foot and bicycle patrol officer. He was drunk and uncooperative and was arrested, according to Cadillac Police.

The Cadillac Police Department said there was an internal affairs investigation that determined Goss was at a gathering at another home in the area and walked away after being offered a ride home. Although other Cadillac Police officers were at the gathering, it was concluded that there was no wrongdoing on their part, according to CPD.

Cadillac Police determined that Goss violated the department’s code of conduct and he was terminated.

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Veteran El Paso Texas Police Officer Adrian Gonzalez Arrested, Placed On Administrative Duty, And Charged After Drunken Wreck

July 4, 2012

EL PASO, TEXAS – A veteran El Paso police officer has been charged with driving while intoxicated after he allegedly crashed his vehicle into a parked car early Sunday.

Police said officers arrested Adrian Gonzalez, who has been with the department for 18 years, at about 2 a.m. Sunday in the 7800 block of Parral in the Lower Valley. No injuries were reported in the crash.

Police spokesman Sgt. Chris Mears said Gonzalez, 47, was arrested after he apparently struck the parked car and remained on the scene for officers to arrive.

The responding officers recognized Gonzalez, who appeared to be intoxicated, and called a police supervisor to the scene, Mears said. Following an investigation, the officers arrested Gonzalez and booked him into the El Paso County Jail on a $1,000 bond.

Jail records show Gonzalez was booked into the jail at 8:12 a.m. Sunday and released at 10:44 a.m the same day.

Mears said Gonzalez, an officer assigned to the Pebble Hills Regional Command Center, has been placed on administrative duty as officers conduct an “administrative investigation” into his off-duty conduct.

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Birmingham Alabama Police Officer Sharon Maniaci Arrested, Suspended, And Charged With Public Intoxication – Arrested At City Jail

July 4, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – A Birmingham police officer was arrested today on a charge of public intoxication, and has been placed on leave, pending an internal investigation, according to Birmingham Police Capt. Henry Irby.

Officer Sharon Maniaci, 36, was arrested just before 7:30 a.m. at the Birmingham City Jail, Irby said. The officer was off-duty at the time of the arrest, but Irby would not elaborate on why she was at the jail.

Maniaci, a resident of Irondale, has worked for the department three years and is currently on the morning shift in the West Precinct, Irby said.

She was booked into the City Jail and released on $500 bond.

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Edinburgh Indiana Police Officer Christopher McAllister Suspended After Arrest For Drunken Attack On Officers At Indanapolis Motor Speedway The Day Before Indy 500 Race

June 23, 2012

EDINBURGH, INDIANA – An Edinburgh police officer accused of attacking officers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month has been put on unpaid leave as a criminal investigation continues.

24-Hour News 8 news partner the Daily Journal reports the Edinburgh Town Council, which serves as town’s police merit commission, voted to place Officer Christopher McAllister, 44, on unpaid leave until the case is resolved in Marion County.

Because the town does not have a policy regarding what to do when an officer is charged with a crime, the newspaper said, Police Chief Pat Pankey allowed him to continue working and deferred the decision on what should be done to the Town Council.

Police said McAllister and his wife were creating a disturbance May 26 at IMS the day before the Indianapolis 500. When officers confronted them, McAllister attacked officers. He faces charges of battery, resisting law enforcement and public intoxication.

His wife, Shawntel, also resisted officers and even tried to jump on one of them. She was charged with resisting law enforcement and public intoxication.

Dustin Huddleston, the town’s attorney, told the newspaper the council would reconsider McAllister’s status once the criminal case was resolved.

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Kings County California Deputy Sheriff Scott Randall Ward Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Showing Up For Work Drunk

June 6, 2012

HANFORD, CALIFORNIA —Officials say a Kings County Sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he allegedly blundered into work drunk on Monday.

Deputy Scott Randall Ward, 49, aroused suspicion late Monday when a concerned citizen reported smelling alcohol on his breath, sheriff’s officials said.

Authorities called Ward back to the Sheriff’s Office and asked the California Highway Patrol to investigate.

The nine-year KCSO veteran failed a field sobriety test, according to a Sheriff’s Office press statement, and admitted to officers that he had an alcoholic beverage before coming on duty.

“Just because he’s a deputy sheriff doesn’t mean he is above the law,” Assistant Sheriff Dave Putnam said.

“We had good reason to believe he was under the influence and dealt with it immediately.”

Deputies booked Ward into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence. He later posted bail.

Putnam said he has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation.

It’s been a bad several months for law enforcement in Kings County.

In December, Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Simpson was arrested for theft and fraud on duty. He later pleaded guilty in March and is now serving time on house arrest.

Then, in May, the Hanford Police Department arrested one of their own for allegedly distributing drugs.

Ernesto Servin, 30, resigned from the department after investigators found marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription drugs and a handgun stashed in his car.

“We don’t usually see this kind of thing here in Kings County,” Putnam said.

“These on-duty criminal acts reflect badly on us, but the majority of our deputy sheriffs are very ethical and hold themselves to a high ethical standard.

“We’re not proud of what they’ve done. But we won’t try to hide it, either.”

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Miami Florida SWAT Team Called After Nutcase TSA Agents Jeffrey Piccolella And Nicholas Anthony Puccio Trashed Hotel Room, Threw Furniture Out Window, And Shot Into Neighboring Clothing Store

March 29, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – Miami Beach police say two Transportation Security Administration officers partied a little too hard Tuesday night, trashed their South Beach hotel room and then picked up a semi-automatic handgun and shot six rounds out the window.

One bullet pierced a $1,500 hurricane impact resistant window at a nearby Barneys New York, penetrated a wall and tore into some jeans in the closed store’s stockroom, according to store manager Adelchi Mancusi.

No one was injured.

Jeffrey Piccolella, 27, and Nicholas Anthony Puccio, 25, were arrested just before midnight. The Palm Beach County men have been charged with criminal mischief and use of a firearm while under the influence.

In a city known for wild, late-night behavior, merely tossing speakers, lamps, a phone, ice chest and vase out a second floor room at the Hotel Shelley, 844 Collins. Ave., might not have drawn much attention.

But according to an incident report, a front desk clerk and security guard called police about 11:18 p.m. after they heard one gun shot, followed by three to five more after a few seconds. When the clerk went back inside the hotel, a guest told him someone was throwing furniture and bric-a-brac out the window of room 217, where Piccolella and Puccio were staying the night.

Detective Vivian Hernandez, a police spokeswoman, said officers arrived and, after a shell casing was found on the ground amid broken room furnishings, the SWAT team was called out.

Investigators went to the mens’ room and then took them to police headquarters.

In a recorded interview, Piccolella told a detective he and Puccio were drinking before returning to their hotel room, according to the incident report. He allegedly said they opened a window, tossed several objects out and then Piccolella grabbed a .380-calliber pistol from his luggage and they took turns shooting out the window.

Puccio said the story was untrue, according to the report.

Police impounded the gun.

Hotel management said $400 in furniture was destroyed.

The two men were booked at the Pre-Trial Detention Center on $5,500 bond each.

TSA spokesman Jon Allen wrote in an email that Piccolella and Puccio are part-time officers who have worked one and two years, respectively, for the agency. They were not in Miami Beach on TSA business, according to Allen.

“TSA holds its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards,” Allen wrote. “We will review the facts and take appropriate action as necessary.”

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Drunk Former Kanawha County West Virginia Police Officer Matthew Allan Leavitt Found Passed Out Behild Wheel On Exit Ramp – Previously Served Federal Prison Time After Beating Man And Falsely Arresting His Victim’s Wife

March 6, 2012

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA – A former eastern Kanawha County police officer was arrested after police found him passed out over the wheel of his SUV blocking an exit ramp in Dunbar.

Dunbar Patrolman J.A. Payne was dispatched early Sunday to the Interstate 64 eastbound exit ramp at Dunbar after motorists reported the vehicle.

Payne found a black Nissan SUV sitting in the middle of the ramp and identified the driver as Matthew Allan Leavitt, 34, of Charleston, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Leavitt was passed out and slumped over the wheel with the vehicle, which was running and shifted into drive.

