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News in Brief

California: A former police officer with the LAPD, Paul Razo, 46, was arrested in early May 2023, accused of sexually assaulting at least four minor boys over the course of more than a decade. Weeks after his arrest, Razo died of medical complications while in custody. KNBC in Los Angeles reported that some of the boys Razo was accused of assaulting were his own relatives. Razo, who had been awarded the Medal of Valor in 2018 for rescuing a man from a burning car while off-duty, was accused of assaulting two boys, both between the ages 11 and 13 at the time of the assaults. He was also accused of assaulting the sons, between the ages of 9 and 12, of a woman he was dating. All the assaults were said to have taken place at his home between 2006 and 2017, and investigators suspected that there could be more victims. Razo was charged with eight counts of “lewd acts upon a child” in connection with his alleged actions.

Colorado: On May 1, 2023, a former police officer in Log Lane Village was sentenced for forgery and felony theft, having continued on active duty even after the initial charges were filed. KUSA in Denver reported that the former officer, Dawn Fliszar, had been found guilty of taking for her own profit over $30,000 worth of fees for vehicle inspections in the Town of Morrison. KUSA had previously reported in Nov. 2022, that Fliszar was still on duty even after being charged with felonies, which is something a majority of jurisdictions don’t allow. She failed to reveal to Log Lane Village, where she later worked, that she was facing felony counts. During this time, she was allowed to own a gun, though due to her conviction, will not be, and her law enforcement certification in the state will be taken away. She eventually resigned from the Log Lane Village police. For her offenses, Fliszer was sentenced to 14 days of jailtime, 3 years of probation, and will be forced to pay $35,600.

District of Columbia: It was announced on May 19, 2023, that a Metropolitan police officer was charged with having improper communication with the former leader of Proud Boys extremist group around the time of Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. NBC News reported that the officer, Shane Lamond, 47, in charge of the intelligence arm of the Metropolitan police was accused of warning former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio of his arrest warrant before the insurrection began. Tarrio was indeed arrested before the insurrection and barred from Washington, D.C. by a judge. He has since been convicted of seditious conspiracy along with other members of the group. Lamond was charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements. He was accused of trying to get in the way of the investigation into the Proud Boys’ burning of a Black Lives Matter banner in D.C. at an event in support of then-President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 20, 2020. Tarrio and Lamond were in communication from July 2019 to January 2021 via various messaging services. [See: CLN, Oct. 2022, p. 1]

Florida: WFLA in Tampa reported on May 10, 2023, that a police officer in St. Cloud was accused of using the credit card of a deceased person. The officer, Dianne Ferreira, was investigating a death when she found the credit card of the deceased and loaded the card information into her phone. She then used the card to buy things for herself.

Idaho: A police officer in Eagle was pulled over on May 15, 2023. KTVB reported that the officer, Casey Hancuff, was pulled over by police on Highway 44 for driving erratically in the early hours of the morning. He had been driving his personal vehicle at the time of the incident and was off-duty. The responding police officer could smell alcohol, and Hancuff was accused of failing a sobriety test at the scene of the traffic stop, measuring in at a blood alcohol level of 0.111. Hancuff was known for his work addressing DUIs as a police officer, having made thousands of DUI arrests during his 20-year career. He now faces his own DUI charge. Hancuff had also previously received an award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”). The responding officer that morning decided not to arrest Hancuff, instead taking him to his home, which is technically within adherence to policy, but very rare for DUIs.

Indiana: On May 15, 2023, a police officer in Indianapolis pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law for physically assaulting an arrestee in Sep. 2021. The Associated Press reported that the officer, Eric Huxley, admitted to kicking Jermaine Vaughn in the face while Vaughn was handcuffed. Body camera footage of the incident showed an officer getting Vaughn down to the ground in handcuffs and then Huxley forcing his foot down on his head. Vaughn’s lawyer claimed that the victim was homeless at the time of the arrest. He was later charged with disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. But these charges against him were dropped. Huxley was suspended by the Indianapolis Metro PD after the assault, and he was indicted in Oct. 2022. On the federal charge, he could face up to 10 years in prison, and 3 years of probation for the attack, as well as a fine of up to $250,000. He has also been charged by both Marion County and the state.

Iowa: KCRG in Cedar Rapids reported on April 7, 2023, that a former reserve police officer with the Marion Sheriff’s Office sentenced for possessing a horde of child pornography. The former officer, Gordon Grabau, 51, had previously been found guilty of using “peer-to-peer” technology to gather a substantial amount of the illicit material between 2014 and 2021 before his home was searched by law enforcement in July 2021. He was fired that same day and investigators found some 168,780 files with child pornography on devices found in his residence. The horde included infant pornography. Grabau was federally sentenced to 144 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release.

Iowa: A former police officer in Buchanan County was sentenced for asking a woman to expose herself during a traffic stop, KCGR in Cedar Rapids reported on May 16, 2023. The former officer, Klint Bentley had previously been charged with and pleaded guilty to “non-felonious misconduct while in office.” He admitted to telling the victim he would not write her a ticket if she showed him her chest during a traffic stop on Feb. 4, 2022. He also admitted to messaging her afterward, the state DPS reported, requesting images. The victim recorded the traffic stop. Bentley was fired four days after the incident and was soon arrested. As part of his plea agreement, charges of bribery and extortion were dropped. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail for the offense and 1 – 2 years of supervised probation.

