Misconduct lawsuit against Douglas County sheriff advances

December 31, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge in Nebraska cited 15 sexual misconduct cases involving deputies or other employees in refusing to dismiss a woman’s lawsuit against the Douglas County sheriff and his office over how they handled her misconduct complaint.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the cases date back 20 years and raise concerns that Sheriff Tim Dunning and his office failed “to train or supervise its employees on sexual misconduct, The Omaha World Herald reported .

“The court agrees with the plaintiff that there is sufficient evidence as a matter of law that would enable a jury to find deliberate indifference on the part of Sheriff Dunning,” Bataillon said.

Douglas County attorneys have appealed Bataillon’s decision.

The woman alleged Dunning was indifferent to sexual misconduct in his office after Deputy Cory Cooper in February 2013 made her perform a sex act on him when she was 19.

The woman reported the incident to police a few days later but the sheriff’s office didn’t immediately begin its investigation, which allowed Cooper to continue acting inappropriately, said Debra Loevy, the woman’s attorney. Cooper wasn’t fired until May 2013 following another report of his behavior, Loevy said.

Dunning told the newspaper he wasn’t indifferent toward misconduct, noting that suspensions or terminations occurred when a case was corroborated. He said all county employees are trained on sexual harassment.

Dunning added that Cooper wasn’t involved in any previous cases, so there was no indication that he could be an issue.

“Cooper did what he did because he’s a sex offender and a criminal,” Dunning said. “Before we hired him, he had a psychological screen. He was polygraphed. As far as we could tell, he was going to be a sterling employee.”

Cooper was sentenced to misdemeanor assault in 2015 and served six months in jail. As part of a plea bargain, Cooper didn’t have to register as a sex offender and isn’t a convicted felon.

December 31, 2018, Associated Press, “Misconduct lawsuit against Douglas County sheriff advances”, https://www.apnews.com/fb43adce5838486ca72ec33e1539f286


Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?



The national profile of Broward Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Scott Israel may have risen sharply in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but the triumphs and missteps of the longtime South Florida cop have been well-documented over the past 10 years.

So have Israel’s strong connections to Parkland. The sheriff now lives in Davie but previously resided in Parkland with his wife, Susan. He is the father of triplets, Brett, Blake and Blair, who all attended Stoneman Douglas. Brett was once the starting quarterback for the school’s football team, even playing under slain assistant football coach Aaron Feis, as did his brothers. Blake, who now attends Palm Beach Atlantic University, was a midfielder in lacrosse at Stoneman. Israel, 61, also coached football at Stoneman Douglas and North Broward Preparatory Academy, and has been the head coach of the Coral Springs Chargers Tackle Football Team. In 2008, he won a Brian Piccolo Coach of the Year award.

Born in New York, Israel is the son of a New York homicide detective. He began his career as a patrol officer for the Fort Lauderdale police department in 1979, later working narcotics in the 1980s and 1990s, when crime was rampant. Israel has been the subject of 10 internal affairs complaints, mainly for excessive force, although he was cleared in all of them. He served a stint as a SWAT commander and was North Bay Village chief of police from 2004 to 2008, but left to run for sheriff in 2008 and 2012. Israel eventually won in 2012, and easily won re-election in 2016.

Israel has historically been vocal concerning gun violence, opposing open-carry legislation and one law that would allow concealed weapons on campuses. He began implementing body cameras for his deputies in 2016. This week, Israel announced that deputies guarding Broward County Schools will now carry rifle, including AR-15s.

On Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a police officer assigned to Stoneman Douglas resigned after failing to enter the Parkland school as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students and faculty. Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” The sheriff placed two other deputies under investigation for their handling of possible warnings about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

This isn’t the first time Israel’s agency has encountered trouble over its response to a mass shooting. Months after the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport shooting, a 2017 Sun-Sentinel investigation revealed that Israel’s Broward Sheriff’s Office failed to “seize control and set up an effective command system” at the airport. BSO “erred from the very beginning in controlling the shooting scene in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, where five people died and six others were wounded.” The reason, cited in a 99-page draft report by the agency itself, mentioned the sheriff’s office’s aging radio system, which garbled communications among officers, forcing police to improvise with “hand signals, runners and cellphones.”