The officer tried to wake Leavitt. Leavitt came to but could not answer any of the officer’s questions and kept slumping back over the wheel. Payne wrote in the complaint that he could smell alcohol coming from Leavitt’s face.

Paramedics went to the scene to check Leavitt out. Leavitt was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slow and slurred, the complaint said.

Leavitt was cleared to perform field sobriety tests but refused them. He refused a breath test and a blood test.

Leavitt told Payne he had consumed “several” alcoholic beverages and that he was “just trying to make it home,” the complaint said.

Leavitt pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009 to violating a couple’s rights while working as a police officer in Montgomery in 2008. He admitted to beating Twan Reynolds, a black man, with a slapjack and arrested Reynolds’s wife, Lauren Santella-Reynolds, who is white, on a charge of driving under the influence without probable cause.

He was sentenced in September 2009 to two years in federal prison and two years supervised release.

Leavitt was arrested Sunday for driving under the influence, failure to submit a breath test and obstructing the road. He was released from South Central Regional Jail on bond.

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Drunk Russian Police Officer Hits Three Young Girls With His Car, One Of Whom Died After Being Run Over Again By Responding Ambulance

October 21, 2010

SIBERIA, RUSSIA – A RUSSIAN police officer hit three girls with his car while driving drunk in Siberia and one was killed after being run over by the ambulance sent to treat them.

The police officer, who was driving his personal car, ran into the three girls on Tuesday as they walked at night on the side of the road near Kargosok, a town in the Tomsk region, the local interior ministry said.

One of the girls, aged 15, was then run over and killed by an ambulance that arrived at the scene, the ministry said.

The other two girls were being treated in hospital for head wounds and were in stable condition, it said.

The incident was the latest in a string of scandals involving Russian police hitting pedestrians while driving drunk.

In a separate incident, prosecutors in the Kursk region south of Moscow said that a member of the local police had been identified as the driver who fled the scene after hitting and killing a 16-year-old girl with his car on Monday.

“The investigation has identified the person responsible for this accident as the assistant to the chief of police in the Sovietsky district, who was drunk,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

In April, a drunk police officer hit a woman and her nine-year-old granddaughter with his car near Moscow, killing the girl. In March, another drunk police officer ran into and killed a pregnant woman in Moscow.

Scandals involving Russian police officials – from murder to extortion to corruption – have increased in recent years.

Fatal traffic accidents are also frequent in Russia and are often linked to dilapidated roads, poor adherence to safety rules and drunk driving.

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Chief Delaware State Alcohol Enforcment Offical Siobahn Sullivan Quits Amid Suspension After DUI Arrest While Speeding

October 9, 2010

DOVER, DELAWARE – The head of the agency charged with enforcing Delaware’s alcohol laws has resigned after being arrested for drunken driving.

Siobahn Sullivan submitted her resignation letter to Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lewis Schiliro on Friday, saying she was resigning effective immediately as director of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.

Sullivan was stopped for speeding early Thursday on Route 1 near Lewes and subsequently charged with drunken driving. The 45-year-old Sullivan was released pending arraignment, which is scheduled for Oct. 22., and had been placed on administrative leave with pay.

Sullivan is a retired state police sergeant and was the commander of the executive protection unit assigned to former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

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All Charges Dropped Against Chicago Illinois Police Officer John Ardelean For Drunken Thanksgiving Day Wreck That Killed Two People

June 5, 2010

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Erick Lagunas’ family came to court Friday morning clinging to the slimmest of hopes.

But their 2½-year quest for justice ended in bitter tears, as the Chicago Police officer they say killed Lagunas and his friend, Miguel Flores, in a Thanksgiving Day 2007 drunken-driving crash walked out of the 26th and California courthouse a free man.

“It’s a joke — they say we can continue with a civil suit,” said Mayra Lagunas, 22, Erick Lagunas’ cousin. “But no amount of money is ever going to bring Erick back.”

Cook County prosecutors met privately with the Lagunas family Friday morning, gently telling them they had no choice but to drop the aggravated drunken-driving and reckless homicide charges against officer John Ardelean. Prosecutors said their case fell apart after Cook County Judge Thomas Gainer Jr. threw out key evidence against Ardelean in late April.

The Lagunas family couldn’t stand to be in the courtroom when the case was officially dismissed. The family — knowing what was coming — said they couldn’t bear to look at the police officer’s face.

A few moments later, Ardelean — wearing dark sunglasses and surrounded by four beefy men in casual clothing — walked briskly down the courthouse steps. Reporters barked questions at him, but he said nothing and offered no hint of his feelings.

Tom Needham, Ardelean’s attorney, said his client’s silence shouldn’t be mistaken for indifference.

“He’s always been upset and distraught and completely understanding of the emotion and anger on the other side of this case,” Needham said. “But he’s always insisted he didn’t commit a crime that night.”

Prosecutors made two attempts to prove that Ardelean did. After the two-vehicle fatal crash Nov. 22 in Roscoe Village, Ardelean was charged with misdemeanor DUI — later upgraded to a felony. But those charges were dismissed when Cook County Judge Don Panarese ruled there was “no indication” Ardelean, who was off-duty at the time, was drunk. Prosecutors reinstated charges after saying they had a lengthy surveillance videotape showing Ardelean drinking five shots and other drinks at a North Side bar shortly before the crash.

Prosecutors also suggested in pretrial hearings that police the night of the crash turned a blind eye to Ardelean’s intoxication. Among other things, he wasn’t arrested or given a Breathalyzer until seven hours after the crash. But Gainer ruled in April that the supervising officer who ultimately made the arrest didn’t have strong enough evidence to do so. Gainer’s ruling also suppressed key blood-alcohol evidence.

That ruling sparked a furious reaction, resulting in the arrest of three of Flores’ relatives after they scuffled with sheriff’s deputies.

Flores’ relatives didn’t show up Friday. Lagunas’ family said that’s because the Flores family knew how the case would end.

In a written statement, prosecutors said they’d done “extensive and in-depth” research but found there weren’t sufficient grounds to appeal Gainer’s ruling or continue with the case.

Ardelean is currently on administrative leave and has been relieved of his police powers, pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement.

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Baltimore Maryland Police Officer Sgt. Duane Henry Covered Up Governor’s 18 Year Old Daughter Being Unconscious From Alcohol Poisoning

June 4, 2010

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – A Baltimore police officer suspected Gov. Martin O’Malley’s unconscious 18-year-old daughter had alcohol poisoning and called for medical help, according to police calls released Friday.

A dispatcher questioned if alcohol poisoning was the reason the officer needed an ambulance for Tara O’Malley at Inner Harbor on May 27 and Sgt. Duane Henry said it was.

During a cell phone call to the dispatcher, Henry was careful to note that the young woman was the governor’s daughter and that he didn’t want it to be broadcast over the police radio.

“The governor’s daughter is passed out over here,” Henry said, adding: “I can’t put that on the air.”

Gov. O’Malley’s wife, Baltimore District Judge Katie O’Malley, issued a statement a day later, saying her daughter had attended a graduation celebration before she “became ill and received medical treatment.” She called it a “teachable moment” and asked that the family’s privacy be respected. The statement did not mention alcohol as the cause.

Police released recordings of the 911 call and cell exchange in response to a Public Information Act request by The Associated Press and other media.

According to the police report, Tara O’Malley “appeared to be unconscious” at about 7:30 p.m. She was treated and released from Harbor Hospital the same night.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said phone calls from a police officer to a dispatcher normally are not made public, but the decision was made after consulting with the governor’s office. It was a police department decision to make the calls public and the governor’s office agreed.

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Veteran Billings Montana Police Officer Curtis Eckhardt Arrested, Charged, And Suspended After Drunken Piss In Public Park At Concert. Veteran Officer Steve Swanson Hospitalized And Under Investigation After Drunken Wreck

June 1, 2010

BILLINGS, MONTANA – Two Billings police officers face an uncertain future after one was arrested for urinating in public during a concert at MetraPark and another crashed his car, possibly while drunk. Both incidents took place over the weekend.

