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-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
Praise Christian Embezzlement!
Published: January 05, 2012 - Updated: January 07, 2012 | 12:58 PM PST
A former Charlottesville police officer appeared in Fluvanna County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon in connection with embezzlement charges. Ex-officer Wilbert Davis Brassfield, a 10-year employee of the department, faces three counts of felony embezzlement after withdrawing more than $10,000 from the bank account of Praise Christian Fellowship Church in Palmyra, where he served as pastor from the time the church opened its doors in 2006 until 2010. The church has since closed. Brassfield, 47, asked for court-appointed counsel and agreed to reappear in court Jan. 20 for arraignment.
"Fast and Furious" Gunwalker!
Published: December 10, 2011|4:11 PM PST
Updated: December 09, 2011|3:00 PM PST
Phoenix, AZ -- In Sept. 2009 a purported effort to stem the rising tide of violence caused by Mexican drug cartels, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Phoenix office begins its controversial Operation "Fast and Furious." The idea was to encourage gun dealers to sell guns, including high-powered, fully automatic, assault rifles to suspected cartel drug traffickers working for Mexican drug cartels. The alleged goal was to see where the guns ended up. The goal was also said to include an attempt to take down a major cartel. However, the so-called "gunwalking" (as the practice became known as) becomes increasingly controversial among ATF agents ordered to take part.
On December 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down in Arizona near the Mexico border. At least two assault rifles from the ATF operation Fast and Furious are located on the scene, but the public isn't informed of the connection. Quoting at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers who did not wish to be named, they say they repeatedly warned superiors that the gunwalking plan was dangerous and a federal agent could end up getting shot with one of the walked weapons. One agent told media sources, "The numbers are over 2,500 on that case, including some 50-calibers they let 'walk.'" On March 3, 2011, ATF Special Agent John Dodson blows the whistle on the "gunwalking" operation and its link to Terry's death, in an exclusive interview with media sources. Dodson defies officials who say it never happened telling sources, "I'm here, boots on the ground in Phoenix telling you we've been doing it every day since I've been here. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now tell me it didn't happen."
Since March 8, 2011, there have been reports on a second alleged ATF gunwalking operation called "Wide Receiver" in Tucson, AZ. It's also run out of the Phoenix office and dates back to at least 2008 under the Bush Administration. On March 27, 2011, President Barack Obama tells Univision, a Spanish language network, that neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder knew of or approved "Fast and Furious". "There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made," said President Obama, "and if that's the case then we'll find out and we'll hold somebody accountable." On May 3, 2011 at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on an unrelated topic, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asks Attorney General Holder when he first heard of "Fast and Furious". Holder answers: "I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks." That answer is later called into question based on memos directed to Holder nearly a year earlier.
Updated: December 10, 2011|3:53 PM PST
Published: December 09, 2011|3:00 PM PST
Police Chief Marco Anthony Ruelas (pictured left) of San Fernando spent much of the year on leave due to an investigation into an alleged affair with a 19-year-old police cadet in 2009. Ruelas was a lieutenant at the time the incident is said to have occurred. Maria Barajas, the 19-year-old woman who has come out and accused the chief of orchestrating her firing because he feared she might reveal their relationship.
Barajas filed a lawsuit that is pending in the court. The court papers include references to hundreds of texts and emails between the two. Ruelas, in a statement described his connection to Barajas as a “voluntary friendship” and denied wrongdoing. He noted that the former cadet’s lawsuit has been dismissed twice. Barajas’ lawsuit also names Sgt. Alvaro Castellon, the man accused of having an affair with Councilwoman Brenda Esqueda while married. The cadet claimed that Castellon had threatened to make her “disappear” if she spoke of the alleged affair. The little town of San Fernando is now dealing with scandals labeling two high ranking officials, Ruelas and Castellon.
