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  • crimewatchrt 5:16 pm on September 17, 2010 Permalink |
    Tags: Arizona, Border, California, Cartel, Corruption, Customs, , Enforcement, , Gangs, Guns, ICE, Illegal immigrants, kidnappings, Mexico, , , New Mexico, , smuggling, Texas   

    Border Crime 

    On the Southwest Border banner

    Border Crime By the Numbers

    $1.1 Million Worth Of Drugs Stopped At Calexico Border

    US Customs and Border Protection ( CBP ) officers at the Calexico ports of entry made three significant drug seizures over the weekend.

    Sheriff Joe meets with extreme resistance at a school

    He also captures the TEA Party’s pro-Arpaio people who suggest that the Border Patrol should start “popping off” people as they cross the border,

    Covert Marijuana Growing Operation Foiled by US Border Patrol

    Temecula, California – Last week, United States Border Patrol agents eradicated 365 marijuana plants growing outdoors in a secluded canyon near Temecula,

    Family Fight, Border Patrol Raid, Baby Deported

    Ms. Castro, a fourth-generation American citizen, went to the local Border Patrol station. She said she would give the agents there information about the

    Agents seize $2.5 million worth of drugs in Starr County

    RIO GRANDE CITY — Border Patrol agents seized more than $2.5 million worth of marijuana over the weekend in Starr County. The first seizure occured near

    3 of 4 illegals caught after lengthy search

    One suspect is being charged by the US Border Patrol with human smuggling, police said. The suspects, identified by police as Hispanic men, were in a 2000

    Border Patrol confiscates half a ton of marijuana

    Border Patrol Agents confiscated more than half a ton of marijuana that was being transported in a trailer. LAREDO, Tx.- Border Patrol Agents confiscated

    A kidnapper's holding cell.

    Kidnappings Escalate

    Kidnappings by the cartels and the gangs who work for them have become a serious problem in several U.S. cities on the Southwest border. In the past, kidnap victims were usually rivals in the drug trade. Sometimes victims were kidnapped for revenge, sometimes to intimidate. And paying a ransom was no guarantee the victim would be released.

    But when the gangs realized how easy—and profitable—kidnapping could be, they started abducting anyone who looked wealthy enough to command a hefty ransom, and that included Americans on either side of the border.

    In the Texas border town of McAllen, for example, the rate of kidnapping has nearly quadrupled. Between October 2008 and September 2009, 42 people were kidnapped in the McAllen area, compared with 11 the previous year. And many kidnappings go unreported because the victims may be involved in illegal activity and don’t want to contact authorities.

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    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    Corruption, Drugs, Gangs, and More

    08/02/10

    The U.S. border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles, from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. At too many points along the way, criminals ply their trade with surprising ease and devastating results.

    Drug cartels transporting kilos of cocaine and marijuana, gangs who think nothing of kidnapping and murder, traffickers smuggling human cargo, corrupt public officials lining their pockets by looking the other way—any one of these offenses represents a challenge to law enforcement.

    Traffic - Video Play

    Taken together, they constitute a threat not only to the safety of our border communities, but to the security of the entire country.

    During the next several weeks, FBI.gov will take you to the Southwest border for a firsthand look at our efforts there to fight crime. We will take you to San Diego—home of the world’s busiest port of entry—and across the border into Tijuana. We will also visit El Paso, Texas, whose sister city in Mexico—Juarez—has become as deadly as any war zone thanks to the drug cartels.

    In articles, pictures, and video, we will chronicle the Bureau’s efforts to combat Southwest

    Kevin Perkins
    Assistant Director
    Kevin Perkins

    border crime through our participation in drug, violent crime, and public corruption task forces; our extensive intelligence-gathering efforts; and our vital partnerships with Mexican law enforcement.

    Despite our continuing successes, however, much work is left to be done.

    “With such a great expanse of territory to cover,” said Kevin Perkins, assistant director of our Criminal Investigative Division, “there are places where the border is permeable. In some areas of the desert, people can cross illegally at will, and they do. The U.S. government has built fences and other barriers that our adversaries are continually trying to defeat, and in some cases they are defeating them,” he added.  “Either they’re tunneling under, flying over, or actually cutting through the various defenses we’ve put up.”

    The cartels make billion-dollar profits trafficking drugs. Gaining and controlling border access is critical to their operations. They maintain that control through bribery, extortion, intimidation, and extreme violence. Some areas on the Mexican side of the border are so violent they are reminiscent of the gangster era of Chicago in the 1930s or the heyday of the Mafia’s Five Families in New York. In Tijuana, for example, a man who came to be known as “The Strew Maker”—El Pozolero—worked for one of the cartels dissolving hundreds of murder victims in acid to dispose of the evidence. In Juarez, decapitated heads of murdered cartel members have been displayed on fence posts to intimidate rivals.

    “We think al Qaeda is violent,” said one of our senior agents in El Paso, “but the cartels here are often just as willing to resort to extreme brutality and bloodshed to carry out their objectives.”

    The disturbing level of violence sometimes overshadows the national security risks along the border, Perkins said. “Unfortunately, there are border guards who are corrupt—people who can wave vehicles through checkpoints. Those vehicles could contain narcotics or illegal aliens, but they could also be pieces to the next dirty bomb brought into the country by terrorists. We are working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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    CBP officer at border stop (play video)
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Michael Gilliland is seen in surveillance video in 2006 waving cars through his lane at a border crossing in San Diego. He was arrested hours later. Video


    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    Public Corruption: A Few Bad Apples

    08/09/10

    In the surveillance footage taken hours before his arrest, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Michael Gilliland can be seen nonchalantly waving a car through his lane at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. He was knowingly allowing illegal aliens across the border, and he would do this several more times throughout the evening. His actions that night would earn him nearly the equivalent of his annual salary—and eventually a five-year prison term.

    Gilliland, a former U.S. Marine and veteran Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer with 16 years of experience, has been in jail since 2007. But his case continues to illustrate the pervasive problem of corruption along the Southwest border and the damage that can occur when officials betray the public’s trust.

    Although the vast majority of U.S. government employees working on the border are not corrupt, as one senior agent who investigates such crimes noted, “Even one bad apple is too many.”

    Of our 700 agents assigned to public corruption investigations nationwide, approximately 120 of them are located in the Southwest region. We work closely with many federal agencies, including CBP and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The result has been more than 400 public corruption cases originating from the Southwest region—and in the past fiscal year more than 100 arrests and about 130 state and federal cases prosecuted.

    We have 12 border corruption task forces in the Southwest, which consist of many state and local law enforcement agencies as well as our federal partners. Recently, we established a National Border Corruption Task Force at FBI Headquarters to coordinate the activities of all regional operations.

    At our Border Corruption Task Force office in San Diego, Special Agent Terry Reed—who headed the Michael Gilliland investigation—points out the “Wall of Shame.” Displayed are pictures of a dozen former officials convicted of public corruption offenses in the San Diego area. They are a diverse group of men and women from a variety of state and federal government agencies. They were all in it for the money, sex, or both—a fact not lost on the drug cartels.

    “The cartels have developed into very sophisticated businesses,” said El Paso Special Agent Tim Gutierrez. “Despite their brutality and violence, they use sophisticated tactics.”

    The cartels actively engage in corrupting public officials. They recruit by exploiting weaknesses, sometimes gaining intelligence through surveillance methods usually employed by law enforcement. Cartel members have been known to observe inspectors at ports of entry using binoculars from the Mexican side of the border. Maybe an inspector has a drinking or gambling problem. Maybe he flirts with women and could be tempted to cheat on his wife. Maybe an employee is simply burned out on the job.

