NC judge convicted of trying to bribe federal agent with Bud Light

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest, Lawyers | Leave a comment

2 former DEA agents charged with drug conspiracy, weapons offenses

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it unsealed the superseding indictments of two former Drug Enforcement Administration officers charged with drug conspiracy, weapons offenses, robbery, obstruction of justice and falsification of records.

Karl Emmett Newman, 49, of Kentwood, Louisiana, and Johnny Jacob Domingue, 27, of Maurepas, Louisiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 7 in the U.S District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Authorities charged Newman with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone, one count of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, two counts of unlawful conversion of property by a government officer or employee, two counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation and one count of obstruction of justice.

Court documents show Newman tampered with department records involving a Ford F-150 and $4,300 in cash. He also seized cocaine, oxycodone and an unspecified amount of cash greater than $1,000.

Domingue, meanwhile, is charged with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation. Court documents state he admitted lying about an undercover drug transaction to federal agents in January.

The men, who both served as deputies in the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, were arrested in May and are currently in federal custody awaiting trial, scheduled for February, according to court documents.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest | Leave a comment

A federal judge who ruled on some of Mexico’s highest profile criminal cases was gunned down in broad daylight

The jogger trots down a narrow sidewalk, apparently oblivious to the slim man in black trailing a few yards behind. Early morning traffic passes as usual. Nothing seems amiss.

As the jogger crosses a street, his pursuer accelerates and raises his right hand to the jogger’s head.

The jogger collapses, coils into a fetal position, then rolls onto his back with arms and legs extended. Blood seeping from his head flows into the street.

A gun comes into view as the assailant turns and sprints away, startling a pedestrian and a cyclist.

The video, captured by a security camera Monday in the upscale Mexico City exurb of Metepec and leaked to the media, has caused a sensation here.

The victim was Vicente Antonio Bermudez Zacarias,  a 37-year-old federal judge based in the state of Mexico, just outside Mexico City. Transported to the hospital, he was pronounced dead of a single gunshot to the head.

Even in a country that has become synonymous with violence, the shooting of a federal judge in daylight is a stunning occurrence. The assault drew broad condemnation and official vows to find whoever was responsible.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he had ordered the attorney general to investigate the “very lamentable act.”

Authorities have offered no motive. The video would seem to suggest a professional hit by someone familiar with the judge’s routines. It was not clear whether Bermudez had received threats before his slaying.

His extensive caseload included some of Mexico’s highest profile criminal cases.

He was involved in legal rulings regarding the 43 college students who disappeared in the state of Guerrero two years ago and are presumed to have been killed. They were last seen in the custody of local police.

This month, the judge blocked a request from Gildardo Lopez, suspected of being a hit man for a Guerrero-based drug gang — to be transferred from the high-security Altiplano prison outside Mexico City.

Among the suspects Bermudez has jailed are an operative of the ultra-violent Zetas gang and a boss in the so-called Jalisco New Generation cartel, a leading drug trafficking organization.

His judicial district issued an order last year stalling the extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious trafficker, to the United States, where he faces charges of murder and other crimes. Mexican officials say they expect the extradition to occur by February.

One of Guzman’s lawyers, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, denounced as “yellow journalism” any effort to link his client to the judge’s assassination. “I have heard that he was … very honest, impeccable, and that he was widely respected,” he told the Televisa network. “There is no basis to see Joaquin Guzman behind this act.”

Whoever the killer, the assassination has quickly become a testament to what many Mexicans view as culture of impunity.

The judiciary “lives under a constant siege of criminal interests that look to twist institutional rulings through the classic method of filling the judge with money or lead,” columnist Julio Hernandez Lopez wrote in the newspaper La Jornada. “To a large extent, the mechanisms of judicial decision-making have been compromised by this mafioso threat that in no way has been confronted and exterminated.”

The day before the judge was killed, the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico warned publicly that the country was “in flames” because of unchecked violence, with proliferating numbers of kidnappings, extortion threats and assaults on streets and in buses and trains.

“In certain zones of the country, violence is escalating and appears uncontainable,” the church declared in its weekly newsletter From the Faith.

At times the country feels at war with itself. Five Mexican soldiers were killed last month in an ambush on a military convoy in northern Mexico,  suspected of being orchestrated by sons of Guzman.