Police Chief Rich St. John said Tuesday morning that Officer Curtis Eckhardt is on paid administrative leave after he was arrested Friday night by Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies for urinating in public in the arena at MetraPark. Eckhardt, 51, was attending a concert by Styx, Foreigner and Kansas.

According to a sheriff’s report, Eckhardt was detained by MetraPark security after ushers saw him with his genitalia exposed and “urinating among the crowd in the arena area.” Sheriff’s deputies arrived at about 11:05 p.m. and took Eckhardt into custody.

He was taken to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and was released after receiving a citation for disorderly conduct.

St. John said Eckhardt was intoxicated but cooperative with sheriff’s deputies. St. John said someone complained to ushers about Eckhardt’s behavior, and the ushers then called security and the sheriff’s office.

“He is on administrative leave pending the disposition of this and the internal affairs investigation,” St. John said. “There is no indication that he caused any problems for the deputies.”

St. John said Deputy Police Chief Tim O’Connell will investigate the incident. Eckhardt has been with the department for almost 22 years and works as a patrolman.

Just before 11 p.m. Saturday night, Officer Steve Swanson crashed his personal car in the 3100 block of Hillcrest Road. According to information from St. John, Swanson was heading south on the road and going around a bend when his right tires went off the road. Swanson overcorrected, crossed the road and went into the ditch on the other side. The car hit the ditch hard and went end over end before it rolled on its side, eventually landing on the passenger side.

Swanson wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and both speed and alcohol were factors in the crash, St. John said. Swanson was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and is still in the hospital with broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a damaged spleen, St. John said.

“He’s extremely fortunate to not have been ejected and not seriously injured or killed,” St. John said.

The Montana Highway Patrol responded to the crash and is investigating. The MHP took a blood sample from Swanson but haven’t issued any citations yet, St. John said. The Police Department has begun an investigation but won’t take any action against Swanson until his condition improves and the MHP can determine what happened in the crash, St. John said.

Swanson is a 13-year veteran currently assigned to the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force. He has served on the city’s SWAT team.

St. John said he was extremely disappointed in the behavior of both officers.

“We work very hard to gain the public’s trust and this knocks us backward,” he said. “To have our officers involved in such shameful activity is not only a violation of the public’s trust but a complete dishonor to this department and the officers who uphold the integrity and honor that goes along with the badge.”

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Minnesota Supreme Court Pretty Much Negates Breath Test Results Until Prosecutors Can Come Up With Machine’s Source Code – Thousands Of Drunk Driving Cases Suddenly In Jeopardy

May 3, 2009

MINNESOTA – Minnesota may be forced to drop thousands of driving-while-impaired cases and change the way it prosecutes others in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed.

The state’s highest court ruled that defendants in drunken-driving cases have the right to make prosecutors turn over the computer “source code” that runs the Intoxilyzer breath-testing device to determine whether the device’s results are reliable.

But there’s a problem: Prosecutors can’t turn over the code because they don’t have it.

The Kentucky company that makes the Intoxilyzer says the code is a trade secret and has refused to release it, thus complicating DWI prosecutions.

“There’s going to be significant difficulty to prosecutors across the state to getting convictions when we can’t utilize evidence to show the levels of the defendant’s intoxication,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

“In the short term, it’s going to cause significant problems with holding offenders accountable because of this problem of not being able to obtain this source code.”

Law enforcement officers can still have a motorist’s blood-alcohol level determined through blood tests or urinalysis, but that option comes with a pricey, time-consuming caveat: Most of those tests are done only in the lab run by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul.

“The BCA labs are overwhelmed now with their current workload, and I’m not sure they
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can handle doing blood and urinalysis tests in all DWI cases in Minnesota,” said Backstrom. “It’s going to be a big problem.”

“I think there’s going to be a lot more blood and urine tests asked for,” said Derek Patrin, an attorney involved in the cases decided by the Supreme Court. “And that will back up the BCA. They’re short-staffed already, and with the budget crisis we’ve got already, well, that’s one of the reasons they wanted to use the Intoxilyzer in the first place. It was inexpensive to use.”

Andy Skoogman, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, the BCA’s parent agency, said officials there felt it was “premature” to stop using the Intoxilyzer. But he said the lab would be able to handle the workload if police agencies switched to blood tests and urinalyses.

“The BCA will make adjustments,” he said. “We’ll look at retraining staff and perhaps look at purchasing more test kits until this situation is resolved.”

The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is the standard device used by Minnesota police to determine if a driver is impaired. The state bought 260 of the machines from the manufacturer, CMI of Kentucky, in 1997, and state law presumes the devices’ results to be reliable.

The device is used with nearly eight of every 10 suspected drunken drivers who are tested in Minnesota.

But defense attorneys have argued that if they can’t examine the source code, the computer program that runs the machine, they have no way to tell if the Intoxilyzer is reliable. District judges across Minnesota have handled defense requests for the source code with a patchwork of rulings: Some say a defendant has a right to examine it; others say it isn’t relevant.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came in two driving-while-impaired cases that Backstrom’s office prosecuted. In each, district judges ordered that the source code be turned over to the defendants, but when Backstrom appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the rulings were overturned.

The appeals court said the defendants hadn’t shown why getting the source code was relevant to their guilt or innocence.

But the Supreme Court said that at least one of those defendants showed that the code was relevant. The court noted in its 18-page ruling a list of evidence that defense attorneys may now use as a blueprint to request the source code.

Police had stopped the defendant, Timothy Arlen Brunner, 38, of Farmington, in July 2007 and the Intoxilyzer showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.18. Minnesota law presumes that a driver with a concentration greater than 0.08 is impaired.

Patrin, his attorney, asked a district judge to order prosecutors to turn over the source code. He accompanied his request with a memorandum and nine exhibits. Among them: a computer science professor’s testimony that defects had been found in the code used in voting machines, as well as a report saying problems had been found in the code used in the breath-testing machine used by police in New Jersey.

The Supreme Court said Brunner’s submissions “show that an analysis of the source code may reveal deficiencies that could challenge the reliability of the Intoxilyzer and, in turn, would relate to Brunner’s guilt or innocence.”

Skoogman, the Department of Public Safety spokesman, said the agency was disappointed in the ruling.

“We feel it is premature at this stage of the game for our law enforcement partners to test for only blood and urine,” Skoogman said. “We continue to stand by the Intoxilyzer and the accuracy of the test results. Our message to law enforcement is to stay the course at this point as we examine our options.”

The state’s access to the source code is the subject of a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Hearings are scheduled in the case May 22 and June 4.

Backstrom said the source code issue would haunt prosecutors until it is resolved, and the Supreme Court decision makes things worse.

“I believe that this decision is a significant setback to law enforcement’s ability to protect our communities from drunk driving, at least in the short term,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to use the Intoxilyzer machine until we get the source code.”

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Minnesota Supreme Court Pretty Much Negates Breath Test Results Until Prosecutors Can Come Up With Machine’s Source Code – Thousands Of Drunk Driving Cases Suddenly In Jeopardy

May 3, 2009

MINNESOTA – Minnesota may be forced to drop thousands of driving-while-impaired cases and change the way it prosecutes others in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed.

The state’s highest court ruled that defendants in drunken-driving cases have the right to make prosecutors turn over the computer “source code” that runs the Intoxilyzer breath-testing device to determine whether the device’s results are reliable.

But there’s a problem: Prosecutors can’t turn over the code because they don’t have it.

The Kentucky company that makes the Intoxilyzer says the code is a trade secret and has refused to release it, thus complicating DWI prosecutions.

“There’s going to be significant difficulty to prosecutors across the state to getting convictions when we can’t utilize evidence to show the levels of the defendant’s intoxication,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

“In the short term, it’s going to cause significant problems with holding offenders accountable because of this problem of not being able to obtain this source code.”

Law enforcement officers can still have a motorist’s blood-alcohol level determined through blood tests or urinalysis, but that option comes with a pricey, time-consuming caveat: Most of those tests are done only in the lab run by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul.

“The BCA labs are overwhelmed now with their current workload, and I’m not sure they
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can handle doing blood and urinalysis tests in all DWI cases in Minnesota,” said Backstrom. “It’s going to be a big problem.”