    “If you’re an inspector and you are legitimately waving through 97 out of 100 cars anyway,” Gutierrez said, “and you realize you can make as much as your annual salary by letting the 98th car go by, it can be easy to rationalize that.”

    “The cartels are always looking for the next Michael Gilliland,” Agent Reed said. “But using our combined investigative and intelligence gathering skills, the task force has been very successful in rooting out corrupt public officials at the border.”

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    Mexico Border crossing
    The kidnappings, beatings, and murders that mark the drug-related violence of Mexican border cities like Tijuana and Juarez have increasingly spilled over the border.


    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    When Violence Hits Too Close to Home

    08/12/10

    Emerging from the port of entry’s administrative offices into a sunny San Diego morning, Special Agent Dean Giboney spoke in fluent Spanish with the man whose temporary U.S. visa he had just helped renew. The man was smiling, happy to be out of Mexico, even though he understood that being on U.S. soil was no guarantee of safety from the Tijuana drug cartel that has put a price on his head.

    The kidnappings, beatings, and murders that mark the extreme drug-related violence of Mexican border cities such as Tijuana and Juarez have increasingly spilled over the border. Agent Giboney is hoping the man—we’ll call him José —can provide information that will help in the Bureau’s efforts to dismantle the cartels and the criminal enterprises they fuel.

    A few years ago, José started working for the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) in Tijuana to earn extra money. But when he saw how routine the act of murder was for the cartel—leaders thought nothing of having even their own people killed for real or perceived insubordination—he started to fear for his life and contacted the FBI to help him flee the country.

    Sources like José are just one of many ways the Bureau gathers intelligence to combat border crime. Agent Giboney is particularly interested in gaining information regarding fugitives in the Los Palillos case, one of San Diego’s most notorious examples of so-called “spillover violence.”

    Los Palillos—the “Toothpicks”—was a rogue spinoff from the AFO. From 2004 to 2007, the San Diego street gang carried out a brutal crime spree in which 13 people were abducted and nine were killed. Bodies turned up in cars, on jogging paths, and inside houses in quiet, residential neighborhoods.

    The group’s leader, Jorge Rojas-Lopez, is serving a life sentence without parole for the crimes, and several of his henchmen are also in prison. But five members of the gang are still at large.

    Rojas-Lopez—a former AFO member—was fighting the cartel for a piece of the billion-dollar drug trade, but he was also fighting for revenge, because the AFO had ordered the murder of his brother.

    “This level of extreme violence is very typical of the way the cartels operate south of the border,” Giboney said. Unfortunately, Los Palillos is not an isolated case north of the border, either.

    What explains this level of brutality? “The cartels and the gang members they employ want to be Al Pacino in the movie Scarface,” Giboney said. During raids on the homes of cartel members, he has seen movie posters of the machine-gun-wielding Pacino, who played a vicious drug kingpin. “They want to live that lifestyle—the nice cars, going out to clubs, throwing money around. But once you’re in that lifestyle,” he explained, “it’s hard to get out, even if you want to.”

    José understands how difficult it is to get away from the cartel. The “narcos,” as he calls AFO members, are powerful as well as ruthless, and their influence is felt at every level of Mexican society. “Whatever they want to know about you they can find out,” he said. “They will stop at nothing to protect their interests, even if it means crossing the border.”

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    Border liaisons Mike Eckel, Alejandro Lares
    FBI Special Agent Mike Eckel, left, is one of the Bureau’s five border liaison officers. He meets about once a week with counterparts like Alejandro Lares of the Tijuana Police Department.


    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    Forging Ties in Tijuana

    08/16/10

    Amid the car horns, engine exhaust, and constant flow of people on foot and in cars, Special Agent Mike Eckel inched through traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry—the world’s busiest land border crossing—on his way from San Diego to Tijuana. Although the Mexican city can be a dangerous place for Americans, in his role as one of the Bureau’s five border liaison officers, Eckel makes the trip about once a week.

    Alejandro Lares (Play Video)

    On this day, he will visit his counterpart at the Tijuana Police Department in hopes of locating a U.S. citizen wanted for a 2009 murder in Nevada who may be hiding with relatives in that region of Mexico.

    “The idea behind the border liaison program is to build relationships and to exchange information with Mexican law enforcement,” said Eckel, who speaks fluent Spanish. “We try to take geography out of the equation so we can share intelligence and help each other and bring criminals to justice on both sides of the border.”

    In the past, such relationships were difficult to cultivate in Tijuana because of the level of corruption there, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. “But the tide is turning,” Eckel said. “There is less corruption now, and the FBI and other federal entities have established solid working relationships with our Mexican partners.”

    Less than an hour after crossing the border, Eckel sat in a small office in a busy Tijuana police substation. He was speaking with officer Alejandro Lares about the Nevada murder fugitive and other matters, including suspected cartel members who live freely in San Diego, where they have committed no crimes. Lares, who has been on the Tijuana force for four years, has served as the liaison officer for U.S. law enforcement for the past year.

    “Today, the cartels have less power than they had in the past,” Lares said, largely because the Mexican federal government has exerted its military presence in the area. “We are moving in the right direction,” he added, but acknowledged that the crime and corruption associated with the drug trade will never disappear completely.

    Thanks to drug money, the cartels have enormous power—and they use it to bribe, intimidate, and murder. To get what they want from police and government officials in Tijuana and elsewhere along the Mexican border, the cartels offer “the silver or the lead”: the silver being money and the lead being bullets.

    Even well-intentioned public servants who refuse outright bribes might be compelled to look the other way if their lives—or the lives of their families—have been threatened. “And these are not hollow threats,” Eckel said. “They will kill you.”

    But efforts such as the border liaison program and the determined, collaborative work of law enforcement on both sides of the border are making a difference.

    “Sharing information is the key,” Eckel said. “By being able to gather intelligence and quickly analyze and share it, we can actually save lives. I have seen that happen.” Working with the Mexicans as well as other U.S. partner agencies, he added, “We help keep each other safe. We all get along extremely well, because our lives can depend on it.”

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    Drug smuggling
    A vanload of drugs confiscated near the border.


    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    A Drug Buy in El Paso

    08/30/10

    It may look like any other afternoon along this busy shopping strip outside El Paso, Texas, with people walking in and out of stores and restaurants and traffic moving at a steady clip. But inside a particular establishment, one of our sources is waiting to buy nearly $20,000 worth of cocaine from a local gang member.

    The operation represents one of the many ways we are fighting the drug trade along the Southwest border. From small street-level drug buys to major cases targeting the highest levels of cartel and gang leadership, our agents and law enforcement partners attack the problem from every angle to gain intelligence and to disrupt and dismantle trafficking organizations.

    On this day, agents from our criminal enterprise/gang squad are working with local and state officers to build a case against the gang. Members of the team—all in plain clothes and driving unmarked vehicles—are inconspicuously and strategically parked near the site of the establishment. The source inside is wearing a wire, and his conversations can be heard on car-to-car radios. If anything goes wrong, the source will say a code word and the team will quickly be inside.

    At a final briefing before the operation began, the team leader—one of our veteran agents—spoke to the group in a parking lot behind a nearby municipal building. He went over the plan again in detail, stressing the danger involved and the need for extreme caution to make sure everyone stayed safe. Then, like a basketball coach before a game, he gathered the team in a circle and read aloud the Bureau’s policy on the use of deadly force.

