BY KENT ERDAHL
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Commerce City Police are investigating yet another incident involving the use of deadly force against a reportedly vicious dog.
Officers were investigating a child abuse report at a home in the 7300 block of E 82nd Ave at about 1:15pm on Wednesday afternoon. According to police, an aggressive, mixed breed dog that weighed between 40-50 lbs. came out of the house, through the front gate and then bit the officer. The officer then shot and killed the dog.
The dog owner, Nicole Hopkins, has a different story. She says her dog slipped out the front door, but only made it through the front gate because the officer opened it.
“The dog cannot open that gate,” Hopkins said. “The cop had the gate open.”
On Wednesday night, Commerce City Police Chief Troy Smith admitted the gate was one of many things that remain under investigation.
“Whether that gate was secured or not secured at this point in time, I don’t know,” Smith said.
What is not in doubt, Smith said, is that the officer suffered a significant bite before opening fire.
“The bite was deep,” he said. “In fact the doctor was very concerned that one of the teeth may have struck a bone.”
Similar incidents have been an issue in Commerce City. There have been three recent cases in which deadly force has been used on vicious dogs. Chief Smith says there has also been a 28 percent increase in vicious animal calls so far this year and a 34 percent increase in animal bite reports.
“I can’t tell you at this point in time why those are up, but we can tell you that they are up,” Smith said. “We believe that the strategic plan that we have developed to address this has really changed our approach.”
Chief Smith says that strategic plan covers several measures including increased animal response training for officers. He went on to say that the training emphasizes non-lethal solutions.
“All ranges of force are available to them, but we do encourage them and train them to use alternative methods of force if they have the time to react,” Smith said.
The chief said the officer who shot the dog on Wednesday night had limited time to react. Nicole Hopkins disagrees.
“He could have ‘Tazed’ him or something else,” Hopkins said. “The other cops told that cop, ‘Why didn’t you Taze him? Why did you shoot him?”
Chief Smith says the officers are trained to take note of fences and signs like “Beware of Dog” before approaching homes. Hopkins’ had both a fence and a warning sign.
Both officers who responded are now on paid administrative leave as police investigate the incident.
Chief Smith acknowledges that the homeowners have cooperated with the investigation and that nobody is currently charged. The person involved with the child abuse investigation was not at the home when police arrived and Hopkins said he does not live there.
A Domestic disturbance call led to a five-hour standoff with Ventura County deputies and ended with LAPD traffic cop dead of an apparent suicide, police say.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Authorities said an off-duty Los Angeles police officer was found dead in an apparent suicide after a standoff with Ventura County deputies.
Sr. Deputy Tim Lohman said deputies found the officer dead at a home in Thousand Oaks Tuesday about five hours after the incident began.
Lohman said deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call at about 1:30 p.m. to find a woman who had fled from the house, and a man barricaded inside.
Lohman said after hours of trying to contact the man deputies went inside and found him dead.
He said the death is an apparent suicide but would give no further details.
LAPD spokesman Officer Drake Madison said the officer was from the department's Valley Division and assigned to traffic but had no further details on his identity.
By Jonathan Bullington, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
A veteran member of New Orleans Police Department's Juvenile Bureau has been placed on an unpaid "emergency suspension" after police said he used "unauthorized force" on a 16-year-old girl.
Officer Terrance Saulney, a 24-year veteran of the department, is accused of using force on the girl as she was being processed for intake on Tuesday (Sept. 23), according to an NOPD release.
Police did not specify the nature of that force, but said Saulney reported the incident to his supervisor, who reviewed surveillance footage and contacted the Public Integrity Bureau Force Investigation Team.
That unit conducted its own investigation on Wednesday, and suspended Saulney without pay pending the completion of its investigation, police said.
The U.S. Department of Justice, federal consent decree monitor and Independent Police Monitor have all been notified of the investigation, police said.
Saulney's suspension comes one day after NOPD announced that 15-year veteran Officer Jayson Germann was fired after police said he violated department rules for off-duty paid details.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -
A Shreveport police officer is facing a felony charge and is on paid administrative leave after a fight at a local bar Saturday night.
