Baltimore MD Feb 24 2011 Seventeen Baltimore police officers were charged Wednesday — and more than a dozen others suspended — in an extortion scheme in which officers are accused of receiving thousands of dollars in kickbacks for steering accident victims to a towing company that was not authorized to do business with the city.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III helped make the arrests, summoning the officers to the department’s training academy under the guise of an equipment inspection. There, he and the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, Richard A. McFeely, lined them up and took their badges.
“I’m here to reclaim our badge,” Bealefeld said he told them.
In a 41-page criminal complaint and afternoon news conference, federal authorities outlined a broad scheme in which the officers are accused of conspiring for two years with brothers Hernan Alexis Moreno Mejia and Edwin Javier Mejia, owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop in Rosedale.
In all, more than 30 officers are accused of being involved in one of the department’s largest scandals in recent memory. The arrests and suspensions will also effectively take a large number of officers off the streets at a time when the department is struggling to replenish its ranks after a rash of departures.
At least 14 officers who were not charged have been implicated in the investigation and will have suspension hearings Thursday afternoon, police said. The officers charged in the case could receive prison sentences of up to 20 years and up to $250,000 fines if convicted.
“I expect all City employees to serve the public with the highest level of integrity, and I will not tolerate criminal or unethical activity by any city employee,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a statement.
After a community meeting at Patterson High School in Southeast Baltimore, she told a group of reporters that she was “certainly disappointed” by the charges but was “gratified” that the such practices would not be tolerated.
A network of 13 towing companies, referred to as the “medallion towers,” have contracts with the city, some for as long as three decades, to haul away cars involved in accidents or illegally parked on public right-of-ways. Majestic is not one of those companies.
Authorities allege that the officers involved, upon being dispatched to an accident, would contact one of the Majestic tow company owners by cell phone rather than allow drivers to use a company of their choice or calling one of the city’s authorized companies.
If the Majestic owner wanted the car, the officer would then tell the driver that he knew a tow operator who could help save him money, provide a rental car and waive the insurance deductible. The complaint says the officer would persuade car owners to “not call their insurance company until after speaking” with the tow company.
The complaint alleges that the officer would then either falsify a police report, noting that the owner had requested his own tow company, or leave that box unchecked. For each car delivered, the court documents say, an officer received $300. One officer pocketed more than $14,000 over two years, according to Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland.
“Police officers are supposed to work for the Police Department, not the highest bidder,” Rosenstein said.
The Baltimore case began with an internal investigation, which was handed off to the FBI, officials said.
Bealefeld told reporters at a news conference at the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office that he thought for months about how he would explain the arrests to the residents of Baltimore. He said he wanted the arrests done in a “very deliberate way” that was “meaningful and respectful,” but that also sent a stern message to the 3,000-member department.
Some have said they had long suspected and voiced concerns about towing companies not playing by the rules.
Paula Protani, who heads an association of the 13 medallion towing companies, said she had lodged numerous complaints about Majestic over the past three years — and at one point was arrested after confronting an officer at a crash scene, spending eight hours in Central Booking before being released without charges.
Protani provided to The Baltimore Sun a copy of the police report, which lists an arresting officer not named in the criminal complaint. Police said they were looking into the claim.
The medallion tow companies have contracts with the city that, in many cases, stretch back for decades. The companies pay a small annual licensing fee — Protani said it was around $500 — and have exclusive rights to tow cars that have been in accidents or are illegally parked in the city. The companies charge $130 to tow vehicles east of Charles Street and $140 to tow on the west side. The city does not receive a portion of the fee for the tows but collects money through tickets and storage fees
Protani said she believes many other “gypsy” tow companies circumvent the city’s tow rules, but that Majestic was the most egregious example.
“This gives all the good, honest tow companies out there a black eye,” said Protani. “We’re like lawyers — nobody likes a tow company until they need [one].”
No one was at Majestic on Wednesday afternoon, and a voice mail recording for the business confirmed it was closed. “There is a business emergency,” the recording said, adding, “we promise to give everyone a call back.”
Robert F. Cherry, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Sgt. Carlos Vila, a member of the FOP’s executive board and the head of the Latino officers’ group, said that union was planning to support the officers.
“They’re dues paying members and it’s our obligation to support our members,” Vila said. “At this point, these are just allegations. We’ll be meeting very soon to discuss with our attorneys how we’re going to proceed.”