“I think there’s going to be a lot more blood and urine tests asked for,” said Derek Patrin, an attorney involved in the cases decided by the Supreme Court. “And that will back up the BCA. They’re short-staffed already, and with the budget crisis we’ve got already, well, that’s one of the reasons they wanted to use the Intoxilyzer in the first place. It was inexpensive to use.”

Andy Skoogman, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, the BCA’s parent agency, said officials there felt it was “premature” to stop using the Intoxilyzer. But he said the lab would be able to handle the workload if police agencies switched to blood tests and urinalyses.

“The BCA will make adjustments,” he said. “We’ll look at retraining staff and perhaps look at purchasing more test kits until this situation is resolved.”

The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is the standard device used by Minnesota police to determine if a driver is impaired. The state bought 260 of the machines from the manufacturer, CMI of Kentucky, in 1997, and state law presumes the devices’ results to be reliable.

The device is used with nearly eight of every 10 suspected drunken drivers who are tested in Minnesota.

But defense attorneys have argued that if they can’t examine the source code, the computer program that runs the machine, they have no way to tell if the Intoxilyzer is reliable. District judges across Minnesota have handled defense requests for the source code with a patchwork of rulings: Some say a defendant has a right to examine it; others say it isn’t relevant.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came in two driving-while-impaired cases that Backstrom’s office prosecuted. In each, district judges ordered that the source code be turned over to the defendants, but when Backstrom appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the rulings were overturned.

The appeals court said the defendants hadn’t shown why getting the source code was relevant to their guilt or innocence.

But the Supreme Court said that at least one of those defendants showed that the code was relevant. The court noted in its 18-page ruling a list of evidence that defense attorneys may now use as a blueprint to request the source code.

Police had stopped the defendant, Timothy Arlen Brunner, 38, of Farmington, in July 2007 and the Intoxilyzer showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.18. Minnesota law presumes that a driver with a concentration greater than 0.08 is impaired.

Patrin, his attorney, asked a district judge to order prosecutors to turn over the source code. He accompanied his request with a memorandum and nine exhibits. Among them: a computer science professor’s testimony that defects had been found in the code used in voting machines, as well as a report saying problems had been found in the code used in the breath-testing machine used by police in New Jersey.

The Supreme Court said Brunner’s submissions “show that an analysis of the source code may reveal deficiencies that could challenge the reliability of the Intoxilyzer and, in turn, would relate to Brunner’s guilt or innocence.”

Skoogman, the Department of Public Safety spokesman, said the agency was disappointed in the ruling.

“We feel it is premature at this stage of the game for our law enforcement partners to test for only blood and urine,” Skoogman said. “We continue to stand by the Intoxilyzer and the accuracy of the test results. Our message to law enforcement is to stay the course at this point as we examine our options.”

The state’s access to the source code is the subject of a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Hearings are scheduled in the case May 22 and June 4.

Backstrom said the source code issue would haunt prosecutors until it is resolved, and the Supreme Court decision makes things worse.

“I believe that this decision is a significant setback to law enforcement’s ability to protect our communities from drunk driving, at least in the short term,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to use the Intoxilyzer machine until we get the source code.”

Appeared Here


Chicago Illinois Police Detective Joseph Frugoli Released On Bail After Killing 2 People In Drunken Crash

April 13, 2009

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Chicago Detective Joseph Frugoli is out on $500,000 bail after prosecutors said he had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit during the crash.

A raucous confrontation broke out Sunday outside Cook County Criminal Court after a Chicago police detective charged with causing a deadly auto crash while driving drunk was ordered released on $500,000 bail.

The fight highlighted the outrage underlying the case.

As they streamed out of the noontime hearing, many of the 75 friends and relatives of the two young victims were shouting and crying, angered that Joseph Frugoli, an 18-year veteran of the Chicago force, could be set free while the case makes its way through court.

When more than a dozen courthouse police chased down one especially loud and angry man outside, threw him to the ground and hauled him into the courthouse, the crowd got angrier. People yelled “pigs,” “cowards” and other hostile words about Frugoli, specifically, and the police in general.

“If I hit your kids, it would be a different story! ” one man shouted as Cook County sheriff’s officers created a human barrier on the front steps of the courthouse.

“Only $500,000—that’s what two lives are worth?!” yelled another member of the crowd, referring to Andrew Cazares, 23, and Fausto Manzera, 21, the two men killed Friday in the fiery crash.

“Put that guy in jail, that’s where he belongs!” a young woman yelled.

The non-violent standoff came after the prosecutor and defense attorney laid out new claims about the crash and Frugoli—some of them conflicting.

Frugoli, a burly man who appeared in court in jeans and a long-sleeve polo shirt, has been charged with two counts each of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, plus one count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Authorities said his blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit. He was released from custody Sunday after posting $50,000, 10 percent of the bail, said Steve Patterson, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Police said the crash occurred around 3:30 a.m. Friday in Chicago on the southbound Dan Ryan Expressway north of 18th Street, after Cazares pulled his 1995 red Dodge Intrepid over to wait for help, possibly with a flat tire.

John Dillon, an assistant state’s attorney who sought an “extremely high bond,” said that Frugoli’s blood-alcohol level was 0.277 when his 2008 Lexus SUV crashed into the Dodge, and that he was driving 60 to 65 m.p.h., which was above the speed limit.

According to witnesses, Dillon said, the impact propelled the Dodge forward as if it “had been shot from a cannon” and caused it to explode like “a bomb went off.”

When officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation arrived, Frugoli tried to flee on foot until he was stopped by an official from the department, Dillon said.

Frugoli’s defense attorney, Gregg Smith, said the Dodge was stopped in the right-hand lane with its lights off, not pulled off to the shoulder, as the prosecution said. Smith said there was no proof that Frugoli was speeding and that he was not trying to flee when he started to walk away from the scene.

“My client was disoriented,” said Smith, who sought a $200,000 bail, which he said was “reasonable.”

Frugoli, he insisted, “wasn’t trying to evade arrest.”

Smith portrayed Frugoli as a committed police officer born and raised in Chicago whose strong family ties prevented him from being a flight risk.

Frugoli’s ex-wife and 16-year-old daughter live in the city, Smith said.

Frugoli lives in a three-flat with his brother and his brother’s three children. His father, who died in 2007, and his mother, who recently died, used to live in the three-flat as well.

He said Frugoli’s father served in the Chicago Police Department, and that Frugoli has received honor and distinction for his service on the force.

Dillon pointed out that Frugoli, who has been relieved of his police powers, had a history of driving dangerously, pointing to a 2005 crash and a 1990 speeding ticket.

Last week, a Cook County judge ordered Frugoli to pay more than $7,000 in damages in a civil case involving the 2005 crash, in which Frugoli struck a 61-year-old man’s vehicle from behind on the Dan Ryan, pushing it into a median wall. Frugoli, who denied consuming alcohol before that crash, was cited with failure to reduce speed, but the ticket was dropped.

In 1990, Frugoli was cited with driving 80 m.p.h. in a 50-m.p.h. zone and with disregarding a stop sign in 2008, but those tickets also were thrown out, court documents show.

Smith said Frugoli did not have a criminal history and that receiving traffic tickets was not unusual. “We’ve all had traffic incidents,” Smith said.

But many of the friends and relatives of Cazares and Manzera, already devastated by the loss of their loved ones, saw the $500,000 bail as a sign that Frugoli was receiving special treatment because he is a police officer.

“We’re upset by the decision,” said Mike Angelo, a friend of the victims.

Ed Page, a friend of Cazares, offered his blunt assessment of Frugoli: “He’s a murderer.”

Appeared Here


Dumbass Lorain Ohio Law Director Mark Provenza Goes To Jail And Resigns After Showing Up Drunk For Court Ordered Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet

April 2, 2009

LORAIN, OHIO  The city of Lorain is looking for a new law director.

Embattled Law Director Mark Provenza resigned Tuesday, a day after being sent back to jail for violating his probation.

Provenza had just been released from jail after serving 90 days for DUI, when he went to get a blood monitoring ankle bracelet as part of his probation release.

