Nutcase Former New Haven Connecticut Police Officer John Kelly, Facing Weapons Charge, Arrested Again And Charged With Burglary And Larceny After Stealing Generator From Man’s Garage

July 2, 2012

MIDDLETOWN, CONNECTICUT — A former New Haven police officer recently arrested on a weapons charge was arrested again over the weekend and charged with burglary and larceny for allegedly stealing a generator, state police report.

John Kelly, 45, 1 Brookside Ave., Old Lyme, was in Middletown Superior Court on Monday and Judge Susan Handy set bond for $25,000 cash or surety, which he posted through a bail bondsman. According to court personnel, Kelly will be held on a suicide watch and is due back in court July 20.

State police responded to call of an accident on June 23 around 10:45 a.m. and found a pickup truck in the middle of the travel lane on New City Street in Essex. The truck came back as registered to Kelly, and the trooper found him a short time later, walking back to the truck.

Kelly told police he had run out of gas and was pouring gas from a Dunkin’ Donuts cup into the truck, police said. He was disheveled and dirty, wearing one shoe and hobbling around, stating he had sprained his ankle, police said.

Kelly was able to start the truck and told police he was going home. Less than two hours later, troopers responded to a call from Kelly’s ex wife, saying Kelly was on Dennison Road limping and “acting strange.”

Troopers reported seeing the truck in the roadway again, and Kelly, “sweating profusely” said he was out of gas again, according to police. While waiting for a tow truck to arrive for Kelly, police were approached by a man who said he lived on the road and said he found a cup of water in his garage.

Police asked Kelly if he had been in the man’s house, and Kelly allegedly said he went into the garage for water and gas. Kelly had a newer Honda generator in the bed of his truck and the man identified it as his generator, police said. Kelly, however, told police he had found it in the bushes behind the man’s house and had tried to get gas from it, then placed it in the back of his truck. After investigating, police determined the generator had been in the back of the man’s garage.

When police arrested Kelly, he became irate and yelled “cops are supposed to take care of each other,” police said, and that “the state police were out to get him.” He tried to minimalize the incident by saying he had only gone into the garage a few feet, police said.

Kelly, who was a New Haven police officer for 21 years and has also served in the U.S. Navy, said he had a stellar career as a police officer in New Haven, according to state police. According to statements made in court, Kelly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

While in the cell at the state police barracks, Kelly was yelling, banging on the cell doors and walls, and covering himself in water from the sink, police said. He was unable to post the $5,000 bond and was taken to Hartford Correctional until his arraignment Monday.

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Shreveport Louisiana Police Officer Kevin Perry Arrested, Suspended, And Charged With Theft Of Drugs And Abuse Of Office

June 29, 2012

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA – Shreveport Police officials have charged a Shreveport officer in connection with a criminal complaint received by the department.

Shreveport Police Department Sgt. Bill Goodin says investigators received information in mid-March that a police officer was possibly involved in the theft of some prescription medication. The offense allegedly occurred while the officer was working an off-duty job at Broadmoor Middle Laboratory School. Detective supervisors were immediately notified and commenced an investigation into the allegations.

Based on evidence gathered during the course of their inquiry, investigators obtained arrest warrants Friday afternoon charging 44-year-old Kevin Perry with misdemeanor theft and abuse of office in office. Perry surrendered himself to authorities at the Caddo Correctional Center and was booked in on those charges.

Perry joined the Shreveport Police Department in November of 1990. He has been on paid administrative leave since March 22nd and will remain as such for seven days following his arrest, as required by the rules and regulations of the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board.

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Dumbass Davenport Iowa Officals Send Notice To Wrong Address, Sends City Workers To Remove Couple’s Religious Items From Private Property, And Now City Has To Pay To Replace Items

June 27, 2012

DAVENPORT, IOWA – Mack Covey and his wife Merla were surprised one morning to find strangers in their backyard, taking things without notice, with not even a knock on the front door.

“Bottom line my freedom of religion was violated big time,” Covey says, “The door to the teepee was taken and the buffalo robe.”

“That was my teepee, which was an actual church,” he says of the items’ importance, “We’ve had ceremony here in it.”

Other non-religious items like umbrellas and cleaning poles were also taken, in total about $2300 worth of things Covey wants back.

“I just want what’s fair,” Covey says, “The monetary means to replace the items they blatantly stole. We weren’t notified, bottom line.”

TV6 spoke with Alderman Bill Boom today who says a notice was sent, but to the wrong address. He tell us the city was notified when a neighbor complained, citing items in the backyard, both religious and non-religious, as an environmental hazard. The city sent workers in to clean up what they call ‘debris,’ but Covey disagrees.

“It’d be like me going into one of the churches here in town and taking a cross,” he says, “That’s how much significance it has to me.”

The couple and their supporters have contacted public works and city aldermen, who have come to sort out the issue at the couple’s home. Officials say they’re working on a resolution.

“The workers I’m sure did not know what they took,” Covey says, “This is as important as life and death itself.”

An attorney for the city tells us the yard is in violation of an environmental ordinance that says residents have to keep your lawns clean and clear of debris. City officials say they’ve apologized to the couple and they’re in the process of paying them back so they can replace the items gone.

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Veteran New Jersey State Police Trooper Staff Sgt. Steven M. Jones Stole Thousands Of Dollars Worth Of Gasoline From State Fuel Pumps – Gets Sweet Retirement Deal With Pension That Doesn’t Include Prison Time

June 26, 2012

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY — For more than three years, a veteran State Police trooper stole thousands of dollars worth of gasoline from state fuel pumps for his personal vehicles without being detected — and when authorities did catch on, he was not charged criminally and was allowed to retire with pension.

Disciplinary records obtained by The Star-Ledger show Staff Sgt. Steven M. Jones admitted in April that he stole 3,128 gallons of gas valued at $7,038 from October 2007 to March 2011. The 25-year trooper then retired under a negotiated plea agreement with internal affairs.

At the same time that Jones was fueling up on the taxpayers’ dime, a government watchdog warned the State Police it was not doing enough to track gas use by troopers.

“There are documented cases where abuses have been discovered,” the Office of the State Auditor said in a 2008 report. “However, systematic monitoring is not performed.”

The findings echoed the auditor’s concerns raised a year earlier about weaknesses in how the state monitors fuel fill-ups for its entire fleet — a system overseen by the state Treasury Department, which at the time vowed to make improvements.

Five years later, the state has yet to award a contract that would enact safeguards to curtail state troopers and other employees from stealing gas.

“Until all safeguards are in place, there remains a risk of abuse,” said Peter McAleer, spokesman for the state Comptroller’s Office, which documented weak oversight over vehicles used by the Department of Children and Families in 2009.

The Treasury Department said it is now reviewing contract proposals for a new system to monitor fill-ups through real-time reporting of details such as who requested the gas and how much was pumped. Officials would not say if there is a timetable for awarding a contract.

“These types of things, particularly high-tech systems like this, tend to take awhile to actually get the contract in place,” a spokesman for Treasury, Bill Quinn, said.

In the case of trooper Jones, a spokesman for the State Police, Acting Sgt. 1st Class Brian Polite, said the incident focused on the “inappropriate actions of one individual.”

“A thorough internal investigation was conducted and appropriate disciplinary actions were taken,” Polite said.

He did not respond to questions about how the theft went on for years without being detected, how Jones was caught or what is done to monitor gas use.

Jones was suspended without pay in March for about two weeks before retiring under the plea agreement with internal affairs. Records show he forfeited his accrued personal, holiday and vacation time, which was worth roughly the same amount that he stole in gas. He is also barred from holding another law enforcement job in New Jersey and from obtaining a gun permit for retired officers, records show.

The State Police Retirement Board last month reduced Jones’ pension from 65 percent of his final salary to 50 percent because of the theft and also revoked his medical benefits. Last year, Jones earned a regular salary of about $105,000, not including overtime and other pay, according to state payroll records.

During the board’s hearing, Jones, 47, said he was a recovering alcoholic but did not always follow his treatment routine during the time he stole the gas. He also said he worked a large amount of overtime but could not overcome his debt, which led to his actions.

“Sometimes I do things I don’t normally do,” Jones said. He did not return a phone call seeking further comment.
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Jones was not charged criminally, and case law prevents a police officer’s admission during an administrative review to be the basis for subsequent criminal charges. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Paul Loriquet, declined to comment specifically about the case.

“If we have sufficient proof that a law enforcement officer has committed a crime, we’ll prosecute that officer, as we would any other individual that committed a crime,” Loriquet said.

A source familiar with the case said it was reviewed by prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office and there was not enough evidence to bring charges. The source was not allowed to discuss criminal investigations and requested anonymity.

The state Auditor’s report in 2008 noted the weak protections of the State Police’s fueling system. Most gas cards are assigned to individual patrol cars, though some are “transient” cards that can be used by any trooper at a particular barracks.

Three sources with knowledge of the State Police’s fueling system said it relies largely on the honor system and not every fueling yard has cameras to deter abuse. The sources requested anonymity because they were not allowed to speak with the media.

In addition, though fuel pumps ask for a badge number after a card is swiped, a trooper can enter anyone’s badge number and get gas. The auditor’s report said that makes tracking individual usage difficult.

“Having a more secure identification number associated with each transaction would make monitoring more effective,” the report said.

In its review of the state’s entire fuel monitoring system in 2007, the auditor noted there were multiple fill-ups on the same day, fill-ups exceeding fuel tank capacities and inconsistent mileage tracking.

The state has in the past charged public employees for stealing gas.

In 2008, the Attorney General’s Office charged a dozen public employees, including six with ties to the Department of Children and Families, in connection with stealing about 1,400 gallons of gas for their personal vehicles from government-run pumps.

In response to the arrests, the Comptroller’s Office reviewed the department and found hundreds of questionable fuel transactions and weak oversight. McAleer, the spokesman for the office, said the department has since made substantial improvements.

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Suspended North Providence Rhode Island Police Chief John J. Whiting Claims He Didn’t Steal Stripper’s Cash

June 26, 2012

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – A suspended Rhode Island police chief testified at his trial Monday that he did not steal $714 from a stripper’s pocketbook after chasing a SUV in which she was riding during Tropical Storm Irene.

Testifying in his own defense, North Providence police Col. John J. Whiting gave a vastly different account of his exchange with a Pawtucket police officer who was investigating the Aug. 28 vehicle chase and foot pursuit in Pawtucket that involved the police chief.

Whiting, 58, of North Attleboro, has pleaded not guilty to larceny over $500 and solicitation to receive stolen property. Providence County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini dismissed a charge against him of criminal solicitation to obstruct justice. Whiting’s case is being decided by a judge instead of by a jury.

Pawtucket Officer John Brown testified last week that Whiting confessed to stealing the money. Brown said Whiting gave him the money with instructions to spend it in Las Vegas and not say anything about it.

Whiting testified he told Brown to take the money as seized evidence and was being sarcastic when he told him: “I don’t give a (expletive) if you go to Vegas.”

Giving his first public account of the events, Whiting described getting into a pursuit with a Ford Explorer while driving through Pawtucket on his way to work in North Providence. He said the SUV was trying to get around a downed tree when he tried to pass the vehicle, and someone instead threw an object at his SUV.

Whiting testified he then chased the vehicle until it turned down a dead-end street and struck a parked car.

The Explorer’s occupants ran away from the crash site, Whiting testified. Among them was 21-year-old Justina Cardoso, a former stripper who testified she left behind all her belongings, including her money.

Whiting said he went through the SUV looking for evidence that might indicate who was in the vehicle. He said he found money inside a zippered pouch that he took because no Pawtucket police had shown up yet.

During cross examination, Whiting testified he made a “conscious decision” to turn over the money to Brown, the Pawtucket officer who reported to the scene, at the conclusion of the investigation on the dead-end street where the chase ended.

“I had no intention of stealing the money. I didn’t steal the money,” Whiting said.

He added he did not have time during the investigation to tell Brown that he had the money.

“I have $714. How long does that take,” Assistant Attorney General Mark Trovato asked.

Before Brown left the crash scene to finish his work at the Pawtucket police station, Whiting testified that he asked Brown to meet him at a nearby parking lot.

“I was going to give him the money at that time and answer any other questions about the accident,” Whiting said.

When they arrived at the parking lot, Whiting testified he and Brown made small talk. Whiting, who served on the Pawtucket police force for nearly 30 years before becoming the North Providence police chief, is an acquaintance of Brown, who has been a Pawtucket police officer for 24 years.

Eventually, Whiting testified, Brown said he was going to the site where Whiting tried to pass the Explorer to look for the bottle that the police chief thought was thrown at his vehicle, and Whiting accompanies him.

Whiting said he then turned over the money to Brown, who asked: “What did you steal it or something?”

Whiting said he angrily told him no and that he’s “never stolen anything in my … life.”

Whiting also testified that Brown was mumbling and hesitant to take the money from him. He said he was having trouble understanding what Brown was saying to him.

Whiting acknowledged he failed to count out the money he was turning over to Brown. Still, he said he expected Brown to submit it as seized evidence.

“I admit I made a mistake by not counting out the money in front of him. That’s the only mistake I made,” Whiting said.

He is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday.

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Richfield Ohio Police Officer Robert Gilbert And Anthony Riviotta Fired For Stealing Fence – Both Plead Guilty And Get Diversion Program That Makes Charges Go Away

June 25, 2012

RICHFIELD, OHIO — Two Richfield police officers were fired Friday after Akron Municipal Court dismissed charges of stealing fencing that had fallen off a truck on Interstate 271.

Robert Gilbert and Anthony Riviotta were suspended Nov. 28. The officers pleaded guilty in court and were ordered to complete a diversion program for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

In return for completing the program, the criminal charges against the two were dismissed last week, but Gilbert and Riviotta still faced disciplinary action from the police department.