In court Wednesday afternoon, the officers were brought in no more than four at a time. The first four — Michael Lee Cross, Rafael Conception Feliciano Jr., Samuel Ocasio and Henry Yambo — were led into the courtroom in handcuffs by federal agents, and sat behind their attorneys, with whom they conferred as they flipped through the criminal complaint.
The officers were each released without having to post bail and without pre-trial supervision. Those with personal handguns and passports were ordered by U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm to hand them over.
Defense attorneys said it was too early to discuss the case.
“Obviously, nothing is known at this point, and we have to find out what this case is supposed to be about,” said defense attorney Thomas Saunders, who was appointed to represent Officer Jhonn S. Corona.
Some of the officers charged have received the department’s highest honors in recent years. Officer Rodney Cintron received a Bronze Star in 2009 for helping arrest a man with a .22-caliber long-barrel revolver, while Corona received a Silver Star the same year after returning fire at a man who shot at a fellow officer.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said commanders plan to move officers from the Community Stabilization Unit to the Northeast District to make up for the disproportionate number of officers there who were suspended or charged. The commander retired this year, and the district has experienced the most homicides in the city so far this year.
The investigation dates to at least January 2009, records show. The investigation included wiretaps and surveillance of the tow truck company owners and their Rosedale lot.
In one exchange included in documents, Officer Rafael Concepcion Feliciano Jr. sent a text message to Moreno, one of Majestic’s owners, that said: “Hey bro, did everything go through with both cars cause I need some cash today? Im tight with money and want to get some things before work later.”
On Tuesday, police officials issued a bulletin asking the officers in question to report to the training academy. Upon being confronted by Bealefeld and McFeely, they were asked to hand over their badges, which were then turned over to an academy recruit who was allowed to witness the arrests.
The recruit lined them up on the floor as a demonstration to his classmates.
Bealefeld, a 30-year veteran of the city force, told reporters, “I know what service means.”
Of the way the arrests were handled, the commissioner said, “You can consider the ramifications of that to infinity,
The following people were charged:
•Hernan Alexis Moreno Mejia (Moreno), 30, of Rosedale.
•Moreno’s brother, Edwin Javier Mejia, 27, of Middle River.
The following officers were charged:
•Eddy Arias, 39, of Catonsville.
•Eric Ivan Ayala Olivera, 35, of Edgewood.
•Rodney Cintron, 31, of Middle River.
•Jhonn S. Corona, 32, of Rosedale.
•Michael Lee Cross, 28, of Reisterstown.
•Jerry Edward Diggs, Jr., 24, of Baltimore.
•Rafael Concepcion Feliciano Jr., 30, of Baltimore.
•Jaime Luis Lugo Rivera, 35, of Aberdeen.
•Kelvin Quade Manrich, 41, of Gwynn Oak.
•Luis Nunez, 33, of Baltimore.
•Samuel Ocasio, 35, of Edgewood
David Reeping, 41, of Baltimore.
•Jermaine Rice, 28, of Owings Mills.
•Leonel Rodriguez Torres, 31, of Edgewood.
•Marcos Fernando Urena, 33, of Baltimore.
•Osvaldo Valentine, 38, of Edgewood.
•Henry Yambo, 28, of Reisterstown.
Source: Office of the U.S. Attorney for Maryland
According to a police report filed by the Orange County sheriff’s office in North Carolina, the doctor’s wife, Barbara Levine, called authorities after finding a note at their home in which her husband threatened to commit suicide. Police declined to release the note.
Neither officials at the sheriff’s office nor at the state medical examiner’s office in North Carolina would comment.
Levine’s death came a day after a class action lawsuit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the doctor sexually abused up to 5,000 patients during his 19-year career at Children’s Hospital.
Lawyer Carmen L. Durso said his suit sought to represent all children examined by Levine when he worked at Children’s, from 1966 through 1985. Durso said about 15 additional alleged victims have come forward since he filed his suit.
Durso said he intends to continue to pursue the suit against Children’s and Levine’s estate.
The suit alleged that Levine committed medical malpractice and sexual abuse and that the hospital was negligent in failing to properly supervise him.
The lawsuit cited 40 former patients, all young boys at the time, who said Levine performed unnecessary genital examinations. Edward Mahoney, a Boston attorney who represented Levine, did not return calls. Last week after Levine’s death, he said, “This entire episode is a tragedy. Throughout it, Dr. Levine never wavered that his care and treatment of all children was appropriate in all respects, and he steadfastly denied the allegations against him.’’
