Alexandria Virginia Police Officer Angel Roa Arrested For Fraud In Salvage Car Sales Scam

April 22, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – Loudoun County authorities arrested an Alexandria police officer on fraud charges for allegedly reselling a salvaged vehicle to at least one unwitting buyer.

Angel Roa, who has served with the department for four years, is charged with obtaining money by fraud or false pretenses. Roa is now on administrative leave without pay pending the investigation’s findings, city authorities said.

Roa allegedly bought the vehicle legally, but then sold it without telling the buyer it was titled as salvaged, said Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. When the victim went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get it titled, officials told them the vehicle wasn’t roadworthy, he said.

Troxell said there may be more than one victim and are pursuing the investigation.

The Alexandria Police Department is likewise conducting an internal review, said Ashley Hildebrandt, spokeswoman. In a statement, Police Chief Earl Cook said his department takes a hard line against “inappropriate behavior” on the part of its employees.

“Officer Roa is entitled to due process, however, I want to assure residents that the Alexandria Police [Department] does not tolerate criminal or other inappropriate behavior of any kind from its employees,” Cook said.

Roa isn’t the first department employee to run into legal trouble in recent months. Det. Eric Ratliff was arrested on DUI charges after crashing his unmarked cruiser into a concrete pole on the corner of Gibbon and South Patrick streets in January.

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Special Program (ie: Scam) Allows Los Angeles California Police Officers And Firemen To Collect Pension While Working – Paying Lump Sums Up To A Million Dollars

March 3, 2011

LOS ANGLES, CALIFORNIA – The DROP program is an expensive public pension program that hardly anyone knows about, but pays out lump sums that average $200,000 and up to nearly a million dollars in some cases. KPCC’s Madeleine Brand spoke with KCET’s Judy Muller, who investigated the DROP program.

“DROP” stands for Deferred Retirement Option Plan. LAPD and L.A. Fire Department personnel who’ve worked for at least 25 years and are at least 50 years old can “retire,” then go back to work immediately. When they return to work, pension payments are held while they continue collecting a salary, and after five years, they can leave and collect that money in a lump-sum payment.

By postponing their retirement for five years, they accumulate pension payments (which are also collecting interest) and wages simultaneously.

One fire chief collected a $900,000 lump sump through this program. Deputy police chief Mark Leap participated in the program and, after five years, received a lump sum of $700,000 while also collecting his police salary during that five years.

Leap says the DROP program encouraged him to stay longer than he otherwise would have. He thinks it’s a great program, as do most officers.

Leap said it allowed him to continue to make contributions, while also giving him a nest egg for his retirement. Leap described it as a win-win for both himself and the city.

Since the program began, there’s been no serious audit done of cost benefits and whether the program as a whole is cost neutral.

The program was initially approved by voters in 2000 when police morale was low, following the Rampart corruption scandal and under an unpopular police chief. Veteran officers were leaving the force. The program was put in place to entice police to stay with the force.

No one’s looked at the program since then to see, when pensions are costing so much and the city is facing huge deficits in the worst times economically since the Great Depression, if this is still a good program to have on the books.

The program was billed as cost neutral, because it’s cost neutral to the pension fund itself, but it hasn’t been examined whether it’s cost neutral to the overall budget.

Officers receive money through DROP that they wouldn’t have received otherwise. Police argue that the benefit is keeping veteran officers on the job. However, it’s more expensive to pay veteran officers instead of hiring new officers for less money, and with lower pension obligations.

Former Los Angeles city administrative officer Keith Comrie says that, when he was with the city, the police union came in and suggested something like this. Comrie says he was aghast. It looked like double dipping to Comrie to be receiving a pension and salary at the same time.

Comrie is out of politics, and has little to lose or gain from his comments. The current administrative officer agreed this needs to be looked at more carefully.

Former L.A. city controller and former California inspector general Laura Chick supported DROP at one time, but now has serious questions about it. Chick says leadership isn’t looking at the program.

Chick wants to know the cost to the general fund, whether there’s still the same need to keep experienced officers as when the program began and whether it’s getting in the way of recruiting new officers.