Two weeks ago, Castellon stepped to the microphone at a city hall meeting in front of officials to discuss his personal life, saying that city officials had backed off from putting him on leave because he had threatened to sue them. As he spoke, residents yelled for him to explain whether he was having an affair with Councilwoman Esqueda. He replied, “None of your business.” The scandals at City Hall in recent months have become a major distraction at a time when the predominantly Latino, working-class town of 25,000 is grappling with a large budget deficit and major cuts in municipal services.
IMPD: Duty Calls!
Updated: Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011, 7:05 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011, 4:26 PM PST
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WCJB) - A sergeant with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has been suspended pending charges of official misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. The department launched an internal investigation after receiving complaints that Sgt. Michael Forrest visited a strip club while on duty. According to the probable cause document, Forrest’s visit was captured on video surveillance equipment at Sunset Strip Gentlemen’s Club on 16th Street in Indianapolis. The document alleges Forrest drove to the club “in his issued fully marked IMPD squad car.”
“The video shows Sgt. Forrest (pictured left) exit the police car in full IMPD utility uniform and enter the Sunset Strip Gentlemen’s Club via the front Entrance,” the probable cause reads. The 23 year department veteran purchased an alcoholic drink for a dancer then agreed to a series of lap dances and entered a private room with the woman. Police say Forrest exposed himself and encouraged the woman to touch him.
“Sergeant Forrest’s illegal activities tarnishes the IMPD badge, disrespects his fellow police officers, as well as the community he has sworn to protect,” said Public Safety Director Frank Straub. “We will not tolerate such behavior and will be relentless in the pursuit of employees who engage in illegal activity.” Forrest has been suspended without pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.
N.Y.P.D. on Facebook!
03:14 PM PST - DEC 06, 2011
“Drop a bomb and wipe them all out.”
-- September 2011, Facebook comment by NYPD Officer Dan Rodney (on public forum) loathing at being assigned to the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, an annual multiday event that unfolds over the Labor Day weekend .
New York -- We have learned that NYPD created a Facebook page referred to as the "No More West Indian Day Detail." On the page they called people “animals” and “savages.” One comment said, “Drop a bomb and wipe them all out.” For a few days in September, a raw and rude conversation among NYPD officers was on Facebook for the world to see — until it vanished for unknown reasons. Some of the remarks appeared to have broken Police Department rules barring officers from “discourteous or disrespectful remarks” about race or ethnicity.
The subject matter being discussed was officers’ loathing at being assigned to the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn. The parade is an annual multi-day event that unfolds over the Labor Day weekend and that has been marred by episodes of violence, including deaths of parade-goers. Those who posted comments appeared to follow Facebook’s policy requiring the use of real names, and some identified themselves as officers. A comparison by the media of the names of some of the more than 150 people who posted comments on the page with city employee listings showed that more than 60 percent matched the names of police officers,
The comments in the online group, which grew over a few days to some 1,200 members, were at times so offensive in referring to West Indian and African-American neighborhoods that some participants warned others to beware how their words might be taken in a public setting open to Internal Affairs “rats.” Some of the people who posted comments seemed emboldened by Facebook’s freewheeling atmosphere. “Let them kill each other,” wrote one of the Facebook members who posted comments under a name that matched that of a police officer. “Filth,” wrote a commenter who identified himself as Nick Virgilio, another participant whose name matched that of a police officer. “It’s not racist if it’s true,” yet another wrote.
Some officers at the parade were spotted getting into the spirit by grinding against paradegoers’ behinds.
The officers were at times spurred on by civilian supporters and other city workers, including members of the Fire Department, an analysis indicated.
Some of the comments:
•» An observation that the parade should be "moved to the zoo."
•» A description of parade detail as "ghetto training"
•» "Let them kill each other," one officer wrote.
•» "Filth," was a comment attributed to Nick Virgilio, a name the says media"matches that of a police officer." Another responded: "It's not racist if it's true."
•» "Welcome to the Liberal NYC Gale, where if the cops sneeze too loud they get investigated for excessive force but the ‘civilians' can run around like savages and there are no repercussions."
•» "'They can keep the forced overtime,' said one writer, adding that the safety of officers 'come before the animals.'"
•» "'I say have the parade one more year,' wrote a commenter who identified himself as Dan Rodney, 'and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out.'"