A funeral was held for Levine in Brookline yesterday
Henry Samuel Bates was booked Tuesday with four counts of molestation of a juvenile and one count of oral sexual battery.
Broussard Chief of Police Brannon Decou says the alleged incidents did not occur at the school and did not involve a current student.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office received a complaint Monday from a family member of the 15-year-old female victim.
It was not immediately known whether Bates has an attorney
Los Angeles CA Feb 24 2011
An instructor who was teaching a c;ass on how to be a security guard was fatally shot by one of his students at Coast Career Institute vocational school downtown, according to reports.
The shooting at 1354 S. Hill St. was reported shortly after 4 p.m., police said.
An 44-year-old instructor at a security guard training class was shot and killed Wednesday in a downtown Los Angeles classroom and a 22-year-old student was arrested.
Law Thien Huynh, of Gardena, left the classroom at the Coast Career Institute at 1340 S. Hill St., near Pico Boulevard, shortly before 4 p.m., then returned, pushing or kicking the door open, said Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD’s Central Division.
Huynh then began firing a handgun at the instructor, “who was the apparent intended victim,” Vernon said.
Huynh then was “initially resistant to arrest and wanted to finish smoking a cigarette,” but was handcuffed within a short time, Vernon said.
A motive for the shooting was not known.
The instructor died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, Officer Karen Rayner of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said.
Students said the instructor “was really a nice guy.”
The instructor who had worked in the security industry had taught at the school as a side job for three years.
The instructor’s name will be released once his family has been notified.
LAKEPORT CA Feb 24 2011 — The Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) arrested two Nice residents in connection with an alleged burglary of Ag Unlimited on Finley East Road late Monday morning, according to Capt. James Bauman of the LCSO.
The LCSO received a call from a security guard at the store around 7:20 a.m., reporting that two men had entered the store’s warehouse and were stealing property, Bauman said. The suspects then fled the scene in a white Lincoln car before deputies arrived, Bauman said.
Deputies found that the two men “entered the closed business through a gap in the surrounding fence and had stolen numerous items from inside the business,” Bauman said. The investigation later revealed that Craig Allen Snyder, 50, was a likely suspect, Bauman said.
Around 11:30 a.m., Snyder’s vehicle was found parked in front of his Nice house, and deputies later contacted Snyder and a second suspect, 57-year-old Dennis James Blaine, Bauman said.
Property from the warehouse was allegedly found in Snyder’s car and items from the business office were allegedly found in Snyder’s home, Bauman said.
Both men were arrested and booked into the Lake County Jail on three felony charges: first-degree burglary, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy, according to Bauman.
And police say the suspects may be connected to a shoplifting scam.
The security guard called police, concerned the people in the van were trying to steal copper from a construction area along Victoria Way. Police ran the van’s plates, leading officers to stake out a home along Manitoba Way. Investigators say that when the van returned, a police K-9 located crack cocaine inside the vehicle. Officers arrested Robert G. Autrey, 46, and his nephew Christopher D. Autrey, 18.
Police say one of the men admitted to going to a Kohl’s store on Monday, taking items from the selves and returning them for refunds.
Police say the two may have hit other stores as well.
“Inside the van behind me, we’re locating a lot of new merchandise with tags still on it with no receipts, so we probably are going to follow up on this with our major violators unit,” Lexington Police Lt. Edward Hart said.
Police have not charged either man with shoplifting so far, but continue to investigate.
Both men face drug charges.
Police say they did not find any stolen copper.
Fairfield CT Feb 24 2011 A Stratford man was arrested Friday on drug charges after security officers at Super Stop & Shop on Kings Highway Cutoff in Fairfield reported two suspicious people in the store.
Security notified police about the suspicious men at 12:30 p.m. One of the men left in a red Jeep, while the other, Eric Falcon, 31, of Hillside Avenue in Stratford, fled on foot and was apprehended across the street, police said.
Falcon’s car was in the supermarket’s parking lot, and, inside the car, officers found a knife with an 8 ¼” blade and a glass pipe, commonly used for smoking crack cocaine, with burnt residue.
Falcon was charged with having weapons in a motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also was charged with having an unregistered motor vehicle and failure to return plates, police said.
Bond was initially set at $2,500 and was then dropped by the state bail commissioner on Falcon’s promise to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on March 1, police said.
RALEIGH NC Feb 24 2011 Automated speed cameras had a brief history in North Carolina, but they might have a big future.
The state would start using cameras to nab speeders around schools and road construction sites under new legislation filed by Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat.
