Seven Baltimore City police officers, who were members of the “Gun Task Force” have been arrested and indicted on charges they robbed and extorted Baltimore residents, filed false court documents, and made false overtime claims:
The indictment alleges that Detective Marcus Taylor, for instance, filed for overtime on days when he was in New York City on vacation. It alleges that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins filed for overtime on days when he was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on vacation. It alleges that Detective Maurice Ward also filed overtime for a day when he was in Myrtle Beach on vacation.
The indictment alleges Detectives Jemell Rayam and Momodu Gondo were recorded discussing being in the poker room at Maryland Live Casino in Anne Arundel County and getting a drink with a friend, respectively, on a day when they claimed to be working overtime.
The indictment does not provide total dollar amounts for the alleged fraudulent overtime payments, but does calculate the total amount of overtime the officers made in fiscal 2016.
Jenkins, whose annual salary was $85,406, made the most of any of the officers, taking in $83,345 in overtime. Gondo, whose annual salary was $71,412, made the least amount of overtime of any of the officers, taking in more than $29,000.
In addition to overtime fraud, the officers are accused of shaking down citizens, filing false court paperwork and making fraudulent overtime claims, all while Justice Department investigators were scrutinizing the department for what they concluded were widespread civil rights violations.
One of the officers was also accused in a separate indictment of participating in an illegal drug organization and tipping its members off to investigations.
The officers were summoned to internal affairs Wednesday morning and arrested. They were identified as Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 36, and Detectives Momodu Gondo, 34; Evodio Hendrix, 32; Daniel Hersl, 47; Jemell Rayam, 36; Marcus Taylor, 30; and Maurice Ward, 36.
It appears that these officers were not unknown to be what can charitably described as “bad cops.”
Some of the officers have long been accused of using excessive force or of other wrongdoing. The city has paid out more than $500,000 in settlements in cases involving the officers, according to a review by The Baltimore Sun.
Members of the city’s state legislative delegation called for a federal investigation into Rayam in 2009 after he was involved in three shootings over the course of two years. The city has settled multiple lawsuits involving Hersl.
“The majority of these officers have been known to my attorneys as having significant credibility issues,” Baltimore Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar said. “We have aggressively been pursuing personnel records to be able to highlight the issues with their credibility on the force.”
But even with the allegations and use of excessive force, these rogue cops were still on the job and still allowed to shake down citizens, steal from the taxpayers and run illegal operations. If anything, this case shows how horribly difficult it is to get rid of bad cops. Frankly, getting rid of those bad cops should be something every good cop should want to happen. The actions of the bad cops stain the good cops and damages the reputation of the police within the City. (Assuming that it could be damaged more than it is already.)
Indicted Officers. (image courtesy Baltimore City Police Department)
Six out of the seven officers are being held without bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher cited concerns with the officers’ previous actions while on the job. (more…)
In New York City, where it is down right impossible to get a permit for a weapon, Lichtenstein had a way to get around that little roadblock of permits being denied to honest citizens.
For $18,000 you could pay Lichtenstein and he would come back to you later on and have a perfectly valid gun permit enabling you to go purchase a gun and keep it in the city. The “illegal” part of “How to Illegally Get A Gun and Permit in New York City” comes into play when one sees how Lichtenstein was obtaining the permits.
A Brooklyn volunteer safety patrol member was charged Monday with bribing cops with $6,000 in cash and other goodies to expedite gun permit requests, and three officers were transferred out of the licensing unit as part of the far-reaching NYPD corruption probe.
Shaya (Alex) Lichtenstein, 44, was so cozy with cops in the License Division that he’d spent nearly every day inside the office in police headquarters since 2014, federal court papers say.
Yep. To get the permits, Lichtenstein was bribing police officers who were in charge of the permitting process.
The amount of bribes to the officers were not too shabby when put together: (more…)
We use the past tense for Mr. Cross because on July 6, 2013, the Spanish teacher was run over by a New York Police Department van driven by Officer Paula Medrano. After being struck, Cross was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he died that night.