Israel has also been scrutinized for his relationship with political operative Roger Stone. A Fort Lauderdale resident who built his career on smearing political enemies, Stone had a hand in the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, John McCain and Donald Trump. While backing then sheriff Al Lamberti in 2011, Stone told the Sun-Sentinel that “Scott Israel is an unqualified punk, a racist and a thief.”

One year later, Stone switched sides, helping Israel defeat Lamberti in the 2012 sheriff’s race. Since then, Israel “added to BSO’s payroll Stone’s book-writing partner, Stone’s book publicist and Stone’s long-time executive assistant,” and even had “Stone’s stepson transferred to detective.”

Citing mud slinging between Israel and Lamberti during the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel’s Editorial Board endorsed no one in that year’s primary for Broward County Sheriff. The Editorial Board backed Israel for his 2016 re-election as sheriff, writing that burglaries and violent crimes in BSO-patrolled areas were “way down” in the sheriff’s first term.

As Israel significantly trailed Lamberti in the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a late infusion of attack-ad cash from former Aerosmith guitarist Richie Supa, of Plantation, and Massachusetts construction magnate Robert Pereira helped tip the election in Israel’s favor. According to the same story, Pereira alone gave $245,000 to groups supporting Israel.

Israel also came under scrutiny in 2015 after a Broward grand jury indicted Deputy Peter Peraza in the 2013 slaying of Jermaine McBean, who was shot dead by the office in his apartment complex for toting an air rifle in public. Peraza became the first cop charged in an on-duty shooting in Broward since 1980, and public trust waned in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, prompting Israel to tell the Sun-Sentinel, “It’s a tough time to be a cop.”

After much speculation over the sheriff’s religious affiliations, Israel told the Sun-Sentinel in 2016 that he is Jewish and “attends the Parkland Chabad from time to time.” Israel leaned heavily on his faith during the 2016 campaign, saying this in one campaign ad flier: “My late father Sonny Israel fought in the Korean War and became a police officer because he believed in the call from the Talmud.” This came after multiple public speeches from Israel laced with Scriptural references, comments about “church pews” and his reluctance to discuss his spiritual beliefs.

Phillip Valys, February 24, 2018, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?”, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-school-shooting-who-is-broward-sheriff-scott-israel-20180223-story.html

Broward Co. Sheriff Israel: ‘Not My Responsibility’ That His Employee Failed to Confront Parkland Shooter

“I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”


Apart from Nikolas Cruz, charged with killed 17 people, the second villain of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, is shaping up as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

At CNN’s “town hall” last week, Israel attacked defenders of the Second Amendment and said he and law enforcement “need more power.” Since then, it’s come to light that his department’s armed “school resource officer,” who was on the scene, failed to engage the shooter. So did three other sheriff’s deputies. When charged with corruption during a 2016 re-election campaign, Israel compared himself to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula—and declared, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.”

Now there’s this stunning denial of responsibility, in which Israel explains to a local news reporter why he is refusing to resign: “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”

Confidence in police is below its 2004 peak, even if it’s rebounded from a post-Ferguson low in 2014. There are many reasons for that, including a seemingly endless stream of cases in which police shoot unarmed suspects and face few if any legal consequences. Add to that now a high-profile cop categorically declaring that his ass is covered merely by giving the requisite training to his staff, rather than overseeing a properly functioning department.

The Parkland shooting is quickly moving from a story about the need for more restrictions on weapons and owners to one about how officials failed to execute their duties. Israel’s craven responses will only feed that narrative, which might at least have the salutary effect of raising public consciousness and holding police accountable.

Watch the clip here:

DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey Mann arrested on indecency, obstruction charges


Jeffrey Mann is accused of exposing himself to a police officer and then running away.


ATLANTA — DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was arrested in Atlanta Saturday night on charges of indecency and obstruction.

The Atlanta Police incident report states that at about 11 p.m. the reporting officer, identified only as Officer Snell, was in an area of Piedmont Park along 10th Street, NE, known for sexual acts after dark, when he spotted the suspect, later identified as Mann. The officer stated that he saw Mann feeling his penis through his pants, walking toward the officer.

The officer stated in the report that, at this point, Mann exposed himself and began making inappropriate motions. The officer said he hid behind a tree to prevent Mann from seeing the reflective tape on his City of Atlanta police bicycle.