    An hour later, the source was inside, but the target wasn’t—he called to say he would be late. While they waited in their car and listened to the radio chatter, two of our agents on the operation—we’ll call them Smith and Johns—explained the economics of the drug trade in El Paso and across the border in Juarez.

    “Where you have gangs,” Smith said, “you have drugs. And in El Paso, all the drugs are coming from across the border.” A kilo of cocaine in El Paso costs about $20,000, but can be sold in Chicago, Atlanta, New York, or Miami for more than $30,000. There is a lot of money to be made.

    Finally, the target arrived, but without any drugs and only vague promises to produce them that day. The team leader sent a text message to the source to leave, and then canceled the operation. “We’ll try again tomorrow,” he said.

    False starts and dead ends are typical in such drug cases, Agents Smith and Johns said later. But the work is important. Even though small drug buys won’t break the backs of the cartels, Johns explained, “We gain a lot of intelligence from these operations, and sometimes we develop new sources as a result. And every kilo of coke we take off the streets is one that doesn’t make its way to American kids.”

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    Confiscated drugs
    Methamphetamine confiscated near the border. Photo courtesy of DEA


    ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
    Going After the Major Players

    09/08/10

    Methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and cash—the amount of drugs and currency crossing the border in and around El Paso, Texas can be difficult to comprehend.

    “El Paso may be the busiest city in the world in terms of the flow of drugs,” said Special Agent Mike Cordero, a member of the FBI/DEA Strike Force, an investigative team established in 2007 to target “the biggest of the big” drug trafficking organizations.

    “If they are major players,” Agent Cordero explained, “we’re going after them. Our mission is to disrupt and dismantle these organizations.”

    It is estimated that 40-60 percent of all illegal drugs that come into the U.S. enter through the border areas encompassed by our El Paso Field Office. The drugs flow across the border from Juarez, and U.S. currency flows back into Mexico. Every month, tens of millions of dollars in cash pass into Juarez, enabling the cartels to corrupt public officials, purchase weapons, and engage in other criminal activity beyond drug trafficking.

    The strike force in El Paso—one of several along the Southwest border—is designed to fight this cycle of crime and violence. The program is funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a longstanding Department of Justice initiative that combines federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts to fight organized crime and drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI have lead roles in operating the strike force.

    Working with undercover operatives, sources, and Mexican law enforcement, the team uses an intelligence-driven approach in its investigations. Besides orchestrating large drug buys, agents pay close attention to the money laundering aspects of drug trafficking. Perhaps most importantly, the actionable intelligence gathered by the strike force benefits many other investigations and law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.

    The El Paso strike force consists of 10 FBI agents and 10 DEA agents, as well as representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

    “We are a badge-less operation,” Agent Cordero said. “When you walk in our office, you can’t tell who is FBI and who is DEA. There is a concerted effort to put the cases first and not to worry about who gets the credit,” he added. “A win is a win for everybody.”

    Recently, during a nationwide drug trafficking takedown called Project Deliverance, the strike force arrested 133 individuals on drug charges and seized 800 pounds of marijuana, 11 kilos of cocaine, and nearly $140,000 in cash. The operation also contributed intelligence to numerous other investigations around the country. “Because El Paso is a pivotal location for the Mexican drug trade,” said Special Agent Raul Bujanda, another member of the strike force, “the intelligence we gather allows us to spin off a lot of cases to other offices.”

    Drugs in car body
    Twelve pounds of heroin confiscated during Project Deliverance. Photo courtesy of DEA

    “We’re very proud of the work we do,” Agent Cordero said. “There are no egos involved in the strike force—it’s all about the cases and bringing down the drug traffickers.”

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  • crimewatchrt 8:34 am on November 2, 2009 Permalink |
    Tags: , analysis, analyst, , , BAC, , breath analysis, breath test, , , convicted, , , Corruption, , , , , CSI, dna, document, DUI, evidence, expert, faulty, , forensic, , , , innocent, , , , , Lab, Labs, , , Oversight, , study, , , unreliable, , , wrongful,   

    Faulty Forensic Analysis That Lead To Convictions 

    Forensic science was not developed by scientists. It was mostly created by cops, who were guided by little more than common sense. And as hundreds of criminal cases begin to unravel, many established forensic practices are coming under fire. Take an in-depth look at the shaky science that has put innocent people behind bars.

    Crime Lab Audit Stirs Calls For Independent Operation

    A legislative committee meets today to discuss the State Bureau of Investigation.

    There are increasing calls for the state crime to become independent from the SBI  after an audit found problems with 230 cases in which analysts misrepresented or wrongly reported blood evidence. WFAE’s Greg Collard takes a closer look at the issue in this report.

    Law enforcement agencies run nearly all of the country’s crime labs.

    Greg Taylor of Durham would like that to change. He spent 17 years in prison for a murder he did not commit thanks in large part to the failure of an SBI lab analyst to tell prosecutors that key blood evidence actually tested negative for blood.

    “These scientists are performing these tests and procedures should be reporting in an unbiased way. And, to report in unbiased way, should report to an unbiased authority,” Taylor says.

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    Hundreds of D.C. Residents Could Have Been Wrongfully Convicted of a DUI

    Nearly 400 people were convicted of driving while intoxicated in Washington, D.C. in 2008 because of inaccurate calibrations of the breath test equipment.

    Imagine being charged and convicted of a crime, only to find out nearly two years later that your conviction was the result of faulty police technology. This is exactly what happened to nearly 400 people. They were convicted of driving while intoxicated in Washington, D.C. in 2008 because of inaccurate calibrations of the breath test equipment.

    According to results of an investigation led by D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, breath analysis equipment used by city’s law enforcement officers was found to be improperly adjusted, resulting in inaccurate readings. Analysis of all 10 of the District’s breath test machines found that readings produced a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) to be about 20 percent higher than it actually was….

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    Report Condemns Police Lab Oversight

    The New York State Police’s supervision of a major crime laboratory was so poor that it overlooked evidence of pervasively shoddy forensics work, allowing an analyst to go undetected for 15 years as he falsified test results and compromised nearly one-third of his cases, an investigation by the state’s inspector general has found.

    The analyst’s training was so substandard that at one point last year, investigators discovered he could not properly operate a microscope essential to performing his job, the report released on Thursday said.

    And when the State Police became aware of the analyst’s misconduct, an internal review by superiors in the Albany lab deliberately omitted information implicating other analysts and suggesting systemic problems with the way evidence was handled, the report said. Instead, the review focused blame mostly on the analyst, Garry Veeder, who committed suicide in May 2008 during the internal inquiry.

    “Cutting corners in a crime lab is serious and intolerable,” said the state’s inspector general, Joseph Fisch. “Forensic laboratories must adhere to the highest standards of competence, independence and integrity. Anything less undermines public confidence in our criminal justice system.”

    Several lab workers whose actions were criticized in the report remain in their jobs pending an internal review of the inspector general’s findings, the State Police said.

    The State Police superintendent, Harry J. Corbitt, said that the agency planned to hire an outside consultant. “Appropriate remedial measures will be taken with respect to any conduct falling below the highest standards,” said Mr. Corbitt, whose nomination last year by Gov. David A. Paterson was meant to help rehabilitate the scandal-tainted agency.

    After the State Police began its internal investigation last year, it notified district attorneys across the state that evidence in criminal cases examined by Mr. Veeder might have been compromised. Mr. Veeder worked in the crime lab analyzing so-called trace evidence, like fibers, hair, impressions and other physical material found at scenes of crimes, including homicides.