Officers were called to the Brass Monkey Bar in the 3100 block of Youree Dr. around 10:12 p.m. Saturday, where 26-year-old Harrison Daugherty told them he had confronted by two men in a fight the resulted in him suffering injuries that required treatment on the scene by the Shreveport Fire Department.
Investigators say Daugherty was involved in a dispute with 41-year-old Eric Swartout and 39-year-old Brandon Howard. During the fight, police say Swartout and Howard struck Daugherty numerous times, causing him to lose consciousness.
Swartout, of the 1500 block of River Parkway Boulevard in Shreveport, is charged with one count of simple battery and one count of second degree battery. Howard, of the 4000 block of Glyn Street in Bossier City, is facing a single count of second degree battery. Both men were booked into the Shreveport City Jail.
Swartout, who joined the department in May of 2003, has been placed on paid administrative leave by Chief of Police Willie Shaw in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Shreveport Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board which states: “When an employee is charged with a felony he shall, and if a misdemeanor he may, be immediately relieved of duty and placed on “departmental leave” for up to one week at full pay and with continuing seniority.”
Second degree battery is a felony offense, is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines reaching $2,000.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A judge set a June trial date for a Louisville police officer facing theft and official misconduct charges.
A Louisville police officer charged with theft and official misconduct faced a judge Monday morning.
Christopher Thurman was in court Monday.
He's accused of falsifying his time sheet, claiming more than $10,000 in overtime he might not have worked.
Thurman has been on administrative duties.
He will be back in court in February.
By Jeanette DeForge
CHICOPEE – A 43-year-old police officer will lose his job in connection with his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Mayor Richard J. Kos announced Monday he has decided to terminate Patrolman Michael Gendron following a discipline hearing in connection to a restraining order taken out on him by the girl’s parents.
“As a Civil Service position, Officer Gendron will have the ability to appeal this decision to the Civil Service Commission in Boston,” Assistant City Solicitor Thomas Rooke said in writing.
The discipline hearing was held behind closed doors Thursday, a week after a judge extended a restraining order against Gendron that calls for him to stay away from the girl, prohibits him from possessing a firearm and bans him from her school and workplace.
“The mayor believes and has stated in the past that police officers are held to a higher standard and even though the relationship is legal, it fell below the standards of what the mayor believes a Chicopee Police officer should be doing off duty,” Rooke said.
He declined to comment further on the decision.
Gendron was suspended without pay this summer after the girl’s mother filed for a restraining order saying she came home early one day in the summer to find Gendron and the girl naked together.
"I'm sure my clients will be pleased," said Daniel D. Kelly, the lawyer who represents the girl's family. He said he had little to do with the disciplinary hearing.
During the hearing requesting the restraining order, a lawyer for Gendron did not deny his client's relationship with the girl, but argued it was not illegal and not grounds for a restraining order. The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.
Gendron's lawyer, John Jerzyk, of Springfield, did not immediately return calls for comment.
Kos had the sole authority to rescind or extend the suspension or fire Gendron.
A two-paragraph statement from the mayor’s office did not specify under what grounds Kos chose to fire the officer.
A Prince George's County police officer has been suspended after he was charged with assault over the weekend.
Prince George's police say that Baltimore police charged Officer Michael O'Connell with second-degree assault on Saturday.
O'Connell was off-duty at the time.
Prince George's police say they've launched an internal investigation and that O'Connell is suspended with pay pending an administrative hearing.
O'Connell has been with the department for three years and is assigned to the patrol bureau.
It's unclear whether O'Connell has an attorney.
Details about the assault charge were not immediately released
19-year-veteran Rob Reiff suspended
HAMILTON, Ohio -- A veteran Butler County Sheriff’s deputy corporal was given a six-week suspension after he hit a parked car while driving drunk, authorities said.
Deputy Corporal Rob Reiff, a 19-year veteran of the sheriff's office, hit the car at North B Street while driving his own vehicle at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Hamilton Police Department officials said.
Officers said Reiff had visible injuries to his face after the crash and refused to take a blood-alcohol test. He was taken to West Chester Hospital for treatment.
Hamilton police charged Reiff with misdemeanor failure to control and misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones suspended Reiff after an internal investigation. In addition to the suspension, Reiff must complete a drug and alcohol counseling program.
