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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

LA County Sheriff's Hit With Corruption Charges and Accusations of Abuse

By r

A federal investigation into alleged abuses inside Los Angeles County jails came to a head today with the unsealing of indictments and charges against 18 current and former Sheriff's Department officials accused of crimes such as corruption, obstruction of justice and abuse of inmates and jail visitors.
The defendants, 16 of whom were arrested today, were named in four grand jury indictments and one criminal complaint. Several local cites rely on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and/or their facilities for law-enforcement services. Those cities include Lynwood, Cerritos, Artesia and Baldwin Park
"The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said. "The investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests."
Birotte said the defendants believed they were "above the law," opting against cooperating with a federal investigation aimed at rooting out misconduct by deputies in the jails.
In one indictment, Deputies Bryan Brunsting and Jason Branum are accused of assaulting a pair of inmates -- including choking one -- at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, then orchestrated the filing of phony reports to cover up the abuse.
Another indictment accuses former Sgt. Eric Gonzalez and deputies Sussie Ayala, Fernando Luviano, Pantamitr Zunggeemoge and Noel Womack of arresting or detaining five people -- including the Austrian consul general -- when they tried to visit inmates at the Men's Central Jail. The indictment alleges that Gonzalez fostered an atmosphere "that encouraged and tolerated abuses of the law, including through the use of unjustified force and unreasonable searches and seizures."
Birotte said in one case, a victim was "thrown into a refrigerator in an employee break room" and kept there for five days without being charged. He said another victim suffered a broken arm and dislocated shoulder and was left permanently disabled. The Austrian consul general and her husband, meanwhile, were handcuffed and detained at the jail, Birotte said.
"In all of these cases ... the deputes involved in the case fabricated reports designed to cover up the misconduct by deputies involved in civil rights violations," he said.
A third indictment accuses seven officials of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements in an alleged effort to interfere with the federal probe of the jails. That indictment names:
-- Lt. Stephen Leavins, who worked in a unit that investigates alleged wrongdoing by deputies;
  • Sgt. Scott Craig, who worked in the unit
  • Sgt. Maricella Long, who also worked in the unit
  • Lt. Gregory Thompson, head of the Operation Safe Jails Program; and
  • Deputies Gerard Smith, Mickey Manzo and James Sexton, who all worked for Thompson
The indictment alleges that an inmate identified only as "AB" was working as an informant for the FBI in connection with a federal probe into alleged misconduct by deputies and abuse of inmates. On Aug. 25, 2011, a federal judge ordered the inmate -- who was identified earlier by the Los Angeles Times as Anthony Brown -- to appear before a grand jury as part of the investigation, according to the indictment.
After learning of the federal probe, the defendants "knowingly conspired to corruptly influence, obstruct and impede, and endeavor to influence, obstruct and impede, the due administration of justice," the indictment alleges.
The indictment contends that after the informant's cover was blown, sheriff's officials moved him around the jail to keep him hidden from federal authorities, re-booked him using different names and even altered jail records to make it appear that he had been released.
The defendants also grilled the informant "to attempt to determine the manner and extent of the federal investigation," according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Leavins, Craig and Long tried to dissuade potential witnesses from cooperating with the federal probe, unsuccessfully sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide explicit details of the jail probe and tried to intimidate an FBI agent by going to her home and threatening to arrest her.
"These incidents did not take place in a vacuum," Birotte said. "They demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized ... part of the culture."
A fourth indictment accuses Deputy Richard Piquette of illegally building and possessing an illegal assault rifle -- a Noveske Rifleworks N-4 .223-caliber rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches.
Birotte also unveiled a criminal complaint filed against three deputies, all brothers, who allegedly made false statements to a pair of banks in what prosecutors described as a "buy-and-bail" mortgage-fraud scheme. In what Birotte described as an off-shot of the original jails probe, Deputies Billy, Benny and Johnny Khounthavong are accused of lying to one bank to buy a 3,900- square-foot home in Corona, and lying to another bank to walk away from another home and avoid paying more than $340,000 in mortgage debt.
All of the defendants except Sexton and Gonzalez were arrested today.
"It's never a pleasant thing to arrest a fellow officer," said Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office. He said the arrests "should not reflect on the department as a whole."
Sheriff's department officials had no immediate comment on the arrests and indictment, but Sheriff Lee Baca has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the case.
The issue of deputies' conduct in the jails has been a hot topic at the county Hall of Administration for the past two years.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman to a new position of inspector general, charged with scrutinizing the 10,000-member Sheriff's Department and authorized to conduct investigations inside troubled jails and elsewhere
Creating the office of inspector general was one of the key recommendations last year of a blue-ribbon commission that investigated allegations of violence inside the nation's largest jail system. The commission, which included several former judges and a police chief, concluded there was a pattern of excessive force by deputies in the county jails.