Many current city officials haven’t taken a stance on the program yet, but they’re likely to support it due to the strength of the police and fire unions. No politician who wants to get voted into anything else is likely to go up against the unions on such a popular program.

If it could be proved that DROP was costing the city an enormous amount of money, taxpayer reaction may lead to it being looked at again, but right now, no such audit is taking place.

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Dallas Texas Police Officer Theadora Ross Arrested, Chared In $250,000 Theft From Crime Stoppers Program

January 28, 2011

DALLAS, TEXAS – Dallas police Senior Corporal Theadora Ross — a 26-year department veteran — said nothing after being arrested Monday.

But now we know what she’s accused of.

Ross and another woman, Malva Delley, are accused of collecting $250,000 in rewards for bogus tips to the Crime Stoppers program for more than five years.

Russell Verney, executive director of the North Texas Crime Commission, which operates Crime Stoppers says, ”It’s shocking that it happened, that it happened for so long.”

Verney says it’s not lost on him that the commission, which helps solve crimes, became a crime victim. ”A bit of irony. It’s unfortunate.”

Ross was responsible for taking anonymous tips, and selecting those eligible for a cash reward.

To pick up that reward, tipsters receive a secret code word and tip number, then go to the bank.

But Verney says one legitimate tipster called him and said something was wrong. ”An individual went to pick-up his authorized tip at the bank,” Verney said, “and was told that somebody had preceded him, and had his secret number and his secret code word.”

Verney says they temporarily shut down the program and investigated.

Prosecutors say Ross gave Delley bogus tip and information numbers to collect the cash rewards.

From there, prosecutors say Delley got the money from the bank and split it with Ross.

When we stopped by Ross’ house in Rowlett today, no one came to the door.

Today Dallas police called this indictment “a major breach of public trust.”

Dallas police and the Crime Commission say they have already changed their procedures to keep this from happening again.

The Crime Commission says Crime Stoppers continues to receive numerous tips and pay cash rewards.

Both women have pleaded not guilty in court.

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New Jersey Turnpike Officals Pissed Away $43 Million While Raising Tolls For Motorists

October 21, 2010

NEW JERSEY – Auditors say the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wasted $43 million on unneeded perks and bonuses. In one case, an employee with a base salary of $73,469 earned $321,985 when all payouts and bonuses were included.

The audit says that toll dollars From the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway were spent on items ranging from an employee bowling league to employee bonuses for working on birthdays and holidays.

It took place as tolls were being increased.

The biggest expense uncovered in the audit was $30 million in unjustified bonuses to employees and management in 2008 and 2009 without consideration of performance.

One example was paying employees overtime for removing snow and working holidays and then giving additional “snow removal bonuses” and “holiday bonuses.”

The Comptroller’s Office audit released Tuesday says taxpayers also paid $430,000 for free E-ZPass transponders for employees to get to work and nearly $90,000 in scholarships for workers’ kids.

The audit shows turnpike authority employees got bonuses and overtime for working their birthdays and holidays.

Comptroller Matt Boxer says tolls are set for another increase in 2012.

“While tolls are going up, the Turnpike Authority is overpaying its employees, overpaying its management, overpaying for its health plan and overpaying for legal services,” Boxer said in a statement.

Public money was also used to cover costs for a toll operators event that none of the authority’s employees actually attended.

Another audit finding was that employees were allowed to cash out a portion of their unused sick and vacation days at the end of the year to circumvent the current $15,000 limit for sick leave payouts upon retirement. That cost $3.8 million a year.

Among the questionable legal expenses was a billing for $111,840 for a law firm’s weekly internal status meetings that were generally attended by 10 to 15 of the firm’s attorneys and two to three of its paralegals.

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Able-Bodied Boston Massachusetts Police Officers, Officials, And Head Meter Maid Use Handicaped Spaces In Front Of Police Station, Bus Stops, And Other Tow-Zones Without Fear Of Being Ticketed Or Having Vehicles Towed

February 16, 2009

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Illegal parking in a handicapped spot is no trifling matter. Boston issues 11,000 tickets a year, each of which carries a $120 fine and often a $93 towing charge. And it is not uncommon for passersby to loudly rebuke able-bodied drivers who use parking spots reserved for the disabled.