    But on Thursday, police officials said that none of the district attorneys had found that Mr. Veeder’s work had cast doubt on any of their convictions.

    “We are satisfied that there were no wrongful convictions, nor any miscarriages of justice which resulted from these improper procedures,” Mr. Corbitt said, stating a viewpoint also shared by Mr. Fisch.

    Still, forensic science experts and advocates for those wrongfully convicted said the case pointed to longstanding problems in police behavior and underlined the need to hold law enforcement agencies accountable.

    “It is a wake-up call to the forensic community,” said Barry Scheck, director of the Innocence Project and a member of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science, which monitors all the state’s crime labs. “What’s alarming about this report and others that we’ve seen like it is it’s not so much the bad actors, it’s the fact that the system didn’t detect them earlier.”

    There have been several high-profile cases in recent years in which police labs mishandled crime scene evidence, casting doubt on convictions. A convicted rapist was released in 2003 after an examination of the Houston Police Department’s lab found widespread deficiencies. Detroit shut down its police crime lab last year after an outside audit found errors in 10 percent of cases surveyed.

    In Mr. Veeder’s case, supervisors discovered during an internal inquiry that he had routinely skipped a preliminary fiber analysis and then created data “to give the appearance of having conducted an analysis not actually performed,” the inspector general’s report stated.

    The State Police have disputed the effectiveness of the preliminary test and said there was no evidence that Mr. Veeder’s work resulted in a piece of trace evidence’s being misidentified.

    The report said Mr. Veeder used a “crib sheet” provided to him by a former supervisor to falsify the test results. At one point, Mr. Veeder told investigators, “They told me from the past, you go to this and plug it in,” the report said. “This is how I was trained to, how we’ve always done it.”

    But Mr. Veeder’s allegations involving other lab workers were never part of the final report to the State Police’s internal affairs division. State Police investigators and the lab’s management “minimized and precipitously discarded the seriousness and extent of problems” at the lab, the inspector general’s report said.

    It said that one State Police investigator, Keith Coonrod, mischaracterized Mr. Veeder’s responses implicating other lab scientists and skewed Mr. Veeder’s statements to give the impression that it was his incompetence — not widespread misconduct — that led to the problems.

    Mr. Coonrod has been temporarily reassigned to a State Police job outside of the lab pending the outcome of the internal review.

    Despite Mr. Coonrod’s omissions, the inspector general also faulted Mr. Coonrod’s superiors. “There exists no doubt that laboratory management possessed sufficient information that Veeder’s individual misconduct implicated potentially broader systemic issues, but failed to take appropriate action,” the report said.

    The report named a number of lab supervisors at the time — including the director, Gerald Zeosky, and assistant director Richard Nuzzo — and describes them as unfazed by the inquiry and dismissive of Mr. Veeder’s broader claims. Mr. Zeosky remains in charge of the lab. Mr. Nuzzo was promoted and given a new job in the internal affairs division, but police officials said he would have had no involvement in the investigation of the lab.

    Another section of the report stated that Mr. Nuzzo was also found to have intimidated a lab technician who was working on a case unrelated to Mr. Veeder.

    Problems with Mr. Veeder’s work were first detected in 2008 during an accreditation review by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. The State Police then did an internal investigation and alerted the inspector general’s office, which began its own review.

    On May 23, 2008, Mr. Veeder hanged himself in the garage of his home outside Albany.

    Faulty forensic test put innocents in jail over decades

    A faulty forensic analysis has put hundreds of innocent people in jail over decades, according to a joint investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes. Eventually found to be unreliable, it was quietly dumped four decades later without alerting those convicted.

    The “comparative bullet-lead analysis” claimed to link a bullet with ones in suspects’ possession. However, faulty statistical analysis of the elements contained in different lead samples resulted in false matches.

    Excerpt from eFluxMedia:
    The comparative bullet-lead analysis was based on the supposition that each batch of lead would have a particular, almost unique, chemical makeup. The National Academy of Sciences, however, has invalidated this claim in 2004, pointing out that FBI experts who claimed to jurors the test linked a particular bullet to those found in a suspect’s gun or cartridge box were more or less misleading the jury.
    Unfortunately, according to The Washington Post:
    But the FBI lab has never gone back to determine how many times its scientists misled jurors. Internal memos show that the bureau’s managers were aware by 2004 that testimony had been overstated in a large number of trials. In a smaller number of cases, the experts had made false matches based on a faulty statistical analysis of the elements contained in different lead samples, documents show.
    The reporters have since alerted the FBI on at least 250 cases that may require closer examination.

    John Miller, FBI Assistant Director for Public Affairs, noted that the FBI is taking a series of steps to try to fix this snafus on cases where the conviction might have resulted from the flawed analysis.

    The question remains as to why it took a media investigation for the FBI to notice and take action.

    Thinking ahead, what do you reckon are the chances of flawed computer forensics resulting in a hapless computer idiot being charged for computer crimes that they did not commit.

    Read more about faulty forensics here:

    Stop Police Abuse

    Faulty forensic evidence

    Biased Forensics

    Serious Problems with Forensic Science

    Innocent people in jail because of bite-mark testimony

    Eyewitness Misidentification and Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science

    CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics


     
  • crimewatchrt 7:56 am on November 1, 2009 Permalink |
    Tags: , agreement, , attorney, , bargain, , , , Corruption, , , , , defendent, defender, , , , , , , , offer, plea, prosecution, prosecutor, , , , Wanted,   

    The Problem With Plea Bargains 

    From the state’s point of view, the main benefit of the plea bargain is that it saves time See full size imageand money. It’s a good thing for someone who is guilty, someone who has factually done that which he or she is charged with doing, who is confronted with overwhelming evidence, and where the state is inclined to make some kind of offer because they would not want to put the victim, or families of the victim, or put the state, to the cost of proving the case at trial.

    For every criminal conviction that comes after a trial, 19 other cases are settled by plea bargain. This system can easily be abused by over zealous prosecutors and low paid public defenders.  It can extract guilty pleas from absolutely innocent people who plead guilty to charges they did not commit because they can’t afford the risk of going to trial. Especially when their own lawyer is telling them that they stand a good chance of going to prison unless they accept the agreement that the prosecution is offering.

    So why would an innocent person admit to a crime they didn’t commit? If an individual refuses to take the plea bargain and accept a guilty plea, and is later convicted, they face penalties up to ten times greater than if he were convicted of trial.

    About 95 percent of all felony convictions in the United States are the result of plea bargains.

    Judge Ralph Adam Fine’s comment on plea bargaining:

    During my nine years as a trial judge, I had several defendants who wanted to plead guilty even though when I then asked them to tell me what they did, responded with stories of innocence. When I asked them why they were trying to plead guilty, they all told me that they had been threatened with harsher penalties if they insisted on going to trial. In rejecting their pleas, I told them that we had enough guilty persons to convict, and that we did not need to dip into the pool of the innocent.

    In each of the instances, we went to trial and the defendants were acquitted.

    Judge Fine proves that plea bargaining is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in an excellent article he wrote for the Federalist Society; the article is located here (large .pdf).

    Prosecutors are under significant pressure to negotiate plea agreements. a criminal trial costs approximately $10,000 per day to prosecute, prosecutors have very heavy case loads, the jails are crowded and the criminal court calendars are full. In addition, various pressures lead defense attorneys to plea bargain most cases.

    Going to a jury trial is a roll of dice—even with the best attorneys and the most exonerating evidence in the world, you just never know what kind of decision a jury of 12 people will come to with your case!