“This type of behavior simply cannot and will not be tolerated under any circumstance,” Jones said.
Reiff was also placed on “final warning status” by the department. If Reiff has any future disciplinary infractions, he can be fired immediately, Jones said.
The sheriff’s office said Reiff has accepted full responsibility for Sunday's crash.
By WALA Webstaff
PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) – Prichard police have confirmed to FOX10 News a former Prichard police officer and former Department of Corrections employee has been arrested and charged with domestic violence.
Officials said Dwight Lamark King was arrested Tuesday, September 23 by Mobile County sheriff’s deputies. He has since ben released on bond.
FOX10 News has calls into the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office for more details. We will update this story as soon as that information has been released.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - A Fort Collins police officer who was arrested after investigators say he used agency resources to stalk a woman will be monitored by GPS.
appeared in court Tuesday, and prosecutors argued that GPS monitoring would make it possible to put an exclusion zone around the alleged victim's home and work.
Police say a woman reported "inappropriate behavior" by Branson, telling investigators he contacted her multiple times at work and home while he was on duty. Branson allegedly used police resources to find out where the woman worked and lived in an effort to start a relationship with her.
He was fired Sept. 16 after he was charged with stalking, criminal trespass and official misconduct.
Branson worked as a police officer in Butte, Montana, before being hired in Fort Collins in January.
Officer received payments while working a second job, prosecutors allege
By Luke BroadwaterThe Baltimore Sun
A former Baltimore police officer who now works for the Montgomery County police department has been charged with felony workers' compensation fraud, state prosecutors said Tuesday.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said that Montgomery County Police Officer Gilbert L. Payne is accused in Baltimore City Circuit Court with perjury and felony workers compensation fraud.
Payne left the Baltimore Police Department on a full disability pension in 2007, prosecutors said. The charges allege that Payne falsely testified under oath at a September 2008 workers' compensation hearing that he was not employed at the time, nor had he been employed since retiring from the city police department. In fact, he was working full time as a sworn Towson University Police Officer, prosecutors said. The charging document alleges that, as a result of this fraudulent misrepresentation, he received just more than $30,000 in payments to which he was not entitled.
The matter was referred to the state prosecutor's office by the Baltimore City Inspector General.
"Testifying falsely under oath and making false statements in order to fraudulently obtain additional workers' compensation funds is never acceptable," Davitt said in a statement. "It is particularly egregious, however, when such acts are committed by a police officer sworn to uphold the law."
If convicted, Payne faces up to 10 years' imprisonment on the perjury count and 15 years' imprisonment and a $15,000 fine on the felony workers' compensation count.
He could not immediately be reached for comment.
By Ariana Mushnick
A Fairfax County Sheriff's employee pleaded guilty to one count of petit larceny, according to Loudoun County officials.
Robert H. Palmer Jr., 50, of Leesburg, turned himself in on two counts of petit larceny after the shoplifting incident at a Target store in Leesburg, Virginia.
Leesburg police positively identified Palmer as a sheriff's employee.
The second count of petit larceny was nolle prossed, meaning it was not purused any further. His 30-day jail sentence and $1,000 fine was suspended for one year on the condition that he pay court costs, be of good behavior, and break no further laws, according to officials.
Additionally, he is required to stay off Target property in Loudoun County and pay restitution of $100.40.
The Target security guard who reported the shoplifting incident was fired days after submitting the report.
The guard, Dallas Northington, told the Washington Post that he responded to the incident by calling the police, filing a report, and providing a surveillance video, as he always did.
Target officials told him he was fired for violating procedure by not filling out the paperwork before contacting police.
Police said the firing "was strictly a corporate decision made by Target with no discussion or knowledge by our agency."
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
City police and union officials moved quickly on Tuesday to address a video of Baltimore police officers involved in violent arrest outside an East Baltimore nightclub.
Authorities said they believed the officers' use of force — which included batons and Tasers — was justified. But the incident early Tuesday was the second time in nearly a week that police officials had to respond to video footage of an arrest.
"I want officers never to use force that's not necessary," Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said. "But I also don't condone [residents] punching officers."
Last week, Baltimore police officials suspended an officer shown on camera repeatedly punching a man at a North Avenue bus stop in an incident that has prompted a $5 million lawsuit against the department.