NYPD Officer frolicking with the "filthy animals" by grinding against a paraders behind.
The page — though visible to any Facebook user before it vanished into the digital ether — appears to have drawn no public notice until an obscure criminal case in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn last month, the gun possession trial of an out-of-work Brooklyn food-service worker named Tyrone Johnson. His defense lawyers put many of the controversial remarks before the jury. But when that too seemed to draw little notice outside the courthouse, the lawyers provided a digital copy of the Facebook conversation to the media, saying it raised broad questions about police attitudes.
While preparing for the trial, one attorney checked to see if the officer who had arrested his client, Sgt. Dustin Edwards (pictured left) was on Facebook. He was. The attorney noticed that Sergeant Edwards’s profile showed he belonged to a Facebook group formed, it said, for “N.Y.P.D. officers who are threatened by superiors and forced to be victims themselves by the violence of the West Indian Day massacre.” The group’s title, “No More West Indian Day Detail,” attracted the attorney’s attention because Sergeant Edwards had arrested Mr. Johnson in the predawn hours of the celebrations before the parade in 2010. The attorney said that when he clicked on the link — the page was apparently public — and began reading a conversation that ran 70 printed pages, he was struck by what seemed to be its reckless explicitness. “I found it astounding,” he said. He made a digital copy. When he looked two days later, all trace of the group was gone.
At the trial, the defense lawyers argued that the gun Sergeant Edwards said he found near their client had not belonged to Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson is black and lived in the parade area. The defense suggested that Sergeant Edwards might have planted the gun. Sergeant Edwards testified he had never posted a comment on the group that protested the West Indian Day detail. He said his involvement had amounted to nothing more than clicking on the name of the group that included “a lot of the people in another police group that I’m in.”
Still, through the attorney’s questions, Justice Bruce M. Balter’s courtroom got an earful of what the attorney described as the bias-riddled police commentary. Did Sergeant Edwards agree with the posting that described the parade as “ethnic cleansing”? What about the one that said the parade should be “moved to the zoo”? What about the sarcastic one that called working the parade detail useful “ghetto training”? “I’m not aware of the post, no,” the sergeant testified. He agreed the comments were offensive.
A prosecutor, Lindsay Zuflacht, argued that with no posts from Sergeant Edwards, there was “nothing to indicate that he feels at all the same.” The sergeant did testify, however, that he agreed with the statement that police officers were forced each year to become victims of the violence of the West Indian Day parade. On Monday, Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney, said the office would investigate any matters stemming from the trial referred to it by the Police Department.
At the trial, the prosecutor read the jurors one of the cautionary postings that was on Facebook. “Please keep it focused,” the post said. “This is not a racist rant. This is about us, the cops.” On Nov. 21, 2011 the jury acquitted Mr. Johnson.
Posted: November 28, 2011 - Updated: December 4, 2011
An Ex-Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper (pictured above, left) who drove his truck into a tree while driving drunk has pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in Erie County Municipal Court. With the guilty plea, charges against Eric Wlodarsky for having a weapon while intoxicated were dropped at a Monday morning hearing. Municipal Court Judge Gus Nunez sentenced Wlodarsky to one year probation. The ex-trooper must attend a driver intervention course in lieu of jail time, and he will have his license suspended for six months. The court will also retain custody of Wlodarsky's gun, which was found in the vehicle, until he is off probation.
Erie County Sheriff's deputies arrested Wlodarsky over Halloween weekend after he crashed while driving home drunk from a party. Wlodarsky attempted to blame the wreck on his passenger, according to sheriff's department reports. When that didn't work, he asked the deputy to charge him with reckless driving instead of drunk driving. The deputy refused and charged Wlodarsky with operating a vehicle under the influence and having a weapon while intoxicated. Wlodarsky had almost twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood when tested. Ohio State Highway Patrol initiated an investigation into the incident, but Wlodarsky resigned before its completion.
