WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) — A Long Island cabbie says he was falsely arrested after eight students used a police connection to prevent their own arrests for refusing to pay a $28 fare.Newsday (http://bit.ly/1ikorlk ) says Mevyo Jean of Westbury claims in a lawsuit his civil rights were violated. The suit names an unidentified Nassau County police chief, the district attorney and eight LIU Post lacrosse players.It alleges an arresting officer told him police knew the charges were false but had orders to arrest him because one of the students was the police chief's nephew.Jean's lawyer says a judge dismissed the March 2013 robbery case in February. A DA spokesman referred questions to the county. The county and police declined to comment. The students and their families couldn't be reached or declined to comment.
CAMDEN — People who agreed to plea bargains after being falsely arrested by corrupt Camden cops cannot seek financial damages under a state law, an appellate court has ruled.
The decision came in a lawsuit involving three men and a woman arrested by members of a rogue narcotics unit in 2007-08. But it is expected to affect a much larger group of people ensnared in a Camden City police scandal that became public in 2010.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed charges against 215 people after the police misconduct surfaced; more than 80 have sued seeking damages for wrongful arrest and incarceration, the decision noted.
Almost all of those convicted admitted guilt in plea bargains, county Prosecutor Warren Faulk noted Friday.
The appellate decision overturned a Superior Court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs — Albert Cass, Robert Henderson, Antwyne Rolax and Dayna Hinton. Hinton received probation and the others got prison terms after admitting guilt to purported drug or weapons offenses.
The three-judge panel delivered its opinion last week. It cited the ruling that same day in dismissing a separate lawsuit by William Graham, another man jailed after his arrest by the Camden officers.
The appellate ruling said the state’s Mistaken Imprisonment Act is off-limits to people who “cause or bring about” their convictions. It said someone who admits guilt “necessarily” causes his or her conviction.
The appeals court acknowledged innocent people may plead guilty to lesser offenses to avoid a trial on more serious charges. But it said the state Supreme Court “has clearly established a strong judicial policy disapproving such pleas.”
As a result, the ruling noted, people admitting guilt are required “to provide a truthful account of what actually occurred to justify the acceptance of a plea.”
Kenneth Aita, one of the attorneys for those arrested, said people are unlikely to fight trumped-up charges.
“If the officers are willing to lie about your arrest, they’re certainly willing to come to court and lie,” said the Haddon Heights lawyer. “In a perfect world, nobody would plead to a crime they didn’t commit, but that’s not reality.”
Aita said he would discuss the case with his clients before deciding on future actions.
Benjamin Yaster, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, expressed disappointment. He said the ruling seeks “to maintain the fiction that actually innocent people do not plead guilty.”
But Faulk said the ruling reflected the Legislature’s intent in writing the law, noting the measure was amended last year specifically to bar claims involving plea agreements. He said the state Attorney General’s Office initially settled claims by some of those arrested but challenged the others in court after the prosecutor’s office expressed its concern.
“The courts can’t allow fraud to be perpetrated,” Faulk said. “You can’t stand up and lie under oath, confess … and then come back later and say, ‘No, I was lying and I deserve money.’”
Of the 215 cases that were dismissed, only two involved suspects who went to trial, Faulk said. Both resulted in convictions.The remaining cases either involved plea bargains or were still pending at the time of dismissal.According to court papers, the average length of incarceration for the dozens of plaintiffs was 510 days. Together, the group spent a collective 107 years in prison.
Camden City last year agreed to pay more than $3.5 million to 85 people who sued in federal court over their treatment. That group included Cass, Henderson, Rolax and Hinton.Three Camden City police officers pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and a fourth was convicted at a trial in December 2011.
YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — A former Yuma police officer will be able move despite awaiting trial on one count of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
The Yuma Sun reports (http://bit.ly/1fZIuGr) that a Yuma County Superior Court judge on Friday granted the request made by 25-year-old Ron Anton Ciancimino.
The judge ordered that Ciancimino check in with probation officials every week.
Michael Donovan, Ciancimino's defense attorney, says his client wants to move to his parents' home in Safford because he can't find employment and had to sell his house.
Ciancimino is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 7.
Prosecutors say Ciancimino solicited sexual conduct from a 16-year-old girl.
Donovan says sexually explicit photos of the victim were taken by another defendant and the victim has made statements in support of Ciancimino.
