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News in Brief

Arkansas: On October 16, 2017, former Gateway Police Chief and Benton County Constable Grant Hardin, 48, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after admitting to fatally shooting James Appleton in February. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a plea agreement in which the prosecution reduced the charge from capital murder. Hardin shot Appleton in the head while he sat in a parked pickup truck talking on the phone with his brother-in-law and Gateway Mayor Andrew Tillman. Hardin will have to serve at least 21 years of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole.

California: In a macabre case of “do as I say, not what I do,” LAPD Officer Edgar Omar Verduzco, 26, posted a 10-second video clip on Instagram reminding people not to drink and drive just three hours before drunkenly smashing into two cars. A couple and their teenage son were trapped inside their burning Nissan and were pronounced dead at the scene on September 27, 2017. According to investigators, Verduzco was speeding in the carpool lane on the 605 Freeway when he rear-ended the Nissan, which immediately burst into flames. He reportedly sent the seemingly sardonic Instagram warning while drinking at a bar. Verduzco was booked on charges of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter with bail set at $100,000.

Florida: State Trooper Chad Corriveau, 32, was arrested on September 22, 2017 on charges of sexually abusing a teenage girl over a three-month period, involving the use of various sex toys and swing, restraints, and a “long vibrator.” During a forensic interview, the young victim stated that on two occasions Corriveau used sex toys to restrain her, and during one particularly unsettling episode, he kept her restrained for four hours. The teen explained that she never objected to his disturbing sexual abuse because he “is short tempered and she was afraid for her safety,” according to a post-interview report. The FHP announced that Corriveau has been placed on administrative leave. Additionally, an unidentified Lake County deputy has been placed on administrative leave for “possibly” knowing about the shocking sexual abuse, but failing to report it as required by law.

Hawaii: Honolulu Police Officer Bobby Nguyen and former Honolulu Police Major Gordon Shiraishi were arrested by the FBI on October 15, 2017. Both men received target letters from federal investigators last year in connection with an ongoing investigation into allegations that members of the police department conspired to frame a relative of former Police Chief Louis Kealoha for the theft of a mailbox from the chief’s property. The relative and the chief, along with his wife, have been engaged in a bitter dispute over money. Chief Kealoha was forced to retire for his role in the episode. This remains an ongoing investigation.

Louisiana: With his cringe-worthy performance at an October 5, 2017 press conference, Caddo Parrish Sheriff Steve Prator catapulted to the front of the pack for this year’s “Tone Deaf Officer of the Year” distinction. When asked about the state’s reforms that will reduce the prison population over the next decade, the practical-minded Prator lamented the fact that some “good ones” will be released under the reforms. So who are the good ones? According to Prator, they’re the ones “we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money, well, they’re going to let them out!” No need to check the calendar; it’s 2018, not 1864. However, to many people, Prator’s comments veer uncomfortably close to embracing the mindset of that bygone era.

Massachusetts: On October 19, 2017, Boston Police Officer Joseph Nee, 44, was indicted for stealing $2,000 from the department’s evidence room. The money was being stored in the evidence room as part of a closed bank robbery case. Investigators accuse him of trying to launder the stolen money at the Plainridge Park Casino. A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Nee on charges of larceny over $350 and money laundering.

Michigan: Former Burton Police Department Sergeant Shawn Duncanson is accused of an ingenious, albeit fraudulent, method of obtaining prescription as well as street drugs for his personal use. He contacted neighboring police departments claiming that he was collecting drugs for a (non-existent) take-back program and offered to dispose of any drugs that were in their possession. He often showed up in uniform or driving his Burton police cruiser to collect the drugs from the departments he duped. Even the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office was taken in by his scheme; it gave him about 1.5 kilograms of marijuana, 78 oxycodone pills, five grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and miscellaneous quantities of heroin and crack and powder cocaine. An investigation into Duncanson’s activities was launched earlier this year, and he resigned on June 2, 2017. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty and use of a controlled substance on October 3, 2017.