The church itself has suffered, with more than a dozen priests killed across the country in the last four years, including two last month in the state of Veracruz. In that case, police announced the arrest of a suspect this week.

Veracruz has been an epicenter of violence, including the killings of journalists and others who were critical of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Disgust over the killings contributed to the party’s defeat in June in the election for governor there.

On Tuesday, the Mexican media reported that an arrest warrant for “organized crime” and “illegal enrichment” had been issued against Javier Duarte, who stepped down from the governorship last week with six weeks remaining in his term amid widespread allegations that he was corrupt and implicated in violence.

Human rights groups say that during Duarte’s six years in office hundreds of people “disappeared” and were killed in Veracruz, where rival cartels battle it out for access to lucrative drug- and people-smuggling routes to the United States. Many victims remain missing.

In a recent case, four university students went missing Sept. 29 and their mutilated corpses were found several days later. As is often the case, it remains unclear why they were targeted.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest, Lawyers | Leave a comment

Drug dealers snitch on dirty NYPD cop

Disgraced NYPD officer Merlin Alston (Photo Source: NYPD)

There is a trial going on currently in New York that is exposing the level of corruption in the NYPD when it comes to drugs. Merlin Alston, 32, an NYPD officer, was arrested in December 2014 and charged with narcotics conspiracy based on his involvement with known drug dealers in the city. According to Assistant Manhattan U.S. Attorney Jared Lenow, Alston “was serving as these drug dealers’ spy within the police department.” Alston is currently on trial for these charges in a case that has been filled with “snitches” against the disgraced cop.

Alston had his bail revoked in September when a key witness set to testify against him was found dead in an apparent gang style hit. Robert Bishun, 36, was abducted from his auto body shop and found beaten and strangled in the back of his BMW. It is alleged that Alston acted as “a helper, driver and shotgun-toting bodyguard” for multiple drug dealers.

Other dealers are expected to testify against Alston, who allegedly was part of a drug distribution ring from 2010 to 2014. Prosecutors claim that during this time period, Alston regularly tipped several dealers off to cops’ investigations and whereabouts. One drug dealer identified as Gabriel Reyes took the witness stand recently and testified that Alston would team up with him on drug runs and even gave him a Police Benevolent Association card that helped him avoid at least 30 traffic stops. Reyes and Alston have been friends since high school and he further stated, “He told me he had my back. Merlin would do what he had to do.”

Reyes was arrested in June 2015 on drug conspiracy and firearms charges and is currently seeking a plea deal with prosecutors. This fact caused Alston’s defense team to declare that Reyes and others like him “are “snitches who have everything to lose and a whole lot to gain” by testifying. They’re there for one reason and for one reason alone — to benefit their own case.”

Merlin Alston is currently on suspension from the NYPD while his criminal trial proceeds.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest | Leave a comment

Ex-DEA officers charged with drug, weapons crimes

WASHINGTON – Two former Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers were charged in a superseding indictment unsealed today with drug conspiracy, weapons offenses, robbery, obstruction of justice and falsification of records in federal investigations, according to Department of Justice and FBI officials.

Karl Emmett Newman, 49, of Kentwood, and Johnny Jacob Domingue, 27, of Maurepas, were indicted Oct. 7 by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, authorities said.

Newman is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone, one count of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, two counts of unlawful conversion of property by a government officer or employee, two counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation and one count of obstruction of justice.

Domingue is charged with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation.  Newman was originally charged on May 13 in a now-unsealed indictment and was arrested on that date.  Domingue was arrested on a now-unsealed criminal complaint on May 12.

In addition to serving as DEA task force officers, Newman and Domingue previously served as deputies with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Monte A. Cason of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Dallas Field Office and Deputy Chief Inspector Brian M. McKnight of the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility made the announcement.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest | Leave a comment

2 officers arrested after drunken night, Vero Police Dept. policing their own

The Vero Beach Police Chief says his policemen and women are not “above the law.”

Tonight, he’s responding to the arrest of two of his officers by his own department.

The blue wall of silence, or blue shield, is the unwritten rule that exists among police officers not to report on a fellow officers’ misconduct or crime, but not here. The chief at the Vero Beach Police Department says his officers did the right thing–they enforced the law.

“It’s disappointing,” said Chief David Currey with the Vero Beach Police Department. “We arrested our own people. That’s unfortunate and its disappointing and its sad. So this is not a good day by any means.”

