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Assistant county attorney charged with attempted sexual battery on minors His wife was also charged

Robert Livingston IV, an Alachua County assistant attorney, was charged Wednesday with attempting to sexually assault two minors.

Livingston

Robert Livingston

Livingston is listed as one of three assistant attorneys employed by the county, according to the county’s website. As of press time, he has been placed on administrative leave with pay, said Mark Sexton, a county spokesman, in a statement issued Thursday.

“As of today, Assistant County Attorney Robert Livingston has been placed on administrative leave with pay,” according to the statement. “Mr. Livingston is at the beginning of a legal process. The County has taken the appropriate step based on the information we have available to us at this time.”

Over a 12-month period in 2012, Livingston, 54, would walk into the room of a then-16-year-old girl as she slept and touch her breasts and genitals underneath her clothes, according to a police report.

This happened five or six times that year, according to the report. When the victim would wake up, Livingston would stop and leave.

The victim moved away from the house. But as time passed and another girl living in the house began to mature, the victim reported Livingston’s abuse to police in an attempt to prevent further abuse, according to the report.

She told Melissa Latham Livingston, Robert’s wife, about the abuse. Melissa, 63, then ordered Robert to install locks inside the rooms of the girl and her younger sister, according to the report.

But the locks lasted a few months before Robert removed them, according to the report.

Sometime in June, the girl, now 17, said someone had entered her room as she slept and began to touch her genitals underneath her clothes, according to the report.

At the time, the girl said, she thought she was dreaming but soon realized the incident was “too real to be fake,” according to the report.

When the girl stirred, the person stopped, and although the girl said she was too scared to open her eyes, she said she believed Livingston was the one who touched her, according to the report.

Afterward, the girl left her room to find Livingston standing in the kitchen with his wife, according to the report. The only other person inside the house was the girl’s younger sister, who was asleep on a couch.

Fearing for her safety, the girl then tried to leave the house. When she did, however, Melissa bear hugged her in the home’s garage and called for her husband, according to the report.

She broke free and ran to the door, but Robert slammed it closed and pushed her to the ground, according to the report.

When she ran back to the garage, the couple cornered her. Melissa grabbed her around the neck and pushed her against a washing machine, according to the report. After the girl broke free once again, Robert pinned her to the ground, but the girl’s younger sister distracted him, giving her time to run to a neighbor’s house, where she could call police.

The altercation left the girl with bruises on her elbow and forearm, rug burns on her knees and scratches on her neck, according to the report.

Police arrested Robert Livingston and charged him with two counts of attempted sexual battery on a victim 12 years old or greater and child abuse without great bodily harm. Melissa was arrested and charged with one count of child abuse without great bodily harm.

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Hinds County deputy arrested on drug charges

Arrest

HINDS COUNTY, Miss. —Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason arrested one of his deputies on drug charges Wednesday.

Douglas Nelson is charged with possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.

Nelson was on duty in Byram when he was arrested. Officials said he is no longer with the sheriff’s office.

“It’s very disappointing. You pay these guys to get the crooks off the streets. You don’t pay them to be the crooks on the street. It upsets you pretty good. If you go deeper, if you think about it, he knows how we work,” Mason said.

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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A North Carolina detective had a thing for “nudish fetish catfights,” a Pennsylvania state trooper had a snitch scoring coke for him, an Oregon crime lab tech had a bad case of sticky fingers, and more. Let’s get to it:

In Myrtle Beach, North Carolina, a former Horry County police detective was accused Monday of sexually abusing drug-using women in a civil suit. Three other women have already filed similar suits against Detective Allen Large. In the case of Jane Doe #4, Large is accused of calling a woman and telling her he knew she used drugs, visiting her home and forcing her into a non-consensual sex act, then later providing her with drugs, and continuing “to contact (her) on a daily basis to demand that she engage in nude fetish catfights,” the lawsuit said. He gave up on the woman after she entered drug treatment in 2015. The lawsuit doesn’t name Large; instead it accuses his supervisors, including the police chief, of knowing what Large was up to and failing to do anything about it.