The panel called for an inspector general who would report to the Board of Supervisors and provide independent oversight of the Sheriff's Department, conducting its own investigations, monitoring jail conditions and reviewing the department's audits and inspections.

Suspended Dothan police officer fired

By Matt Elofson

A veteran Dothan police officer has been terminated exactly a week after receiving her second suspension this year from the department.
Sonya Edwards confirmed in an emailed statement that her client, RaeMonica Carney, was terminated from serving as a police officer with the Dothan Police Department.
Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton confirmed Carney was terminated as of 10:45 Monday morning.

Benton declined to give a specific reason for the termination, but did say Carney violated personnel rules and regulations in the category of intolerable offenses.

Dothan Police Maj. Steve Parrish, who responded to requests for information last Monday from the Eagle, initially confirmed the suspension. He said as of last week the department had placed her on paid administrative leave.

Parrish also said the Professional Services unit, also known as internal affairs, was investigating as part of the suspension.

Edwards said the Dothan Police Department has accused her client of “gross insubordination.”

In the statement from Edwards she called her client an off-duty victim of a minor domestic incident.

Parrish also said in an email that an internal affairs investigation stemmed from an incident at Carney’s residence that happened Monday morning. He could not comment on the incident at Carney’s home.

“The evidence will show that the department not only failed to properly investigate the incident on Corporal Carney’s behalf as a citizen, but quickly leaked select details of the incident and investigation to the press in an apparent attempt to disparage her character,” Edwards said in the statement. “We believe Corporal Carney is being railroaded and that the department’s true motive is retaliation based on Corporal Carney’s pending discrimination, harassment, and constitutional claims.”

Carney plans to appeal the termination to the Dothan City Personnel Board. Carney served as an officer with the Dothan Police Department for 13 years, including just over two years as a corporal.

Chief Gregory Benton suspended Carney earlier this year for 10 days for a violation of the department’s social media policy for conduct which reflected unfavorably on the City of Dothan as her employer.

That suspension stemmed from controversial posts she made on Facebook.

As a result of that earlier suspension, which happened in March, Benton reassigned her duties as an officer to work the front desk in the main lobby of the Dothan Police Department.

Carney appealed the earlier suspension in April. In May, the Dothan City Personnel Board held an appeal hearing and a month later they upheld Carney’s suspension.

Carney appealed that decision to the circuit court of Houston County where another hearing was held in front of Circuit Court Judge Butch Binford. That court’s decision remains pending.

The Facebook posts that led to Carney’s earlier suspension concerned Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer who is believed to have killed two officers and two others before being pursued to a California cabin where an exchange of gunfire occurred. A fire erupted in the cabin and Dorner died in the fire.

Carney made several posts on her personal Facebook page about Dorner and the law enforcement action that led to his death.

Carney previously served as the department’s Community Watch coordinator, a position she was removed from after the department received complaints about the Facebook posts.

Carney said during the personnel board hearing that her comments should not have been interpreted as support for Dorner’s actions.

Four Tallahassee police officers suspended in Christina West arrest

Christina West

By Greg Angel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- It was the arrest of a suspected drunk driver that made headlines across the country and Monday, when several Tallahassee Police officers have been suspended.
Dash cam video shows the August 10, 2013 arrest of Christina West. She was accused of drunk driving, losing control of her van, and then crashing into a bedroom of a home in the Killearn neighborhood.
Officers had faced scrutiny for their handling of West during the arrest. Police say she slipped out of her handcuffs and dash cam video shows officers eventually slamming her onto ground. West sustained a broken orbital bone along with scrapes and bruises to her body.
On November 12, a Leon County grand jury ruled officer's did nothing to warrant criminal charges, however the grand jury has asked the Tallahassee Police Department to follow it's own procedures, specifically requiring the police to use the least amount of force as necessary. They also recommended the officers be retrained in communication skills and for better assessment of the size of the person being arrested to identify the most appropriate way to restrain them.
Monday, Tallahassee Police Department's Internal Affairs Division released their 420 page investigation report which includes disciplinary action for four members of the department.
The report concluded the following:
Officer Chris Ormerod was found to be in violation of rules of conduct during the arrest of Ms. West, failing to provide appropriate medical aid to Ms. West and improper documentation in his original report. He received a suspension without pay for 80 hours.
Officer Matthew Smidt was found to be in violation of rules of conduct during the arrest of Ms. West and for failing to provide appropriate medical aid to Ms. West. He received a suspension without pay for 40 hours.
Sergeant George Creamer was found to be in violation of standard operating procedure in this case, as he did not question the officers in his charge about Ms. West's injuries. He was also reprimanded for not providing medical treatment to Ms. West. He received a suspension without pay for 20 hours.
Sergeant William Faust was found to be in violation of standard operating procedure in this case, as he did not question officers who were on scene about Ms. West's injuries. He was also reprimanded for not providing medical treatment to Ms. West and for failing to correct missing information in Officer Ormerod's original report. He received a suspension without pay for 20 hours.
"This report provides a very thorough and detailed accounting of what took place during the arrest of Ms. West, with almost 30 individuals interviewed and all of the facts provided," said Interim Police Chief Tom Coe. "Based on initial findings and this report, we have already made and will continue to make changes in our training, as well as ensuring our officers understand that their words and actions represent our entire department. Even in stressful situations, we must demonstrate quality and professionalism in every action. The suspensions I have implemented address that issue as well as several policy revisions related to prompt medical assistance and report writing."