After a hearing, police Chief Keith Morgan decided to fire the men.

“There were department charges filed against both officers,” said Morgan. “After reviewing the case and the internal investigation we found that the charges had merit.”

Morgan said that Riviotta was found guilty of six charges of theft and Gilbert was found guilty of nine out of 10 charges.

Prior to being terminated, Gilbert, was placed on paid leave, as required because he is a full-time officer. Riviotta, a part-time officer, was placed on unpaid leave.

The two men were off duty Oct. 11 when a strap broke off of a tractor-trailer, causing a roll of fencing to tumble onto the highway. Gilbert, who ticketed the driver for not properly securing the fencing, and Riviotta arrived on the scene in their personal cars.

Days after the incident, the truck driver questioned authorities about what happened to the fencing. It eventually was returned.

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West York Borough Pennsylvania Police Officer Bridgette M. Wilson Wants Trial For Illegally Taping Conversations With Her Lesbian Lover – Also Charged With Receiving Stolen Property (Police Equipment) Elsewhere

June 22, 2012

YORK, PENNSYLVANIA – A West York Borough Police officer accused of illegally taping conversations with her domestic partner without the woman’s knowledge has withdrawn her petition for a pre-trial disposition.

Officer Bridgette M. Wilson, 42, who has been suspended without pay since March 2011, had been accepted into the York County District Attorney’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for her charges of intercepting communications, third-degree felonies.

Wilson allegedly made the illegal recordings in December 2010 and January 2011.

At her ARD hearing Friday, Wilson withdrew her petition and opted to go to trial, which now is scheduled for July 8 in York County court.

Her attorney, Korey Leslie, said Friday he was left “with the impression” she did not want to comply with the requirements of ARD. The program typically includes a supervision fee, community service, possibly some counseling, and the directive not to commit any other crimes.

Successful completion of ARD can result in the criminal charges being expunged from public records.

“The only thing she told me was she thinks she doesn’t need to do ARD,” Leslie said.

Wilson, of Mountville, also is charged with receiving stolen property in Lancaster County.

Manor Township Police seized a walkie-talkie and “other police related items” belonging to the Susquehanna Township Police Department inside Wilson’s home in March 2011. Wilson had worked as an officer for Susquehanna Township Police, leaving the department in December 2007.

No date is set for her Lancaster trial.

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Fired Duval County Texas Deputy Sheriff Victor Carrillo Arrested For Theft After Pawning Department Assault Rifle

June 21, 2012

DUVAL COUNTY, TEXAS -The Duval County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a former deputy for allegedly pawning off an assault rifle that belonged to the department.

Victor Carrillo, 27, has been charged for theft by a public servant. Carrillo was fired for an unrelated matter last month. When he did not turn in his $1,500 rifle, officials eventually discovered it had been pawned off in Corpus Christi.

At last report, Carrillo was being held at the Duval County Jail in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

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Suspended Broward County Florida Deputy Sheriff Brent Wooddell Awaiting Theft And Misconduct Trial Removed Court Ordered GPS Ankle Monitor And Went To Strip Club

June 6, 2012

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – A suspended Broward Sheriff’s detective under house arrest while facing trial on grand theft, official misconduct and other charges took off his GPS monitor and visited a Pompano Beach strip club, where deputies arrested him Monday night.

Prosecutors had already argued twice to have Brent Wooddell’s $2,000 bond revoked, first after he allegedly sent an intimidating text message to a witness in his case, and again after he was accused of fleeing from the scene of an accident while on his way to a court hearing. Broward Circuit Judge Carlos Rebollo allowed Wooddell to stay out of jail both times.

According to an arrest warrant, Wooddell took off his ankle monitor on Sunday and was told by his pre-trial release officer to turn himself in Monday morning. When he didn’t show, officials demanded his arrest.

Deputies found him Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. at the Cheetah strip club in Pompano Beach. He was in custody at the Broward Main Jail as of Tuesday afternoon.

Wooddell was arrested in September 2011 after a sting operation allegedly caught him in the act of stealing $1,340 from an oxycodone dealer he had just arrested. The dealer was actually an undercover Miami-Dade police officer. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the phony suspect had pills and $7,340 in a blue bag when he was taken into custody, but Wooddell only turned in $6,000 when he got to the Deerfield Beach substation.

Officials said the undercover operation was captured on video and audio recordings.

Wooddell has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case.

On his way to a formal arraignment in February, Wooddell’s car crashed into another vehicle on Florida’s Turnpike, according to court records. No one was injured in the crash, but Wooddell didn’t report it for fear of being late to his court date.

Prosecutors didn’t learn about that violation until May, at which point Assistant State Attorney Adriana Alcalde-Padron urged Rebollo to revoke Wooddell’s bond. But Rebollo kept Wooddell under house arrest, ordering the suspended detective to remain at home except when shopping or traveling to and from his job at a Hyundai dealership in Lake Park.

A month earlier, Alcalde-Padron accused Wooddell of sending text messages to a witness in the case. At that time, Rebollo reminded the defendant to avoid contact with witnesses as one of the conditions of his release.

“We have moved to revoke his bond twice,” Alcalde-Padron said Tuesday. “This is his third violation. Hopefully, he will now remain in custody at least until it’s time for his trial.”

In addition to the grand theft and official misconduct charges, Woddell is accused of tampering with evidence, falsifying records and delivery of steroids. If convicted of all charges, he faces more than 30 years in prison.

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Halls Tennessee Police Officer Jason Colvin Arrested After Indictment For Theft, Official Misconduct, And Other Charges – Bought Stolen Gun From Felon And Tried To Sell At A Pawnshop

June 6, 2012

HALLS, TENNESSEE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested a Halls Police Department officer on Tuesday after he was indicted by the Lauderdale County Grand Jury on Monday.

Jason Colvin, 32, of Halls, Tenn. was charged in the indictments with three counts of official misconduct, one count of theft more than $500 and less than $1,000, one count of accessory after the fact, one count of facilitation of a felony and compounding.

According to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation release, the TBI was requested to open an investigation on Colvin on April 12, 2012, after the Halls Police Department received a complaint on him. The allegations against Colvin included that while he was working as an officer for the Halls Police Department, he obtained a handgun from a person known to be a convicted felon and attempted to sell a stolen handgun at a pawnshop in Halls.

Colvin was arrested and booked into the Lauderdale County Jail on Tuesday. He has been on paid leave from the department, but he has now been placed on unpaid leave.

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Savage Black Beast Bit Chunk Of Flesh From New Haven Connecticut Store Owner And Spit It Back In His Face After Stealing Wig

June 6, 2012

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT – A woman accused of stealing a wig from a beauty shop in New Haven is also accused of biting the store owner as well as the police officers who arrested her.

Police said Lowpel Davis, 38, of New Haven, stole a wig from the Sassy Beauty Supply shop at 800 Chapel Street on Tuesday afternoon.

The shop owner told police he saw Davis come into his store with a juvenile girl and then noticed that a wig was missing from a mannequin.

He went through surveillance system and saw Davis take the wig and hide it, as well as several other items, in her bag, so he told staff to keep Davis from leaving the shop, police said.

It didn’t work and Davis fled with the girl, according to police.

The store owner and his 70-year-old father pursued her, police said, and Davis fought back.

Police said she punched both men in the face and the bit the store owner’s bicep, taking a chunk of flesh from his arm and then spit it in his face, police said.

When police responded around 3:30 p.m. Davis was “crazed,” in front of the Giaimo Federal Building at 150 Court St., struggled with four federal protective service officers and kicked and swore at New Haven police, police said.

When officers handcuffed Davis, she tried to kick out the window of a police car and was eventually transferred to a windowless prisoner transportation van.

Officers were taken to area hospitals to be evaluated for bites and other injuries sustained during the struggle.

The store owner was taken by ambulance to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he received treatment for his bite wound and facial injury.

Davis was charged with sixth-degree larceny, breach of peace in the second degree, criminal mischief in the first degree, assault in the second degree and two counts of assault on police officers.

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US Government Department Rules That Illegal Immigrant’s “Civil Rights” Were Violated When Forest Service Called Border Patrol For Help

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A federal department ruled last week that the Forest Service violated a Spanish-speaking woman’s civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to help translate during a routine stop, saying it was “humiliating” to Hispanics and an illicit backdoor way to capture more illegal immigrants.

The ruling by the Agriculture Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights could change policies nationwide as law enforcement agencies grapple with how far they can go in trying to help the Border Patrol while not running afoul of racial profiling standards.

Assistant Secretary Joe Leonard Jr. said calling the Border Patrol automatically “escalates” encounters between Hispanics and law enforcement. He ruled that the Forest Service cannot routinely summon the Border Patrol for assistance and said the agency now must document suspected racial profiling nationwide.

“Given the increased risk of being questioned about immigration status during an interaction with [Border Patrol], the policy of using BP for interpretation assistance is problematic in all situations because it places a burden on [limited English proficient] individuals that non-LEP individuals do not experience,” Mr. Leonard ruled.

The case stems from a 2011 incident in Olympic National Forest in Washington in which a Forest Service officer encountered a Hispanic couple who he said appeared to be illegally harvesting plants on the federal lands.

The couple didn’t speak English and he didn’t speak fluent Spanish and, anticipating that situation, he called the Border Patrol for backup and translating.

But when a Border Patrol agent arrived, the couple fled. The woman was apprehended, but the man jumped into a river to try to escape and drowned. The Border Patrol took the woman into custody but released her several days later, reportedly on humanitarian grounds.

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, and last week’s ruling was the result.

Matt Adams, legal director of the project, said the Border Patrol has been expanding its reach in the Northwest and that has meant more encounters well away from the border.

“They’ve got nothing to do out there as far as their traditional mission, that is enforcing people coming through the border. So in order to justify those expanded numbers, they utilize these other tactics,” Mr. Adams said. “At the end of the day, they can drag in bigger numbers, but it’s not focused on the border.”

His group is challenging other federal agencies’ use of the Border Patrol for translation services, and has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking logs for how often agents are used for translation.

Last week’s ruling relies in part on an executive order issued during the Clinton administration that says language is interchangeable with national origin, which is protected by federal law.

Groups that push for English-language policies in the U.S. called the new ruling illegal and said the government appeared to be granting special language rights to illegal immigrants.

“The ACLU and illegal alien rights groups are well aware that American courts have never upheld their argument that language and national origin are equal, so they battle out these disputes in private between the agencies in order to come to a settlement where both the courts and the taxpayers are absent from the table,” said Suzanne Bibby, director of government relations for ProEnglish. “This is their new strategy because they know they will lose in the courts.”

A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, said the agency is reviewing the ruling but is committed to civil rights.

The union that represents Forest Service employees didn’t return a call seeking comment.

In the proceedings, the Forest Service fought on behalf of its officer. It pointed to an operational memo with the Border Patrol that said they are allowed to back up each other. Since Forest Service employees generally are not trained in Spanish, Border Patrol agents are particularly helpful in backing up encounters with Hispanics, the agency said.

Mr. Leonard’s 40-page ruling underscored deep mutual distrust on both sides in the town of Forks, in northwestern Washington.

Town residents who told the review board that the Forest Service officer involved in the 2011 stop was known for harassing Hispanics and for working with the Border Patrol.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service officer said he felt like the Hispanic community had been “tracing” his movements.

Mr. Leonard was skeptical of the officer’s reasoning and said he found the complaints from the community more convincing.

The ruling doesn’t reveal the names of those involved.

Underpinning the ruling were some key legal arguments: First, that the complainant was entitled to visit the national forest; second, that a law enforcement stop affects the availability of the service provided by the national forest; and third, that the Forest Service must take steps to protect those with limited English, including making them not feel unduly threatened.

“A policy that causes individuals to actually flee from the service being provided does not provide meaningful access,” Mr. Leonard wrote.

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Washington DC Police, SWAT Teams, And Bomb Squad Rampage Destroys Iraq Veteran’s Home – Illegally Searched Locked Home, Seized Property Without A Warrant, And Arrested Man Without Cause

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – While Army Sgt. Matthew Corrigan was sound asleep inside his Northwest D.C. home, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of his home. SWAT and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams spent four hours readying the assault on the English basement apartment in the middle of the snowstorm of the century.

The police arrested the veteran of the Iraq war and searched his house without a warrant, not to protect the public from a terrorist or stop a crime in progress, but to rouse a sleeping man the police thought might have an unregistered gun in his home.

It all started a few hours earlier on Feb. 2, 2010, when Sgt. Corrigan called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on sleeping because of nightmares from his year training Iraqi soldiers to look for IEDs in Fallujah. Without his permission, the operator, Beth, called 911 and reported Sgt. Corrigan “has a gun and wants to kill himself.”

According to a transcript of the 911 recording, Beth told the cops that, “The gun’s actually on his lap.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind, and his two pistols and rifle were hidden under clothes and in closets, to avoid theft.

So around midnight, the police arrived at the row house at 2408 N. Capitol Street. Over the next two hours, several emergency response team units were called to the scene, calling in many cops from home.

Police memos from that night describe the situation as involving a man who is, “threatening to shoot himself,” but “doesn’t want to hurt anybody.”

None of the cops’ documents indicate a threat that warranted a “barricade” and the closure of several streets to create “an outer perimeter that prohibited both traffic and pedestrian access.” With dozens of cops on the scene, they created a “staging area” two blocks away.

Around 1 a.m., the police knocked on the door of Tammie Sommons, the upstairs neighbor in the row house. Ms. Sommons had lived there since 2008 with her three roommates and, in that time, had become a close friend of Sgt. Corrigan. She had a key to his apartment and often walked his dog Matrix.

“I opened the door to this scene with three cops with guns pointed at Matt’s door,” she recalled in an interview this week. “One officer told me that Matt called a suicide hotline and was about to kill himself. I said that was impossible, he wasn’t that kind of guy. I told the police I see him every day and would know if he was suicidal.”