In Avondale, Pennsylvania, a state trooper was arrested last Friday after he was caught buying cocaine from a confidential informant. Trooper Jose Lebron allegedly gave the informant cash to buy drugs over a period of months and was repeatedly seen snorting cocaine by the informant. Lebron also began paying the informant with cocaine, saying it was too expensive to keep paying with cash. Lebron went down in a controlled buy at a local McDonald’s. He is charged with one felony count of criminal use of a communication facility as well as misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is free on $5,000 bail.

In Pendleton, Indiana, a jail guard at the Pendleton Correctional Industrial Facility was arrested last Friday after he got caught trying to smuggle drugs into the prison. Guard Mark Wooten went down after consenting to a search in which officials found 200 suboxone strips. He is charged with one count of trafficking in a controlled substance with an inmate and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

In Portsmouth, Virginia, a former Portsmouth police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he went rogue in trying to bust a drug dealer. Mark Anthony Deluca, Jr. is accused of lying to a judge to obtain a search warrant to raid a home where heroin was found. Deluca gave conflicting accounts of what happened, and the charges were dropped against the homeowner. Now, Deluca faces one count of forgery, one count of uttering a forged public instrument, and three counts of perjury.

In Gadsden, Alabama, a former Etowah County sheriff’s deputy was arrested Monday on charges he smuggled drugs into the county jail. Detention Deputy Erick Bullock, 33, went down after his name came up in an internal investigation into contraband at the jail and meth, salvia, suboxone, tobacco, and a cell phone were found in his bag. He is charged with one count of first-degree promoting prison contraband, one count of second-degree promoting prison contraband, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, one count of salvia possession and one count of third-degree promoting prison contraband. He is now residing at his former workplace until he comes up with a $9,500 bond.

In Portland, Oregon, an Oregon State Crime lab forensic scientist pleaded guilty Monday to stealing as many as 700 pills from more than 50 separate evidence specimens submitted to the labs. Nika Elise Larsen, 36, copped to two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, and deception. She admitted stealing meth, morphine, hydrodocone, morphine, and methadone while overseeing cases. She’s looking at up to three years in prison, according to her plea bargain agreement. She could have been looking at up to eight years.

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A Missouri Cop Allegedly Forced People In Drug Treatment To Work As Informants When the treatment center asked the officer to stop, he conspired to have its contract severed, a lawsuit claims.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jason Grellner waits to testify during Missouri House Public Safety Committee hearing in March 2012. A recent lawsuit accuses Grellner of coercing drug court participants into serving as undercover informants. 

A high-profile Missouri narcotics enforcement officer routinely forced patients in a court-mandated drug treatment program to work as undercover informants or face severe legal consequences, a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges.

Kenneth Allen and Jan Allen are plaintiffs in the suit filed Aug. 1 in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis. They previously operated the Meramec Recovery Center, which served as the primary service provider for the Franklin County drug court between 2000 and 2013.

The Allens allege that Franklin County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Grellner, a former regional drug task force commander who recently lost a bidfor county sheriff, exploited vulnerable people who were seeking treatment under the terms of drug court agreements that would allow them to avoid harsher punishments, such as incarceration. If these individuals didn’t cooperate, Grellner would threaten to tell the judge they had failed to meet their requirements and should thereby be expelled from the program, the lawsuit claims.

Law enforcement is notoriously reliant on confidential informants to build narcotics cases. While drug courts are intended to divert lower-risk defendants into rehabilitation, some law enforcement officials have expressed concern that these programs make it harder for them to recruit informants. Some state and county drug courts explicitly declare that participants will not be asked to serve as informants, and forbid anyone serving as an informant from partaking in treatment programs. Missouri’s rulebook does not include such language.

The participants Grellner allegedly targeted saw a “significant decrease” in success because they were required to “associate with other drug users/distributors, which led them to revert to the habits which led to their arrests and placement in Drug Court in the first instance,” the lawsuit states.

Kenneth Allen confronted Grellner after learning of his actions, but instead of backing down, Grellner ramped up efforts to leverage drug court participants into serving as informants, the lawsuit claims. Grellner also allegedly began “spreading false rumors” about the Allens and Meramec, in hopes of turning key officials against the treatment center.