Posted: Saturday, November 5, 2011, 07:45 PM - Updated: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 03:47 PM PST
WAIKIKI, Hawaii (WCJB) – A special agent with the U.S. Department of State was in police custody Saturday in connection with a 2nd degree murder investigation after allegedly shooting a 23-year old Kailua man in a Waikiki McDonald's shortly after 2:30 a.m. Honolulu police said the victim was shot during a confrontation involving four men at the Kuhio Avenue McDonalds between Seaside Avenue and Royal Hawaiian Avenue. The victim, identified by family and friends as Kollin Kealii Elderts, was taken to the Queen's Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Elderts was a Kalaheo High School graduate.
"It was just so quick that I didn't have time to react or analyze anything. It was just like, ‘Oh my gosh.' The guy is just like laying here," said Dexter Davis, a U.S. Marine who told media sources he was in the restaurant when the shooting occurred. "I was about to order food, and I don't know. It was so quick I really don't know what happened. There was a guy like covered in blood like holding the guys chest to keep him from bleeding to death. But it was pretty crazy," Davis said. Connie Reinking, a visitor from Missouri, was in her hotel room across the street when the shots woke her. "I heard bam and it woke me up. And I kind of stirred and wondered where that came from. And then I heard bam, bam, bam shortly after that," Reinking told media sources.
Christopher W. Deedy, a 27 year old from Arlington, Virginia, was arrested at the scene. Social and professional networking web sites identify Deedy as a special agent in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for the U.S. Department of State. Deedy lists his two primary duties as "conducting criminal investigations and working on personal protection details." Neither Honolulu police nor the State Department would confirm Deedy was in town to work on security for the APEC conference, but during a recent interview of alumni of the Fund for American Studies Deedy said his job includes "escorting foreign dignitaries." A spokesperson at the State Department told media sources it is aware of the situation but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
People on the street and in neighboring shops said Waikiki is relatively safe when compared to other cities. "There's crime here. There's crime everywhere, but it's definitely safer than anywhere else I know of," said Robert Hackney, who owns Tiki Tattoo next to McDonald's. "I mean, I'm from Dallas and its crazy there. You can't walk around by yourself late at night. It's pretty safe here. There's cops on nearly every corner and you see people walking around really late at night," Hackney added.
Some people passing the closed restaurant Saturday said that part of Waikiki gets more dangerous when nearby bars close. "When they come out they have booze in their system. And the only place to eat is McDonald's at 2 O'clock in the morning. So they come from the clubs, all drunk, people look at each other - stink eye they call it here, what have you - words are exchanged and sometimes it escalates to fist fights and sometimes it escalates to what happened last night," said Waikiki resident Abel Tamargo. The McDonald's was closed Saturday as workers cleaned up and repaired at least one bullet hole near the ceiling.
HPD Union Money Schemes!
Posted: Saturday, November 5, 2011, 07:45 PM
Texas -- A former Houston Police officer and police union treasurer pleaded guilty to misapplying union assets on Thursday. Jeff Larson (pictured left) was charged with misdemeanor of fiduciary property. As part of his punishment, Larson must hand in his badge and pay restitution, the Houston Police Officers Union says. Larson was one of three union members charged with misapplying union assets.
“As disappointing as the actions of these former officials were, the filing of criminal charges against them and the resulting sentences have allowed the HPOU to move forward and recover some of our monetary losses,” a statement read.
HOUSTON, TX -- (Archive 2/23/11) The former secretary of the Houston Police Officers' Union has pleaded guilty to a felony for stealing union funds from his fellow officers. Ronny Martin, 53 (pictured left) pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft by a public servant in Harris County District Court, and a plea bargain means he will not spend a day in jail for the crime. In November 2007, local media first reported that money was missing from union bank accounts after Martin sold several union-owned vehicles and was unable to account for the money. Union leaders turned over an internal audit to prosecutors, and Martin was then indicted on the felony charges in July 2008. In Wednesday's plea bargain, he admitted to stealing less than he had originally been accused of stealing in the indictment. He was placed on 10 years probation and ordered to pay restitution and a $1,000 fine.
