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News in Brief

California: On March 12, 2021, federal prosecutors in California unsealed indictments against a pair of policemen accused of pocketing cash and drugs confiscated from suspects they pulled over in traffic stops. According to a report by Law & Crime, former Rohnert Park Police Department officers Brendon Jacy Tatum, 38, and Joseph Huffaker, 36, were assigned to work drug interdiction on Highway 101 from 2016 until the team was disbanded in January 2017 when state law changed criminal penalties for drug possession. By then, however, Tatum had banked over $443,000 in unreported income during the previous year, prosecutors discovered, and the two policemen allegedly continued extorting drugs and cash during traffic stops for which few details were officially recorded. In two December 2017 stops, they falsely identified themselves as agents with federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Control, seizing 23 pounds of marijuana and four crates of hash. When local press reported in February 2018 that the FBI was looking into those robberies, Tatum allegedly fabricated a police report in an attempt to cover his tracks. If convicted, he and Huffaker face federal prison terms of 45 and 20 years, respectively.

California: On April 17, 2021, police responding to a report of vandalism in Santa Rosa, California, found a severed pig’s head and blood on the front porch of a residence that was the former home of Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert who provided testimony in defense of former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who is on trial for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. According to a report by Sacramento TV station KVOR, the vandals apparently thought Brodd still lived in the home. The former Santa Rosa cop now resides in Montana. Chief Rainer Navarro said Brodd’s comments on the stand “do not reflecf the values and beliefs of the Santa Rosa Police Department.”

Colorado: On February 18, 2021, former Denver Police Department (DPD) Officer Derek Solano was sentenced to probabtion and 100 hours of community service for the misdemeanor cybercrime of abusing his access to DPD’s criminal database to gather information on people in his personal life. According to a report by the Denver Post, Solano was a five-year DPD veteran when he resigned in September 2019 during the investigation that led to his conviction. The database contains addresses, criminal histories, immigration status, protection orders and other sensitive information. Prosecutors proved he accessed it 10 times for one woman’s personal details. It is the most recent case of more than two dozen since 2006 in which DPD’s Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) has found a police officer illegally helped himself to the information for personal reasons. In 2016, OIM criticized DPD for giving its officers overly lenient access to the criminal database.

Florida: If you’re planning to fish or hunt in the Florida Keys, Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward has a warning: Obey the rules or go to jail. A 23-year-old Miami man with no prior criminal record found that out in February 2021. The Miami Herald reported that Michael Perez Pineda was sentenced to six days in the county jail, 12 months of probation, 50 hours of community service and fined a total of $823 after he was caught fishing two undersized snapper and an out-of-season lobster off an Islamorada bridge in July 2019. Another Miami man caught that month with seven under-sized lobsters, 47-year-old Rodolfo Rafael Gonzalez, received the same sentence, except he spent 10 days in jail. In March 2021, Ward had officers from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission looking for two men who fatally mutilated a pelican while fishing off another Islamorada bridge. The sheriff’s office maintains a small zoo at the county jail with about 150 abandoned or confiscated animals. In October 2019, inmate Jason Aaron Gibson had a charge of animal cruelty added to one for vehicle theft that got him locked up after he fed two of the jail’s pet iguanas to an alligator at the zoo.

Kentucky: Three officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department have now been convicted and sentenced in a scandal involving sexual abuse of underage teens in an explorer scout program, according to a report by local TV station WDRB. Officer Brad Schummann was convicted and received a probated sentence along with a $1,000 fine in March 2021 for having sex with an underage girl in the now-defunct program, which he also ran. Officer Kenneth Betts accepted a 16-year sentence in a July 2019 plea deal on charges including sodomy of an underage girl and two underage boys, as well as child pornography. In May 2019, officer Brandon Wood was sentenced to 70 months in prison for sexually abusing an underage boy.

Louisiana: A 15-year veteran police officer in Winnsboro, Louisiana, was indicted on April 19, 2021, on charges of public bribery and abuse of office for allegedly attempting to extort sex and money from a woman in exchange for a favorable car accident report. According to a report by the Lake Charles American Press, Terrance Pleasant, 47, offered the woman the favorable report after her vehicle was involved in an accident with another vehicle in March 2021, which the lieutenant investigated. State police said they were able to verify the allegations by the woman, who was not at fault in the accident. Pleasant resigned his position the same day he was indicted.