In August 2013, Meramec received notice from the Missouri State Courts Administrator that its contract with the county had been terminated. The lawsuit alleges that this was the result of a concerted effort by Grellner and other county officials, including a former county prosecutor and case managers with the drug court, to discredit Meramec and bring in another treatment provider.

Shortly after the county severed its contract with Meramec, it inked a new deal with Bridgeway Behavioral Health, which the suit also names as a defendant. This was an improper breach of contract, the lawsuit says. The plaintiffs are now seeking punitive damages for lost revenue.

While the lawsuit’s allegations primarily cover the period leading up to the termination of Meramec’s contract with the county, it also claims Grellner is still coercing participants in court-mandated drug treatment programs to serve as informants. Additionally, it accuses Grellner of having forced “participants to act as campaign aides in his election bid for Sheriff of Franklin County under threat of elimination from Drug Court.”

The suit claims Grellner used drug court participants as informants because it was an easy way for him to rack up drug arrests, which would allow him to “proclaim to the public that he was successful in ridding Franklin County of drug-related crimes for the purpose of getting elected to the office of Sheriff in the 2016 election year.” Grellner also stood to benefit financially from a new contract with a provider that wouldn’t object to his tactics, the suit alleges.

Grellener did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment. But asked earlier about claims that he’d used drug court participants as informants, Grellner reportedly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the allegations are “100 percent incorrect.” He also characterized the lawsuit as a politically motivated attempt to disrupt his campaign for sheriff.

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A boon for the drug cartels Traffickers can recruit from prisoners Obama is granting early release

Illustration on Mexican drug cartels' personnel needs and the recent release of thousands of drug offenders from U.S. federal prisons by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Illustration on Mexican drug cartels’ personnel needs and the recent release of thousands of drug offenders from U.S. federal prisons by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times more >

The Mexican drug traffickers and their Chinese suppliers have a personnel problem.

On the one hand, as they look forward to the second half of 2016 and beyond, they face an embarrassment of riches. Their traditional products, cocaine and methamphetamines, are selling well. Not only is heroin setting a new sales record, a huge expansion of heroin production in Mexico is on the horizon. Then there is fentanyl, the new high-profit offering the American addicts can’t seem to get enough of. Finally, the barn door is open: There’s no problem getting the dope across the border.

Where the Mexican drug traffickers and their Chinese suppliers have hit a wall is on the personnel front. They are always recruiting replacements for those who are arrested or killed in drug wars with other gangs. How are they going to find the additional trained, experienced people to handle the surge of heroin from Mexico or to expand their market for fentanyl? There is no problem getting additional supplies of precursors from China nor is there a problem moving additional supplies of drugs to the Mexican side of the border. Neither the Chinese not Mexican governments have much interest in stopping that. The cartels’ problem is moving the dope across the U.S. border and into the hands of the American consumer. On a very quick basis, they need a lot of new people brought into the organization. The traffickers know that there is no substitute for experience, but they just don’t have the time or inclination to train them.

Along comes President Obama to the rescue. Beginning in December 2015 and comprising five tranches so far, Mr. Obama has used his pardon and commutation powers under the Constitution to grant early release to 462 federal prisoners. Get Out of Jail Free cards, in the form of commutations, are going to drug traffickers who were largely imprisoned by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, many of them sentenced to life imprisonment or decades of jail time. This is only the beginning. The president hopes to release hundreds more before he leaves office.

From the standpoint of the Mexican drug traffickers, this is a bonanza. Just at the very moment they need experienced hands, Mr. Obama has emptied the jails of hundreds of them. Not every person given a second chance by the president will be tempted to return to a life of crime, but Mr. Obama’s actions have created an unexpected pool from which the cartels can recruit. According to a report just out from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 50 percent of drug traffickers were rearrested shortly after they were released. Given this high recidivism rate, half the Obama release pool are likely sign up with the cartels.