Over the next hour, Ms. Sommons repeatedly told the police she was sure that Sgt. Corrigan was merely sleeping. She knew he took prescription sleeping pills because of repeated nightmares from his year in Iraq. The cops wouldn’t listen to her.

“I said to the police, ‘You guys are making a big mistake. He’s not what you think,’” recalled Ms. Sommons. She offered to go downstairs and clear up the situation, but the police would not let her.

The officers asked her whether Sgt. Corrigan owned any guns. “I said, of course he has guns, he’s in the military,” she replied. Ms. Sommons had never seen the sergeant’s guns, but she is from a military family, in which gun ownership was the norm. She was truthful with the police because she was not aware the District requires registration of every gun.

This month, the U.S. House passed a nonbinding amendment, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, that said active military living in or stationed in D.C. should not be bound by the stringent firearm laws. Were such a law in place two years ago, Sgt. Corrigan would not have been targeted by the police.

MPD told Ms. Sommons that someone had reported that there was the smell of gas coming from Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I told them that there was no gas in his apartment — it was all electric,” she recalled. “I said if they smelled something, it’s just my roommate who was cooking chicken parmesan.”

Still, the police refused to accept the simpler explanation. “The cops said we needed to leave our house because Matt was going to shoot through the ceiling,” Ms. Sommons said. “They painted this picture like Rambo was downstairs and ready to blow up the place.”

At 3 a.m., the police called in an EOD unit — the bomb squad. They brought in negotiators. They had the gas company turn off the gas line to the house. A few minutes before 4 a.m., they started calling Sgt. Corrigan’s cell phone, but they got no answer because he turned it off before going to bed. They woke him up by calling his name on a bullhorn. He then turned on the phone and was told to surrender outside.

Arrested Without Cause

When the police wouldn’t accept Sgt. Corrigan’s word that he was fine, he was forced to leave his home and surrender. When he stepped outside, he faced assault teams with rifles pointed at his chest. He immediately dropped to his knees, with his hands over his head.

Officers in full protective gear zip-tied Sgt. Corrigan’s hands behind his back and pulled him up from his knees, forcing him into a large tactical command center called the “BEAR” which was parked at the staging area.

Although police did not read Sgt. Corrigan his Miranda rights, they questioned him inside the tactical truck. They asked the Iraq veteran basic questions about his life from various angles to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his two handguns and one rifle, which he had not registered after moving into the city.

Suddenly a police commander jumped in the truck and demanded to know where Sgt. Corrigan put his house key. He refused.

“I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sgt. Corrigan recalled saying in an interview with me last week at D.C. Superior Court after the city dropped all 10 charges against him.

“Then the cop said to me, ‘I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.’”

“‘Looks like I’m buying a new door,’” Sgt. Corrigan responded. “He was riffed”

Realizing quickly that his house would get raided without his permission, he asked for one thing from the police. “I said, ‘Please don’t hurt my dog. He’s friendly. He’s a good dog. Please don’t hurt him.’ They said they wouldn’t.”

The police then took Sgt. Corrigan to the VA hospital, still with his hands restrained. He didn’t want to be put in the hospital against his will, so he was okay with being left there temporarily. He signed himself in for help.

“After having all those guns at me, I was broken,” he said, pointing again at his chest, where he’d seen the rifle red laser dots. “I hadn’t slept in days, I just wanted to sleep.”

The reservist spent three nights in the hospital. When he got out, the police were waiting to arrest him for the unregistered guns found when they raided his home, without a warrant.

Search, Seizure, but no Warrant

Since Since Sgt. Corrigan refused to permit a search of his house, the police had to break down his door. The cops, however, didn’t bother to wait for a search warrant before doing so. “They were all keyed up because they had been there and ready to go all night,” surmised Sgt. Corrgian’s attorney Richard Gardiner.

The first to enter the apartment with the supposedly dangerous apartment was the Emergency Response Team, which secured the dog Matrix and gave him over to animal control, according to police reports. Only then did the EOD personnel enter to search using portable x-ray equipment.

During the “explosive threat clearing efforts,” police reported finding the sergeant’s “hazardous materials,” which included two pistols and a rifle, binoculars and ammunition. The report also details how it took the combined efforts of the police, EOD and the D.C. Fire Department to seize the “military ammunition can that contained numerous fireworks type devices.” These were fireworks left over from the Fourth of July.

Also taken into evidence was what the police described as a “military smoke grenade” and “military whistler device.” This smoke-screen canister and trip wire were put in Sgt. Corrigan’s rucksack in 1996 by his squad leader and had long been forgotten over the years. EOD took custody of the smoke grenade and whistle. The rest of the the materials were handed over to the crime scene search department at 7:30 a.m.


Police Lt. R.T. Glover was pleased with the seven hour operation that resulted in finding three unregistered guns in D.C. In his report to Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, he concluded that, “as a result of this barricade incident, there are no recommendations for improvement with respect to overall tactical operations.”

Police Destruction

The dry after-action notes from the police following the operation give no clue to the property damage done to Sgt. Corrigan’s home. They tore apart the 900 square foot place.

Instead of unzipping luggage, the police used knives to cut through and destroy the bags. They dumped over the bookshelves, emptied closets, threw the clothes on the floor.

In the process, they knocked over the feeding mechanism for the tropical fish in the sergeant’s six-foot long aquarium. When he was finally released from jail two weeks later, all of his expensive pet fish were dead in the tank.

The guns were seized, along with the locked cases, leaving only broken latches behind. The ammunition, hidden under a sleeping bag in the utility closet, was taken. They broke Sgt. Corrigan’s eyeglasses and left them on the floor. The police turned on the electric stove and never turned it off and left without securing the broken door.

When Ms. Sommons came back to her home the next day, she looked into Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I was really upset because it was ransacked. It made me lose respect for the police officers involved,” she said, the stepdaughter of a correctional officer.

“Here was Matt, who spent a year fighting for our country in Iraq — where these police would never set foot in — and they treat him like trash off the street.”

In February, Sgt. Corrigan filed a civil suit against the District asking for a minimum of $500,000 in damages for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. His attorney, Mr. Gardiner, intends to add some of the individual officers to the suit when they are identified in discovery.

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Cops Becoming Robbers – Stealing Property From Innocent People Not Charged With A Crime

June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Something is desperately wrong with our legal system when the government can take property from innocent people who have never been charged with a crime. It’s happening all over the country thanks to the surreal doctrine of civil forfeiture, through which courts hold inanimate objects guilty of crimes, instead of going after the actual owners who – as actual people – would be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Dispensing with that vital presumption has proved to be highly profitable for law-enforcement agencies, which are allowed to keep some or all of the value of a seized asset. On Wednesday, Minnesota’s state auditor released a comprehensive report on $5 million worth of property grabbed in the state. A regular audit was put into place after a prior investigation revealed a police gang task force allowed seized cash and automobiles to go “missing.” Oregon’s Forfeiture Oversight Advisory Committee revealed on May 21 that cops had seized $1.8 million in cash and property last year.

After federal law was amended in 1984 to expand the use of asset seizure to combat the drug war, forfeiture cases have exploded. In 2008, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund had more than $1 billion in assets. Where state laws place a limit on the use of seized funds, federal law provides a work-around. Consequently, forfeiture funds now are a significant budgetary source for many agencies, increasing the incentive to seize property.

The system is ripe for abuse, as a recent comprehensive report by the Institute for Justice (IJ) details. In 27 states, the government only needs to make its case with a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is far below the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard prosecutors must meet for a criminal conviction. Some states even use the lowest possible standard – “probable cause” – in seizure cases.

That stacks the deck heavily against the property owner. Even though state and federal laws offer an “innocent owner” defense, the owner bears the burden of establishing innocence – a complete reversal of the usual burden of proof. This has resulted in shocking abuses of power.

In Massachusetts, the feds and the local police are acting in concert to seize the motel owned by Russ Caswell because there might have been some drug-dealing in some of the rooms, even though the owners were unaware of it and are cooperating with the police. Perhaps the worst example comes from Wisconsin, where, as detailed by the Huffington Post’s Radley Balko, police seized the bail money of a mother who tried to get her son out of jail. The Brown County Sheriff’s Office did so by alleging the cash she had just withdrawn from ATMs smelled of drugs.

All of this happens because there is little oversight over the process. Civil forfeiture has long since lost its original link to the drug war and money laundering. At a minimum, the time has come to restore fairness by raising the standard of proof for a seizure. Better yet, the laws need to be re-written to entirely eliminate the profit motive from policing.

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Former DeKalb County Georgia Detective Anthony A. Robinson Has Active State Certification After Conviction For Stealing From Convience Store 3 Years Ago

May 30, 2012

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORIGA – A former DeKalb County police detective was still eligible to be a sworn officer, despite being convicted of stealing from a convenience store more than three years ago, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

The Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council only on Tuesday learned that Anthony A. Robinson was no longer a cop and that a court order required him to surrender his certification.

Officials for the state agency that certifies police say a new state law can prevent such oversights in the future.

“It’s already working,” Georgia P.O.S.T. executive director Ken Vance said.

Robinson, 42, pleaded guilty in February 2009 to violating his oath as an officer and theft by taking, after he was caught on film in 2008 taking money and lottery tickets during a police raid.

As part of his three-year probation, he was directed to not “work as a police officer and surrender [his] certification as a law enforcement officer.”

But before Tuesday, Robinson’s status was listed on the P.O.S.T. database as “in good standing.”

“Nobody thought to notify P.O.S.T.,” Vance said.

Reached by phone by the AJC Wednesday, Robinson declined to comment. But he told Channel 2 Action News that “I didn’t know I was supposed to report [the arrest].”

As part of their certification process, all sworn police officers are required to notify P.O.S.T. any time they are arrested for offenses that are not traffic-related, Vance said. The agency then investigates to determine if the officer can keep his or her arrest powers.

“They know that,“ Vance said. “They are taught that in school, but they generally conveniently forget. [Robinson] didn’t report.”

Notifying P.O.S.T. is important, Vance said, to prevent cops who’ve lost their jobs due to criminal behavior from being hired somewhere else as a sworn officer.

At the time of Robinson’s arrest, he was held solely responsible for reporting it to P.O.S.T., Vance said. But the DeKalb Police Department was required to report that Robinson had resigned in lieu of termination, which Vance said did not happen.

DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien told Channel 2 that the reporting likely slipped through the cracks under the previous administration.

P.O.S.T. is supposed to be notified within 15 days of an officer being arrested, officials say.

“Two things were in place that failed,” Vance said. “Large agencies many times get overwhelmed and may overlook these things. But the more you pass on the problem, the bigger the problem gets. Then you have something bad that happens … and the agency gets the liability.”

Now, police agencies also are held responsible to report an officer’s criminal misconduct to P.O.S.T.

But that process did not work in November when DeKalb officers Blake Andrew Norwood and Arthur Parker III were arrested for allegedly beating a handcuffed teen, and subsequently resigned to avoid being fired.

Both were indicted earlier this month, along with DeKalb police Sgt. Anthony Remone Robinson, for that incident and for allegedly beating three other shackled juveniles.

P.O.S.T. officials say neither the arrested officers – Parker and Norwood – nor DeKalb Police leaders reported the arrests or resignations.

Vance says a new law is in place that requires a three-tier reporting system.

The arrested officer, the officer’s law enforcement agency and the arresting agency are now required to report to police. Conversely, P.O.S.T. is required to report to respective police chiefs, prosecutors and judges when an officer’s certification comes under scrutiny.

Vance noted only one problem with the new law, however. “There’s really no culpability for the agency or the agency head” that fails to report misconduct, he said.

Still, the law has already begun to work, Vance said. “We have about 200 more cases in the field that we’re having to work than we did prior to the law,” he said.

Robinson told Channel 2 that even though he might have been able to apply for, and get, another policing job since pleading guilty to the 2008 theft, he’s made no effort to work again in law enforcement.

Vance said Robinson could apply for reinstatement, but the chances would be slim.

“But because of that lapse, and his non-reporting, that’s going to make it that much tougher for him to stand in front of the P.O.S.T. council and say, ‘I really would like my certification back,’” Vance said.

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Fired Logansport Indiana Police Officer Carlos Paul Leal Arrested And Charged With Two Counts Of Felony Theft

May 27, 2012

LOGANSPORT, INDIANA – A former north-central Indiana police officer has been arrested on theft charges alleging that he misused a city-issued gas card and made a questionable claim for compensation.

Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor tells the Pharos-Tribune that Carlos Paul Leal was arrested Friday at the Cass County Jail after surrendering to face two felony theft charges. The 32-year-old Leal later posted bond and was released.

County Prosecutor Kevin Enyeart says the former Logansport police officer faces one theft charge for allegedly misusing a city-issued gas card. That investigation led to the Delphi man’s firing last month from the police department.

In the second case, he’s accused of filing questionable paperwork seeking compensation for allegedly working two days during an law enforcement campaign targeting drunken drivers.

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New Bern North Carolina Police Officer Frances Sutton Arrested, Charged With Stealing Drugs From Evidence Room – Oxycodone

May 26, 2012

NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA – New Bern Police have arrested New Bern Police Department Officer Frances Sutton, and charged with theft of evidence from the New Bern Police Department Evidence Room.

The items taken were controlled substances in the form of Oxycodone pills. Sutton voluntarily surrendered to SBI agents Wednesday night.

She was charged with four felony counts of Obstruction of Justice and three felony counts of Altering, Destroying, or Stealing Evidence of Criminal Conduct. She was placed in the Craven County Jail under a $35,000 secured bond. Her first appearance in Craven County District Court is scheduled for Thursday morning, May 24, 2012. Ms. Sutton is currently on administrative leave.