Massachusetts: The former head of the Massachusetts State Police union was sentenced to prison on May 10, 2023, after being found guilty of racketeering and fraud. WBUR in Boston reported that Dana Pullman, 61, the one-time president of the union had previously been convicted of accepting a $20,000 kickback from lobbyist, Anne Lynch, 71, and working with her to defraud two companies who were looking to work with the state police. Pullman did so by hiding the fact that he was being paid by Lynch to send vendors to do business with her. Pullman was also found to have used the union credit card for thousands of dollars of his own personal expenses. Pullman and Lynch had been charged with and convicted of obstruction of justice, tax fraud crimes, racketeering, and wire fraud in Nov. 2022. For her part, Lynch was sentenced to 2 years of prison, 2 years of probation, and to pay restitution. For his part, Pullman was sentenced to 2 ½ in prison, 3 years of probation, and to pay restitution. He had been president of union from 2012 to 2018 and had been a state police officer since 1987.

Michigan: The Kalamazoo County prosecutor announced on April 6, 2023, that the sheriff of St. Joseph County was charged with various offenses relating to his DUI car crash earlier in the year. WOODTV reported that the sheriff, Mark Lillywhite, 47, had been charged with counts of “carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of alcohol” and “operating while intoxicated.” The misdemeanor charges were authorized on April 5 and related to accusations that Lillywhite smashed his SUV into another car on Feb. 26, 2023, in the early hours of the morning, sending both vehicles off the road. The other vehicle went into a roll from the impact, yet no one was “seriously” harmed. Passengers in the vehicle that was struck, reported no headlights from Lillywhite’s SUV, which, according to the vehicle’s data, was going 100 mph and hadn’t braked. There were also two pistols, a rifle, and ammunition in the SUV. Lillywhite appeared drunk to the responding officers and told them that he had not been driving the car. They claimed he was the only one in it during the incident.

New York: The New York Post reported that a former Briarcliff Manor police officer was convicted of quadruple murder on April 6, 2023. The former officer, Nicholas Tartaglione, was found guilty by a jury of killing Urbano Santiago, Hector Gutierrez, Martin Luna, and Miguel Luna in 2015. Tartaglione, who shared a jail cell with Jeffrey Epstein before his death, turned to drug trafficking during his career in law enforcement. He was convicted of bringing Martin Luna to a Chester bar called the Likquid Lounge, thinking that the man stole his money. Luna brought his nephews, Miguel Luna and Urbano Santiago, as well as a family friend, Gutierrez. Upon the group’s arrival, Tartaglione proceeded to make the nephews watch as he strangled Luna to death with a zip tie. He and two others then took the surviving three deep into the woods, had them kneel down, and then executed them with gunshots to the head. He buried all four bodies in a mass grave nearby. He faces potential life in prison for the brutal murders.

North Carolina: WITN in Washington reported that a police officer in Richlands was arrested on May 11, 2023, on suspicion of possessing child porn. The officer, Gabrial Luciano, 39, was taken into custody and handed 10 felonious second-degree counts of “sexual exploitation of a minor.” Luciano was found in possession of numerous images of minor girls, some as young as 7-years-old. He was caught up in an North Carolina SBI investigation, which was launched in response to a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

Oregon: The ABA Journal reported that the former number one administrative judge in Washington County was sentenced on May 11, 2023, for child pornography. The former judge, John Michael Mann, had previously pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography that he knew involved the abuse of minors. He had originally been arrested in March 2022, went on leave from his judgeship, and was eventually placed on interim suspension from the bar. He entered into a plea agreement on the 10 counts in March 2023. For his offenses, Mann was handed 38 months in prison for two of the counts and five years of probation for the other eight. To meet probation, he will have to undergo sex-offender treatment, register as a sex-offender, and he will be barred from access to the internet and computers.

South Carolina: The Post and Courier Greenville reported that a former police officer in Traveler’s Rest was charged with sexually assaulting a woman after luring her to a remote area. The details of the misconduct in office and third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges against Gerard James Hildebrandt were released to the public on May 12, 2023. He was accused of being the responding officer to a call at a local residence on July 3, 2022, where he found the victim. She was drunk and trying to get things out of her boyfriend’s residence. Hildebrandt told the woman to follow him to a high school nearby to sober up, framing it as a way to avoid being charged with a DUI. When they arrived at the high school, he forced her to engage in sex acts and took her clothes off by force. He was in uniform and armed during the abuse. Hildebrandt was fired the same day, and it was later reported that he’d previously been fired from another department for choking a handcuffed man in Aug. 2021.

West Virginia: The DOJ reported that a former state regional director of parole was sentenced on April 27, 2023, for witness tampering. The man was former parole officer with the WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, David Jones, 51, and he had previously acknowledged he had lied to and withheld information from federal and state investigators about a case of alleged sexual misconduct by a parole officer he was supervising, Anthony DeMetro. He also acknowledged that he had directed a witness in the case to lie and destroy evidence numerous times in 2020. Jones had directed the witness to discard recordings she had of the officer at the center of the investigation sexually harassing her. He was found to have told the witness to get rid of evidence that they had been messaging as well. For his part in the attempted cover up of the misconduct, Jones was sentenced to 87 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.

 

 

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