From the cartels’ standpoint, they need certain special skills. First of all, they need team players, and nearly all those receiving Obama commutations were convicted of conspiracy or aiding and abetting, so they work well with others. Looking at the list of technical specialists, the cartels would begin with import-export, and the Obama release pool has such experts. Going down the list of skills: Can you transport? Check. Can you manage and maintain a laboratory to turn the base chemicals into a final product? Check. Can you maintain a stash house? Check. Can you hide fugitives? Check. Can you operate a communications device? Check. Can you move 10 tons of cocaine? Check. Do you have experience with witness tampering? Check.

Let’s go to marketing: The cartels have a lot of new product to move. Here they are in luck because a very high percentage of those to be released were convicted of narcotics distribution. What about children? The cartels are looking for new customers. Several of those being released were convicted to selling dope within 1,000 feet of a school.

What about after-market? Here the drug traffickers have potential recruits with experience in money laundering, false financial statements and filling false income tax statements.

Security is paramount for the drug gangs given the violent world they operate in. Mr. Obama presented his commutations as only extending to “non-violent offenders.” This was not true. At least 100 of those being released so far were convicted of firearms offenses while engaged in drug trafficking. Some were convicted of just possession, but quite a few were sentenced for “use” of a firearm. There was at least one nailed for having a sawed-off shotgun and two pistols with obliterated serial numbers. In this pool, the traffickers will find all the muscle they need.

An added bonus: Those being released were from all over the country, from Guam to the East Coast, Miami to the Great Lakes, and everywhere in between. If the traffickers want someone to cover a certain town or territory, they can probably find local connections.

In short, the traffickers can find the personnel, male and female, they need to move a new wave of heroin and fentanyl across the border, over the interstates to any destination in the continental United States and into the veins of any unsuspecting young American — even a child. When overdoses begin to increase in about 24 months, we will know whom to blame.

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When Police Are Poor Role Models for One Another

The drug trade is so insidious in some neighborhoods of Baltimore that when I was a detective there I sometimes had to arrest children for selling narcotics. Sad as that was, a drug counselor told me, they learned to do it from the people around them.

Police officers learn egregious behavior from those around them, too, I thought, when I read the Department of Justice report issued last Wednesday about the Baltimore Police Department’s systematic abuse of black citizens and violation of their rights.

In one incident mentioned in the report, a Justice Department investigator went on a patrol with a sergeant. The sergeant saw a group of young black men on a street corner and told an officer to order them to leave. The officer said he had no reason to do so. “Make something up,” the sergeant replied.

That the sergeant would do this in front of a federal official investigating civil rights violations may be astounding, but it demonstrated his mind-set. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He must have been in the department for years and had probably been taught to take such action by his field training officer, and even the department’s commanders. It was learned behavior, part of a culture rooted in an “us versus them” mentality.

When the Police Department declared, as the report noted, that an officer did not use excessive force when he discharged a Taser into an 85-pound girl who was walking away from him after he told her to take her hands out of her pockets, officers saw that such action was permissible.

I learned, bitterly, during my almost six years in the department, how hard it was to resist this culture, to do the right thing.

A detective once told me that an informant had said there was usually a gun in one car that could be found on a particular block. He saw the car, found the gun and arrested two people inside. I told him the arrests sounded bad because he did not have probable cause to make the search. A sergeant pulled me aside and said I needed to mind my business. “We don’t care about what happens in court,” he told me. “We just care about getting the arrest.”

To get cops to care about doing things right, what needs to change in Baltimore, and in many other cities, is not just policy, but culture. And that’s a formidable struggle. Most of the majors, colonels and deputy commissioners do not know how to police any other way.

The Baltimore police force needs to be rebuilt and retrained from the top as well as from the bottom. Officers as well as commanders need to learn how to conduct proper investigations, determine probable cause and communicate with the public. They need to get out of the mind-set that keeps the police from knowing the difference between suspects, victims and bystanders. Sergeants and higher-ranking officers who resist need to be disciplined, or removed, along with any officer who thinks brutality is part of the job.

 My heart broke for the officer who told the Justice Department investigators that he had seen another officer plant drugs on a civilian but was scared to report it, fearing retaliation. No cop should ever have to fear another officer.

