Buffalo New York Police Officer Jorge Melendez Arrested, Fired, And Charged In Large Marijuana Grow Operation

June 3, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – Another Law Enforcement Officer is on the wrong side of the law.

Buffalo Police Officer Jorge Melendez of the D District is accused of running and maintaining a marijuana growing operation just blocks from the A District police station. He’s charged with conspiracy to manufacture more than 100 marijuana plants, maintaining a premises for manufacturing marijuana and manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.

Jason Elardo faces the same charges.

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says Melendez has been fired from the police department. He and Elardo are both in federal detention. Derenda says no other police officers were involved but there could further arrests of other individuals.

The federal charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, a fine of $4,000,000 or both.

Federal DEA agents say Melendez owns a warehouse on 2157 South Park Avenue in Buffalo where undercover surveillance cameras were installed as part of the investigation. The complant says Melendez and Elardo were seen tending to the marijuana plants. Agents describe the marijuana growing operation as a sophisticated hydroponic system with PVC piping, irrigation, humidifiers, and high intensity lights, and growth inducing chemicals and fertilizers.

Agents say Melendez was actually seen driving his marked Buffalo police car to the South Park location in March to briefly check the location.

Agents say another growing operation was located in a warehouse at 1372 Clinton Street. They say their investigation also turned up cutting, harvesting, and packaging equipment for sales of pot at a home at 76 West Woodside Avenue. There were raids at all three sites Thursday morning. Equipment, cash, vehicles, boats and motorcycles were seized. Agents say various weapons were also found at the homes of Melendez and Elardo. They also seized up to 1,000 marijuana plants from the three locations.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says, “This operation was literally hiding in plain sight.” He went on to say, “Police officers are sworn to protect the public and uphold the law. It is particulary disturbing when an officer breaks the law he was sworn to uphold.”

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US Justice Department Pissed Away Taxpayer Dollars Investigating And Prosecuting Edwards Case – Jury Acquitted On One Charge, Hung On Remaining Five

June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC — A knowledgeable law enforcement official said Thursday it is unlikely that the Justice Department will retry John Edwards.

The official made the comment after the campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity about an issue that will undergo much review inside the government in the coming days.

The case ended with the jury unable to decide whether Edwards used money from two wealthy campaign donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president and his wife was dying of cancer.

The case was considered by some legal experts as difficult to prosecute, revolving as it did around the arcane world of campaign finance law. Edwards’ attorneys said prosecutors didn’t prove that Edwards knew that taking the money violated campaign finance law.

Jurors acquitted Edwards on one charge and deadlocked on the other five.

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Federal Investigation “Finds” Legal And Constitutional Violations Within New Orleans Louisiana Police Department After Decades Of Beatings, Killings, Bogus Charges, Illegal Searches, Profiling, Discrimination, Hiring, Promotions, Lack Of Training, etc., etc., etc., etc…

March 17, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – A federal investigation found that the New Orleans Police Department has engaged in patterns of misconduct in violation of the Constitution and federal law, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Among the findings are that the police department has used excessive force, made unconstitutional stops and searches, and illegally profiled people based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The investigation also found a number of practices that contributed to the illegal conduct, including failed systems for recruiting and promoting officers, poor training and lack of supervision, among others.

“Today is both a day for concern and hope,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said.

Many of the New Orleans officers carry out their jobs well, he said, but “unfortunately, our conclusions reveal that many New Orleans police officers have failed to live up to what we rightfully expect from our law enforcement people.”

Police Superintendent Ronal W. Serpas said his department is “completely embracing” the report.

“I believe there is no question that this plan will catapult our department,” he said.

The investigation was announced last year, when the newly elected mayor, Mitch Landrieu, asked the Justice Department to review the city’s embattled police department just two days after taking office.

In a May 2010 letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, Landrieu asks for a team from the department’s civil rights division to help the city address and prevent police misconduct.

“I have inherited a police force that has been described by many as one of the worst police departments in the country,” Landrieu said in the letter.

“It is clear that nothing short of a complete transformation is necessary and essential to ensure safety for the citizens of New Orleans,” it said. “The police force, the community, our citizens are desperate for positive change.”

Within his first week in office, Landrieu also announced he had tapped Serpas — a New Orleans native who was then police chief in Nashville and had a track record of reducing violent crime — as the city’s new police superintendent to lead reforms.