According to Lorain City Auditor Ron Mantini, prior to having the bracelet put on, Provenza admitted he had been drinking beer and he was immediately put back in jail.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko says Provenza stepped down after Krasienko sent city officials to speak with Provenza about resigning. Had Provenza not stepped down, Krasienko says he would have pursued action to have him removed.

Provenza pleaded no contest last year to charges from a DUI in Lakewood. He was picked up not long after ramming his wife’s minivan into the front porch of a home on Bunts Road near I-90. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation for five years.

In 2004, Provenza spent five days in the Bay Village jail after a DUI arrest. He was also convicted of DUI for hitting a Lakewood fire hydrant and pleaded down a Parma Heights DUI to reckless operation.

Appeared Here


Dumbass Lorain Ohio Law Director Mark Provenza Goes To Jail And Resigns After Showing Up Drunk For Court Ordered Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet

April 2, 2009

LORAIN, OHIO  The city of Lorain is looking for a new law director.

Embattled Law Director Mark Provenza resigned Tuesday, a day after being sent back to jail for violating his probation.

Provenza had just been released from jail after serving 90 days for DUI, when he went to get a blood monitoring ankle bracelet as part of his probation release.

According to Lorain City Auditor Ron Mantini, prior to having the bracelet put on, Provenza admitted he had been drinking beer and he was immediately put back in jail.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko says Provenza stepped down after Krasienko sent city officials to speak with Provenza about resigning. Had Provenza not stepped down, Krasienko says he would have pursued action to have him removed.

Provenza pleaded no contest last year to charges from a DUI in Lakewood. He was picked up not long after ramming his wife’s minivan into the front porch of a home on Bunts Road near I-90. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation for five years.

In 2004, Provenza spent five days in the Bay Village jail after a DUI arrest. He was also convicted of DUI for hitting a Lakewood fire hydrant and pleaded down a Parma Heights DUI to reckless operation.

Appeared Here


33 Year Veteran Montgomery County Maryland Police Officer Fernando Martinez Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Drunken Wreck In His Patrol Car

March 29, 2009

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver’s side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer’s breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

Appeared Here


33 Year Veteran Montgomery County Maryland Police Officer Fernando Martinez Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Drunken Wreck In His Patrol Car

March 29, 2009

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver’s side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer’s breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

Appeared Here


Dumbass Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Pestow’s Facebook Page Included Cruiser Crash Photos, Photo Of Indianapolis Police Officer Andrew Deddish Holding A Gun To His Head, Wanting To Kill The Homeless, Etc.

March 27, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – An Indiana State Trooper is under investigation for what some call compromising photos and statements he posted on the Internet.

Police say what 13 Investigates found on Trooper Chris Pestow’s personal Facebook page is embarrassing and might even be against the law. Some of the entries showed Pestow with a .357 Magnum pointed at his head, drinking what he described as lots of beer with his buddies and lewd horseplay.

Over the past several months, Pestow has used his Facebook page to brag of heavy drinking. He also posted pictures of a crash involving his ISP cruiser.

“Oops! Where did my front end go?” he wrote when he posted the picture. Later, while discussing the accident with his friends on Facebook, Pestow added, “kiss my butt, Not my fault.:)”

And he isn’t shy about sharing his views of police work, referring to himself as not a state trooper, but as a “garbage man.” His Facebook page said, “I pick up trash for a living.”

Pestow also weighed in on the issue of people who resist arrest and threaten police officers. Referring to an incident in California in which Fresno Police officers punched a homeless man during his arrest, Pestow wrote: “Let someone, homeless or not, try and stab me with a pen, knife, spoon, etc, not only will he fail, he’ll probably end up shot. These people should have died when they were young anyway, i’m just doing them a favor.” [sic]

Eyewitness News interviewed Pestow in December 2008 while he was responding to traffic accidents on an icy stretch of I-465. He wasn’t happy about the icy conditions, and we know that because after the interview, at 5:42 a.m., his Facebook page has this entry: “Chris Pestow is very mad @ whoever is responsible for this awful weather.”

Now, the Indiana State Police may be very mad at him.

“There has been an internal investigation started,” said ISP Major Carlos Pettiford, adding that investigators are trying to determine if the photos and information posted on Pestow’s Facebook page violate department rules.

Pettiford says the state’s biggest concern is that Trooper Pestow may have been Facebook-ing while you were paying for it.

ISP records show Pestow was on duty during the early morning hours of February 11. That day at 2 a.m., an entry on his Facebook page reads “Chris Pestow is NOT working in the rain.”

On February 19, while state records indicate Pestow was working his overnight shift, the Trooper’s Facebook site shows this entry at 3:22 a.m.: “It’s cold AND snowing?!?! I can’t possibly work in these conditions.”

And on November 28 at 1:20 a.m., ISP says Pestow was supposed to be on duty at the same time he apparently wrote, “Chris Pestow is keeping the mean streets of Fishers safe and free of trash.”

A friend quickly responded to that post.

“Hmmmm. how are u keeping the streets safe … if u r on facebook? :),” the friend wrote.

ISP is wondering the same thing.

“That’s a clear violation. We know that right off the bat,” said Major Pettiford. “When they’re working, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be doing is working, not playing or writing on the internet unless it’s for department business.”

Pestow isn’t the only one who is now facing possible punishment.

The man holding the gun to his head in one of the photos is also a police officer. Andrew Deddish works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and officials there are not happy with the picture.

“We’re trained [that] we don’t point firearms at anything we don’t plan to shoot,” said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.

Thompson said Deddish is now facing an internal investigation, because pointing a gun at someone is against state law and because he says a police officer should know better.

“It’s embarrassing. We’re always under public scrutiny. We hold a position that’s a trust to the public. You’re expected to act accordingly,” Thompson said.

So what were the officers thinking by posing for the picture and later posting it on the internet?
“They weren’t thinking,” said Thompson. “It was an error in judgment … so now there has to be accountability and that’s what we’re going to do.”

13 Investigates tried to reach Chris Pestow through his family and friends, but the state Trooper has not responded to WTHR’s request for an interview.

Pettiford said ISP contacted Pestow Monday – the same day WTHR contacted ISP to ask about the photos and information posted on the Facebook page — to inform the state officer he was the focus of an internal investigation. Pestow did remove his Facebook page from the Internet that same afternoon, but not before 13 Investigates, State Police and IMPD had a very good look at it.

ISP is currently in the process of drafting a Standard Operating Procedure for all department staff regarding posting information on personal web pages such as Facebook.

“These are new times,” Pettiford said. “We didn’t have Facebook when I got into law enforcement, but nowadays it’s out there so we’re putting together a policy.”

Officials told Eyewitness News both Pestow and Deddish will remain on paid duty while their departments conduct the internal investigations, which will probably take several weeks.

Police say this situation should provide a powerful reminder to all of us: don’t post anything on the Internet that you would not want to see on the news.

Appeared Here


Dumbass Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Pestow’s Facebook Page Included Cruiser Crash Photos, Photo Of Indianapolis Police Officer Andrew Deddish Holding A Gun To His Head, Wanting To Kill The Homeless, Etc.

March 27, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – An Indiana State Trooper is under investigation for what some call compromising photos and statements he posted on the Internet.

Police say what 13 Investigates found on Trooper Chris Pestow’s personal Facebook page is embarrassing and might even be against the law. Some of the entries showed Pestow with a .357 Magnum pointed at his head, drinking what he described as lots of beer with his buddies and lewd horseplay.

Over the past several months, Pestow has used his Facebook page to brag of heavy drinking. He also posted pictures of a crash involving his ISP cruiser.

“Oops! Where did my front end go?” he wrote when he posted the picture. Later, while discussing the accident with his friends on Facebook, Pestow added, “kiss my butt, Not my fault.:)”

And he isn’t shy about sharing his views of police work, referring to himself as not a state trooper, but as a “garbage man.” His Facebook page said, “I pick up trash for a living.”