Prosecutors and union leaders said Martin orchestrated the theft scheme, pocketing money from the sale of union cars, cashing union checks and swiping union credit cards.
When media sources Investigated and first broke the story, Martin insisted he was innocent. He provided the station with bank statements that he said would prove that he deposited money into union coffers in the transactions that had been called into question. His lawyer did not immediately return a phone call for comment about Wednesday's guilty plea.
The union's former treasurer, Jeff Larson, 42, was also indicted on felony theft charges as part of the scheme. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. He could go to trial in the coming days, and Martin now could testify against him.
HPOU, the largest police union in Texas, has different leadership at the helm Wednesday, but they declined to comment until the case against Larson is resolved. In July 2008, HPOU President Gary Blankinship said, "It is a very sad thing that officers would sacrifice both their career and reputations to misuse their positions of trust." He said at the time that most financial transactions now require additional signatures and new accounting procedures were in place to avoid problems in the future.
Larson was fired from his union treasurer position, and Martin resigned his position with the union. Both men ended their careers as Houston police officers as the department began the process of firing them.
Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:25 PM PDT
"Taking care of your family, taking care of your friends is not a crime."
-- October 28, 2011, Statement by NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Union President, Patrick Lynch, on the arrest of Thirteen New York Police Department officers on charges of misconduct, grand larceny, records tampering and obstructing governmental administration.
New York City Police Department members facing charges include: Top row, from left: Joseph Anthony, Virgilio Bencosme, Jason Cenizal, Jennara Cobb, Michael Hernandez, Marc Manara, Christopher Manzi, Brian McGuckin. Bottom row, from left: Eugene P. O'Reilly, Jaime Payan, Ruben Peralta, Jose R. Ramos, Jeffrey L. Regan, Luis R. Rodriguez, Christopher Scott, Jacob G. Solorzano.
A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday. 16 NYPD police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx. Meanwhile, hundreds of their NYPD colleagues, organized by their union (Patrolmen's Benevolent Association), cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting “Down with the D.A.” and “Ray Kelly, hypocrite.” Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, said in a news conference that the officers had been arrested on something “accepted at all ranks for decades.” The Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, said the tickets fixed had robbed the city of $1 million to $2 million. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom. As the NYPD defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway, clapped and applauded them.
(A news report that said some officers chanted “E.B.T.” at people lined up at a benefits center across the street, referring to electronic benefit transfer, the method by which welfare checks are distributed. “To begin ridiculing people in the welfare line across the street doesn’t endear you to the public eye,” said one NYPD official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to be heard directly criticizing members of the force.)
Corrupt Justice™: We note that Police Salaries (including overtime, health, vacation, retirement, etc.) and Welfare (Benefits) Payments are paid from the same government treasury accounts ... taxpayer Accounts (with the same routing numbers).
Prosecutors said the bulk of the vanished tickets were arranged by officials of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union. All the officers charged with fixing tickets are either current or past union delegates or trustees. The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts, the bulk of them misdemeanors having to do with making tickets disappear as favors for friends, relatives and others with clout. But they also outlined more serious crimes, related both to ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption. Four of the officers were charged with helping a man get away with assault.
The ticket-fixing investigation began serendipitously in December 2008, after investigators began looking into accusations that Officer Ramos allowed a friend, Lee King, to sell drugs out of two barber shops named Who’s First that the officer owned in the Bronx. A wiretap was placed on Officer Ramos, which yielded conversations about fixing tickets. The authorities said Officer Ramos provided Mr. King with an apartment, a cellphone, a car and a parking placard. He was one of the civilians arrested.
Jose R. Ramos (pictured left) an officer in the 40th Precinct whose suspicious behavior spawned the protracted investigation, was accused of two dozen crimes, including attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, transporting what he thought was heroin for drug dealers and revealing the identity of a confidential informant (this means the officer told the criminal who provided information to the police regarding the crimes committed by the criminal). Five civilians were also arrested in the case. Among them was Officer Ramos’s wife, charged with participating with him in an insurance scam. Of the 16 officers arraigned on Friday, ranking as high as lieutenant, 11 were charged with crimes related to fixing tickets. All of them pleaded not guilty, and all but two were released without bail. Officer Ramos was held in $500,000 cash bail. Jennara Cobb, a lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Bureau, was released after posting a $20,000 bail bond. She was accused of leaking information about the investigation to other officers.