It is hard to speak up against colleagues anywhere, but in law enforcement there are more serious concerns, like your safety. A Baltimore officer recently testified that after reporting that a fellow officer had shot a man in the groin while he was already wounded and on the ground, he had to be pulled off the street because he would not get backup on some calls.

He should have been celebrated for the bravery and leadership he displayed, both to other officers and to the citizens of a city that averages 200 homicides a year. Still, that incident confirmed what I still believe, that most of the officers are good, hard-working people. Some who violated people’s rights did not even realize they were doing anything wrong. (Although there’s no place on any police force for officers who exhibit the clear racism and sexism that the Justice Department found.)

That’s why I hope that with the right leadership and training, and if the good officers stay, the department can uproot the attitudes and practices that have poisoned its relationship with the black people of Baltimore and begin an era where the police will be role models for the city and one another.

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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a real doozey from Oklahoma, jail guards go bad all over the place, and more. Let’s get to it:

In Marietta, Oklahoma, the Love County sheriff was arrested July 19 on charges of corruption, neglect of duty, and housing a fugitive. Sheriff Marion “Joe” Russell is accused of turning a blind eye to meth dealing out of his own home by his adult son, covering up a missing person case where another family member is the main suspect, and harboring a fugitive. His son, Willie Russell, has already pleaded guilty to meth dealing. The fugitive, a young woman, was dating Willie and staying at the sheriff’s house even though she had four arrest warrants outstanding. He is also accused of arresting drunken women in bikinis and taking them to his house instead of to jail. There, they were allegedly sexually assaulted and given meth. The missing persons case involves a young couple who were last seen in a car owned by Russell’s nephew.

In Florence, Alabama, a jail guard was arrested July 23 for trying to smuggle drugs into the jail inside a Bible. Kenneth Lee Lawson, 32, went down when fellow officers discovered suboxone hidden in the holy book. He is charged with bringing contraband into a jail facility.

In Canton, Georgia, a Cherokee County sheriff’s deputy was arrested July 23 for stealing drugs from the department evidence locker. Deputy Jeffrey Goettel, 41, went down after the sheriff requested an audit of evidence and found that drugs were missing. An investigation pointed to Goettel, who authorities said pilfered morphine and oxycodone. He is charged with violating his oath of office, possession of a Schedule II drug, and theft by taking.

In Swan Quarter, North Carolina, a Hyde County jail guard was arrested last Friday for smuggling marijuana, tobacco, a cell phone, and knife into the jail. Guard Joshua Carawan is charged with possession of a controlled substance, tobacco, an electronics communication device, and a dangerous weapon inside a jail facility.

In Philadelphia, a former city jail guard was sentenced last Thursday to four years in federal prison for smuggling drugs and other contraband to inmates. John Wesley Herder, 50, was one of six guards charged last September with smuggling Oxycontin and cell phones in exchange for cash. Herder made $2,000 for twice smuggled dope and phones into the jail, but was also fined $2,300 in addition to prison time.

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Obama Frees More Federal Drug War Prisoners, But Time is Running Out

Some 214 federal drug war prisoners saw their prison sentences commuted Wednesday as President Obama took another step toward fulfilling his administration’s pledge to use his pardon power to cut draconian drug sentences and free prisoners serving decades-long stretches for nonviolent drug crimes.

 

“The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws,” the president said. 

Those whose sentences were commuted Wednesday will walk out of prison on December 1.

With Wednesday’s commutations, Obama has now commuted the sentences of 562 men and women sentenced under harsh federal drug laws, including 197 people doing life for drug offenses. That’s more commutations than the last nine presidents combined.

But it’s not close to the number whose sentences Obama could commute under a program announced in 2014 by then Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Assistant Attorney General James Cole. They called on nonviolent federal drug war prisoners to seek clemency in April 2014.

“In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing unfair disparities in sentences imposed on people for offenses involving different forms of cocaine, but there are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime — and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime,” said Holder. “This is simply not right.”

Holder noted at the time that Obama had granted commutation to eight people serving time for crack offenses the previous December.

“The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety. The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences,” Holder said.