Officer Joshua Harris is charged with disorderly intoxication and criminal mischief for damaging a mirror on a colleague’s police car. Officer Nick Knutson was charged with a DUI.

“It’s disappointing but I feel we did the right thing.” Chief Currey said.

The two off duty officers began their night at Filthy’s, a top local’s hangout in Vero Beach. The officers were celebrating getting off a days-long hurricane shift. Harris even gave the keys to his girlfriend when he was dropped off – so he wouldn’t drink and drive.

And when Harris, on foot was walking home that night, his girlfriend pulled up in a car alongside him, and multiple witnesses saw Harris get upset. Police say he then punched and smashed the side mirror on her car.

But there’s a twist. Harris’ girlfriend was the one who arrested him. She too is a police officer in Vero Beach. And the car he punched was a police car.

“No outside investigation needed. We arrested our own,” Chief David Currey said. “We are not above the law by any means. We did what we would do with anyone else.”

Just about the time Harris was getting arrested, off-duty Officer Knutson left Filthy’s to look for his friend. But Knutson did get behind the wheel.

The chief says Officer Knutson was visibly drunk when he located Harris surrounded by flashing lights just a few blocks away from the bar.

“We actually had another officer, a Sgt. and a Corporal on scene when Knutson pulled up to the scene in a pick-up truck.”

Police say he was wreaking of alcohol, stumbling out of his truck, and that’s how Knutson ended up in handcuffs as well–charged with a DUI.

The chief says they will wrap up their internal investigation within a week.

The data shows just how rare it is a local police department would arrest their own men.

In a time where many question the integrity of policing, CBS 12 wanted to know how often are police held accountable and not given a pass as being above the law.

National Institute of Justice: a study paid for by the Department of Justice can be found here.

A new study just released shows police officers are rarely arrested nationwide. With roughly 1.2 million law enforcement officers in this country, only three officers are charged with a crime every day. That amounts to 1,100 annually, according to the study.

The most common crimes were simple assault, drunken driving and aggravated assault, and significant numbers of sex crimes were also found. The study also shows 95 percent of the officers charged are men.

In this case, Harris tried to avoid driving by walking home but told the chief he was sorry he made a poor choice in damaging the police car mirror.

Knusten, pulled up to Harris’ crime scene, the chief said was visibly drunk.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest | Leave a comment

US judge traded sentences for sex favours

A former Arkansas judge accused of giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for nude photos and sexual acts has been indicted on federal fraud and bribery charges, according to a federal indictment.

Former Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann resigned in May after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with men accused of crimes dating back decades, to his time as a prosecutor. Boeckmann allegedly had more than 4600 photos of nude or semi-nude men.

A grand jury accused Boeckmann of corruptly using his official position as an Arkansas district judge “to obtain personal services, sexual contact, and the opportunity to view and to photograph in compromising positions persons who appeared before him in traffic and misdemeanour criminal cases in exchange for dismissing the cases”. The indictment is dated October 5.

Boeckmann’s attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday. Boeckmann has previously denied the allegations through his attorney.

Boeckmann was indicted on eight counts of wire fraud, two counts of witness tampering, one count of federal program bribery and 10 counts of violating the federal Travel Act.

Dozens of men have accused Boeckmann of sexual abuse and misconduct, saying the small-town judge paid them to allow him to spank them with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin.

Others said they posed nude in exchange for money to pay off court fines.

Others, some of whom were underage, said Boeckmann would offer them community service in lieu of court fines and fees. The assignments often involved going to his house or another location, taking off their shirts, bending over and pretending to pick the cans up while, they allege, Boeckmann took photos.

An Associated Press investigation into court and law enforcement records in June showed that of the 254 men Boeckmann sentenced to community service over a seven-year period in one of three districts he oversaw, just 13 of the cases include timesheets and court records showing completion of the sentences.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest, Lawyers | Leave a comment

Maryland’s use of facial recognition software questioned by researchers, civil liberties advocates

A five-year-old program in Maryland that lets police compare images of unidentified criminal suspects with millions of motor vehicle records using increasingly advanced facial recognition software has come under fire from civil liberties advocates, who say such programs lack transparency and infringe on privacy rights.

Police have used the Maryland Image Repository System with little fanfare since 2011. But the program has attracted increased scrutiny since the American Civil Liberties Union in California released documents last week showing the system was used to monitor protesters during the unrest and rioting in Baltimore last year.