Police say Chief Summers conducted an internal review and discovered evidence missing in cases in which Ms. Sutton was the charging officer. He reported his findings to District Attorney Thomas who requested an SBI investigation.

“We are saddened by this news. But just as we are committed to policing our community, we must also police ourselves. And we will not tolerate unlawful activity in our neighborhoods or in our department,” said Chief Summers.

“Law enforcement officers are expected to uphold and enforce the law, not violate it. Ms. Sutton is charged based on the findings of the investigation at this point. We will continue to look for any other illegal activity,” said District Attorney Scott Thomas.

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Former Veteran Woodridge Illinois Police Officer Scott Webb Pleads Guilty To $30,000+ Theft From Charity For A Slap On The Wrist – Fled State And Was Arrested In Missouri After 5 Month Search

May 26, 2012

WOODRIDGE, ILLINOIS – A former Woodridge police officer who pled guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from a police charity to benefit the families of fallen officers will serve no additional jail time.

Webb, 40, was sentenced today to two years probation and 180 days in jail in DuPage County Circuit Court by Judge Kathryn Creswell, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. He could have received a maximum of seven years in prison.

Paul Darrah, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said even though Webb was sentenced to 180 day in prison, he has already served more than 220 days since Webb never made bond from his arrest last fall.

Webb plead guilty last month to felony theft charges to stealing more than $30,000 from a charity to benefit the families of fallen police officers.

Darrah said Webb has paid more than $31,000 in restitution for the theft.

Webb, a 10-year veteran of the force, was indicted last May on felony theft charges that allege he misdirected donations to a charity that raised funds to support family members, friends and colleagues of police officers killed in the line of duty.

But before he was in police custody, authorities said he fled the state. He was arrested in October in Branson, Mo., after a five-month run from authorities.

Woodridge Police Chief Ken Boehm said after Webb’s guilty plea last month that the department can now move on in the wake of one of its officers admitting guilt, and called Webb’s crime a “shameful act.”

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Yemassee South Carolina Police Officer Capt. Gregory Alexander Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After $11,000 Goes Missing

May 26, 2012

YEMASSEE, SOUTH CAROLINA — A police captain from the Lowcountry community of Yemassee has been suspended without pay after being charged with talking almost $11,000 seized in police traffic stops.

The Beaufort Gazette reports town officials were notified this week that Capt. Gregory Alexander had been charged with one count of misconduct in office and two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

He says he has full faith and confidence in the officer and that the matter will be resolved.

Police Chief Jack Hagy said the charges follow a State Law Enforcement Division investigation. Investigators say the money came from traffic stops in 2009 and 2010.

Hagy says the department is standing by Alexander. He says he has full faith and confidence in the officer and that the matter will be resolved. A phone number for Alexander could not be located.

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340 Pound Beast Punched, Spit At, And Pepper Sprayed Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store Workers In Effort To Steal Groceries

May 25, 2012

ATHENS, GEORGIA – The Georgia woman, 26, was so determined to shoplift beer, bacon, cheese, and chicken wings from a Piggly Wiggly that she punched, spit at, and pepper-sprayed store workers who confronted her as she tried to flee the supermarket Wednesday afternoon, according to cops.

Appling, pictured in the adjacent mug shot, allegedly hid items worth $88.27 in a canvas bag. She “attempted to check out, only putting one item on the counter,” according to a worker quoted in an Athens-Clarke County Police Department report.

When a Piggly Wiggly employee–who had been tipped to the pilfering by a shopper–asked Appling about the concealed items, she tried to exit the store. After worker Jonathan Orr tried to stop Appling, she “pulled out some pepper spray and sprayed him in the face.”

Appling kept spraying as several workers tried to keep her from fleeing. The 340-pound Appling also allegedly punched Orr in the face and spit on the 28-year-old employee. As she successfully bolted from the Athens store, Appling “was dropping beer cans out of her purse.”

Responding to a 911 call, a cop reported spotting “a very large black female in a purple dress standing there screaming at two store employees” who followed her outside the Piggly Wiggly, which was filled with a choking cloud of pepper spray. Police then arrested Appling, whose rap sheet includes several prior shoplifting convictions and outstanding arrest warrants in three Georgia counties.

Cops prepared an inventory of the items Appling sought to swipe: five packages of cheese; eight cans of Coors Light; vegetable oil; chicken wings; and five packages of bacon. As first reported by the Athens Banner Herald, she was charged with a variety of crimes, including aggravated assault, theft, simple battery, and disorderly conduct.

While in police custody, Appling told a cop to add whatever charges he wanted “because she was going to plea bargain and half of the charges would be dropped anyway,” according to the report. She also asked Officer Nathaniel Franco if her arrest would make the police blotter, requesting that the cop make his report “more interesting so that her arrest would make” the department’s compendium of notable incidents.

The unemployed–and now incarcerated–Appling “also commented that store personnel shouldn’t chase people like that because they could get themselves hurt.” Or shoplifters could get busted.

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Senate Wants Travelers To Pay More For Mistreatment By TSA Agents

May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with legislation to increase airline passenger security fees, beating back a GOP attempt to keep them at current levels.

The 2013 Homeland Security appropriations bill would increase one-way fees for passengers from $2.50 to $5 in order to close a budget shortfall at the Transportation Security Administration.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the $350 million in funding would otherwise come from taxpayers and argued it is better to stick passengers who rely on TSA with the bill.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) sponsored an amendment to strip out the fee increase and offset the loss of revenue with cuts to state and local grants, emergency food and shelter funding, and dropping $89 million in funding for a new highway interchange leading to the Homeland Security’s new headquarters in southeast Washington, D.C. Hutchison noted that the Senate had decided not to increase the fees in the recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.

That amendment was defeated on a 15-15 vote. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined Republicans in supporting the measure to strip out the fee increase.

Hutchinson joined Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) in voting against the DHS bill as a whole. Johnson and Moran have been voting against non-defense 2013 appropriations bills because they support the House GOP position that the spending caps in last August’s debt ceiling deal should be lowered. The other Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee have all voted to support the August debt ceiling deal levels.

The committee on Tuesday also approved the 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill, traditionally the least controversial of all 12 annual spending bills. The vote was 30-0.

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Veteran Philidelphia Pennsylvania Police Officer Bridgette Paris Arrested And Charged With Theft From Toy Store

May 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – A Philadelphia Police officer was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing from a toy store.

Forty-eight-year-old Bridgette Paris was arrested following an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Authorities allege Paris engaged in an on-going conspiracy of theft from a local toy store.

She is charged with retail theft, unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, forgery and related offenses.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey will suspend Paris, who is a 14-year veteran, for thirty days with the intent to dismiss.

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Brown County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Department And Drug Task Force Use Lies And Scam To Steal $7,500 From Disabled Woman Trying To Post Her Son’s Bail – Money From ATM’s, Like All Circulating US Currency, Had Traces Of Drugs

May 21, 2012

BROWN COUNTY, WISCONSIN – When the Brown County, Wis., Drug Task Force arrested her son Joel last February, Beverly Greer started piecing together his bail.

She used part of her disability payment and her tax return. Joel Greer’s wife also chipped in, as did his brother and two sisters. On Feb. 29, a judge set Greer’s bail at $7,500, and his mother called the Brown County jail to see where and how she could get him out. “The police specifically told us to bring cash,” Greer says. “Not a cashier’s check or a credit card. They said cash.”

So Greer and her family visited a series of ATMs, and on March 1, she brought the money to the jail, thinking she’d be taking Joel Greer home. But she left without her money, or her son.

Instead jail officials called in the same Drug Task Force that arrested Greer. A drug-sniffing dog inspected the Greers’ cash, and about a half-hour later, Beverly Greer said, a police officer told her the dog had alerted to the presence of narcotics on the bills — and that the police department would be confiscating the bail money.

“I told them the money had just come from the bank,” Beverly Greer says. “We had just taken it out. If the money had drugs on it, then they should go seize all the money at the bank, too. I just don’t understand how they could do that.”

The Greers had been subjected to civil asset forfeiture, a policy that lets police confiscate money and property even if they can only loosely connect them to drug activity. The cash, or revenue from the property seized, often goes back to the coffers of the police department that confiscated it. It’s a policy critics say is often abused, but experts told The HuffPost that the way the law is applied to bail money in Brown County is exceptionally unfair.

It took four months for Beverly Greer to get her family’s money back, and then only after attorney Andy Williams agreed to take their case. “The family produced the ATM receipts proving that had recently withdrawn the money,” Williams says. “Beverly Greer had documentation for her disability check and her tax return. Even then, the police tried to keep their money.”

Wisconsin is one of four states (along with Illinois, Kentucky, and Oregon) that prohibits bail bondsmen. So bail must be paid either in cash, with a registered check, cashier’s check or credit card. In fact, Donna Kuchler, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney based in Waukesha, said police aren’t allowed to insist on cash.

“I would be suspicious of why they would do that,” Kuchler says. “I had a case last year in Fond du Lac County where they tried to say my client could only pay in cash. My guess is that they probably intended to do the same thing that happened here. We brought a cashier’s check anyway, and they knew they had to accept it.”

But the Greers still fared better than Jesus Zamora, whose family and friends continue to fight for police to return their bail money. Zamora was arrested in January on misdemeanor drug possession and a misdemeanor gun charge. A judge set his bail at $5,000.

“My girlfriend borrowed some money from her sister and mother and a few friends, and they came to bail me out,” Zamora says. “But then they started asking her if she had brought drug money. They took the money away and said they were going to have the drug dogs sniff it. She asked them when I would be let out, and they told her, ‘He isn’t going anywhere’.”

The police then seized Zamora’s bail money, just as they did with the Greers’. “I stayed in jail for, I think, another 11 days. I lost count. I had never been arrested for drugs before. And this was for a really small amount. Seventeen painkillers, for which I had a prescription, and a small bag they say had traces of cocaine. And they say my girlfriend and I just had $5,000 in drug money lying around.”

Zamora’s girlfriend borrowed more money from friends and coworkers, which she promised to pay back out of her mother’s tax return. They waited until Zamora had a court date, and this time posted his bail in front of a judge, with a cashier’s check. Wisconsin law enforcement officials also are required to provide a receipt when they confiscate property under forfeiture laws. Beverly Greer and Jesus Zamora both said they were never given receipts.

Brown County Drug Task Force Director Lt. Dave Poteat says the dog alerts were not the only factors. According to Poteat, the Greers and Zamora’s girlfriend appeared nervous when they brought in the bail money. “Their stories didn’t add up. Their ATM receipts had the wrong times on them. And they were withdrawing from several different locations. The times just didn’t correspond to their stories.”

Poteat says an additional reason Zamora’s bail money was confiscated was because during calls from the jail to multiple people, he indicated that the money was drug-related. “Mr. Zamora made a number of calls in which he appeared to be trying to disguise or hide where the money was coming from,” Poteat says. “At one point, he even said to another party, ‘of course the money is dirty.'”

According to Poteat, all inmate calls from the jail are recorded, and both the inmate and the party they call are warned before the call begins.

Zamora says he was merely telling his girlfriend where to get the bail money. “There’s a guy who still owes me money from a car I sold to him. And where I’m from, everyone has a nickname. So I was telling her who she could go to that might be able to give her some money for my bail. I used nicknames because I didn’t want the police to visit their houses.”

Zamora says he was not attempting to disguise where the money was from, only telling his girlfriend and sister to find someone else to bring in the money so they wouldn’t be interrogated. “I know how police do this. My sister just got her immigration papers. I didn’t want them harassing her or threatening to deport her or to change her immigration status. I just wanted to protect them, so I told them to find someone else to bring in the money.”

Civil asset forfeiture is based on the premise that a piece of property — a car, a pile of cash, a house — can be guilty of a crime. Laws vary from state to state, but generally, law enforcement officials can seize property if they can show any connection between the property and illegal activity. It is then up to the owner of the property to prove in court that he owns it or earned it legitimately. It doesn’t require a property owner to actually be convicted of a crime. In fact, most people who lose property to civil asset forfeiture are never charged.

The laws were created to go after the ill-gotten gains of big-time dealers, but critics say they’ve since become a way for police departments to generate revenue — often by targeting lower-level offenders. In 2010, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian law firm, rated the forfeiture laws in all 50 states, assigning higher grades to states with fairer policies. The firm gave Wisconsin a “C.” When there’s less than $2,000 at stake, law enforcement agencies in the state get to keep 70 percent of what they take. If more than $2,000 is taken, departments can keep half.

But in all states, police agencies can contact the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), making the case federal, and under federal law, local police departments can keep up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds, with the rest going to the Department of Justice. The institute reports that between 2000 and 2008, police agencies in Wisconsin took in $50 million from this “equitable sharing” program with the federal government. According to Williams, the DEA recently filed a claim on Zamora’s money in federal court, to take possession of the money through federal civil asset forfeiture laws.

But even in the odd world of asset forfeiture, the seizure of bail money because of a drug-dog alert raises other concerns. In addition to increasing skepticism over the use of drug-sniffing dogs, studies have consistently shown that most U.S. currency contains traces of cocaine. In a 1994 ruling, for example, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cited studies showing that 75 percent of U.S. currency in Los Angeles included traces of narcotics. In 2009, researchers at the University of Massachusetts analyzed 234 bills collected from 18 cities, and found that 90 percent contained traces of cocaine. A 2008 study published in the Trends in Analytical Chemistry came to similar conclusions, as have studies by the Federal Reserve and the Argonne National Laboratory.

Zamora says he was referring to the common presence of drugs on money when he told his girlfriend, “of course the money is dirty.” “I had talked to my attorney about how all money has some drugs on it,” Zamora says. “So I was trying to tell her what to say if they told her a dog alerted to it. That she was supposed to say, ‘Of course the money is dirty — all money is dirty.'”