But violators who use the 11 handicapped-designated spaces in front of Boston Police headquarters are immune from any sanction at all – or even a sidelong glance from the scores of police officers who enter and leave the building every day, according to Globe observations over the past two months.

One repeat scofflaw: the driver of a Toyota Corolla registered to Irene Landry, the city’s supervisor of Parking Enforcement, who oversees the 194 parking enforcement officers who write 1.3 million tickets a year.

When a Globe reporter called Landry’s office on Feb. 10 to ask about the Toyota, Landry was stunned. “I will investigate,” she said. “Trust me when I tell you that.”

Within five minutes of that call, her son Anthony, a police dispatcher, and three other police officials hastened out of Police Headquarters in shirtsleeves, got into their illegally parked cars, and drove away.

Most often, all prohibited parking areas around police headquarters on Tremont Street are a penalty-free zone – scores of unmarked detective cars, police evidence vans, and personal vehicles of patrol officers and sergeants are ensconced for hours at a time in spots earmarked for the disabled, and at fire hydrants, crosswalks, day-care drop-off, and MBTA bus stops – virtually all of them marked “tow zone.”

And then there are those who park where there is no signed prohibition – on sidewalks. Or those who double-park.

Globe correspondents who kept watch at headquarters never saw a ticket written, much less a tow truck, despite a stern order in August 2007 from a senior commander who ordered that illegally parked cars be ticketed hourly.

“As a law enforcement agency with the responsibility to enforce parking regulations for the general public, visible and blatant violations of parking restrictions in the vicinity of Boston Police Headquarters are unacceptable,” read the directive from Deputy Superintendent John F. Daley.

Eighteen months later, nothing much has changed. The only ticket books seen by the Globe over the six weeks’ observation were those that officers left on the dashboards of their cars – a time-honored signal to fellow officers. Others left uniform shirts hanging in back windows.

Last Wednesday, the day after police officials learned of the Globe’s interest, a handful of tickets were tucked under the windshield wipers of some of the illegally parked vehicles – though those cars sat all day in tow zones. One, a 2003 black Lincoln Town Car registered to patrolman David M. Fitzgerald, had a police ticket book on the dashboard just under the real ticket.

On Wednesday and again on Thursday, two days after police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll called such behavior unacceptable, several cars were illegally parked in handicapped-designated spots, without tickets.

What Driscoll called unacceptable, Myra Berloff, director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability, characterized as “a flagrant abuse of the law.” All motorists, Berloff said in an interview, should be aware that people who illegally use handicapped-designated spots are making life more difficult for those with disabilities. For police officers to use such spaces, she said, is outrageous.

As the 2007 police directive suggests, what the Police Department has is a chronic condition, perceived parking immunity, for which there may be no cure. Many police officers will park where they choose at headquarters and around some of the department’s district stations, with little risk that their colleagues will treat them like ordinary motorists.

If a single phone call from Irene Landry can frighten four scofflaws into instant compliance, why not have her traffic enforcement officers, who are known for taking guff from no one, write tickets around Police Headquarters?

Not possible, said Thomas J. Tinlin, the city’s Transportation Commissioner and Landry’s boss. Under longstanding policy, he said, police officers are responsible for enforcing parking rules outside their own buildings. And, Tinlin asserted, the creation of that policy was unrelated to concerns that ticketing police officers would lead to friction between the two departments.

“It would be redundant and inefficient for our parking enforcement officers to write tickets at Police Headquarters when they have a building full of people who can write tickets as well,” said Tinlin.

An estimated 600 employees work at police headquarters, a 12-year-old building constructed a stone’s throw from the Ruggles MBTA Station, but with a parking lot that accommodates only 104 vehicles. Initial plans to construct a parking garage were abandoned as too costly, Driscoll said.

The blocklong curbside along Tremont Street has spaces for fewer than 40 vehicles, all of them subject to various parking restrictions and signs designating them as tow zones.

