CORRUPTION IN UNIFORM: THE DOWD CASE; Officer Flaunted Corruption, And His Superiors Ignored It

The article as it originally appeared.

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July 7, 1994, Page 00001The New York Times Archives

Over a span of six years, the New York City Police Department received 16 complaints alleging that Police Officer Michael Dowd had been robbing drug dealers and dealing cocaine as part of a gang of corrupt officers in the 75th Precinct in the crime-ridden East New York section of Brooklyn.

That wasn’t all. The officer drove to work in a bright red Corvette and sometimes had a limousine pick him up at the station house for gambling trips to Atlantic City.

Yet in a clear example of what went wrong with the department’s handling of corruption cases, an investigative panel, the Mollen Commission, has concluded that senior officers repeatedly ignored allegations against Officer Dowd or blocked efforts to check them out in a deliberate policy to shield the department from scandal. Officer Dowd was eventually arrested by another department and is now facing sentencing on drug charges.

The senior officers’ behavior, the panel concluded, was influenced by the tone set at the top. The panel’s report, which will be released formally today, found that Benjamin Ward, who was the Police Commissioner when the first allegations were made against Officer Dowd in 1986, had been deeply shaken by a corruption scandal in another Brooklyn precinct at about the same time.

And it quoted Charles J. Hynes, who was then the state’s special prosecutor for police corruption, as saying that Mr. Ward was convinced that further revelations of police misconduct would cripple the department.

But whatever the motivation, the commission said, Mr. Ward and Daniel F. Sullivan, the chief of the Inspectional Services Bureau from 1986 to 1992, “by their action — or inaction — created an unmistakable policy to avoid corruption scandals.”

Mr. Ward said he could not comment on the report because he had not seen it. Chief Sullivan told the commission that his subordinates never informed him about Officer Dowd until 1992.

Because of the perceived policy, Mr. Dowd and his “crew” of crooked officers flaunted the illegal wheeling and dealing that brought some of them as much as $8,000 a week for not interfering with drug sales along with whatever cocaine they could steal as they broke down doors at drug dens and ripped off dealers.

And even though complaints about Officer Dowd had been submitted as early as 1986, his 1987 performance evaluation described him as an officer with “excellent street knowledge” who is “empathetic to the community.”

It concludes, “Good career potential.”

Officer Dowd, who is 32, was finally arrested in 1992, not by New York City Police investigators, but by officers from Suffolk County. They had intercepted telephone conversations between the officer and a small-time drug dealer. He is now in the Manhattan Correctional Center awaiting sentencing on drug charges. The revelations that grew out of Officer Dowd’s arrest led Mayor David N. Dinkins to announce the creation of the Mollen Commission on June 25, 1992.

The panel’s report concluded that for nearly a decade the Police Department had abandoned its responsibility to insure the honesty of its members.

Fearing that reports of corruption in their commands would damage their careers, senior officers looked the other way, the commission said. Information in internal investigations was deliberately fragmented, rather than woven together to form a pattern, and cases were closed well before all leads had been exhausted.

In the fall of 1992, a report issued by Police Commissioner Lee P. Brown blamed the department’s failure to intervene in the crimes of Mr. Dowd and his fellow rogue cops on a breakdown in procedures.

But the Mollen Commission said it concluded that the problem was “a willful effort” by commanders of the Internal Affairs Division, the principal anti-corruption unit, to impede the investigation. Internal Affairs, it said, treated allegations against Mr. Dowd as separate incidents and withheld critical information from another investigator.

“By doing so,” the commission said, “Internal Affairs commanders doomed any hope of a successful investigation of Dowd and other corrupt officers of the 75th Precinct.” Holdup Provides Example

One example of how police investigators failed to make the most of leads was the holdup on July 1, 1988, by three officers in the 75th Precinct of a grocery store that was serving as a front for drug dealing. Officer Walter Yurkiw and two others were charged with the crime after robbery investigators found the car they had used, with money and drugs visible inside, parked near the station house.

Three weeks after the robbery, the precinct commander, Deputy Inspector John Harkins, told Captain Thomas Callahan of the Internal Affairs Division that he had heard rumors that Mr. Dowd was also involved in the robbery, the commission said. A few days later, a precinct lieutenant told Internal Affairs that Mr. Dowd had reportedly been seen at a bar with Officer Yurkiw and the others shortly before the robbery.

About two weeks later, two drug dealers told an Internal Affairs officer that their drug organization was paying Mr. Dowd $3,000 to $4,000 a week, plus an ounce of cocaine, for protection.