As Mann approached, the officer confronted him by shining his flashlight and Mann fled.  The officer said he identified himself as police and demanded the suspect stop but Mann didn’t. After running across 10th Street to a residential area of Midtown, and then turning down Argonne Street, Mann finally surrendered and was taken into custody on 9th Street, about a quarter of a mile from where the officer says he first encountered Mann.

During the walk back to the patrol car, with Mann in handcuffs, the officer says Mann asked him to call the officer’s supervisor, and Mann identified the police supervisor as a Major Peek. However the officer countered that Peek was not his supervisor. Mann still wished to speak with a supervisor and, upon reaching the Atlanta Police Precinct at CNN headquarters, downtown, Mann was allowed to do so.

The Atlanta Police Department declined to comment on the arrest, saying that it is an ongoing investigation.  Mann bonded out of the Atlanta city jail.  Both charges against him are misdemeanors.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Sunday that read:
“DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey L. Mann was arrested last night, May 6, 2017, by the City of Atlanta Police Department on charges of indecency and obstruction. He is working with City of Atlanta to clear these charges.”

Mann is DeKalb County’s 49th sheriff, and has served in the department for 10 years, including as chief of staff and as chief deputy.

According to the DeKalbLawyersAssociation.org, Mann was appointed to fill the remaining term of Sheriff Tom Brown, who resigned to run for Congress, in March 2014. In July 2014, Mann won a special run-off election with 76 percent of the vote to fill the remainder of Brown’s term.  Mann won election to a full, four-year term in November, 2016.

Mann also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1981 to 1985.


Former Bullitt County Sheriff arrested, indicted on federal charges

Posted: May 03, 2017 2:47 PM EST Updated: May 04, 2017 11:21 AM EST

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Bullitt County Sheriff Dave Greenwell was indicted in federal court Tuesday on five charges, including obstructing an investigation and aiding a special deputy in his department who sought to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

The indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

Greenwell was arrested and appeared in federal court Wednesday. Among other charges, he is accused of  “arranging a secret meeting” and informing a special deputy identified as “C.M.” that he was the subject of a narcotics investigation and giving him the names of a potential witnesses.

Greenwell also allegedly told C.M that his business was under surveillance and provided information that investigators had obtained under wire tapping, according to the indictment.

Greenwell pleaded not guilty to all charges, said his attorney, Scott C. Cox. “There are serious charges and I look forward to contesting them,” Cox said.

While “C.M.” is not identified, a former Bullitt County Sheriff’s special deputy named Chris Mattingly pleaded guilty last year to being part of a drug cell in Kentucky that had ties to Mexico and distributed drugs and large sums of cash across the country.

Greenwell resigned from the department on Feb. 28 amid allegations of misconduct, ending his letter or retirement with, “P.S. Jesus knows!”

If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence.

Former Bullitt County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy John Cottrell, who was second in command of the department, filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired by Greenwell after revealing that Greenwell was involved in criminal activity.

Cottrell was indicted by a Bullitt County grand jury in March on felony forgery charges.

In the lawsuit, Cottrell claims he and two subordinates in the department investigated Greenwell and “revealed that the Sheriff is involved in serious criminal activity.”

Over the last two years, Cottrell said he reported alleged mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority and illegal activity by Greenwell, according to the lawsuit.

Garry Adams, Cottrell’s attorney, said in a statement that Greenwell’s indictment is “not just the beginning of the former Sheriff’s criminal prosecution but also the beginning of the vindication of my client for being wrongfully terminated as Chief Deputy of Bullitt County and then prosecuted in retaliation for providing assistance and/or blowing the whistle on his former boss.”

The lawsuit did not provide details on the alleged criminal activity.

Capt. Mike Halbleib and Det. Tim Murphy, who work in the department’s drug task force, assisted in the investigation of Greenwell, according to the suit.

Greenwell has denied any wrongdoing.

In addition, Greenwell recently gave a deposition in the case of Lynn Hunt, a former detective with the sheriff’s department who has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

In January, Greenwell was forced to testify in Hunt’s civil case, questioned as to whether he had any improper contact with Mattingly during a federal investigation accusing Mattingly of being the head of a major drug cell in Kentucky with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

Mattingly has pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiring to distribute more than a ton of marijuana and methamphetamine.

“While this federal investigation was ongoing, did you ever have conversations with Chris or Leonard Mattingly regarding the investigation?” asked Mike Moulton, Hunt’s attorney, according to a video of the deposition.