A local camera recorded the accident.
Cross was walking in the crosswalk, with the light when he was struck by Medrano.
What happened after this?
Nothing. Not one daggone thing.
A Spanish teacher who was hit and killed by a marked police van in Williamsburg had the right of way — but the plainclothes cop driving the vehicle is not likely to be charged, sources said.
“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” a police source told The Post.
Felix Coss, 61, had the pedestrian signal as he finished crossing Broadway at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, sources said.
The veteran female officer was making a left-hand turn from Hooper Street to Broadway and failed to see the Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with Children Charter School, a source said. Coss was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected, police said.
Witnesses say that Medrano was on her cell phone at the time of the accident.
NYPD’s Internal Affairs Unit subpoenaed Medrano’s phone records because Medrano refused to hand over the cell phone:
A livery car driver, who saw the accident from across the street but would not give his name for fear of the police, said he saw the officer talking on her phone at the time of the accident.
“She had her phone up to her ear,” said the man who would only give his name as Elvis. “She didn’t yield. She didn’t see him until she hit him.”
Elvis said he saw Medrano get out of the car with a worried expression and start apologizing.
Investigators asked for her phone immediately after the accident but Medrano refused to hand it over, telling them that they would have to subpoena her for the records, police sources said.
News outlets and bloggers have asked for the records and other information now that the investigation is closed. The NYPD, however, have refused to allow the public to view the records: (more…)
There is a bit of a backstory to this tale of “privacy” and while the backstory doesn’t really affect the silliness that ensued, it gives the setting.
The City of Santa Ana, California, allows medical marijuana dispensaries within their boarders. While the state does not license the dispensaries, local cities may and Santa Ana set a limit of 20 dispensaries within the city limits. Some people claimed that the licenses were given out as political favors and allowed applications in the lottery for licenses that should have been disqualified. Those people opened up shops without a medical dispensary license and sued the city. The city responded by raiding the shops with police after it was estimated that 100 non-licensed and non-regulated shops had opened in Santa Ana.
“Sky High Collective” was one such shop on the city’s radar. Because of what they felt was an impending police raid, the shop installed security cameras – including hidden cameras.
On may 26, 2015, Santa Ana police did raid the Sky High Collective. Eight officers broke into the shop and demanded customers lay on the ground.
The officers issued citations to customers and sent them on their way.
It is at this point where the story takes a strange turn.
The cops disable the video cameras as they go about their business. What they don’t realize is that they miss one of the hidden cameras and recording devices from all of the cameras.
The attorneys for the shop released the heavily edited video. What it shows isn’t pretty.
Adam Horine is a 31 year old man with issues. Life, for whatever reasons, has not been kind to Horine. In May of 2015, Horine appeared before Judge Elizabeth Chandler for the crimes of cussing in public and threatening a cab driver.
Horine claimed he was mentally ill and saying things he shouldn’t say. Crying while standing at the podium, he begged the court for help.
Chandler ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Horine to the hospital, but he was first transported back to county jail where a social worker evaluated him, reporting that Horine was hearing voices, felt suicidal, couldn’t sleep, and wanted to hurt “certain people.”
Horine never made it to the Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for a more thorough psychiatric assessment as ordered by Judge Chandler.
Instead, Officer Ron Dickow put Horine in his police cruiser, drove 50 miles to the Lexington, Kentucky Greyhound Bus station. There, using money supplied by the Carrollton Chief of Police Michael Willhoite, Dickow put Horine on a 900 mile, one way trip to Florida.
Adam Horine’s last moments in the Carroll County jail are captured on a surveillance video. About 3 a.m. April 23, barely 14 hours after Judge Chandler ordered the Eastern State Hospital examination, officer Dickow strolled into the jail.