In the case of Tuesday's arrest of 29-year-old Jamar Kennedy, a bystander captured the arrest in the 3100 block of Greenmount Avenue on video using a cellphone. Kennedy was being held without bail on charges of second-degree assault and resisting arrest, court records show.
Police are still investigating and asked people to come forward if additional videos exist. All five officers are on paid administrative leave during the inquiry.
Batts showed the video to reporters after a television station obtained a copy and questioned police about the incident. Police said they would release the video on Wednesday — a delay attributed to technical difficulties.
A call to a relative of Kennedy was not returned Tuesday.
Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said police were on foot outside Melba's Place, a nightclub, before 2 a.m. when they saw Kennedy fighting with a bouncer. Col. Garnell Green said an officer tried to use a Taser on Kennedy but it had no effect. The video shows the Taser was knocked to the ground. Soon the video shows a female police officer on the ground in a struggle.
Other officers then move in swinging batons at Kennedy, who police say continued to resist arrest. At one point Kennedy raises his clenched fist above his head to try to shield himself from the blows while he walks toward officers. Police try and take him to the ground, and Kennedy ends up on top of one officer. Police stun Kennedy with a Taser once more, and officers are finally able to detain him, the video shows.
As police arrested Kennedy, officials say a female officer pulled out Kennedy's inhaler and gave it to him. They say that shows that not only did police stop the blows once the situation was under control but also that they "rendered aid."
Kennedy suffered minor injuries and was treated at a hospital, police said. Three officers also suffered minor injuries.
Batts said the incident "further adds to my resolve to bring body cameras to Baltimore."
Fraternal Order of Police President Robert F. Cherry said the officers followed all protocols and did nothing wrong.
When using their batons, the officers swung only at Kennedy's midsection and hamstrings and not his head or knees, Cherry said.
Last week, a video showing Baltimore police officer Vincent E. Cosom repeatedly punching a man became public after the man, Kollin Truss, filed a lawsuit. The incident happened in June, and Cosom remained on the job until the video was circulated in the news media. Cosom has since been suspended.
By DEEPTI HAJELA Associated Press
New York City police are investigating an altercation between officers and a pregnant woman that was captured on amateur video, officials said Wednesday.
The video shows an officer struggling with a woman who police say tried to intervene in the arrest of her 17-year-old son early Saturday morning in Brooklyn. The woman is taken to the ground on her stomach by an officer.
Sandra Amezquita was asking police to "stop using excessive force" on her teenage son when the altercation happened around 2:15 a.m., said her attorney, Sanford Rubenstein.
A man can be heard on the video yelling, "Oh my God, she's pregnant."
"I'm afraid of what is going to happen to my baby. I pray to God nothing happens to him," Amezquita, who is about 5 months pregnant, said through an interpreter at a press conference.
Rubenstein said the family plans to meet Monday with prosecutors. The Brooklyn district attorney's office said it could not immediately confirm that, but spokeswoman Helen Peterson did say "all aspects" of the case were being reviewed.
Rubenstein said Amezquita had a mark on her stomach and he wants the DA to look into whether she was hit with an object.
"It's clear to me when an incident like this occurs you understand why police community relations are at an all-time low," the attorney said earlier Wednesday.
Internal affairs investigators are looking into the matter, said chief police spokesman Steve Davis.
Rubenstein said another woman who walked over to see what was happening also was thrown to the ground by police; Amezquita's husband was also hurt.
The lawyer said doctors told Amezquita "there's no way to tell" if the fetus was harmed.
Police identified the teen as Jhohan Lemos. He was charged with weapon possession, resisting arrest and harassment. Police said he was carrying an illegal knife and has been arrested five times, including for gang assault and robbery.
Amezquita received a summons for disorderly conduct. Two other men were charged with assault, resisting arrest and other charges.
A neighbor, Mercedes Hidalgo, said at the press conference that she was pushed when she tried to tell officers that Amezquita was pregnant.
Last week, another officer from the same precinct was suspended after a video appeared to show him kicking a street fair vendor and walking away.