    When plea bargaining is available, prosecutors can extract a guilty plea in nearly every case, including very weak cases, simply by adjusting the plea concession to the defendant’s chances of acquittal at trial. When almost every case results in a plea of guilty, regardless of the strength of the evidence, prosecutors have much less interest in screening away weak cases. Since some cases are weak because the defendant is innocent, however, more innocent defendants are charged and as a result more are convicted.

    More Reading On This Topic:

    In the prosecutor’s view, there is no such thing as an innocent suspect or defendant.

    Prosecutors are intimidating, and threatening to those who are being prosecuted for something they did not even do.

    For every false conviction due to plea bargaining, there exists a criminal on the streets whom the police no longer care about.


     
  • crimewatchrt 10:07 pm on October 24, 2009 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , Corruption, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Police Misconduct Resources 

    American Civil Liberties Union:
    The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

    America’s toughest Sheriff?
    The truth about Phoenix’s nutty and cruel Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

    Bad Cop, No Donut:
    A regular feature on The Bitter End radio show.

    Blue Must Be True:
    “… to hold law enforcement officers and government officials accountable when police performance lacks integrity and professionalism.”

    BobbyWatch:
    Keeping an eye on police corruption in the United Kingdom.

    Roadblock Revelations:
    “General information and discussions regarding growing threats to our right to privacy & travel”.

    CopWatch:
    Fights police abuse, brutality, and corruption. It’s a national group with lots of local chapters, but it started with Berkeley Copwatch (I was a member when I lived there), and that’s probably still their most effective local group. “Policing the police.”

    Drue Myers Journal:
    Ongoing coverage of official corruption cases, with a strong interest in criminal cops, prosecutors, judges, and jailers.

    Flex Your Rights:
    Protect your rights during police encounters.

    HighwayRobbery.net:
    Info & advice about California red light camera tickets.

    Injustice Everywhere:
    “… gathering information about reported incidents of police misconduct across the US, analyzing and compiling statistics based from several sources, and then publishing the results of all this information in a reader-friendly way in order to encourage informed debate where it was once impossible to do.

    The Innocence Project:
    Last chance after a guilty verdict.

    Judicial Transparency now
    and San Diego Judges:
    These sites track crooked judges, focused in the San Diego area.

    National Lawyers Guild:
    Lawyers with consciences.

    PoliceAbuse.org:
    Well-funded organization runs video stings of police operations.

    PoliceCrimes.com:
    News and information on police brutality and criminality.

    Photography is Not a Crime:
    Activist Carlos Miller’s blog keeps an eye on the more egregious cases of police misconduct, especially in interactions with reporters and photographers.

    RateMyCop.org:
    “… allows registered users to leave written feedback about their interactions with police officers, and rank the officer’s service based on three criteria: Professionalism, Fairness and Satisfaction.”

    RealCrimes.com:
    Real cover-up and corruption by law enforcement. Real family frustration and heartbreak.

    Roadblocks:
    What to expect and how to handle the situation

    Simple Justice:
    A New York criminal defense blog, with a healthy distaste for police corruption and misconduct.

    Truth in Justice:
    An educational non-profit organized to educate the public regarding the vulnerabilities in the U. S. criminal justice system that make the criminal conviction of wholly innocent persons possible

    When the police don’t take no for an answer
    by Claire Wolfe, Backwoods Home Magazine

    Police brutality resultsPolice brutality results

     
  • crimewatchrt 10:15 pm on October 23, 2009 Permalink |
    Tags: , admitted, , authorities, bad cop, , badge, beat, beating, behind bars, Bill Fitzgerald, Bobby Lee Garrett, Brian Ferrell, , Buckly McColl, Carlton Moore, Charles Ryan, Christian Brezill, Christopher Lloyd, Christopher McCathern, co-defendant, corrupt, Corruption, , , Denver Police, , documents, Driving Under the Influence, drunk, fine, Frank Russo, G. Thomas Porteous Jr., Gary Hale, , , incarcerated, , , Jason Hanrahan, John McKinney, killed, LaDonna Dixon, Leo Liston, Marcia Powell, Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Martha Garnica, Middle Ground Prison Reform, , NPMSRP, obstruction, , Officer Scott Childers, Patrick Marlowe, , Police Chief Paul Ciesielski, , police union, , , Ronald Jackson, shooting, stealing, suspended, Timothy Bullock, Tommy Shane Conatser, Travis Bradley, , Vincent T. Carr, William Westmoreland, without pay,   

    Corruption 

    dirtycop

    Who’s Protecting Us From The Protectors?

    The following stories and links are just a small example of the reports from news agencies around the web. Read recent updates and get an idea of the magnitude of this problem at the following link:

    >> Bad Cops, Bad Cops, Who Ya’ Gonna Call<<

    Corruption in Government agencies goes far beyond crooked cops. It comes from all levels of government at local, state and federal levels. It does appear to be hidden better or covered up deeper at the higher levels. However, once in a while, we may hear a whisper that it exists.

    ********************************************************************

    LA ethics panel urges ban on some free tickets for top officials

    “It’s as if we believe everybody’s corrupt, and I just don’t think everybody’s corrupt and everybody’s subject to undue influence,” she said.

    Deltona, FL Mayor bought 4 vodka shots on city’s dime

    Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder has promised to repay the city for four vodka drinks he bought with his city credit card…

    Impeachment trial of federal judge gets under way in US Senate

    Adam Schiff: Porteous “participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years” Washington (CNN) — The U.S. Senate on Monday started the impeachment trial of federal judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. — the first such trial since the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in 1999….

    Woman’s links to Mexican drug cartel a saga of corruption on US

    Lots of attention is paid to the role of corrupt Mexican officials in drug trafficking, but the story of Martha Garnica, a US border agent, reveals how a

    Charges: Russo corrupt virtually from the start

    According to the federal charges, Frank Russo has been corrupt virtually the entire time he’s been county auditor…which was more

    ***

    Image of a t-shirt that was sold by the Denver police union as a way to thank their member officers for what they did during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in a way that mocked allegations of excessive force during that event.

    And they’re proud of it!!

    National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) places them in 6th position as the worst in America.

    This just goes to show how they feel about their reputation.


    ********************************************************************

    Marcia Powell’s Death Unavenged: County Attorney Passes on Prosecuting Prison Staff

    Woman Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison For Prostitution. Prison Guards Put Her In A Human Cage In 107 Degree Heat In Arizona Desert For 4 Hours. Then, Illegally Terminate Her Life Support At The Hospital, She Dies. Attorney General Refuses To Prosecute.

    The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has chosen not to prosecute Arizona Department of Corrections staff in the death of inmate Marcia Powell.

    Powell, 48, died May 20, 2009, after being kept in a human cage in Goodyear’s Perryville Prison for at least four hours in the blazing Arizona sun. This, despite a prison policy limiting such outside confinement to a maximum of two hours.

    The county medical examiner found the cause of death to be due to complications from heat exposure. Her core body temperature upon examination was 108 degrees Fahrenheit. She suffered burns and blisters all over her body.

    Witnesses say she was repeatedly denied water by corrections officers, though the c.o.’s deny this. The weather the day she collapsed from the heat (May 19 — she died in the early morning hours of May 20) arched just above a 107 degree high.

    According to a 3,000 page report released by the ADC, she pleaded to be taken back inside, but was ignored. Similarly, she was not allowed to use the restroom. When she was found unconscious, her body was covered with excrement from soiling herself.

    Powell, who was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, actually expired after being transported to West Valley Hospital, where acting ADC Director Charles Ryan made the decision to have her life support suspended.