Carol Pettit, Greenwell’s attorney stepped in, “Objection, he’s not answering.” Greenwell then testified, “I’m not answering.”

The investigation into Mattingly started in 2014 when he was heard talking on a federal wiretap of a California cartel. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

The Mattingly family owns Mattingly’s Used Cars on Old State Highway 245 in Bullitt County. The house next door is owned by Greenwell.

Moulton asked Greenwell, “Your son bought a car from the Mattingly’s in September of 2015. Are you aware of that?”

Greenwell responded, “Am I aware my son bought one? Yes.”

Moulton asked, “In September of 2015.” Greenwell said “Yes.”

“Was the criminal investigation going on still?” Moulton asked. Greenwell responded, “The criminal investigation, yes it was going on.”

Hunt filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Greenwell in 2015. Her termination letter says she was fired for violating department policies.

“You state that she was insubordinate continuing a relationship with a known target of a federal drug investigation, after being advised the subject was the target of a criminal investigation,” Moulton asked Greenwell. “Who was that individual?”

“Chris and Leonard Mattingly,” Greenwell testified. Leonard is Chris Mattingly’s father and hasn’t been charged with any crime.

Hunt was heard on wiretaps talking to Chris Mattingly, but she says she wasn’t tipping him off to any investigation.

Greenwell’s indictment also accuses him of arranging a secret meeting with L.M., giving him the names of three potential government witnesses.

If convicted, Greenwell could be sentenced to no less than ten years and up to a life sentence and fine of $11 million.




“[We’ll]…blow your front door off the hinges.” – Sheriff Peyton Grinnell

The Militarization of Policing

The militarization of American policing is a controversial subject. Some say the police have to arm themselves like soldiers so that they can keep up with the threats posed by terrorists and drug gangs. Others maintain that the line that has traditionally separated the police function from the military function has been badly blurred and, as a result, the police are now using confrontational tactics and unnecessary violence. In January 2015 President Obama ordered several changes to the federal programs that provide armored military vehicles and weapons to local police agencies. That order did little to resolve the controversy. The order was criticized from all sides for doing too little and also for going too far. This primer will briefly describe the federal programs that contribute to the militarization trend at the local level and the tactics of paramilitary units in American communities. The primer will conclude with several policy recommendations.


Following riots in Los Angeles in 1965 and the mass shooting at the University of Texas in 1966, several big city police departments started to create special tactical teams to respond to emergencies, such as hostage situations and active shooters. These tactical units are commonly referred to as SWAT teams (Special Weapons and Tactics), but different jurisdictions sometimes use other names, such as “Special Response Team.”

During the 1980s, with the escalation of the drug war, the SWAT teams also began to take on a more expansive role in domestic law enforcement. A few hundred paramilitary raids a year gradually became tens of thousands as tactical units were increasingly used to serve search warrants.

Today, police departments around the country launch approximately 80,000 raids a year. Roughly four out of every five raids today are serving search warrants instead of addressing extraordinarily dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, the drastic expansion of the use of raids to serve warrants has led to an increase in the number of botched raids. A SWAT raid is an inherently violent, dangerous event. Property damage is common, with battered doors and broken windows. Family pets, especially dogs, are sometimes killed due to their reaction to the invading agents.

Far too often, there is an human cost to the raid as well. Here are a few examples:

  • On July 29, 2008, a SWAT team from the Prince George’s County (Md.) Sheriff’s office burst into the residence of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD, Cheye Calvo. Police had been tracking a package of marijuana from Arizona when it was delivered to Calvo’s door. Without any further investigation, the police stormed the Calvo residence. The family’s two dogs were shot and killed. Soon thereafter, it became evident that Calvo had nothing to do with the drug package. The marijuana had been mailed to his house either by mistake or so some third party could pick it up before the Calvos could retrieve it from their front porch.
  • In January of 2011, police in Framingham, MA raided an apartment in search of drugs after confidential informants reported making drug purchases “around” the area. When police smashed the door of the apartment, they found 68-year-old Eurie Stamps, not one of the suspects, laying on the floor with his hands above his head. One of the officers kept his M4 rifle trained on Stamps as the other officers searched the apartment. When the officer pointing the gun moved to secure Stamps, he claims his gun accidentally discharged, killing Stamps.
  • In the early hours of May 28, 2014, a Habersham County (Ga.) SWAT team raided the home of the Phonesavanh family. Police were serving a warrant in search of a family member who had allegedly sold a small amount of drugs to an undercover officer. This was a “no-knock” raid, meaning the police did not knock on the door or announce their presence prior to breaking into the home. The family was taken by surprise, and when officers could not get the bedroom door open, they lobbed in a “flashbang” grenade. The door wouldn’t open because the crib of a 19-month-old child was pushed against it. The flash grenade landed in the child’s crib and exploded. The child survived his injuries after several surgeries, but will be permanently scarred. The suspected drug dealer was not at the home when the raid occurred. He was later arrested without incident at another location.