Glazier wants a pilot program to authorize speed cameras in up to 15 school zones and 15 highway work zones at a time. It would continue for 15 years, with the potential to generate millions of dollars from speeding tickets worth $125 to $250 apiece.
That brings up the purpose of Glazier’s bill: Use speed cameras to repay a big state debt to N.C. schools.
A 2008 ruling by the N.C. Court of Appeals found that $748 million in various civil penalties collected across the state over nine years should have been paid to local schools – but wasn’t – under language in the state Constitution. So far, the legislature has paid down only $18 million of that debt.
Under Glazier’s proposal, 25 percent of the speed camera ticket proceeds would go straight to an existing schools fund, to use for driver education. The other 75 percent would be paid to local schools to “satisfy the judgment” against the state in the 2008 ruling.
“We believe this is a great way to do it,” said Leanne Winner, spokeswoman for the N.C. School Boards Association, the plaintiff in that court case. She said her group helped Glazier draft the bill.
“This will generate dollars to help the state pay off the judgment, and it will provide safety in areas that we know are very unsafe: work zones on state-maintained roads, and school zones.”
Speed cameras measure how fast a car is moving, as a live officer would do with a radar gun, and snap photos of the speeders’ license plates. The car owners get tickets in the mail, along with photos and other evidence.
Police in Charlotte used 22 speed cameras to nab 43,000 violators in 2005. Authorities said the cameras made city streets safer, with less speeding and fewer crashes. Highway safety experts at the University of North Carolina said the same thing.
But a ruling in a related court case forced Charlotte to switch off its speed cameras in 2006, after using them for only two years.
Charlotte had used most of the fees collected from speeders to finance the camera program technology. The court said that money belonged instead to the schools. City leaders said they couldn’t afford to start spending local tax money for the cameras.
Charlotte was the only city with speed cameras, but it was one of several forced in the same case to stop using similar cameras to catch red-light runners. (Raleigh and Cary still have red-light cameras because the law that authorized them has not faced a similar court challenge.)
Glazier’s bill proposes civil penalties close to what a driver would face with a regular ticket: $250 for speeding in a highway work zone, $125 for speeding in a school zone. No insurance points would go on the driver’s record. Signs would be posted to warn drivers of the speed cameras ahead.
There are plenty of questions about how the camera system would work and how much money it would raise. Glazier could not be reached for comment Monday.
Reduced speed limits around schools are posted only for school days – and only for a few hours a day, when children are walking and biking to school in the morning and home in the afternoon. Other states have used speed cameras to reduce accidents around schools, Winner said.
DOT does not cut speed limits around road-work sites as frequently as it did in past years, and it long ago dropped the “highway work zone” language still used in state law. Nowadays, DOT engineers are likely to post reduced speed limits – with flashing signs that warn of $250 penalties – for only a few hours or days at a time.
Mikael Gross, a legislative staff attorney who helped draft Glazier’s bill, said it would be up to DOT to decide where and how to use the cameras.
Glazier would have DOT pay for the cameras, estimated at $11 million a year, from its Highway Fund. DOT would recoup the cost by reducing money it now transfers to schools for driver education, about $31 million a year, Gross said.
US House votes to transfer $298 million away from NASA and spend it on police www.privateofficer.com
WASHINGTON DC Feb 24 2011 — The House voted Wednesday to take $298 million away from NASA and spend it on local policing.
The vote was 228-203. Reps. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, and Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, opposed the switch, an amendment to a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government running for the rest of this fiscal year.
The debate over the amendment drafted by Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York illustrates the difficulties that lie ahead in deciding how much to spend on NASA and other agencies.
Weiner’s amendment would eliminate a fund that NASA taps to work with other agencies and use the money to hire more community-oriented police officers.
“I want to go see Mars, too, but I’d much rather have cops on the streets of Brooklyn and Queens,” he said.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., called the NASA fund a “slush fund.”
Weiner’s amendment angered NASA supporters. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., said that if it’s approved by the Senate and signed into law, it would cost 1,500 to 2,000 NASA jobs.
Wednesday’s vote is an example of the challenges lawmakers face in deciding which priorities to approve while making wide-ranging budget cuts.
“We’re figuring out which diminished amount we’re going to take from to restore another diminished amount,” Weiner said.
The House is expected to vote Thursday on the overall spending bill, which would cut spending on NASA by $303 million.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill over cuts that he said would “sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation.”
Senate Democrats also oppose the bill’s $61 billion in proposed spending cuts across the entire government.