Pestow also weighed in on the issue of people who resist arrest and threaten police officers. Referring to an incident in California in which Fresno Police officers punched a homeless man during his arrest, Pestow wrote: “Let someone, homeless or not, try and stab me with a pen, knife, spoon, etc, not only will he fail, he’ll probably end up shot. These people should have died when they were young anyway, i’m just doing them a favor.” [sic]

Eyewitness News interviewed Pestow in December 2008 while he was responding to traffic accidents on an icy stretch of I-465. He wasn’t happy about the icy conditions, and we know that because after the interview, at 5:42 a.m., his Facebook page has this entry: “Chris Pestow is very mad @ whoever is responsible for this awful weather.”

Now, the Indiana State Police may be very mad at him.

“There has been an internal investigation started,” said ISP Major Carlos Pettiford, adding that investigators are trying to determine if the photos and information posted on Pestow’s Facebook page violate department rules.

Pettiford says the state’s biggest concern is that Trooper Pestow may have been Facebook-ing while you were paying for it.

ISP records show Pestow was on duty during the early morning hours of February 11. That day at 2 a.m., an entry on his Facebook page reads “Chris Pestow is NOT working in the rain.”

On February 19, while state records indicate Pestow was working his overnight shift, the Trooper’s Facebook site shows this entry at 3:22 a.m.: “It’s cold AND snowing?!?! I can’t possibly work in these conditions.”

And on November 28 at 1:20 a.m., ISP says Pestow was supposed to be on duty at the same time he apparently wrote, “Chris Pestow is keeping the mean streets of Fishers safe and free of trash.”

A friend quickly responded to that post.

“Hmmmm. how are u keeping the streets safe … if u r on facebook? :),” the friend wrote.

ISP is wondering the same thing.

“That’s a clear violation. We know that right off the bat,” said Major Pettiford. “When they’re working, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be doing is working, not playing or writing on the internet unless it’s for department business.”

Pestow isn’t the only one who is now facing possible punishment.

The man holding the gun to his head in one of the photos is also a police officer. Andrew Deddish works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and officials there are not happy with the picture.

“We’re trained [that] we don’t point firearms at anything we don’t plan to shoot,” said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.

Thompson said Deddish is now facing an internal investigation, because pointing a gun at someone is against state law and because he says a police officer should know better.

“It’s embarrassing. We’re always under public scrutiny. We hold a position that’s a trust to the public. You’re expected to act accordingly,” Thompson said.

So what were the officers thinking by posing for the picture and later posting it on the internet?
“They weren’t thinking,” said Thompson. “It was an error in judgment … so now there has to be accountability and that’s what we’re going to do.”

13 Investigates tried to reach Chris Pestow through his family and friends, but the state Trooper has not responded to WTHR’s request for an interview.

Pettiford said ISP contacted Pestow Monday – the same day WTHR contacted ISP to ask about the photos and information posted on the Facebook page — to inform the state officer he was the focus of an internal investigation. Pestow did remove his Facebook page from the Internet that same afternoon, but not before 13 Investigates, State Police and IMPD had a very good look at it.

ISP is currently in the process of drafting a Standard Operating Procedure for all department staff regarding posting information on personal web pages such as Facebook.

“These are new times,” Pettiford said. “We didn’t have Facebook when I got into law enforcement, but nowadays it’s out there so we’re putting together a policy.”

Officials told Eyewitness News both Pestow and Deddish will remain on paid duty while their departments conduct the internal investigations, which will probably take several weeks.

Police say this situation should provide a powerful reminder to all of us: don’t post anything on the Internet that you would not want to see on the news.

Appeared Here


4 Killed By Drunk Driving Veteran St. Louis Missouri Police Officer Chrissy L. Miller

March 22, 2009

WELDON SPRING, MISSOURI — An off-duty suburban St. Louis police officer might have been drinking before a crash early Saturday that killed four people, investigators said.

The officer was identified as 41-year-old Chrissy L. Miller, a 12-year veteran of the police department in Sunset Hills.

Miller was driving in the wrong lane in the town of Des Peres when her 2001 Mitsubishi struck a 1999 Honda with five people inside, said Sgt. Al Nothum of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Everyone in the Honda except the driver was killed instantly, investigators said. Three of the victims were from Charleston, Ill.: Anusha Anumolu, 23, Anita Lakshmi, 23, and Prya Muppvarapu, 22. The other victim, Satya Chinta, 25, was from Aurora, Ill.

The Honda driver, Nitesh Adusumilli, 27, of Ballwin, Mo., was hospitalized in fair condition at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis County.

Miller had surgery Saturday and was in critical condition at St. John’s.

Nothum would not say why authorities suspect Miller had been drinking.

Sunset Hills Police Chief William LaGrand said drinking and driving would be out of character for Miller, a single mother with one son.

“This is a real tragedy and our sympathy goes out to the families of those who did not survive as well as those who did,” LaGrand said.

Appeared Here


4 Killed By Drunk Driving Veteran St. Louis Missouri Police Officer Chrissy L. Miller

March 21, 2009

WELDON SPRING, MISSOURI — An off-duty suburban St. Louis police officer might have been drinking before a crash early Saturday that killed four people, investigators said.

The officer was identified as 41-year-old Chrissy L. Miller, a 12-year veteran of the police department in Sunset Hills.

Miller was driving in the wrong lane in the town of Des Peres when her 2001 Mitsubishi struck a 1999 Honda with five people inside, said Sgt. Al Nothum of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Everyone in the Honda except the driver was killed instantly, investigators said. Three of the victims were from Charleston, Ill.: Anusha Anumolu, 23, Anita Lakshmi, 23, and Prya Muppvarapu, 22. The other victim, Satya Chinta, 25, was from Aurora, Ill.

The Honda driver, Nitesh Adusumilli, 27, of Ballwin, Mo., was hospitalized in fair condition at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis County.

Miller had surgery Saturday and was in critical condition at St. John’s.

Nothum would not say why authorities suspect Miller had been drinking.

Sunset Hills Police Chief William LaGrand said drinking and driving would be out of character for Miller, a single mother with one son.

“This is a real tragedy and our sympathy goes out to the families of those who did not survive as well as those who did,” LaGrand said.

Appeared Here


Drunk Minority Fort Myers Florida Police Officer Leon Young Arrested Avoiding DUI Checkpoint

January 26, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – A Fort Myers Police Officer was arrested early Saturday morning at a Lee County Sheriff’s Office D.U.I check point. Officer Leon Young faces misdemeanor DUI Alcohol 1st Offense charges.

He was released from jail on a surety bond Saturday just before noon.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report says deputies saw the car Young was driving pull into a parking lot just before the D.U.I. checkpoint at 7070 College Parkway. Believing the driver was trying to avoid the checkpoint, deputies approached the car.

The deputy said Young’s eyes appeared to be blood shot and watery and he was speaking with a “thick tongue”. The deputy said he could smell alcohol on Young’s breath.

The deputy also saw a green leafy substance on Young’s shirt that he believed to be marijuana. Canine deputies also smelled narcotics in the air, but when Young’s car was searched, no marijuana was discovered.

According to the report, Young did not want to do the field sobriety check and just asked to be taken to jail. Eventually Young agreed to take the field sobriety test. Young was then placed under arrest.

When Young was asked to take a breath test he told the arresting deputy that the deputy was part of the KKK, the arresting deputy’s father was part of the KKK, and Young would not take the breath test.

Reacting to Young’s arrest Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker told WINK News, “I am extremely disappointed. This is not the conduct that we would expect from one of our officers. State Statute and department policy requires due process and Officer Young has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation.”

Appeared Here


Drunk Minority Fort Myers Florida Police Officer Leon Young Arrested Avoiding DUI Checkpoint

January 26, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – A Fort Myers Police Officer was arrested early Saturday morning at a Lee County Sheriff’s Office D.U.I check point. Officer Leon Young faces misdemeanor DUI Alcohol 1st Offense charges.

He was released from jail on a surety bond Saturday just before noon.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report says deputies saw the car Young was driving pull into a parking lot just before the D.U.I. checkpoint at 7070 College Parkway. Believing the driver was trying to avoid the checkpoint, deputies approached the car.

The deputy said Young’s eyes appeared to be blood shot and watery and he was speaking with a “thick tongue”. The deputy said he could smell alcohol on Young’s breath.