Some cars, like Landry’s, were regular offenders. Another frequent user of handicapped spots, David McClelland, an Emergency Medical Services dispatcher who works at Police Headquarters, acknowledged in a call he returned to a reporter that he has never been ticketed there, and said he took the risk because there is so little parking in the area.

Although the Globe saw no tickets at all during the six weeks’ observation, Driscoll said officers at headquarters wrote about 200 tickets last year in front of the building and on a side street, Prentiss Street, with many of those written for department-issued unmarked cars.

Driscoll acknowledged, however, that tickets issued to city-owned vehicles are dismissed.

“This is a consistent and complicated issue, and we’re doing our best,” Driscoll said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

On Friday afternoon, after interviewing Driscoll, a Globe reporter counted six cars illegally parked in handicapped-designated spots in front of headquarters.

Appeared Here


Able-Bodied Boston Massachusetts Police Officers, Officials, And Head Meter Maid Use Handicaped Spaces In Front Of Police Station, Bus Stops, And Other Tow-Zones Without Fear Of Being Ticketed Or Having Vehicles Towed

February 16, 2009

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Illegal parking in a handicapped spot is no trifling matter. Boston issues 11,000 tickets a year, each of which carries a $120 fine and often a $93 towing charge. And it is not uncommon for passersby to loudly rebuke able-bodied drivers who use parking spots reserved for the disabled.

But violators who use the 11 handicapped-designated spaces in front of Boston Police headquarters are immune from any sanction at all – or even a sidelong glance from the scores of police officers who enter and leave the building every day, according to Globe observations over the past two months.

One repeat scofflaw: the driver of a Toyota Corolla registered to Irene Landry, the city’s supervisor of Parking Enforcement, who oversees the 194 parking enforcement officers who write 1.3 million tickets a year.

When a Globe reporter called Landry’s office on Feb. 10 to ask about the Toyota, Landry was stunned. “I will investigate,” she said. “Trust me when I tell you that.”

Within five minutes of that call, her son Anthony, a police dispatcher, and three other police officials hastened out of Police Headquarters in shirtsleeves, got into their illegally parked cars, and drove away.

Most often, all prohibited parking areas around police headquarters on Tremont Street are a penalty-free zone – scores of unmarked detective cars, police evidence vans, and personal vehicles of patrol officers and sergeants are ensconced for hours at a time in spots earmarked for the disabled, and at fire hydrants, crosswalks, day-care drop-off, and MBTA bus stops – virtually all of them marked “tow zone.”

And then there are those who park where there is no signed prohibition – on sidewalks. Or those who double-park.

Globe correspondents who kept watch at headquarters never saw a ticket written, much less a tow truck, despite a stern order in August 2007 from a senior commander who ordered that illegally parked cars be ticketed hourly.

“As a law enforcement agency with the responsibility to enforce parking regulations for the general public, visible and blatant violations of parking restrictions in the vicinity of Boston Police Headquarters are unacceptable,” read the directive from Deputy Superintendent John F. Daley.

Eighteen months later, nothing much has changed. The only ticket books seen by the Globe over the six weeks’ observation were those that officers left on the dashboards of their cars – a time-honored signal to fellow officers. Others left uniform shirts hanging in back windows.

Last Wednesday, the day after police officials learned of the Globe’s interest, a handful of tickets were tucked under the windshield wipers of some of the illegally parked vehicles – though those cars sat all day in tow zones. One, a 2003 black Lincoln Town Car registered to patrolman David M. Fitzgerald, had a police ticket book on the dashboard just under the real ticket.

On Wednesday and again on Thursday, two days after police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll called such behavior unacceptable, several cars were illegally parked in handicapped-designated spots, without tickets.

What Driscoll called unacceptable, Myra Berloff, director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability, characterized as “a flagrant abuse of the law.” All motorists, Berloff said in an interview, should be aware that people who illegally use handicapped-designated spots are making life more difficult for those with disabilities. For police officers to use such spaces, she said, is outrageous.