Maryland: Convictions of 25 members of a Baltimore drug gang were put in jeopardy in February 2021 when the cop who wrote search warrants that led to their 2016 arrests was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for lying to FBI agents about his role in the theft of drugs seized in an earlier bust. According to a report by the Washington Post, Ivo Louvado and two other Baltimore Police Department (BPD) detectives stole three of 40 kilograms of cocaine confiscated in 2009 and then lied about it during a 2018 investigation into BDO’s now-disbanded Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), which conducted the seizure. At the time it was considered a record. Victor Rivera, one of Louvado’s accomplices in the drug theft, also received a 14-month federal prison sentence in January 2021. The other officer involved, Keith Gladstone, has not been sentenced. Louvado was not a GTTF agent, but he was one of 100 officers who worked years with federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents to score the convictions of 25 members of the Murdaland Mafia Piru, an offshoot of the California Bloods gang that controled drug traffic and commited five murders in northwest Baltimore.

Maryland: Former Laurel Police Chief David Crawford, 69, was indicted April 14, 2021, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on charges including arson and attempted murder, according to a report by Law & Crime. As previously reported in CLN, Crawford is accused of setting a dozen fires that targeted other city employees, his neighbors, two of his doctors and his son-in-law. Video surveillance captured him setting one blaze, in which Crawford can be seen accidentally setting his own clothing aflame.

Massachusetts: On April 16, 2021, Boston Mayor Kim Janey (D) ordered files unsealed on a 26-year-old police department Internal Affairs investigation into a retired Boston Police Patrolman’s Association president now charged with sexually abusing six children. According to a report by NBC Boston, the 1995 investigation into Patrick M. Rose determined he had sexually abused a 12-year-old boy. But prosecutors dropped charges of indecent assault and sexual abuse of a child under 14 in 1996. Rose then continued to work with children as a cop and was even the arresting officer in another child sex-abuse case. His current alleged victims range in age from 7 to 16. One is the daughter of a woman he also allegedly abused as a child. Though he allegedly describing himself to cops as “a monster” when he was arrested and charged in August 2020, the 66-year-old has pled not guilty to all charges. His files had remained under seal because state law protecting the identity of child victims made it impossible to redact them, according to former Mayor Martin J. Walsh (D), who now serves as Secretary of Labor for President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D).

Missouri: Two St. Louis police officers were arrested on March 17, 2021, for alleged rape and sexual assault. According to reports by local TV stations KSDK and KMOV, the allegations against Lafeal Lawshea and Torey Phelps, both 38, date back to 2009, with at least four women reporting they were given a strong cocktail to drink before they were assaulted by the men. Phelps has been with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) since 2007 and Lawshea since 2008. When the most recent allegation was reported in 2019 to their supervisor, Sgt. Jaytona S. Clayborn-Muldrow, she allegedly pressured the victim — a civilian MPD employee — to withdraw her complaint. The 48-year-old has been charged with witness tampering. She is a 23-year MPD veteran. In 2017, she was transferred from MPD’s Intelligence Division by incoming supervisor Michael Deeba, who replaced her with a male officer to perform the “very dangerous” work. Clayborn-Muldrow’s sex-discrimination suit remains pending in federal court. Her attorney said the new charges against her were filed in retaliation for an investigation that she led in 2020 of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner.

Ohio: Charlie Reader, the sheriff who led the investigation into a 2016 mass killing in rural Pike County, Ohio, is headed to prison. According to a report by Law & Crime, he was sentenced March 24, 2021, to a three-year term in state prison after pleading guilty to two counts each of theft in office and tampering with evidence, as well as an additional count of conflict of interest, for stealing cash seized in drug arrests and using a straw buyer to purchase a seized vehicle that he then resold at a profit. Five years ago, the 47-year-old led the investigation into a shooting spree at three trailers and a camper, allegedly by four members of the Wagner family, which left seven others in the family dead, plus a woman engaged to one of them. Those cases are ongoing. Reader had been suspended since the allegations against him surfaced in 2019. Prosecutors presented evidence that he used the money to pay off casino gambling debts, which Reader denied.

Pennsylvania: On March 18, 2021, the District Attorney of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, announced that his top lieutenant had been demoted for moonlighting on the clock as a DoorDash delivery driver. According to a report by the local Courier-Times, D.A. Matt Weintraub said that former First Assistant D.A. Greg Shore’s “very poor judgment” resulted in his replacement by Jennifer Schorn, who previously served as chief of both trials and grand juries. Shore was demoted to deputy D.A. He started work in the D.A.’s office 25 years ago, leaving from 2000 to 2015 to work for the Lehigh County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Office of the Attorney General. Shore admitted making his “very poor decision” to work for the app during office hours after the Covid-19 pandemic moved most court hearings to virtual settings. He has repaid his delivery earnings to the county from his $125,000 annual salary.