Former Cop Gets Two Years In Prison In East Haven Case

By DAVE ALTIMARI, daltimar@courant.comThe Hartford Courant
8:19 p.m. EST, December 16, 2013

HARTFORD — After defiantly telling a federal judge he was not a "bully with a badge" and declaring that he was taught to keep secrets, former East Haven police officer Jason Zullo was sentenced Monday to two years in prison in a case that stemmed from a civil rights probe of the department.

U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson disregarded sentencing guidelines, which called for a sentence of 10 to 16 months, and gave Zullo the maximum sentence allowed under a plea agreement with federal officials.

Before the sentence was levied, Zullo, who pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice for filing a false police report after a vehicular chase of a motorcyclist, told the judge "he was a street cop in a tough town" who saved lives.

In his short speech, Zullo tacitly acknowledged that he filed a false report following the arrest of Robert Salatto, who claimed that Zullo rammed Salatto's motorcycle repeatedly with his police cruiser until both Salatto and his female passenger fell and were injured, because of how he was taught by fellow officers.

"I saw him breaking the law, he evaded me, I chased him and our vehicles collided,'' Zullo said. "Police officers are taught to keep secrets. I was wrong to do so."

Zullo went on to say that the federal government's portrayal of him as a bully with a badge would stick with him for life and he will never be able to live it down.

"I didn't patrol the streets of East Haven praying on Hispanics or searching for felons,'' Zullo said.

Zullo was supposed to be sentenced in January, but the sentencing was delayed until the completion of a trial involving two other East Haven police officers, Dennis Spaulding and David Cari. They were both convicted of civil rights violations and are now awaiting sentencing on Jan. 21.

Sgt. John Miller has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities. He will be sentenced on Feb. 12.

Prosecutors asked Thompson to raise Zullo's sentencing guideline level based on the facts presented at the other officers' trials, which showed a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Latinos existed and that Zullo was part of the conspiracy. Assistant U.S. Attorney Krista Patel asked Thompson to give Zullo two years in prison, the maximum sentenced allowed.

Although Thompson rejected the government's arguments for upping the guidelines, he eventually agreed with their recommendation for sentencing.

Zullo must report to prison by Jan. 16. Under his plea agreement he has the right to appeal the sentencing. It was not clear Monday if he will.

Thompson said that Zullo endangered Salatto's and the passenger's lives. He cited evidence from the trial of Spaulding and Cari that showed Zullo repeatedly "abused his power as an officer."

As for keeping department secrets, Thompson said he didn't know what to make of that declaration, "except that it certainly doesn't look good for the East Haven police department.''

Zullo was the only person to speak Monday. Others including Salatto and Lisa Zullo, the ex-officer's wife, spoke in January.

As at that hearing, several East Haven police officers and their wives filled the courtroom Monday. Spaulding and his wife attended.

Salatto testified in January that he suffered 16 broken bones.

"Zullo hit me again and again and again with his police car over the course of a mile," Salatto said. "He made it seem we were carcasses that weren't welcome in East Haven. Nobody is above the law, and nobody is beneath the law."

Lisa Zullo, in emotional testimony, questioned the FBI's tactics when they arrested her husband. She also talked about how suffering from a rare kidney disease makes it difficult for her to tend to her children without her husband's help.

Thompson acknowledged that many people had written letters on Zullo's behalf but concluded the evidence from the trial revealed Zullo was a full participant in the conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Latino motorists and business owners.

Thompson said he received a stack of letters saying what a good person Zullo is to his friends and family, but that "stands in stark contrast to how he treated his victims in this case.''

Former New Orleans Police Department Officer Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Drug Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 10, 2013          •           Eastern District of Louisiana (504) 680-3000

Jason Cross, 35, a former New Orleans Police officer, pled guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to a felony drug violation, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. Cross was charged by a bill of information with attempting to possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine hydrochloride. Cross pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement and signed a factual basis which was placed in the court record.
Cross faces a sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000,000, and a three-year term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled on March 27, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by AUSA Jay Quinlan.