The Senate and House have until March 4, when a current stopgap sending bill expires, to agree on spending through Sept. 30. Otherwise, the government could shut down.
“Many of the recommendations in this bill resulted from a meat-cleaver approach to budget cuts, when we should be using a scalpel – responsibly identifying specific programs that are wasteful or unneeded,” said Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who heads the Appropriations Committee.
House conservatives such as Posey and Adams want NASA to stop spending money on climate-change research and spend it instead on space exploration. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, drafted – but later withdrew – an amendment to the spending bill that aimed to shift $517 million from climate research to exploration.
“In this tight budget cycle, we must reduce duplicative spending and target our resources where they will be most beneficial,” Olson said. “The 15 other agencies conducting climate research can pick up the slack while freeing up resources for NASA to make a truly unique contribution – maintaining U.S. dominance in human space flight.”
Adams said tens of thousands of jobs depend on NASA’s commitment to space exploration.
“At a time when unemployment is at 12 percent in Florida and 9 percent nationwide and our country is facing trillion-dollar deficits, I believe that limited federal funds are better invested in NASA’s human space flight program, not climate-change research,” Adams said.
PHILADELPHIA PA Feb 24 2011 — Three years ago, Roberto Acevedo Jr. received an out-of-court settlement from a civil suit against the Police Department in which he alleged that he had been beaten by cops, according to a source and court records.
As recently as two years ago, Acevedo, under his stage name “Young Reek,” starred shirtless in a rap video that shows him flashing $100 bills and his co-stars displaying what look like drugs.
One year ago, Acevedo joined the Philadelphia Police Department and now patrols the streets he once rapped about for the department he once sued, according to sources, court documents and city payroll records.
Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said that the Internal Affairs unit is investigating Acevedo and his rap videos and that the commissioner is aware of them. He said that word had spread through the department about the videos. An official with the Fraternal Order of Police said Acevedo has given up his rap career.
Among Acevedo’s gems in one video posted on YouTube – for a song called “Top Gunnaz” – are these lyrics that seem to condone shooting people:
“A top gunner, flyer than Tom Cruise, I pop dudes, Rockin’ ‘em, knockin’ ‘em out they shoes. They baggin’ ‘em givin’ ‘em six like Action News. I’m aimin’ for the top, it’s so easy I can’t lose.”
It’s unclear when the 22-year-old Acevedo, who is well-regarded by neighbors and an acquaintance who spoke with a reporter, came on the Philly music scene as “Young Reek.” In 2009 he was named best Latin artist at the Philly Hip Hop Awards, according to the awards website.
The music video for “Top Gunnaz” was posted on YouTube in 2009 and had been viewed more than 12,000 times as of last week. The most-watched version of the video was pulled down after the Daily News started asking questions about it, but other versions remain online.
“Young Reek” is one of three featured rap artists in the song. Another one of the rappers in the video holds up to the camera a prescription pill bottle and what appears to be a bag of marijuana.
A shirtless “Young Reek” waves around $100 bills and grabs his crotch repeatedly. At one point during his solo, he brings his fingers to his mouth, mimicking smoking.
Acevedo has since stopped pursuing a rap career, said FOP Treasurer John Ruane, who called the Daily News after a reporter tried to contact Acevedo in person.
“He’s not an active [rapper],” Ruane said. However, Ruane seemed surprised to learn of Acevedo’s prior lawsuit against the department and referred further requests to John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5.
When a reporter visited Acevedo’s house for comment, he didn’t answer the door, though neighbors said he was home. A request for comment left at his house was returned by his mother, who said her son wouldn’t comment until he has hired an attorney.
According to city payroll records, Acevedo joined the force one year ago today at a salary of $44,097. Police said he is assigned to the 25th District, which shares a headquarters at Whitaker Avenue and Luzerne Street with the 24th District. The incident that sparked Acevedo’s 2007 lawsuit occurred in the 24th.
Acevedo was one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which claimed that they were beaten by police on Nov. 11, 2005, on Luzerne Street near G, in Juniata Park. The lawsuit claims that “without cause or justification” police “repeatedly struck, punched, kicked and hit” Acevedo with a nightstick on his head, face, body and limbs, court documents said.
One of the other plaintiffs, a woman who was nine months pregnant at the time, claimed that police hit her in the stomach with a nightstick. The only possible cause that the suit gives for the alleged attack is that the plaintiffs criticized the “mistreatment of others by the defendant officers and other officers of the Philadelphia Police Department.”