Stephen Downing, a retired narcotics cop who served as assistant police chief in Los Angeles, says it isn’t surprising that a drug dog would alert to a pile of cash, since it usually has traces of drugs.

“I’d call these cases direct theft. They’re hijackings,” says Downing, who is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of former police and prosecutors who advocate ending the drug war.

Downing says he recently consulted a medical marijuana activist in California who was told to bring his bail money in cash, despite the fact that state law allows payment with a cashier’s check, a registered check or a credit card. “It makes me wonder if this seizing of bail is a new idea getting shopped around in law enforcement circles.”

Poteat says he’s aware of some studies from the 1980s about traces of narcotics on most U.S. currency, but that he didn’t know about the more recent research. “Our dogs are trained with currency that’s taken out of circulation. So they wouldn’t alert to bills that have the same traces most other bills have.”

Steven Kessler, a New York-based forfeiture attorney and the author of the legal treatise “Civil and Criminal Forfeiture: Federal and State Practice,” said he had never heard of simply confiscating bail. “It’s abhorrent. You can reject bail if you suspect the money is dirty. But you don’t simply take it and hand it over to the police department.”

Virginia attorney David Smith, who also wrote a book on forfeiture, says he has seen other cases in which authorities have confiscated bail money, but adds, “No courts have ordered forfeiture simply on the basis of a dog alert. There has to be other evidence.”

Forfeitures like these may not hold up in court, but failed cases wouldn’t necessarily discourage police departments from continuing the practice. If the defendant never challenges the seizure, the department generates revenue. If the defendant challenges and wins, the department loses little.

Indigent defendants, in particular, may decide not to pursue a forfeiture case due to the expense, particularly if they’ve already used their savings on bail, or are more concerned with fighting pending criminal charges. In many cases, the amount of cash seized would be exceeded by the costs of hiring an attorney to win it back anyway. In addition, under Wisconsin law, indigent defendants are not entitled to a public defender in civil asset forfeiture cases.

“I would think that one of these cases would be the perfect opportunity for a court to impose punitive damages against the police department,” Kessler says. “You need to make it clear that it would be damaging for the police to attempt this sort of thing in the future. Considering how appalling these cases are, I don’t see why a court couldn’t do that.”

Poteat says it “isn’t unusual” for his task force to seize bail money under forfeiture laws. “I’d say we’ve done it maybe eight or nine times this year.”

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Former New Orleans Louisiana Chief Deputy Of Traffic Court James Singleton Charged With Stealing Money From Traffic Violators

May 19, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – The former chief deputy of New Orleans Traffic Court has been formally charged with stealing money from unsuspecting traffic violators, an alleged scam we detailed in an earlier 4Investigates story.

James Singleton was charged today in a one-count bill of information. He is charged with felony theft as an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

Singleton is accused of taking at least $9,760 from at least six victims, but never clearing their violations in the court’s computer system. Sources tell Channel 4 that Singleton may not have acted alone and is cooperating with a larger investigation.

Singleton was arrested April 20 based on a criminal complaint and has since been out on bond. The fact that Singleton was charged through a bill of information, rather than a grand jury indictment, is a sign that he is cooperating with authorities.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the charge against Singleton illustrates the goverment’s “zero tolerance for corruption.”

“In addition to using his position to steal from citizens, Singleton’s conduct denied essential funds to New Orleans traffic court and to the city’s public defender’s office,” he said.

According to traffic court officials, Singleton was in charge of giving “reinstatement letters” to traffic violators who paid off their tickets to regain their suspended licenses and driving privileges. But officials became suspicious when some of those violators returned to court after being re-arrested for the same unpaid violations.

Rochelle Evans said she was a victim. Evans had racked up multiple tickets, so she paid them off with her income tax refund. She thought the matter was over until she got pulled over again and arrested.

“I got pulled over by the police officer and he told me that my driver’s license was suspended, and I went to telling him, that can’t be so, because it was handled already and it wasn’t,” Evans said.

When Evans went back to court, she got the bad news: none of the tickets was marked as paid.

Noel Cassanova, chief clerk of traffic court, said he heard identical complaints from others. He reviewed the cases and found a common thread: reinstatement letters signed by Singleton.

“The letter says the tickets are satisfied, but the computer says they’re open and pending,” Cassanova said.

After several such complaints, Cassanova and the traffic court judges confronted Singleton. He initially denied stealing money, but in September 2010 handed in his resignation.

The court reported Singleton to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office and the FBI. During the course of an 18-month investigation, more than a dozen additional alleged victims came forward, all with reinstatement letters signed by Singleton.

Channel 4 also began investigating and found several more people who said they were victimized. One woman said she went to an ATM on several occasions to pay Singleton hundreds of dollars. Another alleged victim said Singleton came to her house to collect.

In the course of our investigation, Singleton was quietly arrested by the FBI. In its affidavit, the FBI says Singleton admitted pocketing the money.

WWL-TV has not been able to contact Singleton, who is not related to the former New Orleans city councilman of the same name, for comment.

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Bedford New Hampshire Police Officer Charged With Stealing Vest As Police Motorcycle Club Robbed Store Dead After Committing Suicide At Home

May 19, 2012

BEDFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A second police officer charged with stealing a vest last May from Brian Blackden’s North State Street pepper spray supply shop died at his home May 11, the day the complaints were filed in court.

Gary Norton, a 48-year-old Bedford police sergeant, had not yet been issued a summons for the misdemeanor theft charge, Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday.

O’Malley said he couldn’t comment on Norton’s cause of death, but Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney confirmed the sergeant’s death was a suicide, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Sweeney did not return calls for comment yesterday, and neither did Bedford police Chief John Bryfonski. An obituary published in the Union Leader yesterday said Norton, who worked for the Bedford police for 15 years, died at his home May 11.

Norton and Hill police Sgt. Jonathan Evans, 56, were charged with theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly stealing a vest last May from Blackden’s store at 485 N. State St., where Blackden says he was robbed and threatened by five members of a police motorcycle club.

The complaints, which were signed by the Concord police and filed in Concord’s district court, don’t provide any description of the incident beyond the allegations that Norton and Evans took a vest that belonged to Blackden. O’Malley has directed questions to the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office, where he said the case was transferred because of possible conflicts of interest.

The assistant Cheshire County attorney handling the case, John Webb, did not return calls for comment.

Blackden said he was robbed by men who belonged to the Road Dawgs, a motorcycle club for active and retired officers. The men, who were wearing the club’s colors, took the vest because they believed it belonged to them, Blackden said.

Evans said Thursday that he had been a member of the Road Dawgs but resigned from the club last year. He didn’t comment further on the allegations but said he “didn’t break the law doing anything of that nature.”

Evans’s employment status hasn’t changed since he was charged, and Chief David Kranz said he and the selectmen were confident Evans “had no wrongdoing in the incident.” He is due in court June 18.

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Chicago Illinois Police Officers Sgt. Ronald Watta And Kallatt Mohammed Arrested Stealing $5,200 From Drug Dealer – Caught In FBI Sting Operation

May 10, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Two Chicago cops, believing they were stealing $5,200 in cash that belonged to a drug dealer, were actually caught in an undercover sting, federal authorities said Monday.

Wentworth District tactical unit Sgt. Ronald Watts and tactical unit Officer Kallatt Mohammed appeared in handcuffs Monday in federal court in Chicago after being arrested Sunday night in a joint FBI and Chicago Police Department Internal Affairs Division operation.

They are accused of stealing the money on Nov. 21 and charged with theft of government funds.

According to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Mohammed, 47, a 14-year veteran of the department, took a bag containing the cash and a court-authorized tracking device from a homeless man who was working as an informant for the FBI.

Watts, 48, who’s been with the Chicago Police Department for 18 years, later met the homeless man at a Chinatown Walgreens parking lot and gave him $400 for tipping the officers off about the cash delivery, according to the complaint.

When Watts handed over the cash he allegedly asked the homeless man, “Who always takes care of you?” The homeless man replied, “You do, Watts,” according to the complaint.

The homeless man, who has 99 arrests and 16 convictions, told the FBI he’d discussed his work as a drug courier with the officers several times prior to the undercover operation and that Watts had previously stolen cash from him, authorities said.

Both police officers spoke in court only to confirm that they understand the charges against them. They would face up to 10 years behind bars and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted, prosecutors said. They were released on $10,000 bail Monday after being ordered to surrender their weapons and passports and told to have no contact with each other.

Watts — wearing a black sweat suit — and Mohammed — wearing a black wool hat and a work jacket — both ran from the Dirksen federal court building Monday afternoon in an attempt to avoid news photographers and a TV camera.

Watts tussled with an ABC 7 cameraman in Plymouth Court before speeding off in a waiting car, while Mohammed hid in a Lady Foot Locker on State Street. When Mohammed later bolted from the store with photographers in pursuit, he was temporarily detained by two passing plainclothes police officers who mistook him for a shoplifter.

Both Watts and Mohammed have been stripped of their police powers and both are suspended without pay.

Watts serves as the financial secretary of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association, but has been asked to resign his position following his arrest, union president Jim Ade said.

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Baltimore Maryland Prosecutors Dropping Charges Against Savage Black Beasts Who Attacked, Brutally Beat, Stripped, And Robbed White Tourist – Despite Video Evidence

May 10, 2012

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – Baltimore prosecutors have dropped half of the charges filed against four young people accused in a St. Patrick’s Day attack on a tourist, whose brutal beating and robbery was videotaped and widely viewed online.

Aaron Jacob Parsons, 20; Shayona Mikia Davis, 20; Shatia Baldwin, 21; and Deangelo Carter, 19, were each charged in with first-degree assault in the incident, in which an Alexandria, Va. man was battered, stripped of his clothes and left unconscious in front of the Baltimore circuit courthouse on North Calvert Street.

But the city state’s attorneys’ office has since dropped those charges and whittled many others over the past three weeks. In all, 13 out of 24 charges have been removed.

“The court commissioner filed the original list of charges in this case, and we modified the list to reflect our assessment of the alleged illegal conduct,” said Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office.

Three of the defendants have hearings scheduled in district court next week. Davis, who was originally charged with armed robbery for using a high-heeled shoe as a weapon, was set to appear Wednesday. But her hearing was canceled after city prosecutors filed a criminal information in the case, moving it from the lower district court to circuit court.

The videotaped attack shocked viewers and police, who used the recording to track down the defendants, the last of whom was arrested April 25. The video appears to show an unprovoked assault on an intoxicated tourist, who later told police he was trying to get back to his Mount Vernon hotel. He was robbed of his iPhone, a $1,300 watch and the key to his Audi, police said.

Parsons, a party promoter from Rosedale, was originally charged with eight crimes in the incident, but three of them have been cut, including the first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and reckless endangerment. Remaining are robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit second-degree assault and theft charges.

Davis, who lives in Baltimore, is now charged only with second-degree assault, after first-degree assault, robbery and armed robbery charges were dropped.

Baldwin, of Brooklyn, is now charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, theft and second-degree assault, after four other charges were dropped: first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault.

A single charge of second-degree assault remains against Carter, who lives in Baltimore. Prosecutors declined to pursue armed robbery, robbery, and first-degree assault charges.

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9 Pounds Of “Lost” Cocaine Turns Up In Boston Police Evidence Locker – Lots Of Drug Evidence Tampered With Or Missing Since 1990

May 8, 2012

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Boston police announced yesterday that four kilos of cocaine previously reported missing from their evidence locker were found to have been shelved incorrectly.

The drugs were stored in the BPD’s Hyde Park evidence warehouse and could not be located in a recent audit.

“After investigators identified the inconsistency, the Boston Police Department immediately took every measure to resolve the matter,” a police statement said.

“A thorough search of the immediate area resulted in successfully locating the evidence which had been improperly shelved in a nearby location.”

The misplaced cocaine is the latest misstep at the BPD’s problem-plagued warehouse, where audits in 2006 and 2008 reported more than 750 missing pieces of drug evidence, and 256 tampered with since 1990.

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McHenry Illinois Police Officer Dale Hojnacki Arrested, Charged With Stealing Evidence – All Recent Arrests By Department In Jeopardy

May 8, 2012

MCHENRY, ILLINOIS – A widening investigation into a city of McHenry police officer’s alleged theft of evidence potentially jeopardizes all recent arrests made by the department, prosecutors have warned.

A letter from the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office to every defense attorney in the county last week disclosed “potentially exculpatory evidence involving all arrests made by the McHenry Police Department.”

Dale Hojnacki, 35, of McHenry, was charged last month with felony theft and official misconduct on allegations he stole more than $500 from an evidence locker at the city department. The subsequent investigation has led police to believe that Hojnacki has been taking narcotics from sealed evidence bags, according to the letter from Michael Combs, chief of the criminal division for county prosecutors, though the former officer has not been charged with additional crimes.

Hojnacki “has potentially compromised the evidence against any person who has been arrested by the McHenry Police Department,” Combs wrote. Hojnacki served on the force for 11 years, two as a detective, before resigning following the charges last month. But Combs believes investigators have narrowed down the period of Hojnacki’s access to the evidence room to about 17 months.

Such a letter is highly unusual, but Combs said he wrote it to help fulfill his legal obligation to disclose to defense attorneys any evidence that could help defend their clients.

Police are conducting an audit to see which cases might have lost evidence. That will include rechecking the amount of drugs stored in each case, in part to see if any of it was taken and replaced with look-alike substances, Combs said. The process may take through June.

Prosecutors will likely not call Hojnacki as a witness in court because his credibility has been questioned and will determine whether any cases have to be dismissed, but in general will fight to preserve cases using whatever evidence he did not influence, Combs said.

In response, Hojnacki’s defense attorney Jamie Wombacher said she filed a request in court for a gag order to keep prosecutors from commenting on the case. Police said a gag ordered was issued Monday.

