Top News Stories! Officer Liar!
May 28, 2011
SFPD Theft Again!
May 18, 2011 12:47 p.m. PDT
San Francisco’s Public Defender has accused police of yet another case of misconduct, this time involving what Jeff Adachi calls “theft” by a group of officers. The incident involved an arrest at the Julian Hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District on February 25, 2011. Adachi played a video during a morning news conference Tuesday, showing what Adachi described as San Francisco Police officers leaving the apartment building with bags under their arms.
Adachi said one of those bags contained a laptop belonging to Jesus “Jessie” Reyes, a resident of the Julian Apartments on Julian Street. The video shows the officers escorting Reyes from his apartment. It’s not clear whether the other bag belongs to Reyes, but Adachi said it may contain a camera belonging to Reyes. Adachi said the police department did not return the confiscated items back to Reyes after Reyes was released from jail.
“I was intimidated…I got scared,” said Reyes, who claimed he never gave police consent to search his apartment.
Officers Ricardo Guerrero and Reynaldo Vargas were also involved in the case of another hotel incident which Adachi described last week as the illegal search of a room at the Jefferson hotel.
In a written statement, the San Francisco Police Department said the allegations will be investigated by the Internal Affairs Unit:
“All the officers in this case had been taken out of Plainclothes some have been reassigned to Administrative duties while the investigation is being conducted,” said Greg Suhr, according to the statement. “If it is determined through the investigation that the officers acted inappropriately they will be discipline. This discipline will be swift and severe up to and including termination depending on the findings,” Suhr stated.
In March, Adachi released other videos that he said showed officer misconduct during drug busts at the Henry Hotel. Those claims are now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
December 22, 2010
A senior New Hanover County patrol commander called Sheriff Ed McMahon late Friday, Oct. 8, with distressing news: A deputy had knowingly operated the Golden Eagle II radar unit to clock speeds and write traffic tickets even though he lacked the mandated certification and training. Making matters worse, the deputy, Steven Gagnon (pictured below, center) repeatedly lied about his certification status to his supervisors, the commander said.
The revelations, uncovered amid an internal probe commissioned by the sheriff, forced prosecutors to throw out dozens of traffic cases in which Gagnon had filed charges because the deputy's credibility had been undermined, according to New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David .
After learning about the transgressions, McMahon called in Gagnon and his supervisor, Lt. D.H. Price, the following Monday to discuss the probe. During the meeting, Gagnon resigned. “I think he could understand I was very upset,” McMahon replied when asked whether he spoke about firing Gagnon during their meeting, adding, “I couldn't fathom why he would do that.” Gagnon declined to comment.
His resignation, which McMahon detailed in an interview this week, offers a look into the office's handling of an internal personnel issue, matters that are rarely disclosed and broadly considered private. The media initially made inquiries about Gagnon while researching possible radar certification lapses regarding the Golden Eagle II, which bounces doppler radar off moving objects to measure their speed.
When law enforcement officers stop a vehicle for speeding, sometimes they uncover evidence of other crimes. But when an uncertified deputy runs radar, defendants can argue before a judge that any evidence collected during the traffic stop – such as drugs or a blood-alcohol reading – should be void because they were pulled over without proper cause, David said.
Gagnon's breach reportedly stunned his colleagues and supervisors in the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. McMahon described it as baffling and upsetting. Jerry Brewer, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said Gagnon, now 36, had served with the office since April 3, 2003. And during his tenure, he deployed several times overseas to fight as a Marine reservist. “We don't know what in the world happened,” McMahon said, adding that Gagnon had been a “dedicated deputy” for years.
What made Gagnon's case more surprising was that the sheriff's office had then just resolved problems regarding five other deputies who operated the Golden Eagle II without certification. But those violations were blamed on a miscommunication between the sheriff's office and the radar supplier, Kustom Signal. Issues with the Golden Eagle first came to light in September 2009, when it was discovered that five deputies – Lt. H.G. Adams, D.A. Olinger, E.K. Luther, J.S. Pope and J.R. Scheckler – had unintentionally run the radar unit without certification between June 2008 and Sept. 14, 2009. Afterward, the sheriff's office collaborated with the district attorney's office to alert local defense attorneys and the public, but most of the cases had already made their way through court.
