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News in Brief

Alabama: On December 21, 2021, two former police officers in West Blocton, Alabama, were arrested and charged with sexual assault. According to WBRC, a news station serving Birmingham, the Tuscaloosa Police Department announced that the former officers, Craig Baird Arnold, 49, and Brian Keith Whatley, 50, were charged with an alleged sexual assault that occurred in January 2021. The victim of that assault claims that two men she had known before, now identified as Arnold and Whatley, took advantage of her while she was under the influence of alcohol. Whatley, the former Chief of Police for the West Blocton Police Department (WBPD), was charged with sexual abuse and released on a bond of $5,000. Arnold, once an uncertified reserve officer for the WBPD, was charged with rape and placed on a bond of $60,000. He was already awaiting trial on child sex abuse charges for which he was indicted in 2016, when Whatley was still WBPD Chief. Arnold pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect to those charges.

California: According to KTLA, a news station serving Los Angeles, an officer with the Inglewood Police Department (IPD) was arrested and charged with federal crimes related to two alleged cocaine transactions. The October 21, 2021, arrest of John Abel Baca, 45, came two days after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of supplying an IPD informant with cocaine on April 29 and May 4, 2021. According to the federal Department of Justice, the informant, identified as Gerardo Ekonomo, 42, received cocaine in both instances and on the second paid $22,000 for 1 kilogram. He and Baca were caught when the FBI raided the home of Ekonomo and found contraband including cocaine, heroin, a gun, and ammunition. Baca, the police union representative for the IPD, is a 21-year veteran on the force. Though Ekonomo was an authorized informant, he was said to have submitted no documented informant work. He is facing another charge for heroin possession in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

California: A judge in San Joaquin County, California, was arrested on January 1, 2022, after a drunk-driving crash. According to KCRA, a news station serving Sacramento, Judge Mike Mulvihill crashed into a barrier on Pacific Avenue near the University of the Pacific, and the incident was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube. It shows Mulvihill being escorted from his wrecked vehicle by officers with the Stockton Police Department. The arrest aroused the ire and anxiety of people whose cases the judge was overseeing. But the San Juaquin County court clarified that the cases were filed with the court, not the judge specifically, so there should be no impact on them. The county District Attorney referred Mulvihill’s DUI case to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Florida: As of September 2021, two Miami-Dade police officers, obsessed with movies like “Bad Boys,” are headed to prison after being caught in a drug sting. According to the Daily Mail, officers Roderick Flowers, 29, and Keith Edwards, 31, were arrested in October 2020, when they were caught providing protection for a cocaine shipment to an undercover DEA team posing as a group affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel. They had publicly posted selfies on social media dressed as the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence characters from the “Bad Boys” movies and boasted of wanting to “live life on the edge.” In the spirit of that goal the two agreed to act as bodyguards for the cocaine shipment, bragging about having SWAT training and receiving $5,000 in advance for their “work.” They took a plea agreement, admitting guilt to charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Now they are serving a year in prison with two years supervised release, having taken their dream too far.

Kansas: In late December 2021, a veteran police officer with the Wichita Police Department (WPD) was arrested on charges of stalking. According to the Salina Post, the officer, Joseph Spicuglia, 61, who had served 25 years in the department, was allegedly involved in domestic violence against an unnamed woman he is acquainted with. He was arrested during an investigation carried out by the Sedgewick County Sheriff’s Office, per the request of the WPD, which wanted to ensure there were no conflicts of interest. According to online jail records, Spicuglia is no longer in custody.

Louisiana: According to U.S. News, a judge in New Orleans was indicted on four charges of tax fraud by a federal grand jury on January 7, 2022. The New Orleans Second City Court Judge, Ernestine Anderson-Trahan, is accused of failing to report income received from legal work and officiating weddings. According to the indictment she failed to report income from officiating work she performed during the 2013 through 2016 tax years at weddings held outside the Algiers Courthouse, beyond normal business hours on Valentine’s Day. She was set to be arraigned on January 24, 2022, and if convicted, she could face up to 12 years in prison. The judge was suspended by the state Supreme Court on January 14, 2022.

Maryland: A cop arrested in May 2021 after a drunken bar brawl is back on duty in Anne Arundel County, where a judge granted him probation before judgment on January 11, 2022—meaning Andrew Salenieks will also not have a conviction on his record. According to NBC4, a news station serving Washington, D.C., Salenieks was arrested and suspended on May 20, 2021, after a fight at Triple Nines Bar and Billiards on Washington Boulevard in Elkridge. Howard County police responding to reports of the fight successfully dispersed the assembled crowd. An intoxicated Salenieks, an officer with the Anne Arundel County police for eight years, is said to have kicked one of the responding officers. He was charged with assault in the second degree, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, and he was suspended with pay before his reinstatement.