That followed other recent disclosures about law enforcement in Baltimore adopting clandestine technologies, including cellphone tracking and aerial surveillance.

The Center on Privacy & Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center plans to release a national study Tuesday on the use of facial recognition software by law enforcement. The center highlights Maryland’s position at the cutting edge of the technology and questions its merits.

Maryland is one of at least five states that has provided access to driver’s licenses, local police mug shots and other corrections records to the FBI, according to state and federal data. A dozen other states provide driver’s license photographs only. Still others have laws prohibiting the use of facial recognition.

“With Maryland, we see one of the more aggressive deployments of facial recognition technology,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at the Center on Privacy & Technology.

Alvaro Bedoya, the center’s executive director, warned against government encroachment on privacy.

“We are crossing a kind of Rubicon here, where states like Maryland are creating biometric databases of law-abiding citizens,” he said. “The next step in this progress is the use of real-time facial recognition.”

Bedoya said facial recognition software could soon be combined with vast surveillance systems, such as Baltimore’s hundreds of CitiWatch cameras, for even more pervasive monitoring.

“It wouldn’t take that much for Maryland or Baltimore to make that kind of investment,” he said. “In the future, we might see a world where every face is scanned.”

State officials have said concerns about the program are overblown and did not shy away from the state’s reputation for adopting the technology early.

Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which operates and maintains the database, said his agency and Maryland law enforcement agencies will continue to “make use of all legally available technology to aggressively pursue all criminals.”

“We’re using it aggressively because we pursue criminals aggressively,” said Gerard Shields, a department spokesman. “That’s a priority for us.”

The database includes more than 7 million images from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and more than 3 million mug shots and other photographs of arrestees, officials said.

Every night, the MVA sends off more.

“The MVA has a long-standing practice of sharing photos and data with law enforcement. We’re talking decades and decades,” MVA spokesman Chuck Brown said. “Even before digital photos were invented, we had a system in place to share photos with law enforcement.”

Officials estimate that between 6,000 and 7,000 law enforcement officers from agencies and departments across the state have access to the database.

The system allows them to scan images of criminal suspects from a surveillance camera or a social media account and then compare them to the millions of stored photographs from the state and tens of millions more from the FBI’s own federal mug shot repository.

The dimensions of individuals’ faces — the width of a nose, the shape of an ear — help the software spit out matches for consideration by investigators.

“The process is only a tool,” Shields said. “It does not meet the standard for evidence. It is not replacing investigative work that law enforcement is doing.”

Shields said the state keeps logs of users who access the system, but not the results of searches.

“We have never received a report about the system being abused,” he said.

Kevin Combs, chief information officer for the corrections department, said the database adheres to all applicable laws regarding the expungement of criminal records.

During one recent week, Maryland’s system was accessed 177 times, Shields said.

The Maryland State Police and police departments across the Baltimore region — including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Harford counties — all confirmed using it, but few provided details.

Howard County police have used it mostly for robbery investigations, and sometimes in theft and fraud cases, a spokeswoman said. The sheriff’s office in Carroll County has used it a few times, but it has never resulted in a suspect being identified, a spokesman there said.

T.J. Smith, a Baltimore police spokesman, said his agency used the software “when there was rioting going on in Baltimore last year for purposes of trying to identify those who were involved in criminal wrongdoing.”

Smith declined to answer other questions about the department’s use of the technology, including the claim by the private company Geofeedia — obtained by the ACLU — that police had used it to identify individuals with outstanding warrants during the unrest.

Civil liberties advocates say the software can make mistakes that send police officers to the doorsteps of innocent people. They also question whether the public, including protesters, are protected against abuses.

“The chilling effects on people exercising their First Amendment rights seem pretty clear to me,” said David Rocah, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland.

In recent months, Rocah has criticized the Baltimore Police Department for having secretly used so-called stingray technology, which mimics a cellphone tower and helps pinpoint a device’s location by triggering all phones in an area to connect to it, as well as a private surveillance plane.

Now Rocah says the state and the Baltimore police are not disclosing enough information about the facial recognition program.

“There’s a question of who is being subjected to this kind of facial recognition search in the first place,” Rocah said. “Is it only Black Lives Matter demonstrators who get this treatment? Are they drawing those circles only in certain neighborhoods? The context in which it’s described here seems quintessentially improper.”