Paramilitary raids sometimes lead to the tragic killings of police officers as well. On January 4, 2012, a “Narcotics Strike Force Team” in Ogden, Utah kicked in the door of Matthew David Stewart while serving a drug warrant. Stewart, a veteran who admitted to growing marijuana to treat his PTSD, was asleep when he heard his door being smashed in. Stewart grabbed a 9mm pistol and fired on what he perceived to be criminal intruders. One officer was killed and five more were injured. Stewart himself was shot multiple times before eventually surrendering to police.

Federal Role in State and Local Militarization

The federal government has contributed to the spread of paramilitary police units and to the “warrior cop” mentality of police culture. Through federal grants and equipment transfer programs, state and local police departments have become heavily armed.

The 1033 program, administered through the Department of Defense, allows for the free transfer of military surplus weapons, equipment, and vehicles, to state and local law enforcement. A task force commissioned by the White House in 2015 found that the 1033 program, along with similar transfer programs, were not properly overseeing local law enforcement’s use of the equipment, not adequately training recipients, and not coordinating with other federal agencies to ensure that slipshod police departments were barred from the program.

The federal government also plies state and local law enforcement with billions of dollars in federal security grants and civil asset forfeiture payouts. The justifications for these transfers and grants typically relate to the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, but there are reasons to be skeptical that the equipment is actually used against drug cartels or to protect national security.

When officials in Keene, NH, applied to the federal government for funding for a BearCat tactical vehicle, for example, by citing a terrorist threat to the annual town pumpkin festival, one city council member stated: “Our application talked about the danger of domestic terrorism, but that’s just something you put in the grant application to get the money. What red-blooded American cop isn’t going to be excited about getting a toy like this? That’s what it comes down to.”

Policing has historically been the province of state and local governments. These federal programs undermine the traditional balance between the federal government and the states. When law enforcement agencies turn to the federal government, rather than their locally elected officials, for equipment and funding, the goals of those police agencies can shift away from local crime-fighting priorities.

Some police commanders have experienced regret. In September 2015, the Burlington Police Department in Vermont decided to stop accepting transfers of federal military equipment. Here is how Chief Brandon del Pozo explained his reasoning: “There are times when military-style equipment is essential for public safety, but they are very rare. We have the resources to handle all but the most inconceivable public safety scenarios. Amassing a worst-case scenario arsenal of military equipment results in officers seeing everyday policework through a military lens. When I realized what a small role the military played in equipping our police, I concluded it was better to return the items.”

Militarization of Federal Agencies

State and local law enforcement are not the only beneficiaries of the federal push for militarization. Federal regulatory agencies have also acquired military weapons and equipment. A 2016 report commissioned by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 found that between 2006-2014, the federal government spent more than $335 million equipping agencies like the EPA, IRS, and Smithsonian Institution with guns, ammunition, and other military equipment, such as night-vision goggles and grenade launchers.

The militarization of regulatory agencies is unjustified. The federal government already has several agencies that are tasked with law enforcement responsibilities, such as the FBI.


  • The use of special tactical teams should be reserved for potentially deadly emergencies, such as hostage situations, active shooters, and barricaded suspects. They should not be used for routine law enforcement practices, such as serving search warrants.
  • The federal government should not provide military weapons to local civilian police.  At the least, never directly, without the explicit approval of locally elected officials. When local civilian oversight is bypassed, there is a danger that the police will become unresponsive and unaccountable to the local electorate’s policy preferences and priorities.
  • Federal regulatory agencies do not need paramilitary units.  The FBI has SWAT units and should be called upon when their extraordinary weapons and tactics are actually needed.