All this came to nothing. Instead, the robbery investigation remained focused on the three officers.

A few months later, Officer Yurkiw’s girlfriend, who told the police she used cocaine, got in touch with Internal Affairs, saying that Officer Yurkiw had threatened to kill her unless she provided an alibi for him in the grocery store robbery. She also told Internal Affairs about Mr. Dowd and others at the precinct.

An Internal Affairs officer reported that the woman’s “credibility and allegiances were suspect.” Yet, the Commission said, her testimony was nevertheless used.

Despite “incontrovertible indications of serious corruption,” the commission said, Internal Affairs never initiated a single investigation of Officer Dowd and, until the Long Island police intervened, the allegations against him “inevitably died a natural death.”

July 7, 1994, NYTimes, “CORRUPTION IN UNIFORM: THE DOWD CASE; Officer Flaunted Corruption, And His Superiors Ignored It”, https://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/07/nyregion/corruption-uniform-dowd-case-officer-flaunted-corruption-his-superiors-ignored.html

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Entire Police Force Suspended After Chief Charged With Corruption

 

by Tribune News Service | July 30, 2018 AT 5:50 PM
By Will Doran

The police chief in a small Eastern North Carolina town was arrested Thursday, along with one of his lieutenants, and charged with corruption and other crimes, according to multiple news reports.

Southport Police Chief Gary Lee Smith and Lt. Michael Simmons were both charged with obtaining property by false pretense, according to Wilmington television station WWAY. Smith was also charged with obstruction of justice and willful failure to discharge the duties of his office, WWAY reported.

According to WRAL, Smith and Simmons were accused of working for a trucking and shipping company at the same time they were supposed to be working in their jobs leading the local police force, sometimes leaving the city or even the state while on the clock for the city police.

The entire police force has been put on leave because of the allegations against its top leaders, according to Wilmington TV station WECT, and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is taking over the police department’s duties.

WECT also reported that Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David said the investigation into the police chief and lieutenant began when local police officers began filing complaints.

Southport is home to about 3,600 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s about 28 miles south of Wilmington.

Will Doran, Tribune News Service | July 30, 2018, “Entire Police Force Suspended After Chief Charged With Corruption”, http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/tns-soutport-north-carolina-police.html

Grand jury accuses Illinois special prosecutor of misconduct

Brian Towne, shown campaigning, lost a bitter election and is being prosecuted by his opponent.

Story highlights

  • Brian Towne ran a controversial asset-seizure program as county prosecutor until he lost re-election
  • A 17-count indictment alleges misconduct and misapplication of public funds

(CNN)An Illinois state prosecutor who had been assigned to investigate police and prosecutorial misconduct arising from a wrongful murder conviction has himself been indicted on multiple misconduct charges.

A grand jury in LaSalle County, Illinois, returned a 17-count indictment on Tuesday night accusing Brian Towne of official misconduct and misappropriating public funds while in office. Towne had been the state’s attorney there for a decade until he lost a re-election bid in November.
After losing the election, Towne quickly found a job as a special prosecutor at the Illinois Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor. He had chaired the agency’s board and taught classes at its continuing legal education conferences.
One of his first assignments was to investigate a perjury complaint arising from the wrongful conviction of Jack Daniel McCullough for the 1957 kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph. The case was featured in CNN’s 2013 series “Taken,” which raised doubts about whether McCullough had received a fair trial.
Towne stepped aside from the perjury investigation in March after CNN reported he was under scrutiny for how money was spent from an asset forfeiture fund he created.
The fund was generated from property and cash seized by a drug interdiction unit of mostly retired Illinois state troopers authorized by Towne to stop and search “suspicious” vehicles with cannabis-sniffing dogs along Interstate 80. If marijuana was found, police confiscated the vehicle and its contents.
Towne launched the unit and fund in 2011 during his tenure as the state’s attorney. Court records indicate Towne’s team, dubbed SAFE for State’s Attorney’s Felony Enforcement, brought in $1.2 million between 2011 and 2016.

Maria Ridulph’s murder went unsolved for half a century. Then detectives pursued a tip, and a man was brought to trial and convicted in the 1957 murder of the 7-year-old in Sycamore, Illinois. Now that man is free. Ann O’Neill’s 2013 series on the case, “Taken,” raised questions about whether the trial was unfairly one-sided.