Bedoya said research shows that facial recognition software is less accurate when identifying African-American faces, making it “least accurate for the population that the Baltimore police is most likely to use it on.”

State officials said they were not aware of such issues.

Garvie said Maryland and other states are building out applications for facial recognition without sufficient policies in place to govern how they should function, and are doing little to inform the public about the programs.

“We’re seeing the technology advance very, very rapidly right now, and as the technology advances, we’re going to see more and more aggressive deployment,” Garvie said. “We’re not seeing any public dialogue around this.”

Brown, the MVA spokesman, said his agency has a privacy policy posted on its website that reserves its right to share private information with law enforcement. He said the agency would try to display it more prominently.

Posted in Criminal Defense Articles | Leave a comment

Cocaine conspiracy, organized crime charges dropped against five people in Windsor coke bust


Conspiracy and organized crime charges have been withdrawn against five people picked up in a cocaine trafficking bust in Windsor earlier this year.

Three of the five have also had cocaine trafficking charges against them dropped, leaving them clear of all counts laid after a drug bust in the town on April 20.

Jessica Leigh Purcell, 21, Kerry Lee Sampson, 30, and Tevaughn Jordan Brent Scott, 25, had all charges dropped against them Monday in Windsor provincial court.

Jordan Thomas Kehoe, 25, and Anthony Alfredo Corradini, 18, are still facing charges of cocaine trafficking, and will have their trial next year.

Crown attorney Mike MacKenzie said that after the Crown re-evaluated the case, “further investigation determined that there was not a reasonable prospect of conviction (on the charges that were dropped.)”

Police haven’t said how much cocaine they seized after searching two residences in Windsor.

Sampson wasn’t free on Monday, though. He was sentenced to 50 days in jail on three counts of breaching a court order and one each of resisting arrest and uttering threats.

He had been free on bail on charges stemming from the April bust, but wasn’t at his surety’s home when police went there on July 17.

The sureties went to court that day asking to be released from providing Sampson’s bail, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police found him in a car during a police checkpoint in Windsor on Aug. 17.

RCMP officers recognized him and placed him under arrest, but when they tried to get him out of the car, he resisted and bolted across the highway toward a nearby hotel, but was captured a short time later at the McDonalds restaurant nearby.

The threats charge was the result of an incident in East Hants on Aug. 15.

Posted in Defense Acquittal | Leave a comment

This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

Louisiana cops go down in a contraband cigarette conspiracy, a Massachusetts narc gets suspended for threatening to plant dope on a teenager, a Tennessee chief deputy gets popped for stealing from the drug fund, and more. Let’s get to it:

In New Orleans, two New Orleans police officers and an Orleans County sheriff’s deputy were arrested last Wednesday for their roles in an interstate cigarette smuggling conspiracy. Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon and Deputy Garrett Partman are accused of accepting bribes and agreeing to protect shipments of contraband smokes across state lines. The conspiracy involved at least 15,000 cartons of cigarettes from North Carolina, where taxes are low. The trio, along with three civilians arrested in the scheme, face a host of charges, including conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, evading federal excise tax, and interstate transportation in aid of a racketeering enterprise.

In Monroe, Washington, a state prison guard was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly accepting bribes to smuggle meth into the prison. Guard Michael Bowden, 31, went down after an FBI investigation using confidential sources turned up information he was accepting bribes and then created a sting where Bowden thought he was carrying meth into the prison. He is charged with three counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of attempted distribution of methamphetamine.

In Jackson, Tennessee, a former Wayne County chief deputy was arrested last Friday on charges he stole more than $7,700 from the department, including money from the agency’s drug buy fund. Gerald Baer, 62, now faces two counts of theft over $1,000, 111 counts of forgery, and one count of official misconduct. He’s now out on $75,000 bond.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, a Springfield narcotics detective was suspended Monday for threatening to kill and plant drugs on two teenagers who stole an unmarked police car. Detective Greg Bigda is suspended for 60 days after video of his encounter with the youths showed he threatened to crush the skull of one of the teens and plant a kilo of cocaine in his pocket. Local defense attorneys are now using the video to impeach Bigda’s testimony in pending drug cases, and two cases have already been dropped. Bigda has not been charged with any crime, but the Hampden District Attorney continues to investigate the incident.

Posted in Law Enforcement Arrest | Leave a comment