Suggested Readings:

Adam Andrzejewski and Thomas W. Smith, “The Militarization of America: Non-Military Federal Agencies Purchases of Guns, Ammo, and Military-Style Equipment, Fiscal years 2006-2014 Oversight Study.” June 2016.

“Demilitarizing America’s Police: A Constitutional Analysis,” The Constitution Project, August 2016.

Radley Balko, “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America,” Cato Institute, July 17, 2006.

Radley Balko, The Rise of the Warrior Cop, PublicAffairs Publishing, 2013.

Peter B. Kraska and Louis J. Cubellis, “Militarizing Mayberry and Beyond: Making Sense of American Paramilitary Policing,” Justice Quarterly, December 1997.

“Recommendations Pursuant to Executive Order 13688 Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition,” White House Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, May 2015.

“War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” American Civil Liberties Union, June 2014.

Diane Cecilia Weber, “Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments,” Cato Institute, August 26, 1999.

Prepared by Adam Bates.


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.

Plea deal keeps former Pima County sheriff’s deputy from prison, preserves pension

The plea bargain dismisses all seven felonies, with the former official admitting to three misdemeanor theft counts in $500,000 embezzlement case.

A former chief deputy for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department will do no prison time — and apparently will retain his state pension — under terms of a plea deal reached Friday with federal prosecutors in a $500,000 embezzlement scheme.

Christopher Radtke, 55, once second in command of the Sheriff’s Department, was indicted on seven felony counts of money laundering and theft after investigators discovered deputies misappropriated roughly a half-million dollars seized from criminals over 18 years. Radtke admitted that for six years he was involved in the practice of making it appear the Sheriff’s Department was donating misappropriated dollars to the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers.

It is unclear from the indictment how much money Radtke spent unlawfully.

The plea deal was condemned Friday by critics, including a sergeant who tipped FBI agents about the scheme.

Radtke could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Sean Chapman, did not return a call Friday afternoon.

Radtke’s pension

The plea bargain dismisses all felonies, with Radtke admitting to three misdemeanor theft counts. He agreed to not seek employment as a law-enforcement officer or with Pima County government. In return, prosecutors will request one year of probation without incarceration and will not prosecute Radtke for other offenses.

The deal allows Radtke to receive an $82,800 annual pension from the state Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and a one-time $505,000 payment from the system’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, according to the retirement system’s records. Within six years, Radtke will receive more than $1 million in state retirement benefits.


Had Radtke been convicted of any of the felony charges against him, he would have been required by law to forfeit his state pension because the crime was committed in the course of his role as a public official for a government employer.

The plea was accepted by Magistrate Judge Eric Markovich. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7 in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

It is common in criminal court for prosecutors to offer reduced charges with lesser sentences, thereby expediting justice and avoiding trials with uncertain outcomes. But it is unclear why federal authorities granted such terms in a case that involved a law officer and so much public money.

John Huber, U.S. attorney for Utah, said the plea deal represents a “just outcome,” adding, “This investigation and prosecution has cleaned the Pima County Sheriff’s Office of years of corruption and ensures it will not return.”

Prosecution was handled by a Justice Department office in Utah because the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona recused itself. Sheriff’s administrators and federal prosecutors work together extensively, building professional relationships on task forces and during criminal investigations. Elizabeth Strange, the acting U.S. attorney for Arizona, previously oversaw the agency’s Tucson office.

Melodie Rydalch, an office spokeswoman, declined to discuss the terms of the deal.

‘He is getting a huge break’

Kevin Kubitskey, a Pima County sheriff’s sergeant, was among the whistleblowers who first tipped the FBI about the embezzlement scheme in November 2015. He said he was stunned by the plea deal.

“They allowed seven felony charges to be knocked down to three misdemeanors. It seems politically driven in order to keep his pension,” Kubitskey said. “If you are a law enforcement official and you violate the public trust, you shouldn’t get a pension … He is getting a huge break.”


Kubitskey, also chairman of the Pima County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, said the plea bargain would have made sense only had Radtke produced testimony to convict others in the scheme. According to a spokeswoman at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah, no other suspects have been charged.

“Why dream of offering a plea like this with nothing in return?” Kubitskey said.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, who has prosecuted numerous white-collar fraud cases, described the plea deal as “lenient.”

“You’re kidding me,” Romley said upon learning of the terms. “He (Radtke) was in a position of public trust. Nobody’s above the law.”