For the remaining cases, prosecutors were able to use expert eyewitness testimony from deputies to make their arguments, so very few cases, if any, were ultimately affected. Tom Old, an assistant district attorney, explained that officers undergo training to recognize a speeding vehicle at a glance, and radar serves only to confirm their visual estimate. Even though the violation was unintentional, McMahon conceded that his office should have been more vigilant when changing equipment. “I will never make that mistake again,” he said.
But not everyone agrees with that. Marc Benson, a local radio talk show host who challenged McMahon in last month's elections, called radar a “scientific verification” of speed and condemned the lapses as “illegal” and a violation of public trust and law enforcement policy. Some found the lapses more troubling, however. Jennifer Harjo, the chief public defender in New Hanover County, said if the defendants had known about the improper use of radar, they might not have pleaded guilty. “It's disconcerting,” she said, adding that defendants could ask that their cases be reopened, but they would have to bear the costs of doing so.
As the dust settled following the first certification violation, Gagnon, on May 18, was given a patrol vehicle containing the Golden Eagle II. McMahon said the deputy was instructed by his supervisors to make sure his radar certification was up to date. As Election Day neared, McMahon was under fire from his opponent about the radar issue. To be sure nothing was overlooked, the sheriff ordered a “triple check” that every deputy was certified to operate the Golden Eagle II. Gagnon, the investigation found, was not. McMahon said it would have taken Gagnon about 15 minutes to update his certification to operate the Golden Eagle II.
Chase & Hit!
September 22, 2010 - 12:13pm
August 19, 2010 - 12:13pm
An employee of the Clay County Sheriff's Department was arrested by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday after the sheriff noted discrepancies in departmental bookkeeping. Teia Adams, 42, of Green, who served as the sheriff's chief dispatcher and records keeper, was arrested on a warrant charging one count of felony theft, one count of misuse of public funds and one count of making false information.
The arrest was the culmination of an investigation by the KBI after Clay County Sheriff Charles Dunn discovered discrepancies in departmental bookkeeping and requested the KBI's assistance. The sheriff's department routinely requests an outside investigator when allegations involving their department arise, according to a press release from Dunn's office.
The Clay County Attorney recused himself from the case because of his close working relationship with the sheriff's department. Jason Brinegar, an attorney from Marysville and a former prosecutor, agreed to pursue the matter and filed the criminal complaint.
Adams was booked into jail at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to a jail administrator. Her bond was set at $3,500, but was reduced to $1,000. She is currently free in lieu of bond.
Speeding Cop Car
Kills Two Teens!
Kills Two Teens!
November 18, 2009
MILFORD, Conn. -- A video of the June 13, 2009 crash that killed two Orange teens shows a Milford police cruiser traveling at a high rate of speed as it struck the young couple's car under a flashing traffic signal. The video, which was released Tuesday, November 17, 2009 (4 months later) is from the dashboard camera of another Milford cruiser and shows Officer Jason Anderson's car pass on the right and plow into a 2008 Mazda carrying Ashlie Krakowski and David Servin. The Mazda was struck as it made a left turn from the Boston Post Road onto Dogwood Road at 2:13 a.m., sparks and small flames shooting from underneath the vehicle.
Notice the Officer Checks on the other Officer first!
(pictured left, Dave Servin and Ashlie Krakowski, both 19-year-old Orange residents, were killed in a fatal crash June 13 when Milford Police Officer Jason Anderson's cruiser collided with Krakowski's 2008 Mazda, being driven by Servin, at the intersection of the Boston Post Road and Dogwood Road. )Officer Rick Pisani at one point was traveling at more than 70 mph, according to the dashboard camera, as he and Anderson returned to Milford after a mutual aid call in West Haven. Pisani was going about 65 mph when Anderson shot past him on the right; the speed limit on that stretch of the Boston Post Road is 40 mph. Anderson has been charged by State Police with two counts of second-degree manslaughter in the teens' deaths. He will be arraigned Nov. 24 in Derby Superior Court and has been suspended with pay.