Posted: Friday, October 29, 2011 - 12:28 PM PDT
New York -- According to the 21 indictments against 16 New York City police officers, all of whom, over and over, pleaded not guilty on Friday, NYPD Officers represented a culture of crimes, which included: grand larceny, official misconduct, obstruction of governmental administration, conspiracy and criminal solicitation. More than 1,000 pages of court papers also revealed far more serious allegations, including those ascribed to an officer (pictured below, center) caught in a sting transporting, prosecutors say, what he believed was heroin and stealing $20,000 from a motel room.
Over the course of 2 days and at least a half a dozen phone communications, Officer Brian McGuckin and NYPD 48th Precinct, Officer Christopher Scott, engaged in a scheme to make one ticket disappear. This was accomplished by merely activating nodes in the network of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union.
Last June 17, Officer Brian McGuckin received yet another phone call about a parking ticket. A police union trustee in the Bronx, Officer McGuckin went through the usual procedure: he called a union delegate at the 48th Precinct, Officer Christopher Scott, who a day later called in a favor to an officer who could get his hands on the ticket to have it destroyed. The job was done, the ticket intercepted. Officer McGuckin closed the loop by text messaging the person who made the request.
The allegations of the web of ticket-fixing activities by union officials shed light on what appears to be a little-known facet, yet highly corrupt aspect of police culture. The indictments suggest that union trustees and delegates were often busy tracking down and intercepting tickets to make them disappear for friends and relatives of other officers. For example, In May 2010, Officer Scott handled tickets on 11 days alone, according to the indictment. This was including two separate tickets on a single day. In all, Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney, said the ticket-fixing scandal had bled between $1 million and $2 million in revenue from the city’s coffers and tainted the police force. “We feel that this is not minimal conduct,” he said. “This is felony conduct. It is criminal conduct.”
The charges involved more than 300 summonses, though about 800 cases of ticket-fixing were identified during the inquiry. The investigation began in December 2008, when a wiretap of Officer Jose R. Ramos, who was allegedly providing protection for a drug dealer, picked up conversations about ticket-fixing, prosecutors said.
Among the resulting indictments, that of Officer Joseph Anthony, 46, with 106 criminal counts spelled out in 70 pages, was among the leaner ones.
Officer Virgilio Bencosme, 33, a delegate from the 40th Precinct, and Officer Jason Cenizal, 39, a former delegate from the 42nd, seemed more comfortable than others, according to court papers, in using text messages to relay specifics about destroying a summons. Officer Eugene P. O’Reilly, 39, a union delegate in the 45th Precinct, was named in the most counts, more than 250, and was also charged with forgery.
Posted: Friday, October 29, 2011 - 4:44 PM PDT
Thirteen New York Police Department officers, two sergeants and a lieutenant were slapped with criminal charges Friday, just three days after the embarrassing arrests of five officers in a separate gun-running probe. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said it was "difficult" to have to announce for the second time in a week that his officers had been arrested for misconduct. "These misdeeds tarnish the good name and reputation of the vast majority of police officers who perform their duties honestly," he said. Kelly said the probe included 300 cases that are being handled internally. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said he hoped the criminal charges send a message that corruption would not be tolerated. The city lost about $2 million in killed-off tickets, he said.
The majority of the arrested are officials with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, arguably the most powerful law enforcement union in the nation, with 23,000 members. Union leaders say the practice of making a ticket disappear for a friend or family member was not only sanctioned, it was condoned at the highest levels of the nation's biggest police department. Union President Patrick Lynch vowed that when the dust settled, they'd prove it. "Taking care of your family, taking care of your friends is not a crime," he said. "To take a courtesy and turn it into a crime is wrong." Hundreds of union members went to support the officers, some in suits, others dressed in jeans and sweat shirts, clogging the street near the Bronx courthouse, filling the hallways and applauding in court after the officers left. Detective Steven McDonald, a city hero paralyzed decades ago, was in the courtroom in a wheelchair, with an American flag on this lap.