    (Ryan lacked the authority to do this)

    ADC conducted its own criminal investigation into Powell’s agonizing demise. The information I have indicates that ADC submitted its conclusions to the county attorney earlier this year.  ADC was seeking charges of negligent homicide against at least seven c.o.’s, as well as related charges against other prison staff.

    Why didn’t the county attorney’s office pursue those charges? Apparently, they didn’t think they could prevail in court.

    County attorney spokesman Bill Fitzgerald issued the following terse statement.

    “There is insufficient evidence to go forward with a prosecution against any of the named individuals,” he e-mailed me, declining to elaborate further.

    Donna Hamm of the advocacy group Middle Ground Prison Reform wasn’t buying it.

    “Having read the bulk of those 3,000 pages of reports,” she told me, “if someone in a prosecutorial position can’t find a crime in those pages, they have absolutely no credibility in my opinion.”

    Hamm noted that guards passed Powell several times throughout her stay in the cage, and that some mocked her pleas for water. As for c.o. claims that Powell was given water, Hamm countered that Powell’s eyes “were as dry as parchment,” and that the autopsy results show there was no sign of hydration.

    Hamm was incredulous that the county attorney couldn’t find enough evidence to bring charges.

    “It’s just beyond comprehension,” she stated. “This is the same office that has prosecuted mothers who left their babies in a couple of inches of water to go outside and take a cell phone call or look in the mail.”

    She also cited the case of “Buffalo Soldier” Charles Long, who was prosecuted by the MCAO for negligent homicide in the 2001 death of a kid who had enrolled in his program for troubled teens and died after being exposed to the heat and put in a bath, where he inhaled water.

    The ADC did make some reforms in the wake of Powell’s death. It was discovered that the cages were being used to control unruly prisoners, and the ADC claims this practice has stopped. However, Hamm says she has uncovered a case of a man in a Tucson facility who, earlier this year, was held all day and overnight in an outside cage.

    Some 16 prison employees were sanctioned in one way or another as a result of the Powell incident, and some were fired. But Hamm says she believes some of those sanctioned have been reinstated.

    The outdoor cages are still in use, but have been retrofitted to provide shade, misters, water stations, and benches, which, ironically, Hamm says are metal, and would thus soak up the heat. She’s toured ADC facilities to see the redone cages, and admits that changes are positive, but too late to save Powell’s life, obviously.

    “All the retrofitting in the world is worthless if the staff doesn’t follow the policy,” she insisted.

    Powell had been diagnosed as mentally ill, and was on more than one psychotropic drug, drugs that increased her sensitivity to heat, sunlight and lack of water. All the more reason, according to Hamm, that prison staff should be held accountable.

    The only next of kin that was located for Powell was an aged, adoptive mother in California, who had not had contact with Powell for years, and did not want to take possession of the remains.

    So, with the help of Hamm and others, Powell’s ashes were interred last year at Phoenix’s Shadow Rock Church of Christ.

    Brophy College Preparatory School also dedicated a plaque to Powell on school grounds this year.

    But with no one with standing to bring a federal lawsuit (Hamm says the deadline for a state lawsuit has expired), and with the MCAO unwilling to bring a case against those responsible for Powell’s well-being, there looks to be no justice for the schizophrenic deceased woman.

    I asked Hamm what this means for the case.

    “It means they’ve gotten away with the most colossal example of brutality I have seen against a female prisoner in the history of the Arizona Department of Corrections,” remarked Hamm, adding, “And they got off scot-free.”

    Stephen Lemons, Wed., Sep. 1 2010


    ********************************************************************

    Woman claims IMPD officer’s beating caused miscarriage

    Cop beat a woman so badly she miscarried. Now she’s suing the police.

    LaDonna Dixon claims she got these bruises from a beating that a police officer gave her.

    Indianapolis – The Indianapolis Metro Police chief plans to investigate allegations of police brutality involving one of his officers.

    An Indianapolis woman is suing the city in federal court. LaDonna Dixon claims the officer beat her so severely during an arrest that she had a miscarriage.

    “[He was] punching me, kicking me, after he maced me,” Dixon said.

    “This person was angry, was enraged and just beat her,” said Dixon’s attorney, Everett Powell. “I would say it’s a crime.”

    LaDonna Dixon is suing the city over what she claims happened in her yard last June. She says she was helping a friend who collapsed from a seizure and needed medicine.

    When police arrived, the complaint says Officer Scott Childers told Dixon she was disrupting emergency crews and that she needed to get in her house.

    Dixon admits she argued with Childers, but says that’s when the officer turned violent.

    “He says I was resisting arrest, but I don’t see how I’m resisting when I’m already handcuffed and maced,” Dixon said.

    Dixon claims that the beating continued even after she told the officer she was three months pregnant. She says she miscarried at Marion County’s arrestee processing center, just hours after her arrest.

    “She was beaten so bad that she passed out,” Powell said. “She was hemorrhaging directly after getting beaten like this.”

    Dixon says she was refused medical attention at the jail.

    Her attorney filed a tort claim with the city last year.

    It was denied in March, saying “a settlement is not warranted in this matter.”

    Now, Dixon has filed suit in federal court, seeking punishment for the officer in what she claims was an unnecessarily violent arrest.

    “Justice, I mean…can’t bring back my child,” Dixon said.

    Dixon’s attorney fears a pattern in excessive force by police.

    This lawsuit comes just a few weeks after a Metro officer was fired and another disciplined after beating an Indianapolis teenager.

    Wednesday evening, Metro Police Chief Paul Ciesielski released the following statement:

    “After claims of alleged police brutality being brought to my attention today, I have begun a review process of the arrest of Ms. Ladonna Dixon on June 21, 2009 at 6132 Nelson Place. We have decided to voluntarily review this arrest and will release more information once this review is completed.”

    Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

    ********************************************************************

    Former Hockley County Chief Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty in Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy

    LUBBOCK, TX—Gordon Clark Bohannon of Levelland, Texas, the former Chief Deputy of the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Bohannon and 27 others were charged in July 2009 in a 110-count indictment with operating a major methamphetamine trafficking organization in west Texas, Arizona, and in the Modesto, California area since 2003. One other Hockely County Sheriff’s Deputy charged in that indictment, Jose Jesus Quintanilla, 39, of Smyer, Texas, pleaded guilty last month to one count of misprision of a felony, and is awaiting sentencing. The lead defendant in the case, Bobby Duwayne Froman, of Levelland, Texas, pleaded guilty to his role as leader of the conspiracy earlier this month. If the Court accepts the terms of Froman’s plea agreement, he will face a 240-month prison sentence and will be required to forfeit two residences, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and a truck. Additionally, he will have to pay a $900,000.00 money judgment to the United States. A sentencing date for Froman has not yet been set.

    Bohannon, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $4 million fine. Under the terms of the plea agreement, however, Bohannon faces a sentence of 120 months in prison, and no fine, if the Court accepts the plea. Judge Cummings ordered a pre-sentence investigation report with sentencing to be scheduled after the completion of that report. Bohannon has been in custody since his arrest in July. All but one of the defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty to their roles and are awaiting sentencing. The indictment was dismissed against three of the defendants.