As the 2007 police directive suggests, what the Police Department has is a chronic condition, perceived parking immunity, for which there may be no cure. Many police officers will park where they choose at headquarters and around some of the department’s district stations, with little risk that their colleagues will treat them like ordinary motorists.

If a single phone call from Irene Landry can frighten four scofflaws into instant compliance, why not have her traffic enforcement officers, who are known for taking guff from no one, write tickets around Police Headquarters?

Not possible, said Thomas J. Tinlin, the city’s Transportation Commissioner and Landry’s boss. Under longstanding policy, he said, police officers are responsible for enforcing parking rules outside their own buildings. And, Tinlin asserted, the creation of that policy was unrelated to concerns that ticketing police officers would lead to friction between the two departments.

“It would be redundant and inefficient for our parking enforcement officers to write tickets at Police Headquarters when they have a building full of people who can write tickets as well,” said Tinlin.

An estimated 600 employees work at police headquarters, a 12-year-old building constructed a stone’s throw from the Ruggles MBTA Station, but with a parking lot that accommodates only 104 vehicles. Initial plans to construct a parking garage were abandoned as too costly, Driscoll said.

The blocklong curbside along Tremont Street has spaces for fewer than 40 vehicles, all of them subject to various parking restrictions and signs designating them as tow zones.

Some cars, like Landry’s, were regular offenders. Another frequent user of handicapped spots, David McClelland, an Emergency Medical Services dispatcher who works at Police Headquarters, acknowledged in a call he returned to a reporter that he has never been ticketed there, and said he took the risk because there is so little parking in the area.

Although the Globe saw no tickets at all during the six weeks’ observation, Driscoll said officers at headquarters wrote about 200 tickets last year in front of the building and on a side street, Prentiss Street, with many of those written for department-issued unmarked cars.

Driscoll acknowledged, however, that tickets issued to city-owned vehicles are dismissed.

“This is a consistent and complicated issue, and we’re doing our best,” Driscoll said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

On Friday afternoon, after interviewing Driscoll, a Globe reporter counted six cars illegally parked in handicapped-designated spots in front of headquarters.

Appeared Here


Luzerne County Pennsylvania Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan Sent Thousands Of Children To Prison And Pocketed $2.6 Million In Bribes

February 12, 2009

WILKES-BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA – For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.

The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

“I’ve never encountered, and I don’t think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids’ lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles’ records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

The judges are scheduled to plead guilty to fraud Thursday in federal court. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years behind bars.

Ciavarella, 58, who presided over Luzerne County’s juvenile court for 12 years, acknowledged last week in a letter to his former colleagues, “I have disgraced my judgeship. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.” Ciavarella, though, has denied he got kickbacks for sending youths to prison.

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

Many Pennsylvania counties contract with privately run juvenile detention centers, paying them either a fixed overall fee or a certain amount per youth, per day.

In Luzerne County, prosecutors say, Conahan shut down the county-run juvenile prison in 2002 and helped the two companies secure rich contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, at least some of that dependent on how many juveniles were locked up.

One of the contracts – a 20-year agreement with PA Child Care worth an estimated $58 million – was later canceled by the county as exorbitant.

The judges are accused of taking payoffs between 2003 and 2006.

Robert J. Powell co-owned PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care until June. His attorney, Mark Sheppard, said his client was the victim of an extortion scheme.

“Bob Powell never solicited a nickel from these judges and really was a victim of their demands,” he said. “These judges made it very plain to Mr. Powell that he was going to be required to pay certain monies.”

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters’ constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

The criminal charges confirmed the advocacy groups’ worst suspicions and have called into question all the sentences he pronounced.

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer.

“I felt so disgraced for a while, like, what do people think of me now?” said Hillary, now 17 and a high school senior who plans to become an English teacher.

Laurene Transue said Ciavarella “was playing God. And not only was he doing that, he was getting money for it. He was betraying the trust put in him to do what is best for children.”

Kurt Kruger, now 22, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn’t know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

“Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed,” said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

“I got a raw deal, and yeah, it’s not fair,” he said, “but now it’s 100 times bigger than me.”

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