Maryland: On January 13, 2022, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was indicted for lying about having COVID-19 in order to withdraw money from her retirement account to buy two Florida homes. According to the ABA Journal, she also failed to disclose a tax lien on mortgage applications for the two homes. Mosby is best known for charging six Baltimore police officers with the murder of Freddie Gray in 2015, though she was not able to secure convictions in the case. She allegedly made the false statements in order to withdraw money from the Baltimore deferred compensation plan so she could secure a mortgage of $490,500 for a home in Kissimee, Florida, and another mortgage of $428,400, for a condo in Long Boat Key, Florida. If convicted, Mosby could face up to five years on each of two perjury counts and up to 30 years for each of two counts of making false mortgage applications. Mosby’s attorney claims that she was unaware of the tax lien she failed to disclose because her husband, Nick Mosby, the President of the Baltimore City Council, did their taxes. He is not facing criminal charges.

Michigan: As of January 13, 2022, a woman from Michigan is headed to prison for seven to 14 years for attempting to hire a hitman from a phony website. According to WTOP, a news radio station in Washington, DC, Wendy Wein was looking for someone to murder her ex-husband when she came across the website, “RentAHitman.” There she read positive customer reviews and even expressed to the owner of the site her shock that he wasn’t hosting such as a service on the “darkweb.” She also filled out a form looking for consultation on how to have her former partner murdered for the price of $5,000. But there was a catch: That “RentAHitman” site was a front set up by owner Bob Innes, who used a fake name when communicating with potential “clients” before turning them over to the police. Innes had made sure to litter his site with hints of its inauthenticity. But Wein did not take notice. She pleaded guilty in November 2021 of attempting to solicit murder, for which she will serve the time.

Mississippi: Two Jackson police officers were arrested in suburban Flowood, Mississippi, and charged with possession of marijuana on December 17, 2021. According to the Clarion Ledger, the two officers, Darius Jamal Short and Kenya Shardea McCarty, were arrested in Natural Trail Park by Flowood police and charged with an open container violation on top of the drug possession charges. Short and McCarty, recent graduates of the Jackson Police Academy, were also found in possession of firearms and marijuana paraphernalia. According to Jackson Police Chief James Davis, the two were not on duty, and he would not say whether they had been placed on administrative leave. Marijuana in small amounts was decriminalized in the state in 1978. To possess 30 grams or less can cost the offender a maximum fine of $250 but no jail time.

Nevada: According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a man filed suit for false imprisonment against Henderson police in early January 2022 after being picked up on another man’s arrest warrant. The man, Shane Lee Brown, who is 25 and Black, was arrested during a traffic stop on January 8, 2020, on a warrant for another Shane Lee Brown—who is a 49-year-old white man four inches taller than him. The younger Brown was then held in the Henderson Detention Center and Clark Detention Center for a combined six days. According to the lawsuit, police officers failed to crosscheck his appearance with that of the man with the warrant. The suit lists as defendants the Henderson Police Department (HPD), the Metropolitan Police Department, the city of Henderson, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and HPD Chief Thedrick Andres. The older Brown was wanted on possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The younger Brown was released when a judge, shown the difference between the two Browns, ordered it.

New Jersey: In November 19, 2021, three police officers in Ewing Township, New Jersey, were indicted for stomping a Black teenager during a 2018 arrest. According to The Trentonian, the officers, Matthew Przemieniecki and Justin Urby, along with now-retired fellow officer Michael Delahanty, were charged with deprivation of civil rights. According to the indictment, the three were caught on video stomping and kicking snow in the face of a teen they had apprehended. The young man was handcuffed and on his stomach when the officers assaulted him. They surrendered to the FBI the same day they were charged.

New Mexico: According to the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the police chief in Loving, New Mexico, was charged in late November 2021 with battery and impersonating an officer. The chief, Frank Methola, 50, was charged by the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office with making a traffic stop in Carlsbad, which was outside of his jurisdiction, on August 26, 2021. After the driver of the vehicle pulled over, the man is said to have yelled at Methola for not having jurisdiction. Methola is accused of detaining the driver, using a stun gun on him and placing him in handcuffs. The driver was neither arrested nor cited. Municipal officers can be deputized by the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office to operate outside of their jurisdiction, but Methola had not received such a deputation.