By Alison Burdo
A Philadelphia Police Officer faces charges in Montgomery County following a fight with her boyfriend Thursday.Authorities in Cheltenham Township charged 35-year-old Robbi Huff with simple assault, disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest after officers responded to a domestic dispute on Arboretum Road near Rock Creek Drive in Cheltenham, according to reports. She will go before Judge Christopher Cerski on March 24 for a preliminary hearing, court records show.Huff had been arrested at least once before by Cheltenham Township Police.Authorities charged the Philly cop with disorderly conduct in September 2012, but the case was dismissed, according to court records.
By REUTERS March 15, 2014
A federal jury in New York found a mechanic and a former librarian guilty on Friday of conspiring to kidnap women in order to satisfy sexual fetishes for rape and murder that they originally nursed online via Internet message boards.
Michael Van Hise, 23, and Christopher Asch, 61, were convicted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of planning to abduct Van Hise's wife, sister-in-law and nieces in a case that hinged on defining the point where violent fantasy can slip into criminal intent.
Asch, in a dark suit and tie, watched the jury with an unwavering gaze as the verdict was read. Van Hise fought back tears as he looked toward his trembling grandmother, who raised him from infancy and testified in his defense during the two-week-plus trial.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for more than 18 hours over several days before delivering their unanimous guilty verdicts.
Van Hise, a mechanic from Trenton, New Jersey, and Asch, a onetime high school librarian from Manhattan, each faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced.
Lawyers for both said they would appeal the verdicts.
A third co-conspirator, Richard Meltz, pleaded guilty in January to two kidnapping conspiracy counts in a deal with prosecutors and awaits sentencing.
The arrest of all three men last year stemmed from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's case against Gilberto Valle, the former New York City police officer who was convicted of conspiring to kidnap women as part of a cannibalism fetish.
All the men were registered users of DarkFetishNet, an online forum where tens of thousands of individuals share their musings about bizarre sexual fantasies, including necrophilia. The site has seen a marked increase in membership since Valle captured headlines in New York tabloids that dubbed him "Cannibal Cop."
Asch also was convicted on a second count of conspiracy to kidnap a woman who, unbeknownst to him at the time, was an undercover FBI agent involved in a sting operation.
During the trial, defense lawyers for both men had repeatedly argued that jurors might find the violent sexual fantasies of Asch and Van Hise repugnant, but that the two should not be punished for chatter that would never result in actual harm.
Prosecutors insisted that detailed discussions between the two men about kidnapping and defiling specific women proved they had moved beyond fantasy and into reality.
Testimony revealed that Van Hise frequently sent pictures of his wife and other female relatives by email to Asch and other men as part of their online communications. And Asch purchased a collection of tools that prosecutors said were intended for kidnapping and torturing women, including a stun gun and leg spreaders, after he began talking with another undercover agent who posed as a fellow fetishist.
Shortly before reaching their verdict, jurors asked to review the transcripts of several secretly recorded phone calls in which Asch could be heard speaking at length about how to avoid toll roads once they had abducted a woman so as not to be tracked - the sort of mundane detail that the prosecution said a mere fantasist would not bother to consider.
SHADES OF GREY?
The defense tried to put Asch and Van Hise's fetishes in a broader context of mainstream culture by citing the popular "Saw" films, known for relentless scenes of torture, and the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books, which have become global bestsellers for their depiction of sadomasochistic sex.
But, after the verdict, attorneys for both men said they believed jurors may have been frightened by the relish with which the two defendants discussed torturing and killing women.
"They voted out of fear in response to the evidence," said Alice Fontier, a lawyer for Van Hise. "Juries get things wrong."
Van Hise's grandmother, grandfather and aunt, who attended every day of the trial, left the court with stricken faces, declining comment.
"They love and support him and know that this is online chatter and never would have hurt anyone in his family," Fontier said.
During the trial, Van Hise's wife, Bolice Van Hise, had testified that she had long known of her husband's fetishes and that the couple enjoyed sadomasochistic role playing during sex.
She said she had access to his DarkFetishNet profile and emails and tolerated him sending pictures of her to strange men he met online, though prosecutors accused her of lying about this.
During the trial, Asch's lawyer told the jury that his client had actually been in a romantic relationship with another man for 35 years, and was primarily aroused by the "male-bonding" aspect of his conversations with men he met online.
His partner could not attend the trial because he now has Alzheimer's disease, Asch's lawyer said.
Judge Paul Gardephe has not yet set a sentencing date.