Pennsylvania: For the 10th time in just three months, Philadelphia police arrested one of their own on April 20, 2021, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Det. Robert Redanaur, 51, was charged with simple assault and making terroristic threats after an Internal Affairs investigation determined he pointed a gun in a man’s face and threatened to kill him while he was off-duty — and naked. When an unnamed 23-year-old man overheard an argument in the bedroom of his mother’s Northeast Phildelphia home between his brother and an unknown man, he went into the bedroom and found his mother and brother with a naked man, who threatened him with a gun. He left the bedroom and contacted 911, saying he recognized the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) emblem on the man’s license plate. Authorities later identified the vehicle as the detective’s. Redanaur, a 30-year veteran of the police force, was placed on a 30-day leave with intent to dismiss. FOP often provides legal representation to police officers charged with crimes, but it was unclear whether that would be offered to Redanaur.

South Carolina: A South Carolina Sheriff’s deputy who came out of retirement to return to work is out of a job again after a drunk-driving crash. According to a report by Charleston TV station WCIV, Richlands County Sheriff Leon Lott terminated Deputy Michael Mazarolle, 58, on April 16, 2021, fifteen days after he was involved in the single-vehicle wreck and his blood-alcohol level triggered an investigation by the sheriff’s department. He was hired in 2001, retired in 2020 and returned to work in 2021.

Texas: After a 20-hour manhunt, a former Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) detective was in the county jail in Austin, Texas, on April 19, 2021, for allegedly shooting and killing three people the day before in what Austin Police Interim Chief Joseph Chacon called a “domestic situation that is isolated.” According to a report by CNN, Police Chief Ryan Phipps in the suburban city of Manor said his officers apprehended 41-year-old Stephen Broderick with a pistol in his waistband. Broderick resigned from TCSO after his June 2020 arrest on charges he sexually assaulted a child. He was free on bond when he allegedly murdered two women and a man. They have not yet been identified.

Texas: Two years after 40-year-old Javier Ambler II died during an Austin, Texas, arrest, a pair of former Williamson County sheriff’s deputies were indicted by a Travis County grand jury on second-degree manslaughter charges on March 29, 2021. According to a report by the New York Times, James Johnson, 36, and Zachary Camden, 26, were accompanied by a TV crew filming a now-canceled A&E show called Live PD the night of March 28, 2019, when they saw Ambler fail to dim his lights for oncoming traffic. They chased him until he crashed his vehicle 22 minutes later and then — despite his announcement that he suffered heart failure — tasered him three times. He was pronounced dead at a hospital a few hours later. The deputies were fired in January 2021 by newly-elected Sheriff Mike Gleason. A&E never aired its footage of the incident. It was later destroyed after no one asked for it, a fact that led to the arrest in September 2020 of former Sheriff Robert Chody and a former assistant county attorney, Jason Nassour, both of whom were indicted by a Williamson County grand jury on evidence-tampering charges. Nassour was also indicted in Travis County for evidence-tampering on March 31, 2021. All four of the men charged have pled not guilty. Ambler’s family filed suit against Williamson County for his wrongful death in October 2020.

United Kingdom: The British Crown Prosecution Service announced on March 12, 2021, that a London policeman had been arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard nine days before. According to the Washington Post, police identified remains found two days earlier to be those of the 33-year-old marketing executive, whose disappearance touched off a firestorm of protest over the threat of violence under which many women live. The man charged in her death, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens, had been a Metropolitan Police Constable for two years, assigned on occassion to guard the Prime Minister’s office and residence at 10 Downing Street. He was also accused of exposing himself in public — twice — in February 2021.

Virginia: On April 16, 2021, the town manager of Windsor, Virginia, confirmed to CNN the firing of police officer Joe Gutierrez, who was filmed pepper-spraying U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario as he sat with his hands up behind the wheel of his vehicle during a traffic stop for a missing license plate in December 2020. Officer Daniel Crocker, who was also involved in the stop, retains his job, said the manager, William Saunders. Nazario, who is Black and Latino, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the town and the two officers, who are white. The Army’s Sergeant Major, Michael Grinston, voiced his concern over the video, as did Gov. Ralph Northam and state Attorney General Mark Herring, who are both Democrats.

Wisconsin: Acting on a “cyber tip” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, agents from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Investigation arrested a Milwaukee County Children’s Court judge on March 16, 2021, charging him the next day with seven counts of possession of child pornography. According to a report by Law & Crime, 38-year-old Brett Bloome is accused of uploading 27 photos to the Internet in October and November 2020 — showing “prepubescent” and “toddler” boys engaged in sex with adult males — using an account with the name “DomMasterBB” on the Kik messaging app. The account is registered to an email address containing Bloome’s first and last names. He has been on the bench since August 2020, after winning a special election against an appointee of former Gov. Scott Walker (R). Bloome and his husband have two children, whom he is still allowed to see without restriction. 

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