Under Holder’s criteria for clemency, low-level drug offenders who had served at least 10 years, had good conduct in prison, had no significant criminal history or connection to gangs, cartels, or organized crime, and who would probably receive a “substantially lower sentence” if convicted of the same offense today would be eligible for sentence cuts.

Of roughly 100,000 federal drug prisoners — nearly half the entire federal prison population — more than 36,000 applied for clemency. Many of them did not meet the criteria, but the Justice Department has reviewed nearly 9,500 that did. Of those, only the 562 have actually been granted clemency; applications are still pending for nearly 9,000 more. (An additional 8,000 pending applications are being handled by a consortium of private attorneys, the Clemency Project.)

Many of those might not make it to Obama’s desk before the clock runs out on his term because the Justice Department has stumbled in administering the program. Thousands of prisoners doing harsh drug war sentences could lose their chance for early freedom because Justice didn’t get around to hiring enough people to handle the flood of applications it generated.

That would undercut Obama’s legacy of redressing drug war injustice. There are now only six months to go in his presidency, and nearly 18,000 prisoners who were told to seek clemency are now waiting for a response.

Here is President Obama addressing the commutation issue during an earlier series of sentence cuts:

Washington,  DC

United States
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Former sheriff Baca indicted on three felony charges

 

LOS ANGELES — Four days after withdrawing from a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was indicted Aug. 5 on charges of conspiring to obstruct justice, obstructing justice and lying to the federal government.

If convicted of all charges, Baca — who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease — could face up to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On Aug. 1, Baca backed out of a plea deal he reached with prosecutors earlier this year. The deal had called for Baca, 74, to serve no more than six months behind bars on a single count of lying to the FBI. But U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson balked at the agreement, saying the sentence was too lenient considering the retired lawman’s role in obstructing an FBI investigation into Los Angeles County jails.

Rather than face a penalty of up to five years in prison, Baca opted to withdraw his guilty plea — opening him up to a more wide-ranging indictment.

“I made this decision due to untruthful comments about my actions made by the court and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that are contradicted by evidence in this case,” Baca said outside court Aug. 1. “While my future and my ability to defend myself depends on my Alzheimer’s disease, I need to set the record straight about me and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on misleading aspects of the federal investigation while I’m capable of doing this.”

“I want to thank my friends and family for encouraging me to stand up for what is right. My spirits are high and my love for all people is God’s gift to me.”

The indictment handed up Aug. 5 by a federal grand jury charges Baca — who ran the nation’s largest sheriff’s department for 16 years — with single counts of conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

A date for Baca to appear for a post-indictment arraignment has not yet been set. Anderson set pretrial hearings for next month as well as a Sept. 20 trial date, but that is expected to be postponed.

Baca’s attorney, Michael Zweiback, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case against Baca grew out of a covert FBI investigation into corruption and brutality by jail deputies. After sheriff’s officials discovered that an inmate, Anthony Brown, was an FBI informant, they booked him under false names and moved him to different locations in order to keep him hidden from federal investigators. They also went to the home of an FBI agent and threatened her with arrest.

Ten former Sheriff’s Department officials — including Baca’s ex-top deputy, Paul Tanaka — have been convicted or pleaded guilty in connection with the obstruction case.

Tanaka, who claimed his former boss ordered the department’s response to the federal jails probe, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Baca had initially pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to investigators about his knowledge of the plan to threaten the FBI agent. That false statements count is one of the three felonies Baca is now facing.

Baca entered his plea Feb. 10 after denying for years that he had played any role in the wide-ranging scandal that stained the department and led to his retirement.

According to the now-defunct agreement, Baca agreed not to contest other allegations leveled by prosecutors, including that in 2011 he directed subordinates to approach the FBI agent, stating that they should “do everything but put handcuffs” on her.

Prosecutors also accused Baca of lying about his involvement in hiding the inmate-turned-informant from FBI investigators. Baca, they alleged, ordered the inmate to be isolated, putting Tanaka in charge of executing the plan.

In addition, Baca falsely claimed he was unaware that some of his subordinates had interrupted and ended an interview FBI agents were conducting with the inmate, prosecutors alleged in the court documents.