“My client denies the allegations against him,” she said. “He is presumed innocent, and we will fight the charges.”

Hojnacki is out of jail on $1,500 bond posted by Brian Maronde, 28, of McHenry, who faces a felony charge of cocaine possession, prosecutors said. Neither Hojnacki nor Maronde could be reached for comment.

McHenry County Public Defender Mark Cook said defense attorneys could raise objections in any case where they could challenge the integrity of the evidence, both in pending cases and appeals. Cook would not cite any specific example, but one case investigated by Hojnacki was that of Luis Gaytan, 31, of McHenry, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison last month for a stabbing after pleading guilty to armed violence.

“We would be obligated to look closer at the cases he (Hojnacki) was involved in because now his veracity and credibility are called into question,” Cook said.

A site under Hojnacki’s name on states that he has worked in “all areas” of law enforcement, from bike patrol to undercover narcotic enforcement.

“I am posses (sic) street smarts, an accurate ability to detect deception, and a strong work ethic,” the site states.

According to the site, Hojnacki was previously a private detective and has a degree in criminal justice from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, which the school confirmed.

There is also a site under his name on Facebook that lists favorites including the pro-police documentary “Heroes Behind the Badge” and “The Shield,” a critically acclaimed television series about corrupt cops.

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TSA Agents Target Elderly Disabled Couple, Steal $300 From Them – Treated Like Terrorists

April 25, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Omer Petti and Madge Woodward expected the alarms to go off at the airport security’s metal detector when they were flying home to Detroit after visiting family recently near San Diego.

After all, Petti, who is 95 years old, has two artificial knees and Woodward, at 85, has had her hip replaced. But they sure didn’t expect to be subjected to accusations, extreme pat-downs, and most importantly, to be missing $300 in cash.

“Can you imagine an 85-year-old lady and 95-year-old retired Air Force Major in wheelchairs being treated like terrorists?” Petti asked recently sitting in the kitchen of the Bloomfield Township home he shares with Woodward.

On March 29 Petti and Woodward arrived at the San Diego International airport at 10 a.m. for a flight scheduled to leave at 11:36 a.m. As usual, Petti and Woodward removed their shoes, jackets and sweaters and put these along with their other belongings — belt buckles, carry on bags, purse and jewelry, including Petti’s money clip — into a total of four rubber bins.

Petti says a security officer asked him to remove Kleenex and $300 in folded bills that he had in his pocket and send it through the detector. “I hesitated and said: ‘You really want me to put my bills in there?’ ” Petti said. The officer said yes, so Petti put the cash into a fifth bin. Then he and Woodward proceeded through the metal detector.

After both set off alarms, they were patted down. Then, a security officer did a litmus test on Petti’s clothing, which tested positive for nitrates. Petti explained that he carries nitroglycerin pills for his heart. Nonetheless, Petti was taken to a private room for yet another pat-down by a different officer while the same security officer emptied their carry-on bags and rifled through every item.

“When I was patted down, I’ve never before been touched in every part of my body before,” Woodward said.

As the search went on, the couple — both widowed who met a few years ago at a bridge game and fell in love — became increasingly concerned about missing their flight.

Finally, they were released and told to retrieve their belongings. But only four bins were handed over to them. When Petti inquired about his $300, a senior security official was called over. Petti says this officer insinuated that they were mistaken about the missing cash, instructing the two to take off their shoes again, check their pockets again. “When I told him we were going to miss our flight he asked me if I was objecting or refusing his request.” Petti says. “I said: ‘No, I’d do anything I was asked, I would just like to know where my $300 went.’ “

Finally, Petti says the officer promised they would check their video cameras to see what happened to the fifth bin and he would advise the Transportation Security Administration manager in Detroit so that they could briefed when they arrived. Then came the mad dash for the plane. “The wheel chair attendant literally ran the two of us by himself with both wheel chairs down to the gate, endangering us and anybody who got in our way,” says Petti.

“I think I was scammed,” Petti says. “I would like my money back, but money doesn’t pay for all the stress and humiliation.”

In the weeks since, Petti has filed a police report with the San Diego Harbor Police. He’s written a lengthy letter addressed to the airport federal security director in San Diego and he’s copied politicians: local and national, including President Obama. And he is in the process of filling out a four-page “Tort Claim Package” as required by the TSA.

Nobody, he says, is giving him a straight answer. “The police said they went and reviewed the videotapes but they were too blurry,” Petti says. Petti’s son Bill, who is helping his father, doubts that. “You can bet if my father were a terrorist, those videos would not be too blurry.”

For their part, the San Diego Harbor Police declined to comment on Petti’s case. Jim Fostenos, a spokesman in the TSA’s Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs said only: “They are looking into the case in San Diego. That’s all I have for you.”

Says Bill Petti: “The bottom line is my dad’s money went missing. Someone in the TSA or the next passenger took it. Either way, treating a 95-year-old like that is inexcusable.”

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Former LaRue County Kentucky Deputy Sheriff Joshua Matthew Darst Arrested For Stealing Motorcycle While Employed By Department

April 19, 2012

ELIZABETHTOWN, KENTUCKY – A former LaRue County deputy sheriff was arrested Wednesday and accused of stealing a motorcycle.

Joshua Matthew Darst, 31, of Clarkson, KY recovered a stolen motorcycle and kept it for himself, according to Kentucky State Police, who began their investigation in March. Detectives said Darst altered the motorcycle’s appearance in an attempt to keep the owner from identifying it. The alleged offenses happened while Darst was employed as a LaRue County deputy sheriff.

Darst is charged with theft by unlawful taking, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. He was lodged in the LaRue County Detention Center.

Darst was a six-year veteran of the LaRue County Sheriff’s Department.

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Comptroller In Dixon Illinois Syphoned $30 Million In Town Funds Over 6 Years To Finance Her Lavish Lifestyle – Released By Federal Judge On $4,500 Bond

April 19, 2012

DIXON, ILLINOIS – Allegations that a finance officer for a small northern Illinois city was able to steal a staggering $30 million from government coffers to run a nationally renowned horse breeding business inspired calls Wednesday for more rigorous oversight in small communities that typically face less scrutiny.

Dixon’s mayor pledged new measures to protect the city’s finances a day after FBI agents arrested longtime comptroller Rita Crundwell. She is accused of using the money to fund one of the nation’s leading horse breeding operations and feed a lavish lifestyle that kept her outfitted with cars and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry.

According to a criminal complaint, the siphoning of city funds went undetected for years until another staffer filling in as vacation relief became suspicious and discovered a secret bank account. How an enormous sum – it dwarfed the city’s current annual budget of $20 million – could be stolen and escape the notice of a yearly audit left many puzzled.

A Chicago-based corruption watchdog, the Better Government Association, called it a wakeup call for state and local officials to put in place better safeguards, especially in smaller towns that lack rigorous oversight.

“Tens of billions of our tax dollars flow through 7,000 plus units of government in Illinois every year. And we can only watch a few of them,” said the association’s president, Andy Shaw. “Most of them don’t have inspector generals. Most of them don’t have auditor generals. Most of them don’t have watchdog groups looking closely. … It’s ripe for rip-offs.”

Dixon, a city of about 16,000 people west of Chicago where Ronald Reagan grew up, was especially vulnerable because Crundwell, who has been comptroller since the early 1980s, had control over all of the city’s finances, a common arrangement in smaller cities and towns.

Federal prosecutors say she stole $3.2 million since last fall alone and misappropriated more than $30 million since 2006.

Crundwell is free on a $4,500 recognizance bond. A federal judge barred her Wednesday from selling any property while the wire fraud case proceeds and limited her travel to northern Illinois and to Wisconsin, where she has horse ranches.

Agents searching her home, office and farms in Dixon and Beloit, Wis., seized seven trucks and trailers, three pickup trucks, a $2.1 million motor home and a Ford Thunderbird convertible – all allegedly bought with illegal proceeds. Authorities also seized the contents of two bank accounts she controlled.

Between January 2007 and March of this year, she is accused of racking up more than $2.5 million on her personal American Express card – including $339,000 on jewelry – and using Dixon funds to pay back the charges.

Prosecutors say she used $450,000 in stolen funds for operations at her Meri-J Ranch, where she keeps about 150 horses.

Crundwell is one of the top horse breeders in the nation. Her ranch produced 52 world champions, according to the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, the world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization.

“Rita has owned more world champions than anyone else in our industry,” said Jim Bret Campbell, the association’s spokesman.

He said she mainly showed her horses in halter classes, competitions where the animals are led by hand rather than ridden and are judged on their beauty. A November photo from the association’s 2011 world championship in Oklahoma City shows a smiling Crundwell posing in a white cowboy hat and spotless white shirt beside a horse named Pizzazzy Lady.

She is so widely known that the association announced her arrest on its website and promised those inquiring more information when it was available.

“People are shocked,” Campbell said of the reaction from the industry.

Dixon placed Crundwell on administrative leave without pay and named a new interim comptroller.

Trying to explain how that much money could disappear unnoticed, Mayor James Burke said Dixon has struggled financially with big infrastructure expenditures, reduced revenues and cash flow problems made worse because the state is far behind on income tax disbursements. That provided plausible reasons to think the extra hole in the budget was related to those financial problems, he said.

How Crundwell could sustain such an extravagant lifestyle on an $80,000 salary was mostly attributed to her success in the horse industry, Burke said.

“She definitely was a trusted employee, although I’ve had some suspicion for quite a while just because of her lifestyle she lived,” Burke said in an interview. “But there wasn’t anything that was brought to my attention or that I could see that would give cause to think that there was something going on.”

He said the city has appointed an independent panel that includes a certified public accountant, a banker and an attorney to recommend internal financial controls.

Marianne Shank, director of the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association, said more training is needed for officials in setting up such controls, including requiring dual signatures in issuing checks, monthly cash flow reports to document budget shortfalls and comprehensive annual financial reports.

“The concern I hear most often is that there are not enough staff to have checks and balances,” she said.

Auditors also talk of the need to divide up financial duties among different staff members, each one acting as a potential check on the other, said Steve Carter, city manager for Champaign, Ill.

“It’s a good lesson for all cities that these things happen and can be very dramatic if you’re not careful and really stress the importance of having those checks and balances in place,” he said.

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Dallas/Fort Worth Texas TSA Agent Clayton Keith Dovel Arrested, Suspended, And Charged With Stealing iPads From Passengers Luggage For 8 Months

April 14, 2012

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Transportation Security Administration baggage inspector at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has been indicted in the theft of Apple iPads from luggage over eight months.

Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, of Bedford was arrested Feb. 1 and has been suspended indefinitely, officials said.

The investigation led to the recovery of eight stolen iPads, including one that was among Dovel’s possessions at Terminal E when he was arrested, airport police said.

His attorney, Greg Westfall, declined to comment.

The indictments that the Tarrant County grand jury issued this week charge Dovel with theft by a public servant of items valued at up to $20,000. If convicted, he could face two to 10 years in prison.

According to airport police, a traveler reported Jan. 24 that his iPad 2 had been stolen and that he had traced it electronically to a home in Bedford owned by Dovel.

While arresting Dovel in that case, airport police discovered another iPad in Dovel’s leather satchel. Dovel told authorities that the iPad was his but that he couldn’t remember where he bought it, according to police reports.

Using that iPad’s serial number, police traced it to a Grand Prairie man who had reported that it was stolen as he traveled through Terminal E in May.

In the indictment, Dovel is also accused of stealing iPads in November and early January.

The TSA issued a statement calling the arrest part of a “zero-tolerance policy for allegations of misconduct or theft” at the airport.

“The unacceptable behavior of this individual in no way reflects the dedication of our nearly 50,000 Transportation Security officers who work tirelessly to keep our skies safe,” the agency said.

Dovel is free on $5,000 bail.

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Moorhead Minnesota Police Do A 180 After News Story Breaks Detailing Their Efforts To Steal $12,000 From Waitress

April 5, 2012

MOORHEAD, MINNESOTA – A waitress in Minnesota will keep her $12,000 tip after police confiscated the cash, according to her attorney Craig Richie.

“The county attorney’s office and the Moorhead Police Department have agreed to give her the entire $12,000,” said Richie.

Stacy Knutson says she got the money after a customer left a box at her table at the Fryn’ Pan Restaurant in Moorhead. She followed the customer to her car to return the box but the woman told her to keep it. Knutson found bundled rolls of cash inside the box.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s John Williams Talks With Stacy Knutson‘s Attorney

She said even though she has five children and could use the money, she decided to call police.

“They’re strapped financially,” said Richie.

Officers told the woman to wait 90 days in case someone claimed the money. Richie says after three months, police told Knutson the cash was being held as drug money.

“They initially said they were going to give it to her,” said Richie. “Then they said, ‘Oh, well, no we had the drug dogs sniff it and we think there’s drugs on it and we are going to keep it.’”

Richie says police offered her a $1,000 reward, but she never received it. She then filed a lawsuit in Clay County District Court.

“We argued that most money that you carry in your pocket has drug residue on it,” said Richie. “She could’ve kept the money and nobody would’ve known. But she said, ‘No, I’m going to do the right thing.’ So she called police and now integrity has now prevailed.”

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Moorhood Minnesota Police Sued After Stealing $12,000 From Waitress

April 4, 2012

MOORHEAD, MINNESOTA — A waitress in Minnesota is suing after $12,000 was left at her restaurant table — she says it was a tip but police say, it’s drug money, according to The Forum.

The lawsuit was filed in Clay County District Court and alleges that the waitress found a box, left at her table at the Fryn’ Pan restaurant in Moorhead. She said she followed the customer to her car to return the box but the woman told her to keep it.

The waitress said she found bundled rolls of cash inside the box, totaling $12,000.

She said even though she has five children and could use the money, she decided to call police, according to The Forum.

Officers told the woman to wait 90 days in case someone claimed the money. The Forum reports that after three months, police told the woman the cash was being held as drug money.