Neither Towne nor his lawyer responded to requests this week for comment. But in an earlier conversation with CNN, Towne denied wrongdoing and expressed confidence he would prevail in court. He talked with a local newspaper on Tuesday evening, just after the indictment was filed.
He said the indictment was orchestrated by his political opponents.
“This is clearly an abuse of power and dirty politics at its worst,” he told the LaSalle News-Tribune, adding that the situation was “completely unacceptable.”
“I simply ask the people of La Salle County to reserve judgment until this case is resolved appropriately.”
According to the indictment, Towne allegedly used SAFE’s asset forfeiture fund to fund local youth sports teams, school projects — and his own lifestyle and re-election campaign. Other funds came from a drunken-driving awareness program.
Towne has said he had no problem using confiscated drug money to support youth athletics teams and school trips because it keeps kids occupied and away from drugs.
He also stands accused of using forfeited money on personal expenses, including $21,265 to buy a used SUV and another $2,693 for Wi-Fi at home. The indictment alleges he campaigned from the state’s attorney’s office; some employees allegedly worked on campaign matters during office hours and used office supplies purchased by the county.
The indictment further alleges that Towne illegally accepted $50,000 in payments from the state of Illinois for teaching at legal conferences and seminars. He also allegedly dipped into forfeited funds to cover airfare, meals and hotel expenses for other conferences in Orlando and Las Vegas.
Some of the 77 motorists who lost property to the SAFE unit have joined a federal class action lawsuit seeking damages for civil rights violations. For some, it was cheaper to just walk away, leaving their money and property in LaSalle County.
Stephen Komie, the attorney who filed the suit, said Wednesday that the charges show what can happen when police and prosecutors engage in what he called “contingent-fee law enforcement.” He says money should never be tied to arrests, especially if there is little or no oversight on how it is spent.
In June, the Illinois Supreme Court decided 5-2 that SAFE was not a valid police agency. The court found that prosecutors overstep their authority when they create their own police squads, and that Towne hadn’t shown that police weren’t doing a good job at enforcing drug laws.
Towne was not arrested; instead, prosecutors mailed him a notice to appear, said Assistant State’s Attorney George Mueller, who declined to discuss the charges further. Towne has not entered a plea yet.

Twists and turns never end in kidnapping case

Before his legal troubles, Towne had been tapped to review the actions of state police and DeKalb County prosecutors who put together the coldest murder case ever tried.
The 1957 kidnapping and murder of second-grader Maria Ridulph has haunted the small town of Sycamore, Illinois, for nearly 60 years. Hundreds of suspects were questioned and cleared over the years. And, in the days following the kidnapping, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Dwight D. Eisenhower took a personal interest in developments in the case.
But the feds came up empty and left the investigation in 1958 when Maria’s body was found and it appeared she’d never crossed state lines. And then the case went stone cold.
In 2012, McCullough, a former neighbor, military veteran and ex-cop, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison following an investigation led by Illinois State Police. McCullough, who is 78 and lives in Seattle, was exonerated earlier this year and has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.
His son-in-law, Casey Porter, sought an investigation into police and prosecutorial misconduct. His public records request to Seattle police, which assisted in the arrest, uncovered a videotape of an interrogation that Illinois prosecutors had claimed in court did not exist. The tape contradicted the Seattle officer’s courtroom testimony.
Porter expressed disappointment.
“Over a year later, no one has been charged or brought to trial,” Porter said. “The only thing that has happened is further proof of the systemic corruption in the Illinois legal system related to prosecutors.”
Another special prosecutor has taken over the perjury investigation. A status hearing is scheduled Monday in Sycamore.

September 8, 2017, CNN, “Grand jury accuses Illinois special prosecutor of misconduct”, https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/us/special-prosecutor-indicted/index.html

Baltimore State’s Attorney announces third body camera video of ‘questionable’ police conduct’

A new body camera video that appears to show “questionable activity” by a Baltimore police officer has come to light, the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office announced Monday — the third body cam video to emerge this month that has raised concerns about possible police misconduct.