The suit was settled out of court in January 2008 for $72,500, according to the city Solicitor’s Office. The office did not know what each plaintiff received, and their lawyer on the case declined to comment.
A person close to the case confirmed that the Acevedo named as a plaintiff in that suit is now a Philly police officer and is the musician known as “Young Reek.”
Evers said “past litigation has no bearing on someone being hired. That would be discrimination.” All applicants are required to disclose any prior civil suits to which they were a party in a personnel data questionnaire during the hiring process, he said.
Former Police Commissioner John Timoney, who also headed the Miami Police Department, said that this probably wasn’t the first time that someone has sued the department then joined it.
“You may have a conflict of conscience but not a conflict of interest here,” he said. “I don’t know how it didn’t come up in background check, but even if it did, the issues that disqualify you are drug testing and prior contact with the justice system. Being litigious won’t disqualify you.”
McNesby said he did see a conflict. Although he didn’t know the details of Acevedo’s lawsuit or whether it had merit, he said he “highly hoped” that nobody would become a police officer “after settling a frivolous lawsuit against police officers on the streets.”
“If you’re going to sue us and then join us, it looks like there might be a bit of a rift there,” he said. “You don’t want to sue us and then join because you’re going to be standing next to the cop that you sued, and that’d be disturbing.”
Neighbors, who confirmed that Acevedo’s father, Roberto Acevedo Sr., is a retired city police officer, spoke well of Acevedo Jr. One neighbor who asked not to be identified said he is a “nice guy” with a good reputation and is really respectful to her and her kids.
A former acquaintance of Acevedo’s who also asked not to be identified said he didn’t hold it against him for joining the Police Department.
“Maybe, after what happened to him, he’s just trying to make the department better,” the man said.
By Stephanie Farr and Bob Warner
The Philadelphia Daily News
MEMPHIS, Tenn. Feb 24 2011(AP) – Two Memphis police officers have pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a nightclub owner to alert the club about raids.
Court documents state that in 2009 and 2010, 37-year-old Michael Young accepted payoffs totaling $2,650. His partner, 36-year-old Christopher Crawford, accepted payoffs totaling $1,460.
The former officers pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to extortion, bribery and conspiracy.
The charges carry up to 35 years in prison, although they likely will receive a much lower sentence.
The pair, with 7 years of service, resigned after they were indicted in March. They remain free on bond and will be sentenced May 24.
Memphis Police Lt. Timothy Green also was indicted. He pleaded not guilty and his case is pending.
BLOUNTVILLE TN Feb 24 2011 — A Lebanon man has been indicted for allegedly speeding through a Bristol park, then pulling a knife on a security guard and nearly running over two bystanders in an attempt to flee the scene.
A Sullivan County grand jury indicted Michael Karl Turner Haytaian, 28, 402 Amarillo Drive, Lebanon, Tenn., on aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges.
According to court records, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a disturbance at Observation Knob Park, 337 Knob Park Road, on July 3, 2010.
A sheriff’s office report states a security guard advised he had approached the driver of a black Hummer in response to a complaint that the SUV had been seen speeding through the park.
The guard said Haytaian began cursing, threw a plate of food at him, and denied that he was speeding. He said Haytaian then said “I’ll show you” and pulled a knife from his pocket and opened it.
The guard said he told Haytaian to leave and called for others to help him. Others tried to block him in, and Haytaian allegedly drove over some rocks, blowing a tire, and sped toward the front gate.
Two women walking up the road said they were headed for the playground when they saw the Hummer coming at them and had to dive out of the way.
Haytaian was arrested and transported to the Sullivan County jail at that time.
Kalihi Hi. Feb 24 2011 A Kalihi clothing business was the scene of an exchange of gunfire yesterday when a suspected car thief dashed into Surf Line Hawaii and allegedly fired at police before an officer critically wounded him.
The man was shot about four feet from where a receptionist sat at her desk, said Mark Tsuda, chief executive officer of Surf Line Hawaii.
“Nobody was hysterical,” Tsuda said of his 45 employees. “Everyone was amazingly calm. We’re just happy everyone was safe.”
Police Chief Louis Kealoha said the 50-year-old suspect fired first at officers with what police described as an “improvised” firearm. An officer returned fire, hitting the suspect once, Kealoha said.
No one else was hurt in the 11:36 a.m. shooting.
The suspect, 50, has 32 criminal convictions, including 16 felony offenses such as kidnapping, robbery and car theft, Kealoha said.