In the video, Dickow chats with the deputies on duty, then slouches on a chair in the corner while waiting for Horine to be brought out. One of the deputies offers Dickow some documents. Dickow declines, saying, “No, I don’t need no paperwork.” (more…)
Jami Tillotson is a public defender in the city of San Francisco. She has worked in that capacity for the last 18 years. On January 27, 2015, San Francisco police Inspector Brian Stansbury tried to question two clients of Tillotson outside a San Francisco courtroom. Tillotson told her clients they did not need to answer any questions from the police. She told the police that her clients would not answer any questions without their attorney being present. Despite her clients’ absolute right to have their lawyer present when being questioned, Stansbury told Tillotson to “stand aside” and move away while he questioned and took pictures of the two men.
When Tillotson refused to move away while her clients were being questioned, she was arrested for “resisting arrest.”
This is what “resisting arrest” looks like as the incident was filmed:
The San Francisco Police Department immediately stepped in and apologized for one of their detectives arresting a lawyer for protecting her clients’ rights.
Ronnie Hankins and his wife Lisa were exhausted and drained as they drove through the state of Tennessee. The couple who live in San Diego, had attended the funeral for Ronnie’s grandfather in Virginia and were returning to California when they were stopped for an alleged traffic violation by an officer from the Tennessee 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force.
With out of state license plates and an Hispanic female driving, the Hankins feel they were targeted by the police for the stop.
After the police had separated the Hankins, Lisa was asked by the police if she minded that they searched her car.
She refused feeling that not only was the initial traffic stop without foundation, getting stopped doesn’t mean the police have carte blanche to search any vehicle.
While detaining the Hankins, a canine unit arrived on the scene. The dog walked around the car including an open passenger side window and did not alert. When the dog gets to the driver’s side, the officer makes a movement that he had not done before and the dog suddenly alerts on the closed side of the car.
Interestingly, the dash camera from the K-9 unit as well as the audio from that officer were not turned on. But there is a video record from the original officer.
Armed with “alert” from the dog, the police tore into the Hankins’ car and property.
For an hour the police searched and found nothing. (more…)
Three incidents involving law enforcement have caught our eye recently.
The first is the ambush of two Pennsylvania State Troopers. A manhunt is on for the alleged assassin who killed one trooper and wounded another. The outpouring of support for the victims and their families has been a sight to behold.
A Muslim on the streets of New York attacked two cops without provocation. The man was wielding an ax and cut the arm of one officer and fractured the skull of a second before being shot and killed. Once again, the reaction of support for the officers was nearly universal.
Finally, a twice deported man shot and killed two deputies in Sacramento, California. The man’s wife was also arrested in the death of the two officers. The community rallied around the officers and their families.
Contrasting that is the constant comments on websites and social media claiming all cops are pigs, jack booted thugs, the Gestapo, and almost every name you can think of. Sites like CopWatch.com take the attitude that there are no good cops and ignore the good things that police across the country do.
On the other hand, sites like PoliceOne.com has never met a cop that wasn’t a hero or a role model.
How can there be such extremes in viewing law enforcement?
Taken together, are we looking at mourning the deaths and actions of jack-booted thugs who are heroes?
For years we have been watching this and see the dichotomy of reactions as a circle. People have a negative interaction with the police, so they go on social media and claim cops are bad. Their encounter feeds people who then push against cops when they encounter an officer and project the attitude of “you’re not the boss of me!” in all situations. The cops then pushes back leading to civilians pushing back harder and suddenly the police and civilians are at each others throats rather than working side by side to keep the community safe.
To be sure, and we want to make this perfectly clear, there are bad cops. There are cops who should not be cops. Painting all officers with a broad brush is as illogical as saying all citizens are crooks because a 7-11 was robbed.
The question then “is how should cities and police departments deal with the impression citizens have of police?”
Whatever the answer is, don’t look toward the City of Baltimore as an example.
Baltimore is in the midst of a police relations nightmare. The statistics alone are horrifying: (more…)