At least 43 cases involving the officers in the latest video will be dismissed as a result of this body cam footage, State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office said in a statement. Mosby’s office is also investigating whether any of the officers involved are material witnesses in any other ongoing cases where their testimony is essential to prosecution.
Officials in Baltimore have been contending with the fallout from two other body cam videos that have come out this summer. One appears to show an officer planting evidence at the scene of a drug arrest. The public defender’s office says the other shows “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence.”
In a press briefing earlier this month, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis asked the public to wait for the investigation to be completed.
“I think it’s irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the police officers were engaged in criminal misconduct. That’s a heavy allegation to make,” he told reporters.
CNN has reviewed the 16 body camera videos from the incident, and they do not appear to conclusively show officers planting evidence. However, more than 450 cases have been impacted by the those incidents, and over 100 of those are postponed or have been dismissed.
The third video surfaced after Baltimore Police Department officers reported their own conduct to their superiors, BPD spokesman T.J. Smith said. Police officials notified Mosby’s office on August 2.
The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City has referred the self-reported incident to the BPD internal affairs department, the office said in a statement.
No officers have been suspended in connection with the incident, but the BPD Internal Affairs Division is looking into it, Smith said.
The latest video appears to show an officer re-enacting the seizure of evidence in a June incident, according to Mosby’s office. Mosby’s office will not release the video, however, and cannot characterize the June incident due to the pending BPD investigation, according to Mosby’s spokeswoman Melba Saunders.
Regardless of BPD disciplinary action, Mosby could prosecute the officers should criminality be found, but that has not yet been determined, Saunders said.
Davis issued a memo to officers after the second video was released with a stern warning not to “attempt to recreate the recovery of evidence after re-activating your body worn camera.”
The first video released appears to show a Baltimore police officer planting drugs at the scene of an arrest in January.
That video, released by the Office of the Public Defender, appears to show an officer placing a plastic bag in a food can and then hiding it under debris. The officer leaves the scene only to return shortly after, and appears to stumble upon that plastic bag of drugs in the can.
One officer in that video has been suspended, and two others were placed on administrative duty amid an investigation, officials said.
The officers involved in that case have made no public comment.
The Baltimore City Office of the Public Defender released a second video a few weeks later, showing what they say are “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence” during a November 29, 2016, drug arrest.
The footage shows an officer finding drugs that another officer had allegedly placed there moments before, said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the city public defender’s Special Litigation Section.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office said it “had questions” about the officers’ body camera videos and asked to postpone cases involving two officers amid an internal investigation, according to Saunders.
Smith said no officers were suspended but that two officers involved in that arrest were referred to the department’s Internal Affairs Division. Authorities have not identified either officer.
“Before we blanketly characterize their behavior as deceptive and/or a credibility issue, we referred the matter to the Internal Affairs Division of the Baltimore Police Department,” Saunders said in a statement on behalf of Mosby.

History of corruption

Long plagued by charges of corruption, the Baltimore Police Department has struggled to win public confidence. In March, seven Baltimore officers were federally charged with robbing citizens, filing false reports and claiming overtime fraudulently. Two of those now-former officers pleaded guilty in July.
Shortly after the charges came down, the commissioner said that the department would be ending plainclothes policing, telling The Baltimore Sun he was concerned that their methods “accelerated a cutting-corners mindset.”
Since 2011, Baltimore has paid out more than $13 million to settle lawsuits alleging police misconduct. In April, a federal judge approved a consent decree after a Justice Department report found a wide racial disparity in the way the Baltimore police treat citizens.
“The body-worn camera program was established to fight crime, better protect officers, and foster public trust. Whether planting evidence, re-enacting the seizure of evidence or prematurely turning off the department-issued body-worn camera, those actions misrepresent the truth and undermine public trust,” Mosby said in Monday’s statement.

Baltimore State’s Attorney announces third body camera video of ‘questionable’ police conduct”, https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/21/us/third-baltimore-body-cam/index.html

Police chief ‘suspended indefinitely’ after prostitution bust

http://interactive.tegna-media.com/video/embed/embed.html?id=2629445&type=video&title=Small-town%20police%20chief%20caught%20in%20underage%20sex%20sting&site=89&playerid=6918249996581&dfpid=32805352&dfpposition=Video_prestream_external§ion=home

WALNUT GROVE, Minn. – A small town Minnesota police chief has been “suspended without pay indefinitely” after being caught in a minor prostitution sting.

Redwood County prosecutors have charged 45-year-old Michael Robert Zeug with prostitution-attempting to hire a minor under 18. The charge is a felony and carries the possibility of a five-year prison sentence, $10,000 fine or both.

The criminal complaint filed against Zeug details how he was busted as part of a covert operation to target men in southwest Minnesota trying to hire minors for sex. Members of the task force posted an ad on Craigslist offering sexual services in exchange for cash and Zeug responded to the ad, thinking he was communicating with a 17-year-old girl. Instead, it was an undercover officer who arranged to have sex with Zeug at a home in Redwood Falls.