Judge gives James Harrison probation before judgment Tuesday
COLLEGE PARK, Md. —A Prince George's County Police officer who was convicted of assaulting a University of Maryland student in 2010 during a riot after a basketball game could get a clean slate.
Officers James Harrison and Reginald Barker were accused of assaulting University of Maryland student John McKenna during a celebration after Maryland beat Duke in March 2010. Video captured Harrison hitting McKenna with a baton after he was already on the ground.
Barker was acquitted and has since returned to the force, while Harrison was found guilty.
"He got 30 days of home detention, and that's all he got," said Terrell Roberts, McKenna's attorney.
But earlier this week, Judge Beverly Woodard, the same judge who heard the initial case, threw out Harrison's sentence and instead gave him probation before judgment, meaning the conviction could disappear from his record if he doesn't break the law during a one-year probation period. He could even be a police officer again.
Officials with the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office said they weren't thrilled with the change.
"We just felt that it was not appropriate to take the jury's voice away and to basically overturn the conviction," said John Erzen, with the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.
There was concern during the first trial after it was revealed Woodard's ex-husband was the first Prince George's County officer to be convicted of use of force in 1988. There was no mistrial because she promised to be fair.
Calls to Harrison's attorney were not returned Tuesday, but McKenna's attorney said the decision is a mockery of justice.
"In a case like this that received all this attention because of the gravity of the case, the importance of the case, it merited some reasons for doing what the judge ended up doing, and there was no reason given for this kind of action," Roberts said.
Monaca's mayor and council have suspended a police officer without pay for about a month for conduct unbecoming a police officer, the mayor said.
Mayor John P. Antoline said he made the initial decision to suspend Officer Mark Young last Thursday, then council voted Monday to uphold the suspension until at least Oct. 28, pending a deeper review by council. Antoline declined to give details of Young's conduct. Young couldn't be reached for comment.
Young has been with the Monaca police, which has nine full-time and 12 part-time officers, full-time since 2002, and previously was a part-time officer. After reviewing his case and interviewing him, council will decide whether to fire Young, Antoline said.
By Alex Rose, Delaware County Daily Times
A Collingdale couple and their adult daughter are suing the borough and several of its police officers in federal court for alleged civil rights violations stemming from a Feb. 22 confrontation at their home that ended in arrests for disorderly conduct.
The suit claims Officer Carl White aggressively confronted plaintiff Michael Gaymon, 35, then entered the couple’s home without a warrant or permission and arrested 38-year-old Kia Gaymon for videotaping him with her cellphone.
Police Chief Robert W. Adams referred comments to borough Solicitor Sam Auslander, who said he was aware of the filing but had not reviewed it or spoken with any defendants, so he could not comment.
Michael and Kia Gaymon filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Tuesday along with their 21-year-old daughter, Sanshuray Purnell, who was also arrested.
The suit claims Michael Gaymon’s mother, a guest at their home, had parked her car on the curb of a neighbor’s property. White and fellow Officer William Eckert, apparently responding to a call from the neighbor, arrived at the couple’s home as Purnell and her parents were leaving for a family outing.
White allegedly began yelling in an accusatory manner, asking which of them had spit at the neighbor. After denying any wrongdoing, White approached Michael Gaymon aggressively and yelled at him just inches from his face, according to the complaint.
Kia Gaymon began to tape the confrontation with her cellphone, according to the suit. When White noticed her recording the incident from the top outside step of her home, he allegedly approached her and she went inside, but continued to video from within a storm door. White informed her that she was violating Pennsylvania’s wiretap statute and ordered her to stop recording, according to the suit.
Purnell and Michael Gaymon allegedly told White that Kia Gaymon was within her rights to videotape the interaction, but the complaint claims the officer warned the woman that he would enter her home, confiscate her phone and place her under arrest if she did not stop.
When Kia Gaymon told the officer he did not have permission to enter her home, White allegedly walked up the steps to the front door and placed Purnell in handcuffs, threatening her with a Taser.
The complaint claims Eckert escorted Purnell from the steps as White entered the home and pushed Kia Gaymon against a wall while holding a Taser against her chest, over protests from the plaintiffs that he did not have permission to be in their home.