The deputy also saw a green leafy substance on Young’s shirt that he believed to be marijuana. Canine deputies also smelled narcotics in the air, but when Young’s car was searched, no marijuana was discovered.

According to the report, Young did not want to do the field sobriety check and just asked to be taken to jail. Eventually Young agreed to take the field sobriety test. Young was then placed under arrest.

When Young was asked to take a breath test he told the arresting deputy that the deputy was part of the KKK, the arresting deputy’s father was part of the KKK, and Young would not take the breath test.

Reacting to Young’s arrest Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker told WINK News, “I am extremely disappointed. This is not the conduct that we would expect from one of our officers. State Statute and department policy requires due process and Officer Young has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation.”

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Gone Wild: Airline Passengers Face Bogus Patriot Act Terrorist Charges For Small Incidents

January 21, 2009

US – Reporting from Los Angeles and Oklahoma City — Tamera Jo Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver in 2007 when her two children began to quarrel over the window shade and then spilled a Bloody Mary into her lap.

She spanked each of them on the thigh with three swats. It was a small incident, but one that in the heightened anxiety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would eventually have enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children.

A flight attendant confronted Freeman, who responded by hurling a few profanities and throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.

The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

“I had no idea I was breaking the law,” said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty.

Freeman is one of at least 200 people on flights who have been convicted under the amended law. In most of the cases, there was no evidence that the passengers had attempted to hijack the airplane or physically attack any of the flight crew. Many have simply involved raised voices, foul language and drunken behavior.

Some security experts say the use of the law by airlines and their employees has run amok, criminalizing incidents that did not start out as a threat to public safety, much less an act of terrorism.

In one case, a couple was arrested after an argument with a flight attendant, who claimed the couple was engaged in “overt sexual activity” — an FBI affidavit said the two were “embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable.”

“We have gone completely berserk on this issue,” said Charles Slepian, a New York security consultant. “These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse.”

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd defended the prosecutions, saying that they have helped improve airline security. He added that the department has only pursued prosecution “when the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant such action.”

Indeed, the law has given airlines new flexibility to clamp down on unruly behavior. But the intent of the Patriot Act provisions was to put terrorists in violation of the law before they could execute an actual takeover, said Nathan Sales, a law professor at George Mason University who helped write the Patriot Act when he served in the Justice Department.

But Sales acknowledged that in the fervor to protect the skies, the practical application of the law has strayed.

“A woman spanking her child is not as great a threat to aviation as members of Al Qaeda with box cutters. That much is clear,” he said.

For decades, airline personnel and law enforcement have had wide latitude in prosecuting unruly passengers, not only for assaults or threats but also for any behavior, including arguing, that disrupts a flight or “lessens the ability” of crew members to perform their jobs.

In practice, however, airlines have largely maintained order under Federal Aviation Administration rules, in which hundreds of unruly passengers are simply slapped with an infraction and fine each year.

According to FAA guidelines issued in 2007, “interference or intimidation of a crew member by itself is not chargeable under the [criminal] statute unless it rises to the level of physical assault, threatened physical assault or an act posing an imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft or other individuals on the aircraft.”

Sept. 11, however, changed everything. Within two months of the attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, a sweeping attempt to improve the nation’s defenses against international terrorism. It included broad new powers for law enforcement in such areas as electronic surveillance, money laundering and search warrants.

Included were two key provisions on airline security. The first defined disruptive behavior as a terrorist act, reflecting the seismic shift in airline security.

The second broadened the existing criminal law so that any attempt or conspiracy to interfere with a flight crew became a felony — a change that allowed flight personnel to act against suspicious passengers even if they hadn’t begun an actual assault.

The law gave flight personnel enormous latitude in determining what precisely posed a potential threat or disruption, and judging by some cases, there is no clear standard.

Last summer, a Boston man who took off his clothes and attempted to open an emergency exit during a flight to Los Angeles was not charged with a crime, even though the plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Oklahoma City.

Such was not the case with Carl Persing and Dawn Sewell, a Lakewood couple who never left their seats during the 2006 incident aboard a Southwest flight to Raleigh, N.C., that led to their arrests and four days in jail.

FBI and local investigators in Raleigh alleged that the couple engaged in a variety of sexual activities during the flight. At one point, according to an FBI affidavit, Persing was “observed with his face pressed against Sewell’s vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling.”

A flight attendant twice asked them to stop, according to the affidavit, and Persing responded, “Get out of my face,” and later, “You and I are going to have a serious confrontation when we get off this plane.”

But he denied making a threat. He said he did not feel well because of a chemotherapy drug and had put his head in Sewell’s lap. “We were kind of confused why he was waking us up, why he wouldn’t let me sleep,” he said in a recent interview.

Charges were dropped against Sewell, but Persing, who had never been arrested before, was sentenced to 12 months’ probation.

He almost lost his job as a Port of Los Angeles mechanic, which requires a security clearance from the Department of Homeland Security. The department initially yanked the clearance but reinstated it after a review of the facts.

The Justice Department does not keep data on how many such prosecutions or convictions have occurred, Boyd said. But according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University program, the federal government has obtained 208 felony convictions for disrupting flights since 2003, when data first became available.

The single case of actual terrorism cited by Boyd involved Briton Richard Reid, who is serving three life sentences. Reid was subdued by passengers and flight attendants on a 2001 flight from Paris to Miami after he was seen trying to ignite explosives in his shoe.

Tension aboard planes has increased over the years as the number of flight attendants onboard has declined and flights have grown more crowded.

Airlines, in most cases, have provided no additional training for flight attendants to deal with unruly passengers or potentially threatening situations, said Corey Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Assn. of Flight Attendants. The amount of training attendants receive — averaging six weeks — has not changed since Sept. 11.

Tolerance for irrational behavior linked to mental illness has also diminished, said Ronald Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In a number of cases, mentally ill passengers act bizarre, falsely claiming to have heart attacks, seeing terrorists or needing to escape the plane. In other cases, including one earlier this month in Los Angeles, they use the word “bomb” or claim to have a bomb. They are typically restrained, but whether they are prosecuted depends on the widely varying judgment of prosecutors around the country.

“If you get out of your seat and walk to the front of a plane and talk about bombs, you get what you deserve,” said Sales, the law professor.

On the other hand, Sales adds, “There are other sanctions than throwing the book at a person who has mental health issues.”

The costs of a conviction can be enormous. In Tamera Freeman’s case, it cost her custody of her children.

The confrontation on the Frontier Airlines flight to Denver was particularly harsh, recalled Amy Fleming, the flight attendant who told Freeman to stop spanking her children. In a recent interview, Fleming called Freeman the most unruly passenger she had seen in 11 years on the job.

“Absolutely she deserved a felony conviction,” she said.

But at least one passenger, John Carlson, a defense attorney who was seated near Freeman, said there was no threat. “There was a nasty, loud exchange,” Carlson said. Then Freeman “capitulated and offered no resistance. My sympathy shifted to her.”

A spokeswoman for Frontier said the airline has provided more training for flight attendants since 2001, including classes on “ways to calm a situation before it reaches a boiling point or physical confrontation.”

After three months in jail, Freeman agreed to plead guilty in exchange for being released on probation. A court-appointed attorney told her that a plea deal would be the fastest way to see her children, who had been taken back to Hawaii and put into foster care.

Her probation required her to stay in Oklahoma City, where she grew up, and prohibited her from flying. Meanwhile, legal proceedings in Hawaii have begun to allow the children’s foster parents to adopt them.

Freeman has been denied permission to attend custody hearings in Maui over the last six months, court records show.

“I have cried. I have cried for my children every day,” Freeman said. “I feel the system is failing me.”

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Gone Wild: Airline Passengers Face Bogus Patriot Act Terrorist Charges For Small Incidents

January 21, 2009

US – Reporting from Los Angeles and Oklahoma City — Tamera Jo Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver in 2007 when her two children began to quarrel over the window shade and then spilled a Bloody Mary into her lap.

She spanked each of them on the thigh with three swats. It was a small incident, but one that in the heightened anxiety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would eventually have enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children.