Pisani is now the subject of an internal investigation into his speed that morning, Mello said. The 39-year-old probationary officer remains on duty, working the night shift.
Chief Eloy Cardenas
August 18, 2010
Edinburg, Texas – Edcouch and La Villa Police Chief Eloy Cardenas took the law into his own hands in 2008, when he shot a romantic rival with a shotgun loaded with bean bag shells and later tried to cover up the crime, prosecutors said Tuesday. But as his attorney told it on the first day of Cardenas’ trial, the man was only acting in self defense.
“Anything can be twisted, turned upside down and driven one way or another,” said Cardenas' lawyer. “And a lawyer is going to convince you that it didn’t happen.” Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies arrested Cardenas on Feb. 29, 2008, for allegedly firing on his wife’s ex-husband as the man drove past the police chief’s Hargil estate and then burying the casings to hide evidence from investigators. The incident — reported by alleged victim Isidro Rodriguez — was only the latest in a string of harassment reports both men had filed against each other.
The chief complained to the sheriff’s office alleging Rodriguez had threatened to kill his dog and horse after both animals turned up dead. Rodriguez, in turn, had called deputies to complain about Cardenas several times in the weeks before the Feb. 2008 shooting that he escaped unscathed — including to report an incident in which the police chief allegedly shot at him on a prior occasion. When sheriff’s deputies arrived to investigate Rodriguez’s allegations, Cardenas at first refused to meet with them, said Assistant District Attorney Cregg Thompson. Investigators later found the spent shell casings buried in a chicken coop on the property.
“In essence, (Cardenas) is here because he assaulted (Rodriguez),” he said. “Because he hid the evidence, he committed a second crime.”
His lawyer maintained, however, in his opening statement that the previous record of police reports proved Cardenas and his wife had been victimized by Rodriguez for years. Each time they called the sheriff’s office to complain, deputies were never dispatched to the scene, he said. “(My client is) a man of quality, integrity and good standing in his community,” said the attorney. “The alleged victim was so stoned and so drunk when he reported the shooting that he couldn’t even walk.”
In April 2008, an Hidalgo County grand jury declined to indict Cardenas on deadly conduct and aggravated assault charges. A separate panel later charged him with assault and evidence tampering. The trial could have serious implications for Cardenas’ career. If convicted on both counts, he could lose his peace officer’s license and face up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
It comes one day after Cardenas made a public announcement regarding his arrest of La Villa’s mayor on prostitution and official oppression charges. Testimony in the police chief’s case is scheduled to resume this morning.
May 18, 2010Update!
(Pictured above, the entrance to the 1,500-inmate, medium-security Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md. where Bernard Kerik is serving his sentence.)
Disgraced top cop Bernard Kerik - who went from national hero to convicted felon - Monday became inmate number 84888-054 in a Maryland federal prison. After taking a last swipe at prosecutors and a judge, New York City's former police commissioner surrendered to begin a four-year sentence at the 1,500-inmate, medium-security Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md.
He'll wear khaki prison garb, sleep in a bunk bed in a dorm-style room with several other inmates and do jobs like groundskeeping, plumbing or serving food for about 12 cents an hour.
Kerik, 54, pleaded guilty last year to tax fraud and seven other felonies, including lying to federal investigators while under consideration for the post of Homeland Security secretary.
He also pleaded guilty to hiding profits and royalties from his post-9/11 autobiography, "The Lost Son," from the IRS and lying about $255,000 in apartment work done by a mob-linked contractor.
A hero of 9/11 and a protégé of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Kerik was widely praised for his bold leadership in the days after the Trade Center attacks. He was nominated for Homeland Security in 2004, but admitted lying about his past to investigators.