The controversy contributed to voters kicking out the incumbent sheriff, Chris Nanos, in November. Voters instead chose Republican Mark Napier. Nanos had been appointed to the job in July 2015 following the retirement of longtime Democratic Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

During the FBI investigation in June, former sheriff’s Chief of Staff Brad Gagnepain committed suicide.

Court records indicate the thefts occurred over a period of nearly two decades, most of which overlapped Dupnik’s 35 years in office. The former sheriff did not return a call Friday.

Where the funds went

Under the agreement, Radtke pleaded guilty to three thefts of less than $1,000 from the sheriff’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) fund. He admitted spending more than $700 on model airplanes, $250 on a restaurant bill and $500 to create a menu for a cafe within the Sheriff’s Department that was owned and operated by his niece.

According to the indictment, deputies collaborated to make it appear money was being donated to a sheriff’s auxiliary when, in fact, it was being misappropriated.

The RICO account contains cash and proceeds from valuables that have been seized from criminal organizations. The forfeiture troves have for years been the subject of criticism for unfairness and lax accountability. Last year, the FBI reportedly investigated RICO expenditures at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

“If anything, this is going to raise more questions about a lack of RICO oversight in Arizona,” Romley said of the Pima County case.

The indictment included a notice that the government, using provisions of the RICO law, would attempt to seize cash and property acquired illicitly by Radtke.

Radtke resigned at the time of his indictment in September. Jack Lane, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training agency, said a case will brought to consider stripping Radtke of his law-enforcement certification.


New-elected W.Va. sheriff charged with stealing meth from evidence room

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A newly elected West Virginia sheriff who admitted to authorities that he was a meth addict was charged Tuesday with stealing the drug from a police evidence storage area.


A criminal complaint filed by state police in Roane County Magistrate Court says Bo Williams is charged with grand larceny.

Williams made an initial appearance on the charge Tuesday before a magistrate in Calhoun County after two magistrates in Roane County recused themselves. He signed a rights statement informing him that he is charged with a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction. He was freed on $50,000 property bond.

Williams was elected as Roane County’s sheriff in November and his term started Sunday. While serving as a police officer in Spencer, Williams was placed on leave and he resigned last month after evidence went missing. The complaint says more than $1,000 in evidence was involved, mainly methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Josh Downey said Williams told him, Spencer Police Chief Greg Nichols and a state police sergeant in November that Williams had been addicted to meth for more than a year.

Downey said Williams admitted removing methamphetamine from a police case file and consuming it.

“I know Bo Williams,” Downey said. “It’s a sad situation.”

A preliminary hearing for Williams was set for Jan. 11.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Williams plans to resign. An attorney whose firm represents Williams declined to comment.

The county commission has started removal proceedings against Williams. Downey said if a circuit judge finds the allegations are sufficient, a three-judge panel would be appointed to hear the removal process and make a recommendation to the state Supreme Court.

A recent court order sought by Downey bars Williams from entering the sheriff’s department’s law enforcement and tax offices at the Roane County Courthouse. Downey said case evidence is stored at the department.

The county commission has appointed former Roane County Sheriff Todd Cole to serve as chief deputy in charge of law enforcement operations. Cole served two terms as sheriff from 2000 to 2008. In 2014 he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the previous sheriff who left for health reasons. Cole’s term ended last Saturday.

Carter Co. Sheriff resigns, pleads guilty to bribery

ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) – Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony resigned effective immediately pleaded guilty to a felony bribery count in district court Monday afternoon.

In exchange, Anthony was given two years unsupervised probation and forced to forfeit his CLEET certification, meaning he can no longer work in law enforcement in Oklahoma.

Anthony faced the charge after a female sheriff’s office employee came forward, alleging that she was having sex with Anthony in exchange to keep her job and her husband’s job as a deputy at the sheriff’s office.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the state dropped a felony sexual battery count in a separate incident. Another female employee alleged Anthony grazed her breast in a conference room after a meeting.

Anthony’s attorney entered an Alford plea, which is a guilty plea in criminal court, whereby a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence.

The Oklahoma Attorney’s General Office dropped its separate civil case against Anthony when he agreed to resign Monday. In July, he agreed to a suspension with pay. Deputy John Ryan was appointed interim sheriff.

Anthony had sought re-election until he removed himself from the general election ballot back in August. Chris Bryant, who won the Republican Primary, will take office in January.