The officers pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges including misconduct, grand larceny, records tampering and obstructing governmental administration. Among those charged was Jennara Cobb, an internal affairs bureau lieutenant who pleaded not guilty to charges she leaked information to union officials about the probe. As a result of her meeting, word quickly spread and union delegates started to alter the way they fixed tickets, prosecutor Jonathan Ortiz said. "The investigation was significantly compromised because of her actions," he said. Her attorney said she had been unfairly singled out. "That wiretap was leaking like a sieve," he said.
The case started with an anonymous tip in 2009 that a 40th Precinct officer, Jose Ramos, was selling drugs in his barbershop. An undercover officer hired as a barber monitored Ramos, who also was accused of shuttling drugs while in his police uniform. "He sold his shield, he violated his oath," Assistant District Attorney Omer Wiceyk said. Ramos was recorded saying he "stopped caring about the law a long time ago," the prosecutor said. Ramos pleaded not guilty to drug and other charges. His attorney said the charges were ridiculous. "The DA's office basically made a circus of this," he said.
While officers were listening to Ramos on a wiretap, they caught calls from people seeing if Ramos could fix tickets for them, prosecutors said. The conversations led to more wiretaps that produced evidence of additional officers across the borough having similar conversations, they said. There are generally three ways the citations are fixed: They are voided by a ranking official, a copy is ripped up before it reaches court or the officer doesn't appear on the day of the summons.
Kelly said the case exposed departmental weaknesses that were swiftly addressed. The NYPD installed a new computer system that tracks tickets and makes it much more difficult to tamper with the paper trail. Kelly also created a new unit to sit in on traffic court testimony and comb through paperwork to ensure none of the methods is being wrongly employed. He said the practice was wrong and can't be glossed over as "courtesies" or as part of an acceptable culture. "Members of the public don't accept favoritism," he said. "They resent it, as well they should."
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought conspiracy and other charges against five current and three former officers, alleging they were part of a gun-running ring. In two other recent unrelated federal cases, one officer was charged with arresting a black man without cause and using a racial slur to describe the suspect and another was charged with using a law enforcement database to try to trump up charges against an innocent man.
Longtime police historian Thomas Reppetto said it's "not the best time for the department."
"Does it rise to the level of the great scandals that have occurred in the past? No," he said. "Ticket fixing is not on the same level as drug dealing."
Kelly said the cases could undermine morale, "But I look at the work done every day and it's outstanding."
The highest-ranking union members charged in the probe were Joseph Anthony, Michael Hernandez and Brian McGuckin. The other officers were union representatives, and all were stationed in Bronx precincts: Virgilio Bencosme, Luis R. Rodriguez, Jaime Payan, Eugene P. O'Reilly, Christopher Manzi and Jason Cenizal. Ramos' supervisor, sergeant Jacob G. Solorzano, also was charged. In addition, three others were charged along with Ramos with insurance fraud and other crimes. The officers pleaded not guilty and were released.
While on the wiretap, investigators also uncovered that three other officers and a sergeant covered up an assault for a friend, prosecutors said. Sergeant Marc Manara and Officers Ruben Peralta, Jeffrey Regan and Christopher Scott, all from the same precinct, were arrested as well. The friend was arrested on the initial assault charge, prosecutors said. The officers pleaded not guilty.
The last serious corruption scandal for the NYPD was the so-called Dirty 30 case from the early 1990s. More than 33 officers from Harlem's 30th Precinct were implicated in the probe, with most pleading guilty to charges including stealing cash from drug dealers, taking bribes, beating suspects and lying under oath to cover their tracks.
Movie Intermission! Murder under the Sun (1997)
Description: Over 14 dreaful years between 1932 and 1945, Japan went on a rampage of war and atrocity beyond comprehension.