He did not go silently. On his Web site Sunday he blasted U.S. Judge Stephen Robinson, who sentenced him, saying Kerik had used the events of Sept. 11 for "personal gain and aggrandizement."
"I have repeatedly expressed remorse for what I may have done," he wrote. "However, unlike many. I can't remain silent in the face of what I believe has been a gross injustice, which I pray will be remedied."
February 20, 2010Update!
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was hailed as a hero alongside former Mayor Rudy Giuliani after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and nearly became chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was sentenced to four years behind bars Thursday for eight felonies. Kerik admitted in November that he lied to the White House, filed false taxes and committed other crimes. “The fact that Mr. Kerik would use that event (9/11) for personal gain and aggrandizement is a dark place in the soul for me,” said federal Judge Stephen Robinson. An apologetic Kerik said before the sentence was pronounced: “Allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible.”
November 17, 2009
Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was released from jail Tuesday, November 10, 2009, after pleading guilty last week to tax fraud and other criminal charges. Kerik arrived at his New Jersey home Tuesday night where he'll be under house arrest until his sentencing. He will have to wear an electronic monitoring device, and will only be allowed pre-approved visits to his lawyer, accountant and doctors.
While in court, Kerik (pictured below, left) asked for permission to walk his children to and from school, but a judge denied the request. Kerik was released earlier in the day from the Westchester County Jail on $1.5 million bail. He pleaded guilty last week in the three federal cases pending against him. He faced three separate federal trials, including one that was set to get underway Monday, November 16, 2009.
Kerik was accused of lying on tax returns and accepting renovations to his co-op from a contractor looking to do business with the city and trying to get that company a city contract. He also admitted to lying during the White House vetting process when he was nominated for Homeland Security Department secretary in 2004. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 27 to 33 months behind bars.
Prosecutors alleged that in exchange for renovations to his apartment, Kerik tried to get that company a city contract. He denied having any financial ties to companies doing business with the city. Kerik will be sentenced on February 18, 2009.
Charles W. Morris
November 17, 2009
Okaloosa County Sheriff and Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA) President Charles W. Morris faces charges after Governor Charlie Crist issued an executive order for his suspension Friday, February 26, 2009. He and his Director of Administration and Finance, 50-year-old Teresa Adams, face several charges relating to money laundering. According to a complaint filed to the U.S Department of Justice, Morris allegedly gave his employees false bonuses, asking them to return cashier’s checks to be given to a charity. The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) appointed Sumter County Sheriff Bill Farmer as the new President of Florida’s Sheriffs.
Okaloosa Sheriff Charles W. Morris (pictured left)was arrested by federal agents in Las Vegas. An arrest warrant was issued in February 20009 for Morris by the U.S. District Court in Pensacola charging him with theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds; wire fraud; deprivation of right to honest services; engaging in monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity; and conspiracy to commit those offenses. Morris, 59, of Shalimar, and Adams, 50, of Niceville, were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
According to the complaint filed in federal court, Morris, with the assistance of his director of administration and finance, Teresa Adams, created fictitious bonuses to sheriff's department employees. The complaint alleges the employees were directed to return all or a portion of the bonuses in the form of cash and cashier's checks under the pretense that these returned funds were to be used for charitable purposes.
The indictment alleges conspiracy to commit theft of programs receiving Federal funds, by converting to their own use and the use of others property and funds of Okaloosa County and of the Sheriff's Department (Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 - Count One); stealing, fraudulently obtaining, converting to the use of others, and misapplying over $5,000 of those funds (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666, - Counts Two, Three); conspiracy to commit money laundering (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1)(i), (B)(i), and (B)(ii) - Count Four); engaging in monetary transactions and property derived from specified unlawful activity (money laundering) (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1957, 2 - Count Five); and conspiracy to commit theft of honest services by means of wire fraud (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 - Count Six).
Sheriff Michael Corona Corona Serves Again!