Eckert and other unidentified Collingdale officers then allegedly handcuffed Kia Gaymon and placed her under arrest. Both women were transported to the Collingdale police station and were later released after being cited for disorderly conduct, according to the complaint.
The suit and court records indicate those charges were dismissed at the district court level in May.
The Gaymons and Purnell now claim that the arrests and prosecution of the disorderly conduct charges were unwarranted and came in retaliation for Kia Gaymon exercising her constitutionally protected right to videotape law enforcement in the course of their duties. The suit additionally alleges Collingdale Borough failed to properly train officers on various aspects of the law.
The complaint alleges claims for unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution, retaliatory arrest, unlawful search, municipal liability and state law claims, and demands a jury trial.
The plaintiffs claim to have suffered physical and psychological harm, pain and suffering, and financial losses, for which they are seeking actual and punitive damages, along with legal fees.
CLEVELAND – A former Mansfield police officer found guilty of producing and distributing child pornography will spend 20 years in prison, a federal judge decided Monday.
In a plea deal, Robert Anderson, 69, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of producing child pornography, one count of receiving visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of removal of property to prevent seizure, according to the Northern District court docket.
A fifth count of possession of child pornography was dismissed as a part of the plea agreement.
Anderson’s original plea agreement was for a sentencing of 180 months, or 15 years, in prison, but Judge James S. Gwin set the term at 20 years Monday, Mike Tobin with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said.
Anderson also was required to pay a mandatory special assessment fee of $400, $100 for each of the conviction counts, according to the plea agreement.
Anderson’s public defender Charles Fleming did not return calls Monday.
Two of Anderson’s sentences carried a minimum of 15 years alone, the agreement said. Count three carried a minimum of 5 years, and count four suggested a maximum of 5 years.
Anderson was arrested in February as a part of a larger pornography sting headed by Homeland Security Investigations. His charges related to activity on a website, identified in the original complaint only as “Website A,” that allows people to post, distribute and trade sexually explicit images of children.
He allegedly used the website to share pictures and videos — “some homemade and hidden cam” — of young girls’ underwear and juveniles engaged in sexually explicit conduct between Jan. 1, 2007, and April 26, 2011.
During a search of Anderson’s home in Lucas on Feb. 6, authorities found a 64 GB thumb drive containing numerous hidden camera videos taken by Anderson in his bathroom. The camera was positioned so it would capture close-up video of individuals changing into swimsuits or preparing to use the restroom, the agreement said.
One of the juveniles involved is from north central Ohio, the complaint said.
The search also revealed Anderson did knowingly receive and distribute the explicit conduct internationally, between Oct. 9, 2012, and Nov. 18, 2013.
Specifically, Anderson’s Google email account showed he traded images of child pornography with two other Internet users between Sept. 18, 2013, and Nov. 18, 2013. Images included depictions of prepubescent minors engaged in intercourse.
Additionally, 2,699 images and 502 videos were found on three thumb drives he tried to hide during the search. Those images included depictions of bondage and intercourse with children as young as toddlers. Images were downloaded as far back as Oct. 9, 2012, the agreement said.
Tobin could not comment on where Anderson would serve his term.
By Mary Beth Lane
A former Detroit police officer has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for supplying a criminal ring that ran illegal drugs into Athens County.
County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy sentenced Brandon J. Allen on Friday after Allen pleaded guilty to 12 crimes, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, or racketeering.
Allen, 29, also pleaded guilty to 10 counts of aggravated drug trafficking and one count of aggravated drug possession, county Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a news release.
Allen also was ordered to pay $100,000 to the prosecutor’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund to reimburse the county for the cost of investigating the case.
Allen admitted supplying and helping to run from Detroit a drug pipeline into Glouster, the center of a criminal ring that primarily sold the powerfully addictive painkiller oxycodone throughout Athens County.
Five local participants in the ring have been sentenced to prison so far. Another alleged ring participant, former Chauncey police chief Charles A. Wachenschwanz, 46, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and drug and weapons offenses.
Valencia man among those sentenced for Obstructing Federal Civil Rights Investigation
LOS ANGELES – Six sworn deputies who were working in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department each were sentenced today to federal prison terms for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.
The six defendants, including a former lieutenant who lives in Valencia, received prison terms of up to 41 months from a federal judge who said they all lacked “courage to do what is right” and then failed to show “even the slightest remorse.”