A flight attendant confronted Freeman, who responded by hurling a few profanities and throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.

The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

“I had no idea I was breaking the law,” said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty.

Freeman is one of at least 200 people on flights who have been convicted under the amended law. In most of the cases, there was no evidence that the passengers had attempted to hijack the airplane or physically attack any of the flight crew. Many have simply involved raised voices, foul language and drunken behavior.

Some security experts say the use of the law by airlines and their employees has run amok, criminalizing incidents that did not start out as a threat to public safety, much less an act of terrorism.

In one case, a couple was arrested after an argument with a flight attendant, who claimed the couple was engaged in “overt sexual activity” — an FBI affidavit said the two were “embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable.”

“We have gone completely berserk on this issue,” said Charles Slepian, a New York security consultant. “These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse.”

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd defended the prosecutions, saying that they have helped improve airline security. He added that the department has only pursued prosecution “when the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant such action.”

Indeed, the law has given airlines new flexibility to clamp down on unruly behavior. But the intent of the Patriot Act provisions was to put terrorists in violation of the law before they could execute an actual takeover, said Nathan Sales, a law professor at George Mason University who helped write the Patriot Act when he served in the Justice Department.

But Sales acknowledged that in the fervor to protect the skies, the practical application of the law has strayed.

“A woman spanking her child is not as great a threat to aviation as members of Al Qaeda with box cutters. That much is clear,” he said.

For decades, airline personnel and law enforcement have had wide latitude in prosecuting unruly passengers, not only for assaults or threats but also for any behavior, including arguing, that disrupts a flight or “lessens the ability” of crew members to perform their jobs.

In practice, however, airlines have largely maintained order under Federal Aviation Administration rules, in which hundreds of unruly passengers are simply slapped with an infraction and fine each year.

According to FAA guidelines issued in 2007, “interference or intimidation of a crew member by itself is not chargeable under the [criminal] statute unless it rises to the level of physical assault, threatened physical assault or an act posing an imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft or other individuals on the aircraft.”

Sept. 11, however, changed everything. Within two months of the attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, a sweeping attempt to improve the nation’s defenses against international terrorism. It included broad new powers for law enforcement in such areas as electronic surveillance, money laundering and search warrants.

Included were two key provisions on airline security. The first defined disruptive behavior as a terrorist act, reflecting the seismic shift in airline security.

The second broadened the existing criminal law so that any attempt or conspiracy to interfere with a flight crew became a felony — a change that allowed flight personnel to act against suspicious passengers even if they hadn’t begun an actual assault.

The law gave flight personnel enormous latitude in determining what precisely posed a potential threat or disruption, and judging by some cases, there is no clear standard.

Last summer, a Boston man who took off his clothes and attempted to open an emergency exit during a flight to Los Angeles was not charged with a crime, even though the plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Oklahoma City.

Such was not the case with Carl Persing and Dawn Sewell, a Lakewood couple who never left their seats during the 2006 incident aboard a Southwest flight to Raleigh, N.C., that led to their arrests and four days in jail.

FBI and local investigators in Raleigh alleged that the couple engaged in a variety of sexual activities during the flight. At one point, according to an FBI affidavit, Persing was “observed with his face pressed against Sewell’s vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling.”

A flight attendant twice asked them to stop, according to the affidavit, and Persing responded, “Get out of my face,” and later, “You and I are going to have a serious confrontation when we get off this plane.”

But he denied making a threat. He said he did not feel well because of a chemotherapy drug and had put his head in Sewell’s lap. “We were kind of confused why he was waking us up, why he wouldn’t let me sleep,” he said in a recent interview.

Charges were dropped against Sewell, but Persing, who had never been arrested before, was sentenced to 12 months’ probation.

He almost lost his job as a Port of Los Angeles mechanic, which requires a security clearance from the Department of Homeland Security. The department initially yanked the clearance but reinstated it after a review of the facts.

The Justice Department does not keep data on how many such prosecutions or convictions have occurred, Boyd said. But according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University program, the federal government has obtained 208 felony convictions for disrupting flights since 2003, when data first became available.

The single case of actual terrorism cited by Boyd involved Briton Richard Reid, who is serving three life sentences. Reid was subdued by passengers and flight attendants on a 2001 flight from Paris to Miami after he was seen trying to ignite explosives in his shoe.

Tension aboard planes has increased over the years as the number of flight attendants onboard has declined and flights have grown more crowded.

Airlines, in most cases, have provided no additional training for flight attendants to deal with unruly passengers or potentially threatening situations, said Corey Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Assn. of Flight Attendants. The amount of training attendants receive — averaging six weeks — has not changed since Sept. 11.

Tolerance for irrational behavior linked to mental illness has also diminished, said Ronald Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In a number of cases, mentally ill passengers act bizarre, falsely claiming to have heart attacks, seeing terrorists or needing to escape the plane. In other cases, including one earlier this month in Los Angeles, they use the word “bomb” or claim to have a bomb. They are typically restrained, but whether they are prosecuted depends on the widely varying judgment of prosecutors around the country.

“If you get out of your seat and walk to the front of a plane and talk about bombs, you get what you deserve,” said Sales, the law professor.

On the other hand, Sales adds, “There are other sanctions than throwing the book at a person who has mental health issues.”

The costs of a conviction can be enormous. In Tamera Freeman’s case, it cost her custody of her children.

The confrontation on the Frontier Airlines flight to Denver was particularly harsh, recalled Amy Fleming, the flight attendant who told Freeman to stop spanking her children. In a recent interview, Fleming called Freeman the most unruly passenger she had seen in 11 years on the job.

“Absolutely she deserved a felony conviction,” she said.

But at least one passenger, John Carlson, a defense attorney who was seated near Freeman, said there was no threat. “There was a nasty, loud exchange,” Carlson said. Then Freeman “capitulated and offered no resistance. My sympathy shifted to her.”

A spokeswoman for Frontier said the airline has provided more training for flight attendants since 2001, including classes on “ways to calm a situation before it reaches a boiling point or physical confrontation.”

After three months in jail, Freeman agreed to plead guilty in exchange for being released on probation. A court-appointed attorney told her that a plea deal would be the fastest way to see her children, who had been taken back to Hawaii and put into foster care.

Her probation required her to stay in Oklahoma City, where she grew up, and prohibited her from flying. Meanwhile, legal proceedings in Hawaii have begun to allow the children’s foster parents to adopt them.

Freeman has been denied permission to attend custody hearings in Maui over the last six months, court records show.

“I have cried. I have cried for my children every day,” Freeman said. “I feel the system is failing me.”

Appeared Here


Drunk UK Judge Esther Cunningham Thrown Out Of Courtroom After She Kissed A Lawyer And Swore At Prosecutor

January 14, 2009

UK – A drunk district judge was thrown out of a courtroom after she forcibly kissed a solicitor and swore at a prosecutor.

Esther Cunningham drank brandy before appearing as a solicitor to represent her cousin in a dangerous dog case.

She told an usher to ‘f*** off’ and called the CPS lawyer ‘a f***wit’, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

Six months later, the 54-year-old was drunk when she taught students on a legal course, the tribunal heard.

Cunningham, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, accepted she had a drink problem and blamed it on personal problems.

She admitted bringing her profession into disrepute two years ago and was suspended for six months with £6,200 costs.

Appeared Here


Drunk UK Judge Esther Cunningham Thrown Out Of Courtroom After She Kissed A Lawyer And Swore At Prosecutor

January 14, 2009

UK – A drunk district judge was thrown out of a courtroom after she forcibly kissed a solicitor and swore at a prosecutor.

Esther Cunningham drank brandy before appearing as a solicitor to represent her cousin in a dangerous dog case.

She told an usher to ‘f*** off’ and called the CPS lawyer ‘a f***wit’, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.

Six months later, the 54-year-old was drunk when she taught students on a legal course, the tribunal heard.

Cunningham, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, accepted she had a drink problem and blamed it on personal problems.

She admitted bringing her profession into disrepute two years ago and was suspended for six months with £6,200 costs.

Appeared Here