The officer, a 15-year veteran of the police force and a member of the Kalihi crime reduction unit, will be placed on administrative leave, standard policy after an officer fires a weapon, Kealoha said.
The chain of events began with a report of a man breaking into a car at a parking lot on Kalani Street just before 10:50 a.m., Kealoha said.
“Something that starts up innocent can end up something like this, so you just never know,” Kealoha said. “We are thankful that no one else in this incident was injured.”
A security guard patrolling a parking lot across the street from the Libby, McNeill & Libby building at 1451 Kalani St. said he confronted a man in a car.
Tony Roberts, a Securitas guard, said he saw a man sitting in a car with a handgun in his lap, apparently trying to steal a Honda sedan.
Roberts said the man got out of the car and aimed the gun at him from about six feet away. Roberts said he ran through the rear doors of the Dillingham Plaza shopping center at the back of the parking lot and called police.
He said the man had stolen a stereo out of the car.
The man, meanwhile, ran up the stairs of the two-story Libby McNeill building, where Surf Line and its subsidiary, Jams World, do business.
Responding police officers entered the building and were speaking with a female employee when the man emerged and fired at one of the officers, Kealoha said.
An officer returned fire and hit the man once.
Maj. Richard Robinson of HPD’s Criminal Investigation Division said the man and the officer each fired at least one shot. He described an “improvised” firearm as a gun that is not made by a manufacturer. It is considered a firearm under state law.
Maj. William Chur, commander of the Kalihi district, said he saw the man after the shooting. He said he was conscious but “bleeding profusely from the head.”
Tsuda of Surf Line said that except for the receptionist, most of the employees were unaware of what was going on.
“We heard a couple of loud bangs, so we went outside the office, looked down the corridor and saw a gentleman slumped over a chair in the reception area and quite a bit of blood,” Tsuda said.
Tsuda said he immediately checked on the offices on his side of the second floor and herded everyone out alternate exits that lead to Kalani Street.
“By the time the employees on the other side figured what was going on, police told them to stay inside and lock the doors,” Tsuda said.
“We did not see it,” said Cecilia Mercado, a quality control worker who was working in the back of the second-floor offices. “I just feel nervous.”
Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro went to the scene. The prosecutor’s office does not comment on ongoing investigations, but spokeswoman Lynne Waters said the department has reinstated a policy of conducting its own investigation when a police officer has fired his gun. It was Kaneshiro’s policy during his previous tenure as Honolulu prosecutor from 1989 to 1996, she said.
COUNCIL BLUFFS NE Feb 24 2011 — An Omaha police sergeant remains on active duty after he was arrested and briefly jailed following a disturbance at a Horseshoe Casino craps table.
Council Bluffs police arrested Sgt. William Dropinski, a supervisor in the Omaha department’s traffic unit and former public information officer, on suspicion of public intoxication and disorderly conduct following the Saturday night altercation.
Dropinski’s lawyer, Michael Fitzpatrick, said his client is not guilty and will fight the accusations in court.
“It’s very obvious to me that the officers there were looking for an opportunity to get some action that night,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s unfortunate to my client that he is the victim of this action.”
The incident began when the casino’s lead security supervisor approached a woman, identified as Dropinski’s girlfriend, at the craps table out of concern she was intoxicated.
Dropinski intervened, police and Fitzpatrick said, saying his girlfriend had only been at the casino for a brief time and wasn’t drunk.
“I continued to watch the conversation from 10 feet away until I noticed (Dropinski) curse ‘[expletive] you’ at [the security guard] and become aggressive towards him both verbally and non-verbally,” a Council Bluffs police officer wrote in his report.
Officers said they approached Dropinski, 40, and the woman in an effort to get them to leave the casino voluntarily.
At that point, according to the police report, Dropinski pointed his finger in the reporting officer’s face and yelled another expletive. The reporting officer told him he was now being arrested.
Dropinski then allegedly started to walk back toward the craps table to retrieve his chips when the officer grabbed him by the arm and told him to place both hands behind his back.
“He felt he was being very unfairly treated,” Fitzpatrick said. “He did use profanity, he did use the ‘F’ word one time, but that was in response to how he and his girlfriend were being treated, and he was in the process of leaving the casino at that point.”
Dropinski allegedly refused to comply with the first officer’s command but surrendered after another Council Bluffs officer pointed a Taser at Dropinski’s chest and repeated the order, the report said.
Officers confirmed Dropinski’s identity and status as an Omaha officer when they located his police identification card inside his wallet.