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Major Obama Campaign Donor Abake Assongba Accused Of Fraud – Accused Of Stealing More Than $650,000 To Build Multi-Million Dollar Home In Florida

April 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official, creating new headaches for Obama’s re-election campaign as it deals with the questionable history of another top supporter.

The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama’s re-election effort this year, federal records show. But Assongba is also fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she’s accused of thieving more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state – a charge her husband denies.

Obama is the only presidential contender this year who released his list of “bundlers,” the financiers who raise campaign money by soliciting high-dollar contributions from friends and associates. But that disclosure has not come without snags; his campaign returned $200,000 last month to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, the brothers of a Mexican fugitive wanted on federal drug charges.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined comment to The Associated Press. He instead referred the AP to previous statements he made to The Washington Post, which first reported the allegations against Assongba in its Sunday editions. LaBolt told the paper 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign, and that it addresses issues with contributions promptly.

Assongba was listed on Obama’s campaign website as one of its volunteer fundraisers – a much smaller group of about 440 people.

Assongba and her husband, Anthony J.W. DeRosa, run a charity called Abake’s Foundation that distributes school supplies and food in Benin, Africa.

In one Florida case, which is still ongoing, Swiss businessman Klaus-Werner Pusch accused Assongba in 2009 of engaging him in an email scam – then using the money to buy a multimillion-dollar home, the Post reported. The suit alleges Assongba impersonated a bank official to do it. Pusch referred the AP’s questions to his attorney, who did not immediately return requests seeking comment Sunday.

Meanwhile, Assongba has left a trail of debts, with a former landlord demanding in court more than $10,000 in back rent and damages for a previous apartment. She was also evicted in 2004 after owing $5,000 in rent, records show.

In an interview with the AP on Sunday, DeRosa said the allegations against his wife were untrue, although he couldn’t discuss specifics because of pending litigation. He said he and Assongba were “very perturbed” by the charges, and said the couple’s charity does important work in Africa.

Assongba has given more than $70,000 to Democratic candidates in recent years, an AP review of Federal Election Commission data shows. Her larger contributions include $35,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between Obama and the Democratic Party, and at least $15,000 to the Democratic National Committee. She also contributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Abake’s Foundation is listed by the IRS as a registered nonprofit organization; its financial reports were unavailable. A representative who picked up the phone at the foundation’s Benin office declined to answer questions, and instead referred the AP to Assongba.

Obama’s campaign declined to comment on whether its vetting procedures were thorough enough, or whether Assongba’s contribution would be refunded. All told, Obama has raised more than $120 million this election, not counting millions more from the Democratic Party – giving him a financial advantage thus far over any of his Republican challengers.


Associated Press writer Emily Fredrix and news researcher Susan James in New York contributed to this report.

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200 Daily Thefts From Baggage By Workers At New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport

March 27, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Think twice before you check your luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Cash, jewelry, electronics and other valuables are being stolen from passengers’ baggage at a staggering rate.

It’s happening as a result of inside jobs that aren’t being stopped, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports exclusively.

All Rita Lamberg has left is an empty jewelry drawer and pictures of the $160,000 worth of watches, rings and necklaces that were stolen from her baggage at JFK Airport.

“I am so sick. This is a lifetime, a lifetime of my savings,” Lamberg said.

But Lamberg isn’t alone. Law enforcement sources told Kramer that thefts at the airport have increased at a staggering and alarming rate. There are now more that 200 a day — and that’s every day. Baggage handlers, jetway workers and even security people are all in on the ongoing scam to steal you blind.

“The belly of the airplane has become like a flea market for airport employees. They go in there and go through all the luggage unencumbered, unchecked,” JFK security lawyer Kenneth Mollins said.

Mollins is representing Lamberg as she tries to get reimbursed by the airline. Former NYPD detective Frank Shea was hired by other clients who were also ripped off at the airport. They both said the theft problem at JFK is a nightmare that is going unchecked.

“What we’re seeing out there is that really anything that isn’t nailed down is being stolen and for that matter I would caution, some day, if there weren’t tires missing from an aircraft,” Shea said.

Sources told Kramer that one of the things that makes the thieves so successful is that they engage in luggage profiling. They go after the most expensive luggage, but they also check out where you come from. So if you live in Scarsdale or Muttontown or North Woodmere you’re more likely to have your bags opened and possibly things stolen.

“It’s really occurring on the tarmac or as it’s being loaded onto the aircraft,” Shea said.

Once they’ve found the goodies, Shea said there are many ways to make off with them.

“Sometimes they get loaded into the back of one of the vehicles out at the airport. They’re searched through. They can be discarded as rubbish. Other times they are leaving the airport grounds,” Shea said.

In other words, thieves steal your bags, but as a passenger you never find that out. The airlines say they are lost in transit.

“The airlines don’t want to report these thefts because it’s bad for business,” Mollins said.

And they don’t want to talk to reporters about it because even if your luggage isn’t stolen you could still be a target.

“Fares go up clearly because of this. It’s a cost of doing business. They pay out and they hide the fact that these items are stolen,” Mollins said.

Most travelers have no idea what’s going on.

“You now scared the hell out of me,” said Sutton Place resident Louis Polk.

“I’m surprised. I didn’t know it was so, so bad,” added Rosana Perez of the Bronx.

And every time Lamberg looks into the emptiness of her jewelry drawer she said she feels, “heartbroken. I can’t believe it happened to me.”

The Port Authority, which owns JFK, said that workers are fingerprinted and given background checks though the FBI database.”

Even so, the agency said it’s going to install more cameras around the airport to help combat the problem Kramer has exposed.

Experts said that what really needs to happen is for the Federal Aviation Administration to tighten standards and for airlines to consider putting cameras in the belly of their planes.

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Retired El Dorado County Nevada Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Donald Atkinson Arrested, Charged With Grand Theft, Perjury, And Forgery After Embezzling Over $300,000 While Head Of Deputies Association

March 9, 2012

RENO, NEVADA – A retired El Dorado County Sheriff’s sergeant is behind bars today, charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a deputies association. Donald Atkinson was arrested Thursday on 44 felony charges.

He’s accused of embezzling more than $300,000 dollars from the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, of which he was president. Atkinson faces grand theft, perjury, and forgery charges.

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Los Angeles California Deputy Sheriff Khajana Jones Connected To Burglary Ring – Raid Found Stole Items In Her Home

February 28, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was one of six people arrested recently during a multiagency probe of a burglary ring that hit at least 15 homes across Southern California, including seven in Ventura County, authorities said Tuesday.

Wearing collared shirts and using new rental cars to blend into their surroundings, a group composed largely of alleged Los Angeles gang members stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry, cash and other items, Ventura County sheriff’s officials said.

Khajana Jones, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, lived with one of the suspects, officials said. While she is not suspected of participating directly in the burglaries, authorities believe she knew her live-in boyfriend was obtaining cash and jewelry illegally and allowed him to keep the items at the residence, officials said. She has been relieved of duty pending the investigation.

The group targeted homes from Thousand Oaks and Oak Park to Pasadena and Tustin, said Sgt. Bill Schierman of the Ventura County sheriff’s gang unit.

Sometimes working with girlfriends, the suspects hit upscale homes across a wide area in an apparent attempt to avoid apprehension, then used the proceeds to support lavish lifestyles, officials allege. Investigators believe the suspects would knock on the front door, go around the back when no one answered and enter through open doors or force their way inside, Schierman said.

“This was a very sophisticated group,” Schierman said. “If you want to talk about a professional burglary crew, this was them.”

The break in the case came after the Jan. 20 burglary of an unoccupied home in the 1300 block of Doral Circle in Thousand Oaks, officials said.

Three men forced their way into the home, then fled when the residents returned home. A witness was able to describe the vehicle and give authorities a partial license plate number, officials said.

Investigators determined it was a sport utility vehicle rented by Merchuria Cooper, 31, of Los Angeles, officials said. That led detectives to identify another suspect, Kenneth Hall, 37, of Los Angeles, officials said.

Hall was Cooper’s boyfriend and had previously been stopped in a vehicle associated with her, officials said. He went to prison for a 1999 burglary attempt in Camarillo’s Spanish Hills, Schierman said. An alleged Los Angeles gang member, Hall was on parole for a 2005 residential burglary and was wanted for violating the terms of his release, officials said.

To find other suspects, authorities launched an investigation that included Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives. They later identified Los Angeles residents Dennis Coleman, 33, Miles Chaissions, 20, and Don Mosley, 32, as suspects, officials said.

Hall and Coleman appeared to be unemployed but owned or rented luxury vehicles, went on shopping sprees and spent thousands of dollars at nightclubs, officials said.

Investigators believe Coleman, Chaissions and Hall are responsible for burglarizing seven homes in Ventura County since the beginning of December. They and Mosley are suspected of committing eight more residential burglaries in Los Angeles and Orange counties during the same period, officials said.

Mosley was arrested Feb. 12 after he and two others allegedly burglarized two homes in Pacific Palisades, officials said.

Ventura County investigators learned about the burglary, and when Los Angeles police tried to pull over the suspects, they led police on a chase that reached 100 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway, officials said.

The suspects threw jewelry out of the vehicle during the chase before abandoning the vehicle in Santa Monica, officials said. Mosley was caught a short distance away. The other two escaped, officials said.

Mosley was booked into Los Angeles County jail, where he remained this week in lieu of $1 million bail.

Hall was arrested on a parole warrant in Las Vegas, where he remained in custody without bail this week, authorities said.

The other suspects were arrested around the time authorities served a series of search warrants in the Los Angeles area on Feb. 22, officials said.

Cooper was arrested at her residence and booked into Ventura County jail on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy, authorities said.

Investigators found large sums of cash and apparent stolen property at the home deputy Jones shared with Coleman, officials said. Jones was arrested on suspicion of burglary and being an accessory to commit burglary, Schierman said.

A 35-year-old Los Angeles resident, the deputy was booked into Ventura County jail Feb. 22 and released the next day, jail records show.

A six-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Jones was most recently assigned to its custody division, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the department.

Jones has been relieved of duty with pay, Whitmore said. The department is monitoring the investigation, and if Jones is charged with a felony, she could be stripped of her pay, he said. If convicted, Jones could be fired.

Coleman and Chaissions pleaded not guilty Friday to charges related to the alleged thefts of more than $200,000 in cash, jewelry and other items.

The investigation is continuing, and authorities said they expect to uncover more burglaries and make more arrests.

Schierman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the value of goods stolen reaches $1 million.

“This is the largest burglary investigation I’ve seen,” said the sergeant, a 23-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

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Iowa City Police Seek Help Solving “Fuck Me Silly” Sex Doll Robbery Case – $1000 To Anyone Who Will Snitch About Theft Of $250 Doll

February 8, 2012

IOWA CITY, IOWA – In a bid to capture the armed robber who last month stole a $250 sex doll from an Iowa City adult store, police today released a surveillance photo showing the suspect making off with the item.

Seen above, the image shows the ski mask-clad man carrying the sex doll inside the Romantix Pleasure Palace shop at around 3 AM on January 12.

Before releasing the store surveillance photo, cops pixelated it to obscure explicit images on the box of the “Fuck Me Silly #1” model “mega masturbator.” As previously reported, the stolen 20-pound sex doll is described by its manufacturer as “the most realistic piece of ass you ever fucked…Slap that big round ass and listen to the whack…it sounds and feels just like a real ass!”

According to police, the robber displayed a large hunting knife to a Romantix employee before leaving with the sex doll (the box for which is seen above). Cops described the suspect as a “white male, approximately 5’8″ – 5’10”, 165 lbs.”

In return for information leading to the man’s arrest, Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers is offering an award of up to $1000.

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New York City TSA Agent Alexandra Schmid Arrested After $5,000 Theft From Passenger

February 4, 2012

NEW YORK – Authorities say a Transportation Security Administration agent has stolen $5,000 from a passenger as he was going through security at a New York City airport.

Police and the TSA say Alexandra Schmid took the cash from a passenger’s jacket as it went along an X-ray conveyor belt at around 8 p.m. Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Police spokesman Al Della Fave says surveillance video showed Schmid wrapping the money in a plastic glove and taking it to a bathroom.

He says the money hasn’t been recovered. Police are investigating whether Schmid gave it to another person in the bathroom.

Schmid was arrested on a charge of grand larceny. The name of her attorney wasn’t immediately known.

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Gulf Shores Alabama Police Empoyee Barry Martin Arrested After Stealing Guns, Drugs, And Electronics From Evidence Room

January 31, 2012

GULF SHORES, Alabama — A 58-year-old civilian employee of the Gulf Shores Police Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing guns, electronics and prescription drugs from the agency’s evidence room, law enforcement officials said today.

Barry Martin of Gulf Shores remained in the Baldwin County Corrections Center, charged with one count of second-degree theft of property and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, according to Gulf Shores police Chief Ed Delmore.

Martin has been placed on administrative leave and termination proceedings are in progress, according to Lt. Bill Cowan, Gulf Shores police spokesman.

“We’re not talking about a number of employees,” Delmore said. “This is one employee who did something very egregious. And someone who we were completely surprised by. This is a real kick in the teeth to us. But it should not reflect on the entire agency filled with dedicated professionals.”

Martin has been employed with the Police Department since 1999 as a detention officer and in July 2010 was also made the custodian of the evidence room. In a joint investigation by Gulf Shores police, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, Martin was arrested five days after the local police were notified of the potential discrepancies in the evidence room, according to Delmore.

About 100 or fewer cases could be affected by the thefts, and the District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the files and cases to compare items to what was seized, according to District Attorney Hallie Dixon. “We’re starting with the drug cases. There are 11 Gulf Shores drug cases pending and all have been indicted. We have additional cases pending” that have not been indicted.