Baca retired in 2014 at the height of the federal probe. He had been sheriff since December 1998.

Prosecutors have said that Baca lied to investigators to either avoid “political fallout” or to avoid more severe criminal charges.

The same year Baca allegedly committed the offense, he was named Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriffs’ Association.

George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said he was pleased that Baca had been indicted.

“Baca knew what was going on, and he perpetuated and encouraged the culture,” the union leader said. “When confronted with the mess he had created, Baca blamed his subordinates instead of taking responsibility as a leader should.

“Seven lower-ranking sheriff’s officials were sent to prison for 18 months to several years for their roles in the scandal,” Hofstetter said.

Tanaka received a five-year prison sentence last month after being convicted in a related obstruction-of-justice case. “The former sheriff deserves no less,” Hofstetter added.

On Aug. 4, a federal judicial panel upheld the convictions of seven former Sheriff’s Department officials convicted of attempting to block the FBI probe into civil rights abuses at county jails.

Greg Thompson, Steve Leavins, Gerard Smith, Mickey Manzo, Scott Craig, Maricela Long and James Sexton were sentenced to terms ranging from 18 to 41 months in prison, but were allowed to remain free pending appeal.

Leavins, Craig and Long were members of the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, a unit that investigates criminal activity by Sheriff’s Department employees. Leavins was a lieutenant, while Craig and Long were sergeants. Thompson was a lieutenant who oversaw Operation Safe Jails, a division that investigates inmates in which Smith, Manzo and Sexton were deputies.

Smith, Manzo, Long, Craig, Leavins and Thompson were all convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in July 2014. Long and Craig were also convicted of making false statements. Sexton, who was tried separately, was convicted on all counts after his first trial ended in a mistrial.

Tanaka is free pending his appeal.

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Judge rules that police search of car was illegal; drug charges against two women are dropped

NORTH ADAMS — A judge has dismissed drug charges against two women after ruling that a police search of their vehicle was illegal.

The women, Jennifer Rose, of Pittsfield, and Nicole Hurley, of North Adams, were tailed by state Trooper Zachary Wood from Cummington to Adams on March 14 before being pulled over because the vehicle’s headlights were not on during a light rain.

During the stop, officers questioned women inside Rose’s Mazda MPV, ordered them to exit the vehicle, and eventually located 369 bags of heroin and a small bag of cocaine.

Ruling on a motion to suppress evidence filed by attorneys for Hurley and Rose, Northern Berkshire District Court Judge Paul Vrabel agreed said Wood was justified in initially stopping the vehicle.

However, Vrabel wrote that Wood had no legal basis to order Rose, who had no warrants for her arrest and a valid license, and the other occupants to exit the vehicle during such an “uneventful” traffic stop.

“After Rose had complied with the usual requirements associated with a civil violation,” Vrabel ruled, “she and the other occupants of the van should have been allowed to promptly go on their way.”

Based on witness testimony, including Wood’s, Vrabel wrote that officers did not see or detect any contraband before ordering the occupants to exit the vehicle and the occupants did not behave in a suspicious manner.

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Though Wood noted in his police report that he had stopped the same car the previous week for unlicensed operation, Vrabel noted in his decision that Rose was able to provide a valid license when stopped in Adams on March 14.

Questioning the occupants about where they had been and their purchases at the Holyoke Mall was “not commensurate with the purpose of the stop,” Vrabel wrote. The officers also did not testify that they were concerned for their own safety, which would have been another valid reason to order the women outside.

“While it does not take much to justify an exit order, it does take something,” Vrabel wrote.

Charges against Rose of operating under the influence of drugs, a motor vehicle lights violation, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, possession of a class A drug, and conspiracy to violate drug law were dismissed. Hurley’s charges of possession to distribute a class A drug, possession to distribute a class B drug, subsequent offense, and conspiracy to violate drug law were dismissed for a failure to prosecute.

Vrabel’s decision was issued June 21, but Rose’s charges were not formally dismissed until July 18 and charges against Hurley were dismissed on Friday.

 

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