January 25, 2011
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Former Orange County sheriff Michael Carona, once dubbed "America's Sheriff," turned himself Tuesday at a federal prison in Colorado to begin serving time on a witness-tampering conviction. Carona, 55, surrendered at the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Littleton, Colo., said Victoria Joseph, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. "I believe justice has been done," U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford said during a brief hearing in federal court Tuesday that had been scheduled to discuss Carona's surrender. The veteran lawman was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. He had been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering in a sweeping public corruption case that included sordid allegations of marital infidelity, cronyism and money laundering. He was acquitted of all but one charge. Carona appealed the conviction but lost earlier this year.
Federal prosecutor Brett Sagel welcomed the decision, which he said cast the spotlight back on Carona rather than allegations of government misconduct in the case. "This has been a long road," Sagel told reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday. "At the end of the day, Michael Carona can no longer deflect attention away from his criminal conduct, where it belongs."
Federal prosecutors charged that as early as 1998, Carona solicited help from a multimillionaire to launder at least $30,000 in campaign contributions. Businessman Don Haidl later became assistant sheriff and was given control over a new reserve deputy program that let him hand out law enforcement badges to friends and relatives, the government said. Haidl eventually became a government informant and wore a wire to three meetings with Carona in 2007. The witness tampering count stemmed from one of these conversations in which Carona can be heard attempting to persuade Haidl to match stories with him before the grand jury.
Carona appealed the conviction to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that prosecutors broke an ethical rule when they arranged for Haidl to record him even though he had already hired a defense attorney. Since losing his appeal, Carona's attorneys have filed a petition seeking a rehearing or a hearing of the full panel of judges. "He's going to continue to pursue his appellate rights," Carona's attorney, said outside the courtroom Tuesday.
The prison where Carona has been assigned is a low-security facility located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains about 15 miles from Denver. About 700 inmates are housed there.
Carona became Orange County's sheriff in 1999. He made national headlines during a successful investigation into the 2002 kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion and was dubbed "America's Sheriff" by CNN's Larry King. He also became a rising star in state Republican politics, where he was once mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor and even met with then-White House political strategist Karl Rove to discuss his career. By surrendering in Colorado, Carona avoided being transferred among different federal prison facilities.
July 28, 2009
Federal Judge Andrew Guilford was harsh as he handed down the sentence following a four-hour hearing during which the former sheriff’s attorneys argued for leniency, saying the media had sensationalized the case. “Lying will not be tolerated in this courtroom, especially by law enforcement, especially by the leading law enforcement official in the county," said Guilford, who held up a copy of the book “The Importance of Being Honest” and read a passage to Carona. Carona, dressed in a gray suit and blue necktie, spoke only briefly, thanking Guilford for his “kindness and courtesy.”
“Mr. Carona violated his sworn duty and utterly ignored his responsibilities to the citizens of Orange County by engaging in the conduct that led to his conviction and sentence, conduct that culminated in an agreement to obstruct justice by concocting a story to cover up his corrupt behavior,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien in a statement. “Today’s sentencing shows what will happen to elected officals who place their own interests above those of the constituents they are sworn to serve.”
Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona will be allowed to remain free after a federal appeals court ruled that the former sheriff has raised a substantial question that could result in the reversal of his conviction and, as such, he can remain free on bond pending a ruling on his appeal from a witness tampering conviction. Carona was supposed to start serving his 66 month prison sentence on July 24, 2009 as ordered by U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford stemming from a witness tampering conviction from January of last year in which a jury found the ex-Orange County sheriff attempted to have former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl lie to a grand jury that he was investigation corruption in the sheriff’s administration. Haidl worked with federal prosecutors to secretly record conversations with Corona.
On appeal, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Mike Carona’s criminal defense lawyers have raised a substantial question of law or fact “that is likely to result in reversal, an order for a new trial, or a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment.” In addition, the three-judge panel further ruled that Mike Carona does not pose a flight risk nor will he pose a danger or risk to any person in the community should he be allowed to remain free on bond pending his appeal.