    In October 2007, law enforcement initiated an investigation into the narcotics trafficking activities of Bobby Duwayne Froman, a/k/a “Quick,” the founder of the Aces and Eights Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG). From January 2003 to early July 2009, defendants Bobby Duwayne Froman, Gordon Clark Bohannon, Charity Bell Barron, Jeffrey Paul Bayer, Clifford Leroy Clark, Earnest Gale Flowers, Sharon T. Froman, Billy Charles Fuller, Bradley Gene Gore, Danny Keith Gregory, Jason Gutierrez, Dennis Carl Hegwood, Gary Duane Hegwood, Kimberly Hull, Andrew Clay Hurst, Kenneth Ray Johnson, Teddy Ralph Johnson, Stephanie Renee McKee, Keith Allen Miller, Jamie Paul Nickell, Kristi Ann Quillen, Jose Jesus Quintanilla, Hector Ramos, Perry Dean Roberson, David Lee Russell, Steven Allen Savell, Toni Jo Petska-Wood, and Marvin Lee Whittington, conspired with each other and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine.

    Froman’s co-conspirators transported large amounts of U.S. currency from Lubbock and Levelland, Texas, to Modesto to purchase large quantities of methamphetamine from Russell and Hegwood. Froman and others then distributed it in Levelland, Lubbock and throughout the South Plains area of West Texas.

    Some of the conspirators maintained the following residences to store, weigh, package and distribute the methamphetamine: (1) Froman’s residence on Cactus Drive in Levelland; (2) Bayer’s residence on North Highway US 385 in Levelland; (3) Gore’s residence on Elgin Avenue in Levelland; (4) Whittington and Petska-Wood’s residence on 53rd Street in Lubbock; and (5) Ramos’s residence on 91st Street in Lubbock County.

    Bohannon was employed as deputy, lieutenant, and chief deputy of the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. According to documents filed in court, on April 1, 2009, the government asked permission to conduct a wire intercept of Froman’s cell phone, which the district court granted. Based in part on information obtained from that wiretap, the district court authorized the Government to conduct a wire intercept of Bohannon’s cell phone. During the approximate two-month period that Froman’s calls were intercepted, 473 pertinent calls were recorded. For the approximate month that Bohannon’s calls were intercepted, 155 pertinent phone calls were recorded.

    Bohannon played a vital role in the conspiracy by using his position in law enforcement to protect and shield Froman’s methamphetamine trafficking organization. Bohannon not only obtained sensitive law enforcement information for the benefit of the conspiracy, but he also disrupted legitimate law enforcement efforts to investigate the conspiracy, thereby protecting it from discovery and its members from apprehension. In so doing, Bohannon aided and abetted prohibited persons in possessing firearms, aided and abetted a co-conspirator in possessing a sawed-off shotgun, and assisted that same co-conspirator in fabricating a statement in an attempt to avoid liability for that illegal shotgun.

    Bohannon made several efforts to get charges against Froman dropped after Froman was arrested on December 30, 2007, for evading arrest with a motor vehicle, including meeting with the District Attorney and vouching for Froman, asking the DA if he could find it in his heart to dismiss the current case against Froman in the interest of justice. As Froman’s state trial date approached, Bohannon’s attempts to influence the District Attorney to dismiss the case escalated.

    Bohannon disclosed confidential law enforcement information. In one instance, on May 15, 2009, Bohannon advised Bradley Gene Gore that law enforcement was executing a search warrant on Gore’s residence. Bohannon expressed concern that Gore possessed a sawed off shotgun, a prohibited weapon, and coached Gore to fabricate a false statement regarding the sawed off shotgun.

    The following month, on April 20, 2009, Bohannon disclosed confidential law enforcement information when he advised Froman that his (Froman’s) residence was under surveillance, revealing the identity of two Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) surveillance vehicles that were, in fact, involved in an active surveillance in and around Levelland to augment the ongoing wiretap and react to information gleaned from that wiretap. Bohannon later admitted to FBI agents that he had talked to Bobby Froman and “alerted him to the fact he was being watched, and [he] kn[ew] this was not the right thing to do. It was wrong to tell Bobby Froman of the law enforcement operations.”

    In another instance, Bohannon vouched for Froman when he received a phone call from a narcotics detective with the Roswell Police Department who informed him that he was involved in a narcotics investigation, which was probably going to go federal, and that during the investigation an informant gave the name Bobby Froman as a major methamphetamine dealer. Bohannon told the narcotics detective that it would be a waste of time to investigate Froman.

    Bohannon also retaliated against people he perceived to be a threat to the drug distribution conspiracy. Bohannon furnished the name of informants to Froman and used Deputy Jose Jesus Quantinilla to help orchestrate one person’s arrest in June 2009. After Froman and Patrick McKnight’s arrest on December 30, 2007, Bohannnon instructed Deputy Jose Jesus Quintanilla to get a search warrant for McKnight’s residence. Bohannon told Quintanilla that the dope would be in a stereo speaker in the “little house” where McKnight resided. Quintanilla obtained a search warrant for McKnight’s residence on October 16, 2008. Quintanilla and other deputies executed the search warrant while Bohannon was physically located at the Sonic in Levelland. Co-conspirators Froman, Gore, and J.P Nickell watched from Froman’s back yard on ladders. While Quintanilla found two syringes, he could not find any methamphetamine. He called Bohannon at the Sonic and told him there was no dope. Bohannon asked Quintanilla if he was sure, telling him to look in the stereo system cabinet for a Marlboro box which would contain the methamphetamine. Quintanilla told Bohannon that the box was there, but there were only two syringes. Bohannon told Quintanilla to look in the speakers and that he was going to send the confidential informant over there. Bohannon then stated words to the effect of “well, hold on, let me call and see where she pu . . ., hold on I’ll call you back.” This was a reference to Bohannon contacting the purported confidential informant, who was to plant methamphetamine in McKnight’s residence. Bohannon stated he was going to send the confidential informant over there to Quintanilla, stating you’ll know the CI when she comes. Bohannon then contacted Gore and instructed Gore to pick up the confidential informant and bring her to Quintanilla. Bohannon did this to discredit McKnight and further assist Froman in having his state drug case dismissed. Prior to this incident, J.P Nickell heard Froman tell Bohannon that McKnight was a snitch on Froman, and “we’re going to get him.” Bohannon responded okay.

    On July 10, 2009, Bohannon admitted to FBI agents that some of the guns in Gore’s possession belonged to Froman. Bohannon admitted that he knew Froman was a convicted felon who was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

    The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshal Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Hockley County District Attorney’s Office, the Levelland Police Department, the Lubbock Police Department, and the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office.

    Assistant U.S. Attorneys C. Richard Baker, Jeffrey R. Haag, and Denise Williams, of the Lubbock, Texas, U.S. Attorney’s Office, are prosecuting the case.

    Two Former San Juan Municipal Police Officers Sentenced for Using Excessive Force Resulting in Death

    WASHINGTON—Two former San Juan, Puerto Rico, Municipal Police Officers, Elias Perocier Morales and Eliezer Rivera Gonzalez, were sentenced yesterday in federal court for using excessive force that resulted in the death of Jose Antonio Rivera Robles, the Justice Department announced.

    Perocier Morales received a sentence of 10 years in prison.Rivera Gonzalez received a sentence of six and a half years in prison.

    Both Perocier Morales and Rivera Gonzalez pleaded guilty in June 2009.In the plea proceedings and court documents, Perocier Morales admitted that on July 20, 2003, in the course of arresting Rivera Robles, he punched his prisoner repeatedly in the face while Rivera Robles was handcuffed and incapable of defending himself.He also admitted to later kicking Rivera Robles hard when he appeared unconscious.Rivera Gonzalez admitted to kicking Rivera Robles extremely hard when he was lying face down toward the ground, in no way posing a threat to anyone. Both men admitted that their actions, together with the actions of their fellow officers, resulted in Rivera Robles’s death.

