By WINNIE HU
A Bronx officer at the center of an internal police investigation into ticket-fixing was found guilty by a jury on Monday of taking part in a series of criminal schemes to make money.
The officer, Jose Ramos, 45, was convicted of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, the most serious charge against him, as well as attempted robbery in the second degree and attempted grand larceny in the third degree. He was found not guilty of a fourth charge, attempted robbery in the first degree.
The verdict came after a nearly monthlong trial in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, in which prosecutors played video and audio recordings of Officer Ramos plotting with a police informer in October and November 2009 to drive a van carrying heroin from the Bronx to Brooklyn for $10,000, and to steal money from a black-market electronics buyer and the hotel room of an out-of-town drug dealer.
Officer Ramos, who did not testify at his trial, looked upset as the verdict was announced in a largely empty courtroom after less than a day of deliberation by the jury. Officer Ramos, who has been held in jail, had previously been suspended from the Police Department.
Officer Ramos’s lawyer, Matthew J. Kluger, patted him on the back in support. Later, outside court, Mr. Kluger said they would wait to hear the sentence before deciding whether to appeal. “Mr. Ramos is disappointed with the narcotics charge,” he said, “but we’ll regroup and figure out where to go.”
Officer Ramos is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1 by Justice Michael A. Gross. He faces eight to 20 years in prison on the narcotics charge.
The trial was just the beginning of a long court battle for Officer Ramos, the son of a police officer; he had been on the job for 17 years before his arrest. He faces additional charges in five other indictments, the most serious of which stem from an accusation in 2012 that he conspired with his wife to use money from his police pension to try to have a witness against him murdered.
It was the investigation into Officer Ramos that exposed a routine practice among police officers to make traffic and parking tickets disappear for friends and relatives. The investigation eventually led to more than two dozen wiretaps and the indictments of 16 police officers, including Officer Ramos. Earlier this month, Lt. Jennara Cobb was the first officer to be tried. She was convicted by a judge of divulging information about the investigation in what prosecutors said was an effort to warn other officers.
The investigation of Officer Ramos started with a tip in December 2008 that marijuana was being sold by a man who managed two barber shops owned by Officer Ramos in the 40th Precinct, in the South Bronx. The man, Lee King, also lived in Officer Ramos’s apartment, drove his car and used his police-issued placard, prosecutors said.
The police started listening to Mr. King’s cellphone, and later, to Officer Ramos’s two cellphones. By fall 2009, they had enlisted an informer, Harry Mingo, who conspired with Officer Ramos to steal money from an out-of-town drug dealer and an electronics buyer, both of whom were in fact undercover police officers. They also met with a Miami drug dealer (also an undercover police officer), and later Officer Ramos drove a van for the supposed drug dealer from the Bronx to Brooklyn, prosecutors said.
During the trial, Mr. Kluger repeatedly sought to discredit Mr. Mingo and to portray Officer Ramos to the jury as a police officer who had made mistakes but had never committed a crime. Mr. Kluger argued that Officer Ramos was repeatedly caught up in plots devised by internal police investigators and that he did not know that the van he drove was supposedly carrying narcotics.
But Omer Wiczyk, the prosecutor, countered that there was simply overwhelming evidence against Officer Ramos that showed, time and again, that he had been all too willing to illegally profit from his badge and connections. “That man is guilty,” Mr. Wiczyk told jurors on Friday. “The law applies to everyone equally. Apply it here. Convict him.”
In a statement, the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, said Officer Ramos “clearly shunted to the side the duty he has to the people of New York City.”
Again...again...we need to have a national minimum IQ for cops, idiot cops, that's 50% of the problem behind the cop crime wave in America
Armored vehicle sent to collect civil fine from 75-year-old in small town
A small Wisconsin town sends 24 armed officers and an armored vehicle to collect fine stemming from property dispute.
STETTIN, Wis., Oct. 26 (UPI) -- A small Wisconsin town sent an armored vehicle and 24 armed officers to collect a civil fine from a 75-year-old man.
Roger Hoeppner is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit after authorities came out in force to collect an $80,000 civil fine stemming from property disputes.
Marathon County Sheriff's Capt. Greg Bean says the armored vehicle was only sent to the property because Hoeppner initially refused to come out of his house.
"I've been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the MARV [Marathon County Response Vehicle] showed up, the person gives up," Bean told the Milwaukee-Wisconson Journal Sentinel. "People may not always understand why, but an armored vehicle is almost a necessity now."
Hoeppner was arrested at the scene, reportedly for not following officer's instructions. He paid his $80,000 fine, after a trip to the bank accompanied by deputies, and was released.
The long-running dispute is centered on Hoeppner's 20-acre property, where he restores antique tractors and runs a pallet repair business. The Town of Stettin sued Hoeppner in 2008 over alleged zoning violations and rubbish, signs and vehicles on the property. The two sides settled, with Hoeppner agreeing to clean up his property.
In 2010 the town decided Hoeppner had not complied, and a judge ordered Hoeppner to clear his land. In May 2011, the judge authorized the seizure of Hoeppner's assets for noncompliance. The town did haul away a number of items including trailers and pallets and auctioned them off.
In April 2013, the judge decided Hoeppner was still noncompliant and imposed a $500-a-day fine in addition to granting the town's legal fees. Hoeppner appealed the decision and lost, leaving him $80,000 in debt to the town.
"Rather than provide Mr. Hoeppner or his counsel notice...and attempt to collect without spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on the military-style maneuvers, the town unilaterally decided to enforce its civil judgment," Hoeppner's attorney, Ryan Lister, said.
Hoeppner says that in all, his battle with the town has cost him his retirement fund, some $200,000.
In a federal civil rights suit, Hoeppner alleges Town Chairman Matt Wasmundt infringed on his free speech rights by preventing him from addressing the board during public comment periods, and once having him arrested and released without charge.