The main argument on appeal centers on the government secretly recording Carona and one of his assistant sheriff’s, Don Haidl, in which Carona is heard leaning on Haidl to lie to the grand jury investigating allegations of corruption within Carona’s administration. It was these tapes which led to the witness tampering conviction.
November 17, 2009
Ex-lawman Mike Carona – once known as "America's Sheriff" – can now be identified by an inmate number. Carona was indicted in late 2007 on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering. He resigned a year later, during his third term, and went on trial in October 2008, becoming the highest-ranking law enforcement official to be prosecuted in Orange County. Carona was found guilty of one felony county of witness tampering and cleared of five other charges in a public corruption case that ended the career of the lawman christened “America’s sheriff” and hailed as a charismatic leader with a bright political future. U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford sentenced the former sheriff to five and a half years in federal prison for trying to convince an ex-assistant to lie to a grand jury investigating the Sheriff's Department. Carona, out on bond, hopes the judge allows him to stay free while he appeals his conviction. His lawyers are expected to file a brief on that issue; an appeal can take a year or two.
At least two jurors in the corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona complained to the judge about the conduct of fellow jurors during deliberations, saying they felt intimidated and pressured to side with the ex-lawman, according to court records unsealed by the judge. In an interview, Marcia Deatherage said she was one of the jurors who reported feeling intimidated, and that most of the pressure came from a single juror whom she said refused to consider Carona guilty on any of the charges. "This guy very candidly stood up and said, 'I don’t even know why the government even brought the case,'" she recalled. "He felt Carona was not guilty of anything. It kind of set a tone for an upset in the jury room. He was kind of a bully. ... Without him as a juror, I think we would have had more counts we would have found (Carona) guilty on."
She said the juror, who could not be reached for comment, also revealed during deliberations that both he and Carona’s wife were members of the Screen Actors Guild, but she added that he did not say whether he knew Deborah Carona or how he became aware that she was a member of the guild.
Safety is a concern for Carona (pictured left) – who fears retribution from past inmates at Sheriff's Department jails who may be housed with him in a federal correctional institute, as well as prisoners who dislike police officers. Carona's attorney, during the sentencing hearing, asked Guilford to suggest that the Bureau of Prisons assign the ex-sheriff for a federal camp and/or low-security facility for safety concerns. Guilford recommended that the bureau "take into account the defendant's former profession and any safety concerns when determining the housing for the defendant." Carona's prison assignment won't be made public until after he is actually behind bars – but he will be assigned to a facility within 500 miles of his home in Orange.
Felicia Ponce, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said the agency would consider Carona's law-enforcement background to make sure he's safe. Carona, who has 32 years of law-enforcement experience, will likely be given a job and earn between 12 cents and 40 cents an hour, she explained. "All inmates who are able to work have in-house jobs,'' she said. "They are assigned to various institutional jobs, like food-service worker, orderly, plumber, painter, grounds keeper."
A federal judge later dismissed charges against the wife and former mistress of ex-Orange County Sheriff Carona, who was acquitted on the charges that he took bribes in exchange for the power of his office.
Sheriff Bob Fletcher
November 17, 2009
St. Paul, Minnesota - The FBI is the latest agency now investigating the Metro Gang Strike Force, a law-enforcement coalition that has come under fire amid allegations of mishandling money and property, destroying documents and disconnecting computers. The Metro Gang Strike Force was established in 2005 as the successor to the Minnesota Gang Strike Force. The Metro Gang Strike Force was comprised of officers from 13 metro area law-enforcement agencies, with more than 30 officers. It is a multi-jurisdictional task force that fights gang and drug crime throughout the metro area and receives $2 million annually in state funds.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher (pictured left) repeatedly tried to prevent a state investigation into the financial operations of the Metro Gang Strike Force, over which his office has fiscal oversight, according to officials directly involved in the state probe that led to the sudden shutdown last May (2009) of the unit's activities. Fletcher's office also did not undertake an in-depth review of how hundreds of thousands of dollars, personal property and vehicles were being accounted for after his office learned last fall that state Department of Public Safety investigators were raising concerns, the officials said. Examiners discovered that the strike force could not account for more than $18,000 cash and at least 13 vehicles. Strike force officers shredded documents at unit headquarters in New Brighton, according to the unit's new commander, Chris Omodt. It happened after nonpartisan Legislative Auditor James Nobles released findings of an audit that identified critical financial problems.