Prosecutors say during the conversation to set up the sexual encounter the undercover officer told Zeug that the reason for the Craigslist ad was “just like to make a little extra money here and there ya know? plus, I like to **** so why not!!” Correspondence reveals that Zeug responded, “yeah this isn’t my first time” and “humm yeah I’m wanting to meet up but man you need to reassure me your not working with the cops and crap.”

Electronic communication revealed that Zeug also sent the undercover officer several messages that were sexual in nature, and requested nude photos. He also asked that the 17-year-old flash her breasts at him as he drove by so he could make sure no cops were involved.

Zeug was arrested after driving several laps around the home where the two were supposed to meet. When taken into custody, he had a police radio on him. The defendant was previously listed on the Walnut Grove city website as police chief, but as of Monday afternoon that posting had been taken down.

Walnut Grove City Clerk Paula McGarvey tells KARE 11 that at a special meeting Monday night, the city council decided to suspend Zeug without pay indefinitely.

http://www.kare11.com/news/crime/small-town-police-chief-busted-for-prostitution/448041375?platform=hootsuite

Former police officer pleads guilty to smuggling guns to the Dominican Republic

Former Windsor PD officer found guilty

By Staff Reports

Published 7:51 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

By Staff Reports Email the author Published 7:51 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

GREENVILLE – A jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina found a former North Carolina police officer guilty of drug, firearm and bribery charges stemming from his participation in trafficking narcotics and narcotics proceeds for a large-scale drug trafficking organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce of the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement.

Antonio Tillmon, 33, a former police officer with the Windsor Police Department, was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiring to distribute controlled substances, attempting to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiring to use and carry firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses, using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses and federal programs bribery.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcom J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8.

The charges stemmed from a large scale undercover investigation – dubbed Operation Rockfish – into allegations of systemic law enforcement corruption in Northampton County. The evidence at trial established that Tillmon accepted $6,500 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers in return for transporting a total of 30 kilograms of heroin from North Carolina to Maryland over three separate occasions between August 2014 and April 2015. On each occasion, Tillmon carried his law enforcement badge and a firearm to secure the illicit narcotics. Tillmon was prepared to use his badge and fake documentation to evade drug interdiction in the event the transport vehicle was stopped. The evidence also showed that Tillmon agreed to participate in a fourth drug transport, to which he brought five firearms, including an assault rifle accompanied by three magazines of ammunition.

Fourteen other defendants, 13 of whom were law enforcement or correctional officers, were charged in the drug trafficking and firearm conspiracies – the law enforcement and correctional officers were also charged with federal programs bribery. Those defendants all pleaded guilty to various offenses and are scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Tillmon is the only charged defendant who proceeded to trial.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Raleigh Resident Agency.

GREENVILLE – A jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina found a former North Carolina police officer guilty of drug, firearm and bribery charges stemming from his participation in trafficking narcotics and narcotics proceeds for a large-scale drug trafficking organization. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce of the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. Antonio Tillmon, 33, a former police officer with the Windsor Police Department, was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiring to distribute controlled substances, attempting to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiring to use and carry firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses, using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses and federal programs bribery. Senior U.S. District Judge Malcom J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8. The charges stemmed from a large scale undercover investigation – dubbed Operation Rockfish – into allegations of systemic law enforcement corruption in Northampton County. The evidence at trial established that Tillmon accepted $6,500 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers in return for transporting a total of 30 kilograms of heroin from North Carolina to Maryland over three separate occasions between August 2014 and April 2015. On each occasion, Tillmon carried his law enforcement badge and a firearm to secure the illicit narcotics. Tillmon was prepared to use his badge and fake documentation to evade drug interdiction in the event the transport vehicle was stopped. The evidence also showed that Tillmon agreed to participate in a fourth drug transport, to which he brought five firearms, including an assault rifle accompanied by three magazines of ammunition. Fourteen other defendants, 13 of whom were law enforcement or correctional officers, were charged in the drug trafficking and firearm conspiracies – the law enforcement and correctional officers were also charged with federal programs bribery. Those defendants all pleaded guilty to various offenses and are scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Tillmon is the only charged defendant who proceeded to trial. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Raleigh Resident Agency.

http://www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com/2017/05/22/former-windsor-pd-officer-found-guilty/?platform=hootsuite

2 Orleans County deputies arrested

Sean Lahman , @seanlahman Published 3:34 p.m. ET May 17, 2017

Two Orleans County sheriff’s deputies were arrested Wednesday and face criminal charges related to their employment with a private security company.