“You don’t have to do this, you can let me go, I have given several Council Bluffs police officers breaks,” the report quoted Dropinski as saying.
“How can you do this to your own kind? We are supposed to be brothers,” Dropinski allegedly told officers.
Fitzpatrick disputed the officers’ account of the incident, saying Dropinski and his girlfriend were trying to leave the casino and felt they had been harassed by casino staff.
Dropinski was drinking, Fitzpatrick said, but he was not intoxicated.
“We maintain our innocence and we’re ready to go to trial on this,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have to.”
Dropinski refused to provide a breath sample to officers, police said. He was then taken to the Pottawattamie County Jail and booked without incident.
Dropinski’s alleged actions are being investigated by the Omaha Police Department’s internal affairs unit. He did not respond to messages seeking comment and will enter a written not guilty plea on Friday.
“He is an excellent police officer,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I feel that when the dust settles he will be vindicated in this matter.”
Tampa Fla Feb 24 2011 Federal authorities have charged a former security officer with mail fraud and conspiracy in connection with a scheme at Rooms-To-Go Furniture.
Brian Ouellette, who lives in Valrico, and James Loftus Jr. of Lilburn, Ga., were employed by Rooms-To-Go as directors of security when the fraud occurred, according to a press statement from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Both are retired detectives from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Loftus pleaded guilty to his involvement and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3.
Ouellette and Loftus allegedly created two sham companies enabling them to secretly receive kickbacks from an outside security vendor, Security Alliance. They collectively received more than $835,000 in kickbacks between 2002 and 2007, the statement said.
Ouellette separately collected another $250,000 in kickbacks as a result of a different scheme centered around the use of outside vendors between 2003 and 2007, the statement said.
He faces up to 20 years in a federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain caused by the offenses or twice the gross loss caused by the offenses, whichever is greater, the statement said.
Rooms-To-Go is a privately held furniture retailer headquartered in Seffner.
Source:Business Journal News
The News Tribune of Tacoma says Marshawn Turpin also pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery.
Loomis guard Kurt Husted was shot in the head for a bag of money in June 2009 outside the Lakewood, Wash., Wal-Mart store.
Turpin admitted he accompanied Calvin Finley into the store that day to rob Husted. Finley previously pleaded guilty to shooting Husted and is serving a life sentence. Turpin grabbed Husted’s money bag and ran after the shooting.
Odies Walker is accused of planning the robbery. Charged with aggravated first-degree murder, he is due to go on trial March 1.
SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. Feb 24 2011
Police are searching for a jail inmate who stole an SUV and escaped after being transported to a South Miami hospital for an injury.
According to police, Elie Bensimon, 46, a Miami-Dade County Jail inmate, was transported to Larkin Community Hospital at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for a leg injury.
He went in for a leg X-ray, according to police, but never made it to see a doctor.
“Then they told us that he was no longer going to be coming in because he hijacked a car and took off,” said Dr. Tim McCoy, who was scheduled to treat him.
Police said Bensimon pushed away the security guard who had driven him to Larkin and got into the driver’s seat of his company-issued SUV.
Investigators said Bensimon’s hands were cuffed in front of him, which allowed him to grab the steering wheel.
He drove away from the hospital. Police soon swarmed the parking lot.
“They were following him,” said ambulance driver Jose Perdomo.
Bensimon’s next stop, according to police, was Dadeland Mall. He went to a Sunglass Hut, where he asked to use the phone.
A Sunglass Hut employee told Local 10 that Bensimon was no longer wearing handcuffs and was acting nervous.
Bensimon left the mall, and as of late Tuesday, has not been spotted by police.
Bensimon had been arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary of an occupied residence, petit theft and criminal mischief. Police continue to search for Bensimon and the SUV.
EVESHAM, N.J. – February 24, 2011 — A man has been arrested for the burglary of an Apple store in New Jersey that was caught on tape.
Delroy D. Parham, 25, of Meribrook Circle in Willingboro, was arrested earlier this week.
The burglary occurred on September 2, 2009. The men involved broke the front glass door, threatened a security guard with a gun, then stole about $35,000 worth of computers, phones and iPods.
On Monday, Parham was pulled over for a traffic stop. Officers soon learned Parham was wanted for a number of burglaries in Evesham, including the Apple store heist, and he was arrested.
The Evesham burglaries were believed to have occurred from May 2009 through early February, 2011.
As police continue to investigate officers ask anyone with information to contact the Evesham Police Department at 856-983-1116.