The investigation was not related to any ongoing federal criminal prosecutions of officers, officials said. Federal prosecutors have investigated several New Orleans police officers involved in a shooting on the Danziger Bridge four days after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore in 2005.

Two civilians were killed in that shooting — a 19-year-old man and a severely disabled 40-year-old man. Four people were hurt. Former city police officer Robert Barrios pleaded guilty in federal court in April 2010 to a charge he failed to report a cover-up of the shooting. His plea came after guilty pleas related to the incident from three other former New Orleans police officers: Michael Lohman, Jeffrey Lehrmann and Michael Hunter.

As a result of the findings of the current federal investigation, the Justice Department will work with the New Orleans police to develop new policies and training for its officers. The police department must implement a new way of working that ensures accountability, work closer with the community and restore confidence in the department, the Justice Department said.

“Today’s findings should serve as a foundation not only to rebuild the police department but to help restore the community’s trust in fair, just and effective law enforcement,” Cole said.

The investigation was carried out with the support of the mayor and the police superintendent.

“Our investigation has shown that the problems and challenges confronting the NOPD are serious, wide-ranging, systemic and deeply rooted in the culture of the department,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

For example, investigators found that officers “regularly used excessive force as retaliation” but that in six years, not one officer-involved shooting violated policy. In some cases, there were attempts to prevent the prosecution of officers, Perez said.

They also found that officers did not know the law regarding legal stops, searches and arrests. The system at the police department favored quantity of arrests over quality, Perez said.

“Our next step will be to work with the (police) department to develop a consent decree, which will involve federal oversight,” he said.

Perez said as part of that consent decree, benchmarks will be established to make sure the police department is improving. He said the benchmarks will address areas such as racial profiling and use of force.

Investigators also found regular harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, he said.

Investigations of city police by the Justice Department are not uncommon, but cities themselves rarely initiate them, Merrick Bobb, executive director of the Police Assessment Resource Center in Los Angeles, told CNN when the New Orleans probe was launched last year.

District of Columbia officials took a similar approach in 1999 when they asked the Justice Department to investigate whether city police were using excessive force, he said.

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Birmingham Alabama Police Officers David Wayne Doran And Barett G. Dewitt Finally Charged After Beating Unconscious Man In 2008

October 4, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – A federal grand jury has indicted two former Birmingham police officers in connection with the 2008 beating of an already-unconscious suspect that was captured on videotape.

David Wayne Doran and Barrett G. Dewitt are charged with using unreasonable force, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. According to the indictment, they violated the victim’s civil rights by depriving him of his Fourth Amendment constitutional right to be free of unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by someone acting under the color of law.

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Crazed Feds Demand New York City Spend $28 Million Changing Street Name Signs From All Caps To Lowercase

September 30, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Federal copy editors are demanding the city change its 250,900 street signs — such as these for Perry Avenue in The Bronx — from the all-caps style used for more than a century to ones that capitalize only the first letters.

Changing BROADWAY to Broadway will save lives, the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.

At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.

“We have already started replacing the signs in The Bronx,” city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told The Post. ‘We will have 11,000 done by the end of this fiscal year, and the rest finished by 2018.”
$27 million to turn PERRY AV into Perry Av
$27 million to turn PERRY AV into Perry Av

It appears e.e. cummings was right to eschew capital letters, federal officials explain.

Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say.

The new regulations also require a change in font from the standard highway typeface to Clearview, which was specially developed for this purpose.

As a result, even numbered street signs will have to be replaced.

“Safety is this department’s top priority,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last year, in support of the new guidelines. “These new and updated standards will help make our nation’s roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike.”

The Highway Administration acknowledged that New York and other states “opposed the change, and suggested that the use of all upper-case letters remain an option,” noting that “while the mixed-case words might be easier to read, the amount of improvement in legibility did not justify the cost.”

To compensate for those concerns, in 2003, the administration allowed for a 15-year

phase-in period ending in 2018.

Although the city did not begin replacing the signs until earlier this year, Sadik-Khan said they will have no trouble meeting the deadline, as some 8,000 signs a year are replaced annually simply due to wear and tear.

The new diminutive signs, which will also feature new reflective sheeting, may also reflect a kinder, gentler New York, she said.

“On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting,” she said. “Our new signs can quiet down, as well.”

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