New Jersey: Former Officer of the Week and recipient of the Meritorious Service Award has been charged with fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl. Camden County Police Detective Rafael Martinez Jr., 32, admitted to being the father and signed the newborn’s birth certificate. DNA tests confirm his paternity. According to the criminal complaint, Martinez engaged in sexual activity with the teen from September 1, 2016 to August 18, 2017. He has been described by the police department as “a highly motivated officer with a positive attitude who truly loves his job.” The well-regarded and highly-decorated cop was arrested on September 12, 2017 on multiple child-sex related charges.  

New York: In a nauseating and appalling instance of the fox guarding the henhouse, a retired member of the NYPD’s celebrated Manhattan Special Victims Division was charged with 81 felony sex offenses, including three counts of first-degree rape and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance. Nicholas McAteer stands accused of sexually abusing two female family members for a decade, beginning when they were 12 and 13. The victims told investigators that he would have sex with them after his wife went to sleep and inside his unmarked NYPD police vehicle. McAteer also served in the Internal Affairs Bureau, which is responsible for preserving the integrity of the NYPD. He pleaded not guilty during a court appearance on October 25, 2017.

Pennsylvania: Former State Police Trooper Joseph Paul Miller pleaded guilty on September 14, 2017 in the shooting death of his pregnant wife and unborn child in March 2014. At the time of the shooting, he told investigators that he accidentally shot his wife in the head as he was preparing to clean his gun. However, tests revealed that his gun was only inches away from her head when she was shot. She was rushed to the hospital where an emergency C-section was performed, but both mother and her 24-week-old baby died after surgery. Miller, 36, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced.

Rhode Island: On October 5, 2017, former Narragansett Police Officer Matthew Riley, 50, was indicted by a federal grand jury for sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a 15-year-old Nebraska girl. He posed as a 29-year-old physical therapist from Boston and knew the teen’s age during the online relationship, asking her when she would turn 16. He retired a month after state and federal investigators searched his home and patrol vehicle back in May, ending his 29-year career in law enforcement. His attorney described it as “a great career.”

South Carolina: Seargeant Jennifer Forsythe of the York County Sheriff’s Department was fired in early August 2017 for having sex with five fellow sheriff’s deputies (presumably not simultaneously) while on duty. Her on-the-job paramours were of various ranks, including a deputy, two sergeants, a lieutenant, and a captain. They were all disciplined, as well. The punishments ranged from suspensions without pay to one of them, Deputy Daniel Hamrick, being fired along with the one-time employee of the month. An internal investigation revealed that Forsythe’s on duty dalliances had been going on for about 14 years.

Tennessee: On September 26, 2017, former Smith County Deputy Brandon McKae Marshall was charged with stealing drugs from the evidence room at the Smith County Sheriff’s Department in Carthage. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Marshall removed items from evidence lockers for personal reasons on at least two occasions. He has been fired by the sheriff’s department, and his bond has been set at $10,000.

Wisconsin: Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke doesn’t take kindly to questions about his responsibility with taxpayer money. On September 13, 2017, Daniel Bice, a self-described “political watchdog columnist” with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, found that out for himself when he had an F-bomb electronically dropped on him by Clarke for broaching the subject. By email, Bice asked if he believed that the over $226,000 it’s cost taxpayers to provide around-the-clock security at the highly controversial former sheriff’s home was “a wise use of taxpayer dollars.” To that perfectly reasonable question about a legitimate issue of public concern, Clarke emailed the following response: “F*uck you and the horse you rode in on.” Ever in campaign mode, the winner of three consecutive sheriff’s elections ended his response with “I’m David Clarke and I approve this message.” Questions over fiscal responsibility aren’t the only ones plaguing him these days. The Naval Postgraduate School has advised Clarke that he must revise his master’s thesis or risk having his degree in security studies revoked. An internal investigation concluded that he lifted numerous passages from a wide variety of sources without properly citing them as direct quotes. 

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