Maj. Anthony Lowery of the Sheriff’s Office said the case does not involve the drug task force cases since those are handled through the Sheriff’s Office in Robertsdale.

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Dekalb County Georgia “Officer Of The Month” Ghayth Abdul-Mughnee Arrested, Fired, Charged With Drugs And Stealing From Those He Arrested

January 26, 2012

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA – A DeKalb County police “Officer of the Month” who was charged with stealing from people he had arrested has been fired, the department said Thursday.

Officer Ghayth Abdul-Mughnee, on the force for four years, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant charging him with theft by taking, possession of marijuana and violation of his oath of office. He was taken to DeKalb police headquarters in handcuffs.

Asked if he stole, the 30-year-old Abdul-Mughnee told Channel 2 Action News, “No, I’m innocent.”

“My girlfriend is setting me up,” he said.

The officer had been placed on administrative leave, and additional charges were pending, police said.

The investigation against him began when officers responded to a domestic call shortly after 2 a.m. Monday at the Abdul-Mughnee’s Lithonia home. The officer’s live-in girlfriend, Shawte White, told police about the alleged thefts as she was being arrested for simple assault.

Police said Abdul-Mughnee would bring items home from work that belong to people he arrested. Investigators said they found in the officer’s home a laptop computer, cell phone and iPod, as well as several bank cards and banking information.

The 33-year-old White also told investigators her boyfriend brought home marijuana he had seized from suspects, police said.

A police car Abdul-Mughnee had been allowed to take home as part of his Officer of the Month commendation for December was impounded as evidence.

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JFK Airport TSA Officers Headed For Jail After Pleading Guilty To Stealing $40,000 From Checked Bag

January 11, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Two former Transportation Security Administration officers based at John F. Kennedy Airport are going to jail after admitting to stealing $40,000 in cash from a checked bag.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office says 44-year-old Coumar Persad, of Queens, and 31-year-old Davon Webb, of the Bronx, were sentenced on Tuesday to six months jail and five years’ probation.

Both had pleaded guilty to grand larceny, obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct, the Associated Press reports.

The money was all reportedly stolen from one passenger’s baggage.

Prosecutors said Persad X-rayed a piece of baggage on January 30 last year and noticed money inside. He then phoned Webb, who was in a baggage belt area, to tell him about the discovery.

Authorities said Webb showed up and marked the bag with tape. Persad then intercepted it in another handling area, and removed cash from the bag.

The pair later met in the bathroom to divide the money and hide it in their clothing.

Police say $39,980 was recovered from the suspects’ homes in connection with the investigation.

Persad’s attorney has said his client understands he made a mistake and wishes to move on with his life.

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Five New York City Police Officers Arrested, Charged After Smugging Guns, Slot Machines, And Stealing Cigarettes

October 25, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Five New York Police Department officers smuggled firearms and slot machines they thought were stolen and some even used bolt cutters to pilfer hundreds of boxes of cigarettes from tractor-trailers as part of a 12-person theft ring that was under federal surveillance the entire time, authorities said Tuesday.

Three retired NYPD officers and a New Jersey correction officer are among the other defendants named in a federal criminal complaint alleging an undercover agent paid them more than $100,000 to moonlight as gun runners while under FBI surveillance. Three current officers also participated in a brazen theft of cigarettes they were told were worth $500,000, the complaint says.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long targeted illegal smuggling of guns into the city and said that, if the accusations are true, the officials engaged in “a disgraceful and deplorable betrayal of the public trust.”

The men were eager and willing to smuggle the weapons and commit other crimes “so long as the price was right,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference announcing the arrests.

Arresting fellow law enforcers in a corruption case “is a heartbreaking thing,” Bharara added. “But it is our duty to enforce the law and to uphold the rule of law – and to do so perhaps most unflinchingly when we come across people who have chosen to breach that sacred duty, because an officer who betrays his badge betrays every honorable officer as well as every member of the public.”

The arrests come amid speculation that other NYPD officers could be facing less-serious criminal charges in a separate investigation of ticket fixing in the Bronx.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the new case, involving officers assigned in Brooklyn, has no connection to the Bronx probe. He also defended the reputation of the nation’s largest police department.

“The vast majority of police officers do outstanding work to protect the city,” Kelly said. “A case like this is disheartening to the entire department.”

The defendants were to appear in court later Tuesday to face conspiracy and firearms charges. The names of their attorneys were not immediately available.

The arrests stem from an FBI-NYPD internal affairs investigation that began in 2009 when a paid FBI informant tipped off authorities that an 18-year NYPD veteran, William Masso, was interested in making money by transporting stolen goods. In the months that followed, the informant and an undercover investigator posing as the ringleader began supplying the defendants and others cigarettes – purportedly stolen out of state – for resale in New York, the criminal complaint says.

Court papers described the informant as a non-U.S. citizen who “has been assisting the FBI in exchange for payment and aid in remaining in the United States.”

Masso, 47, recruited younger officers from his Brooklyn precinct to join the smuggling ring, authorities said. He instructed the men to carry their badges while transporting the stolen goods and, if they were stopped by police, to say they were doing legitimate off-duty work, they added.

According to the complaint, Masso complained in a taped conversation that the officers weren’t getting paid enough.

“They’re risking a lot for a little. … They know what’s going and how much trouble they could get in,” he said, according to the complaint.

In May, three of the officers and other defendants traveled to Virginia, where they received instructions from the informant and undercover on where to find $500,000 worth of cigarettes in trucks parked outside a warehouse, the complaint says. Using a bolt cutter, they broke into the rigs and stole 200 boxes they later delivered to a location on Long Island, it says.

Masso and other defendants also agreed last month to transport 20 weapons from New Jersey to New York using rented mini-vans, the complaint says. The cache was composed of three assault rifles, a shotgun and 16 handguns with serial numbers that had been “obliterated or altered” so they couldn’t be traced, it says.

Prosecutors say the officers were unaware that the weapons also had “been rendered inoperable by the FBI,” the complaint says. The undercover gave four of the police officers about $5,000 each to help transport the guns, it says.

Bloomberg has inserted himself into the national debate over gun control and heads a national coalition of mayors advocating stricter enforcement.

“Our administration is taking every possible step to crack down on illegal guns and continue making the safest big city in the country even safer,” Bloomberg said in a statement Tuesday.

In the Bronx case, a dozen or more officers, including union representatives, are facing allegations they abused their authority by helping friends and family avoid paying traffic tickets.

The gun-smuggling complaint describes the confidential informant being introduced to Masso “as a person who could `fix’ the CI’s traffic tickets.” The officer, it adds, “discussed his willingness to `fix’ tickets.”

Despite the chatter, “This is not a ticket-fixing case,” Bharara said Tuesday.

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Former Bayou La Batre Police Officer Sgt. Jason Edwards Arrested On Theft Charge

October 7, 2011

MOBILE COUNTY, ALABAMA – Mobile County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a former Bayou La Batre Police sergeant this morning, accused of stealing $2,600 from the department.

A Mobile grand jury indicted Jason Edwards on a charge of first-degree theft of property. He was released on $20,000 bail.

Edwards, who acted as a spokesman for the department for many years, resigned May 5 without notice.

“I understand that this resignation will not be accepted in good standings and furthermore agree that I will not seek employment with the police department in the future,” he said in his letter of resignation, a copy of which was obtained by the Press-Register.

It’s likely that the charge stems from a May inquiry by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation into money that had been seized but later went missing.

Mayor Stan Wright said at the time that he would do everything in his power to see the culprit “prosecuted to the fullest.”

Wright now faces his own legal troubles, accused of defrauding the federal government after Hurricane Katrina. He has denied wrongdoing.

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Veteran Broward County Florida Deputy Sheriff Brent Wooddell Arrested, Charged With Theft In Undercover Sting Involving Cash And Drugs

September 23, 2011

BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is facing grand theft and official misconduct charges after police say he stole cash from an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer.

Brent Wooddell, 37, was arrested Thursday night by members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Strategic Investigations Division working with Miami-Dade Police, according to a BSO arrest report.

The report said the undercover officer was given 1,000 Oxycodone pills and $7,340 in cash and made contact with Wooddell, a member of the BSO Selective Enforcement Team, in Deerfield Beach.

After Wooddell arrested the undercover officer on drug trafficking charges, he was seen taking a blue bag containing the pills and cash and placing it in his own car, the report said.

After a slight detour, Wooddell returned to the Deerfield Beach District Office, where he turned in the pills and cash for evidence, the report said.

But when the cash was counted, there was only $6,000, the report said.

Wooddell, a 10-year veteran of the BSO, was taken into custody. He was later released on bond and it was unknown whether he has an attorney.

He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation, officials said.

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TSA Creator Says It Sucks, Dismantle It And Privatize Operations

September 12, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – They’ve been accused of rampant thievery, spending billions of dollars like drunken sailors, groping children and little old ladies, and making everyone take off their shoes.

But the real job of the tens of thousands of screeners at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is to protect Americans from a terrorist attack.

Yet a decade after the TSA was created following the September 11 attacks, the author of the legislation that established the massive agency grades its performance at “D-.”

“The whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats,” said Rep. John Mica (R. -Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.”

As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.”

“Everything they have done has been reactive. They take shoes off because of [shoe-bomber] Richard Reid, passengers are patted down because of the diaper bomber, and you can’t pack liquids because the British uncovered a plot using liquids,” Mica said.

“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step,” Mica said.

It cost $1 billion just to train workers, which now number more than 62,000, and “they actually trained more workers than they have on the job,” Mica said.

“The whole thing is a complete fiasco,” Mica said.

In a wide-ranging interview with HUMAN EVENTS just days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Mica said screeners should be privatized and the agency dismantled.

Instead, the agency should number no more than 5,000, and carry out his original intent, which was to monitor terrorist threats and collect intelligence.

The fledgling agency was quickly engulfed in its first scandal in 2002 as it rushed to hire 30,000 screeners, and the $104 million awarded to the company to contract workers quickly escalated to more than $740 million.

Federal investigators tracked those cost overruns to recruiting sessions held at swank hotels and resorts in St. Croix, the Virgin Islands, Florida and the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.

Charges in the hundreds of thousands of dollars were made for cash withdrawals, valet parking and beverages, plus a $5.4 million salary for one executive for nine months of work.

Other over-the-top expenditures included nearly $2,000 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee, $8,000 for elevator operators at a Manhattan hotel, and $1,500 to rent more than a dozen extension cords for the Colorado recruiting fair.

The agency inadvertently caused security gaps by failing for years to keep track of lost uniforms and passes that lead to restricted areas of airports.

Screeners have also been accused of committing crimes, from smuggling drugs to stealing valuables from passengers’ luggage. In 2004, several screeners were arrested and charged with stealing jewelry, computers and cameras, cash, credit cards and other valuables. One of their more notable victims was actress Shirley McClain, who was robbed of jewelry and crystals.

One of the screeners confessed that he was trying to steal enough to sell the items and buy a big-screen television.

In 2006, screeners at Los Angeles and Chicago O’Hare airports failed to find more than 60% of fake explosives during checkpoint security tests.

The sometimes rudder-less agency has gone through five administrators in the past decade, and it took longer than a year for President Obama to put his one man in place. Mica’s bill also blocked collective bargaining rights for screeners, but the Obama administration managed to reverse that provision.

Asked whether the agency should be privatized, Mica answered with a qualified yes.

“They need to get out of the screening business and back into security. Most of the screening they do should be abandoned,” Mica said. “I just don’t have a lot of faith at this point,” Mica said.

Allowing airports to privatize screening was a key element of Mica’s legislation and a report released by the committee in June determined that privatizing those efforts would result in a 40% savings for taxpayers.

“We have thousands of workers trying to do their job. My concern is the bureaucracy we built,” Mica said.

“We are one of the only countries still using this model of security,” Mica said, “other than Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and I think, Libya.”

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Florida TSA Agent Caught Stealing Traveler’s iPad – Stole Apx. $50,000 in Computer, GPS, And Video Cameras Over 6 Months And Sold Them Online

July 7, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Transportation Security Administration worker is accused of stealing from the luggage of travelers at Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport Monday.

Broward Sheriff’s Deputies said a Continental Airlines worker saw Nelson Santiago, 30, slip an iPad out of a suitcase and into his pants.

That worker reported the theft to his supervisor and Santiago was arrested.

Deputies said Santiago is responsible for a string of thefts over the past six months. They said he told detectives that he stole computers, GPS devices and video cameras from luggage he was screening.

He then allegedly took pictures of the stolen goods with his cell phone, and posted them for sale online.

BSO said the items would often sell by the time Santiago’s shift ended.

Detectives estimate Santiago stole about $50,000 worth of electronics. So far, he was charged with two counts of grand theft and has been released on bond.

Detectives are trying to locate possible victims, though most will never recover their property.

Santiago had worked as a TSA officer since January 2009, but no longer works with the agency.

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3 Baxter Springs Missouri Firefighters Fired For Looting Businesses Night Of May 22nd Joplin Tornado. Fire Chief Suspended Amid Investigation

June 18, 2011

JOPLIN, MISSOURI – Three firefighters are fired and the Baxter Springs fire chief is placed on administrative leave while an investigation is underway into the looting of Joplin businesses on the night of the May 22nd tornado.

In a statement from Baxter Springs Mayor Jennifer Bingham, she says the city of Baxter Springs upholds a zero-tolerance policy and as a city we will stand united against any such behavior.

It is unclear yet whether three unnamed firefighters were on duty at the time of the looting.

Last Saturday, Fire Chief Les Page was asked to take an administrative leave of absence.

Mayor Bingham says Page was not involved in the wrongdoings of the three firefighters. He has been with the department for nearly 40 years. In his absence Art Mallory has been named acting fire chief.

At this point Joplin authorities have not yet filed charges against the three firefighters.

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