United States District Judge Percy Anderson issued the sentences after a federal jury determined that the defendants, including two lieutenants, attempted to influence witnesses, threatened an FBI agent with arrest and concealed an FBI informant who should have been turned over to federal authorities.
All six of the defendants were convicted of participating in a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice, a plot that began in the summer of 2011 after they learned that a jail inmate was an FBI informant and was acting as a cooperator in a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations at the jail.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” Judge Anderson told the defendants before ordering each of them to begin prison sentences in the coming months.
Acting United States Attorney Stephanie Yonekura stated: “In their corrupt attempt to shield the Sheriff’s Department from scrutiny, these deputies brought scandal and shame to themselves and their department. These deputies decided to impede a federal investigation, and in doing so they threw away their careers and their freedom. These law enforcement officers have now been held accountable for their unlawful actions.”
The defendants who were sentenced today are:
• Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw LASD’s Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 37 months in prison and to pay a $7,500 fine;
• Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, 52, of Valencia, who was assigned to the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a 41-month prison sentence;
• Gerard Smith, 42, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 21 months in prison;
• Mickey Manzo, 34, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who received a 24-month sentence;
• Scott Craig, 50, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who was sentenced to 33 months; and
• Maricela Long, 46, a sergeant who assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a sentence of two years in federal prison.
Following the completion of their prison sentences, each defendant will serve one year on supervised release.
“Interference with a federal investigation cannot be tolerated,” said Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The sentences imposed today allow us to move forward toward an environment of mutual trust and the common goal of delivering justice to victims of crime. I look forward to continued collaboration with our trusted partners at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
All six were found guilty on July 1 after a jury heard evidence about how the defendants learned that an inmate received a cellular phone from a deputy sheriff who took a bribe and that the inmate was part of a federal civil rights and corruption investigation. The deputies took affirmative steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which were attempting to bring the inmate into federal custody pursuant to an order issued by a federal judge. As part of the conspiracy, records were altered to make it appear as if the cooperator had been released, but he was re-booked under different names.
The deputies also engaged in witness tampering by attempting to influence witnesses to not cooperate with the federal grand jury investigation, including the informant and the sheriff’s deputy who had taken a bribe to smuggle the cell phone into the jail.
Over the course of several weeks, the defendants sought an order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that would have compelled the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to LASD. After the judge refused to issue such an order, based on a lack of jurisdiction, Craig and Long confronted an FBI special agent at her residence in an attempt to intimidate her into providing details about the investigation and to try to deter the FBI from conducting the federal investigation. The sergeants falsely told the special agent, and later her supervisor, that they were obtaining a warrant for her arrest.
Speaking of the confrontation at the special agent’s home, Judge Anderson said it was one of the most striking incidents related to the obstruction conspiracy, particularly because it was videotaped. “They did this to scare and intimidate the FBI…and they intended to obstruct justice,” the judge said.
In addition to the conspiracy count, all six deputies were convicted of obstruction of justice offenses. Craig and Long were also found guilty of making false statements to the FBI agent and to her supervisor about seeking a warrant for her arrest.
Thompson, Craig and Leavins are no longer with the Sheriff’s Department. Smith is on approved leave. Manzo and Long, according to the Sheriff’s Department, were relieved of duty without pay in December 2013.
Ex-Port Authority Cop Sentenced To Probation after Touring With Metal Band While Collecting Disability
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A former Port Authority cop who was busted touring with his heavy metal band while collecting disability checks was sentenced to three years’ probation Wednesday.
Christopher Inserra pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn court in April to one count of fraud.Inserra was collecting his full $90,000-a-year salary for 20 months while touring with the band Cousin Sleaze, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported. The singer was caught touring and thrashing around onstage despite that he reported injuring his right arm in 2010 while on duty at the World Trade Center.
Federal Judge Leo Glasser said it was a case of pure greed and that he lost sleep while coming up with an appropriate sentence. Glasser said he walked into the courtroom intending to send Inserra to prison, but after hearing the rocker’s lawyer attribute the crime to an oxycodone addiction, the judge had second thoughts and sentenced him to probation instead.