North Carolina: On January 5, 2022, a police officer working for the Carolina Beach Police Department (CBPD) was charged with felony larceny. According to WECT, a news station serving Wilmington, CBPD Officer Christopher Wilkinson is accused of stealing $4,000 from a man while on duty. On December 2, 2021, Wilkinson allegedly entered the victim’s hotel room and stole the money. The victim then reported the missing money to CBPD. Wilkinson resigned from the force on January 3, 2022, having served for less than a year. After his resignation he was charged with felony larceny and willful failure to discharge duties. According to the district attorney there are still other cases that are pending in relation to the Wilkinson case.

Ohio: According to WHIO, a news station serving Dayton, a now former Deputy Chief of the Tipp City Police Department (TCPD) entered not guilty pleas on charges of drunk driving and weapons possession on December 30, 2021. Deputy Chief Stephanie Slepicka, 43, was stopped by police after going the wrong way down West Market Street in Troy and crashing her vehicle—twice—in the early morning of December 22, 2021. A Troy police officer who stopped her noticed that her speech was slurred and smelled alcohol when she told him that she had had “a few drinks.” A hand gun was found in her purse, which was also in her truck. During the arrest Slepicka declined to take a sobriety test, but once she was escorted back to the police station she accepted the testing. She could not blow into the device long enough to give an accurate reading, though. She resigned her position with TCPD the following day.

Oklahoma: According to The Ada News, the police chief of Allen, Oklahoma, was arrested on September 16, 2021. Kacey Shaver, 32, who had begun work as Chief of the Allen Police Department (APD) just seven days before his arrest, is said to have used a Taser on someone unlawfully. He faces a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous/deadly weapon and was put under $500,000 bond. Shaver is accused of tasering a woman, Taran Finley, after she had been arrested by another officer on suspicion of indecent exposure in July 2021. When she was brought to the jail for holding, she allegedly resisted, and Shaver was called to help enforce compliance. She allegedly resisted him, too, but during the struggle he stopped holding her, allowing her to walk away from him. It was then that he tased her in the back, without verbal warning or threat to his person.

Pennsylvania: Three police officers in Philadelphia were charged in mid-January 2022 with manslaughter. According to the New York Times, the three officers, Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney, were outside a high school football stadium on August 21, 2021, when two teenagers began shooting at one another. After two shots went in the direction of the officers, they responded with 25 shots toward a car they thought was the origin point of the shots, but was not. Three people were injured and a young girl, Fanta Bility, was killed. The charges against the cops were met with disappointment and frustration from the lawyers representing them and vindication from an attorney representing the Bility family.

Pennsylvania: After an explosion at an apartment in Kline Township, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 2021, it came to light that two months earlier the same apartment had been burglarized by a Hazelton police officer. According to The Morning Call, the officer, Ladell E. Hannon, 31, was arrested the same day as the explosion, which has been labelled an attempted homicide under investigation. It occurred in the early morning, and it was during the subsequent investigation that state troopers learned of the break-in on October 28, 2021. The tenant in the burglarized apartment was taken to a hospital, having sustained non-life-threatening injuries. He tipped troopers off to the identity of the burglar, adding that he had gotten into an argument with Hannon on December 11, 2021. Hannon now faces charges of felony burglary, misdemeanor theft, and felony criminal trespass, and has been placed on bail for $300,000. All three residences in the building are now deemed unlivable.

Pennsylvania: A former Assistant District Attorney in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was charged on January 10, 2022, with theft of over $242,000, according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. The lawyer, John William Eddy, 39, who was also charged with state drug offenses in 2019, is accused of having stolen the large amount from law clients over the course of four years. Eddy ran a private law office alongside his public positions. One of the clients he stole from was the family of a woman who died in a car crash. He is said to have paid back the clients, after obtaining personal loans received after his DUI arrest on June 4, 2019. That arrest took place after police officers spotted him selling cocaine to one of his then-clients, whom he was representing in another case.

Texas: According to ABC13, a news station serving Houston, a former Houston Police Department (HPD) officer was arrested on December 17, 2021, on charges of aggravated assault, intent to commit assault, and burglary. The officer, Ray Irvin, 41, allegedly beat and threatened his ex-girlfriend while she was holding their son, who is 1 year old. She had changed the locks to their apartment after their separation and didn’t respond when he phoned to ask her when she and the baby were “coming home.” Angered, Irvin then went to the apartment and told her to open the door. When she didn’t, he allegedly broke into the apartment and beat her with a gun. Police officers responding to the incident were not able to obtain a statement from her, though, allegedly because she was afraid of Irvin’s response. After the officers left, Irvin stayed in the apartment, attempting to cuddle with her. At some point he showed her a website on which stories of victims of domestic violence who had been killed were featured. After this she was able to escape to her cousin’s residence and call police. Irvin was placed on a $90,000 bond and relieved of duty by the HPD. 

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