In a March 3 (2009) e-mail to the strike force's advisory board of a dozen local law enforcement officials, a copy of which was obtained by the media, Fletcher complained that "it would be a shame" if an audit stemmed from "political motives." He noted in the e-mail that the unit's former commander, Ron Ryan, now under scrutiny for activities on his watch, had an "exemplary" 40-year record of service as a police officer.
Fletcher reportedly got into shouting matches with Public Safety Director Michael Campion, complaining that state auditors should not be involved in strike force matters. Fletcher denies those assertions. Fletcher acknowledged that he had opposed a state audit because he believed it would be based on politics and didn't think it was necessary. He said he would have preferred a private company to perform an audit. He also denied his office was responsible for any oversight of money seized in strike force investigations and instead blamed Ryan, his friend, for mishandling cash and confiscated property.
The officials who described Fletcher's effort to block the audit spoke on the condition of anonymity. They described a nearly out-of-control unit led by Ryan until he retired in October. They said that Ryan, loyal to Fletcher and employed by the Sheriff's Office, failed to manage and track the flow of cash in complex investigations. And they said that Fletcher's office should have been on top of the problems, because he'd put two of his employees in supervisory roles at the strike force: Ryan and Cindy Gehlsen, a clerk who handled paperwork and evidence.
Fletcher distanced himself from the strike force's management, saying his office was not responsible for fiscal oversight. Instead, he blamed Ryan. "Ron Ryan is an outstanding cop and a poor bookkeeper," Fletcher said. "Those types of financial matters are the responsibility of the commander. It wasn't our [the Sheriff's Office's] job as the fiscal agent to supervise the commander's use of seized funds." The possibility that strike force officers may have been involved in criminal activity such as destruction of evidence or stealing cash and property has prompted the FBI to discuss with state authorities on what role it may play as the investigation widens, according to authorities.
Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo
September 15th, 2009, 5:02 pm
Former Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo (pictured left) sentenced Monday to 27 months in federal prison, apparently provoked the judge’s ire with a motion his attorney filed in the case last week. During Monday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford criticized a 25-page response to the government’s pre-sentencing report filed Friday by Jaramillo’s attorney, Brent Romney.
The judge said the motion failed to adequately demonstrate remorse on the part of Jaramillo — and also noted it criticized the federal prosecutor and probation officer in the case, as well as Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Jaramillo served a year in jail in 2007 after pleading no contest to perjury and misusing public funds in a prosecution brought by Rackauckas. Jaramillo has publicly contended he was unfairly prosecuted, alleging Rackauckas and former sheriff Mike Carona colluded to charge him with crimes.
“It has always been defendant’s contention that the relentless barrage of baseless criminal allegations pursued by the Orange County District Attorney was part of an orchestrated effort on the part of then-Sheriff (Mike) Carona and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to destroy defendant and defendant’s ability to challenge either man politically …” Romney wrote.
Rackauckas’ spokeswoman, Susan Kang Schroeder, dismissed the accusation, and said state prosecutors had ample evidence against Jaramillo. She also noted that Jaramillo’s lawyer, Romney, unsuccessfully ran against Rackauckas in 1998.
“We’re dealing with a double felon who is being represented by an attorney who has a personal axe to grind with Tony (Rackauckas),” Schroeder said today. ” Luckily for the people of Orange County, we have a smart judge who not only rejected these ridiculous, baseless claims, but rebuked (Jaramillo) in (his) lack of remorse.”
November 18, 2009: WASHINGTON – A Washington, D.C., police detective alleges that former police chief Charles Ramsey, despite past denials, ordered mass arrests of hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 2002.
Movie Intermission! "Law and Disorder."
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