Sgt. Dean Covis of Albion and Deputy Thomas Marano of Brockport were each charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies.

An investigation conducted by the New York State Police Major Crimes unit concluded that between November 2013 and January 2015, Covis and Marano filed false time sheets, indicating that they were working for the private company at times when they were, in fact, working at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

Covis and Marano were arraigned in Orleans County Court and released on their own recognizance. according to a statement from the state police. Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman has been assigned as a special prosecutor in this matter.

In a statement, Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower expressed his “great disappointment” at the arrests. He said that both deputies have been placed on administrative leave and may be subject to further discipline, based on the outcome of an internal investigation.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/05/17/orleans-county-deputies-arrested/101799438/?platform=hootsuite

EXCLUSIVE: Six Hackensack Police Narcotics Officers Suspended

05/09/2017 Jerry DeMarco

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Six members of the Hackensack Police Narcotics Division — essentially the entire unit — have been suspended, Daily Voice has learned.

Suspended amid an administrative investigation were the unit commander, the second-in-command and two detectives and two patrol officers, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed.

“The officers were suspended pending the outcome of an investigation,” Capt. Francesco Aquila confirmed early Tuesday evening.

Aquila, who is the officer in charge of the department, refused further comment.

The investigation was being conducted in conjunction with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, a law enforcement source told Daily Voice.

Under state Attorney General guidelines, at least one officer must remain in the division now that the others have been suspended.

Aquila appointed Lt. Michael Antista.

 

http://hackensack.dailyvoice.com/police-fire/exclusive-six-hackensack-police-narcotics-officers-suspended/710194/?platform=hootsuite

Former Los Angeles Sheriff Found Guilty of Obstructing Federal Investigation

Lee Baca, the former Los Angeles County sheriff, with his lawyer in January. Credit Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

LOS ANGELES — Lee Baca, the former Los Angeles County sheriff, was found guilty on Wednesday of obstructing a federal investigation of corruption and abuses in county jails, as well as covering up his attempt to block investigators.

The verdict brings an end to a corruption scandal that has dogged the largest sheriff’s department in the country and reached the highest levels of the department. Ten other officers, ranging from rank-and-file deputies to Mr. Baca’s second in command, have been convicted or pleaded guilty to interfering in the federal investigation into the jail system. More deputies have been found guilty of routinely sexually humiliating inmates and severely beating them at the jails, according to the Justice Department.

Mr. Baca, who is now 74 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, could face up to 20 years in federal prison. It is a remarkable fall for a man who was viewed nationally as progressive on criminal justice issues and praised for his outreach to ethnic communities.

The verdict, which the jury reached after less than two days of deliberations, came in the second trial against Mr. Baca, who resigned in 2014 amid the investigation into the corruption charges. Last December, another jury deadlocked, with 11 of the jurors wanting to grant an acquittal and just one finding him guilty.

Continue reading the main story

Federal prosecutors argued that Mr. Baca directed a conspiracy in 2011 to stop the F.B.I. from investigating allegations of abuse and corruption in the county’s jails, including trying to keep federal agents away from an inmate who was working for them as an informant, intimidating the agent leading the investigation and manipulating potential witnesses.

Mr. Baca’s top deputy, Paul Tanaka, was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy last year and sentenced to five years in prison. Federal District Judge Percy Anderson, the same judge who oversaw Mr. Tanaka’s trial, will hand down Mr. Baca’s sentence. Federal prosecutors tried to avoid a trial late last year by reaching a plea deal with Mr. Baca, which would have put him in prison for no longer than six months. But Judge Anderson ruled that the sentence was too lenient.

Deputies initially discovered the federal civil rights investigation in the summer of 2011, when they found that F.B.I. agents had bribed a deputy to get a cellphone to the inmate working as an informant in their investigation of widespread corruption and routine beatings at the jail. The department later moved the inmate around to several other jails, using a pseudonym so that he could not be found and stopping him from speaking to a grand jury, witnesses in the trial said.

Two sheriff sergeants later approached an F.B.I. agent at her home and threatened to arrest her, a plan that prosecutors said Mr. Baca had approved. Other employees of the sheriff’s department tried to dissuade the inmate and other deputies from cooperating with the investigation.

Prosecutors also said Mr. Baca had lied during a 2013 interview with investigators, telling them he had not known that a civil rights investigation was underway when he interfered.