    On Aug. 13, 2009, three other officers were convicted, following trial, of civil rights violations arising out of the fatal assault, and one other officer was convicted of obstruction-related offenses.Vidal Maldonado, Juan Morales Rosado, Carlos Pagan Ferrer, and Jose Pacheco Cruz will be sentenced on their convictions at a later date.

    “Every person has the right to expect that they will be safe when in the custody of law enforcement officers. Today’s sentence reflects the damage done to the public trust when law enforcement officers engage in such egregious misconduct,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said.“The Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute officers who abuse their power in this manner.”

    Special Agent Louis Rivera of the FBI’s San Juan Office investigated this matter.The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio Bazan, Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan, and Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

    St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

    ST. LOUIS, MO—Christian Brezill pleaded guilty to the theft of government property by stealing stolen merchandise after an arrest, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today. According to court documents, Ronald Jackson and Christian Brezill were uniformed patrol officers assigned to work in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District out of the North Patrol Division. They were responsible for collecting, preserving and inventorying evidence; interviewing witnesses; making lawful arrests; conducting lawful searches; and making truthful and accurate reports of their official activities.

    Court documents and statements made in court during the plea hearing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith state that on July 27, 2009, Jackson was on duty when he received information from an individual that a woman identified in the court documents only as Jane Doe was in possession of electronics equipment stolen from the retailer Best Buy, and was in a vehicle on the parking lot of the Phillips 66 station at 5728 West Florissant Avenue. Jackson agreed with the individual that he would find Jane Doe, seize the stolen electronics equipment from her vehicle, and split some of the stolen electronics equipment with that individual. Jackson then shared that information with Christian Brezill, who was also on duty and they both drove their police vehicles to the Phillips 66 station to meet Jane Doe. Jackson and Brezill did a computer check on Doe, discovered that she had outstanding minor traffic warrants, arrested her on those traffic warrants, and placed her handcuffed into Brezill’s police vehicle. They searched the trunk of Doe’s vehicle and discovered brand new electronics equipment, in original boxes and in Best Buy store bags, including a Sony speaker system, a Phillips I-Pod docking system, speaker cable, a Wii gaming system, an X-Box gaming system, a Logitech computer speaker system, a Dell Inspiron laptop computer, and a Dynex LCD flat screen television. Jackson and Brezill removed all of the electronics equipment from Doe’s vehicle, and placed the items into the trunk of Brezell’s police vehicle. They then conveyed Jane Doe to the North Patrol Division where she was booked on the outstanding minor traffic warrants. Doe was neither arrested nor charged relative to her possession of the electronics equipment. Jackson and Brezill failed to report to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, either verbally or in writing, their seizure of the electronics equipment from Jane Doe’s vehicle.

    After their work shift ended during the early morning hours of July 27, 2009, Jackson and Brezill met at a residential location and split up the seized electronics equipment between themselves. Jackson kept the Sony speaker system, the speaker cable, the X-Box gaming system, and the Dynex LCD flat screen television; he later gave the Sony speaker system and the speaker cable to the individual who had originally provided him the information regarding Jane Doe, and sold the Dynex LCD flat screen television to another individual for cash. Brezill kept the Phillips I-Pod docking system, the Wii gaming system, the Logitech computer speaker system, and the Dell Inspiron laptop computer; he later sold the Phillips I-Pod docking system and the Logitech computer speaker system to an individual for cash.

    Unbeknownst to Jackson and Brezill, Jane Doe was cooperating with federal law enforcement, and the electronics equipment seized from her and stolen by the defendants was the property of the United States of America.

    Brezill, 25, St. Louis City, plead guilty to one felony count of theft of United States Property before United States District Judge Donald J. Stohr, who set sentencing for March 19, 2010.

    Co-defendant Ronald Jackson, 58, St. Louis City, pleaded guilty last week to one felony count of theft of United States Property, and is scheduled for sentencing March 12, 2010.

    Theft of United States Property carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and/or fines up to $250,000. Reap commended the work on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    A St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer pled guilty to stealing stolen merchandise after an arrest.

    ST. LOUIS, MO—Ronald Jackson pleaded guilty to the theft of government property by stealing stolen merchandise after an arrest, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today.

    According to court documents, Ronald Jackson and Christian Brezill were uniformed patrol officers assigned to work in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District out of the North Patrol Division. They were responsible for collecting, preserving and inventorying evidence; interviewing witnesses; making lawful arrests; conducting lawful searches; and making truthful and accurate reports of their official activities.

    Court documents and statements made in court during the plea hearing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith state that on July 27, 2009, Jackson was on duty when he received information from an individual that a woman identified in the court documents only as Jane Doe was in possession of electronics equipment stolen from the retailer Best Buy, and was in a vehicle on the parking lot of the Phillips 66 station at 5728 West Florissant Avenue. Jackson agreed with the individual that he would find Jane Doe, seize the stolen electronics equipment from her vehicle, and split some of the stolen electronics equipment with that individual. Jackson then shared that information with Christian Brezill, who was also on duty and they both drove their police vehicles to the Phillips 66 station to meet Jane Doe. Jackson and Brezill did a computer check on Doe, discovered that she had outstanding minor traffic warrants, arrested her on those traffic warrants, and placed her handcuffed into Brezill’s police vehicle. They searched the trunk of Doe’s vehicle and discovered brand new electronics equipment, in original boxes and in Best Buy store bags, including a Sony speaker system, a Phillips I-Pod docking system, speaker cable, a Wii gaming system, an X-Box gaming system, a Logitech computer speaker system, a Dell Inspiron laptop computer, and a Dynex LCD flat screen television. Jackson and Brezill removed all of the electronics equipment from Doe’s vehicle, and placed the items into the trunk of Brezell’s police vehicle. They then conveyed Jane Doe to the North Patrol Division where she was booked on the outstanding minor traffic warrants. Doe was neither arrested nor charged relative to her possession of the electronics equipment. Jackson and Brezill failed to report to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, either verbally or in writing, their seizure of the electronics equipment from Jane Doe’s vehicle.

    After their work shift ended during the early morning hours of July 27, 2009, Jackson and Brezill met at a residential location and split up the seized electronics equipment between themselves. Jackson kept the Sony speaker system, the speaker cable, the X-Box gaming system, and the Dynex LCD flat screen television; he later gave the Sony speaker system and the speaker cable to the individual who had originally provided him the information regarding Jane Doe, and sold the Dynex LCD flat screen television to another individual for cash. Brezill kept the Phillips I-Pod docking system, the Wii gaming system, the Logitech computer speaker system, and the Dell Inspiron laptop computer; he later sold the Phillips I-Pod docking system and the Logitech computer speaker system to an individual for cash.

    Unbeknownst to Jackson and Brezill, Jane Doe was cooperating with federal law enforcement, and the electronics equipment seized from her and stolen by the defendants was the property of the United States of America.

    “The vast majority of police officers are dedicated men and women who put their own safety on the line everyday to protect their communities,” said Roland Corvington, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “But the few who put their own self interests first taint the credibility of all the others making it that much harder for the honest officers to perform their duties.”

    Jackson, 58, St. Louis City, pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft of United States Property before United States District Judge Donald J. Stohr. Sentencing has been set for March 12, 2010.

    Co-defendant Christian Brezill, 25, St. Louis City was indicted on the same charge and awaits trial.

    Theft of United States Property carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and/or fines up to $250,000.

     
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