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News in Brief

Alabama: Participants in Shelby County’s Drug Court are granted preferred prosecution if they can complete an intensive program. One of the steps of the program includes periodic drug testing. The Drug Court is a separate entity from the Shelby County Jail, with the sole purpose of helping those addicted to drugs complete an educational program which could then reduce or even dismiss their sentence. WBRC reported that Shelby County sheriff’s deputies received a tip of possible suspicious activity in October 2023. Adrian Davis was hired by Shelby County Community Corrections as a lab technician. It was his responsibility to collect urine samples from the participants. However, investigators revealed evidence that Davis was selling clean urine to help these participants pass their drug tests. The former employee of Community Corrections turned himself in on March 22, 2024. Davis now faces two counts of bribery as a public official.

Alabama: On April 19, 2024, Chadwick Ray Crabtree, 45, and his wife Melissa Kay Crabtree, 55, were booked into the Limestone County Jail, of which Chadwick is the warden. He had been with the Alabama Department of Corrections for 20 years and had assumed his new position as warden in 2022. WHNT reported that the Crabtrees were charged with second-degree possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Crabtree is also named in civil litigation by a deceased prisoner’s family whose loved one was delivered to a funeral home without his organs intact and several broken bones after an autopsy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The family contacted Crabtree for help in retrieving the prisoner’s organs but did not receive a response. Crabtree is now on mandatory leave without pay in connection with the drug charges.

Arkansas: On March 25, 2024, according to WREG in Memphis, Jacob Gammel, 25, was arrested for theft, extortion, and perjury. Gammel was the former chief of police of the tiny town of Wheatley. According to the 2020 census, Wheatley had a population of 279. Gammel would take money from local businesses in exchange for protection. When an owner of a convenience store was unable to pay his fees, Gammel threatened to arrest him. Gammel would collect money from this business owner every month, in exchange for protection involving the usage of gaming machines (which were legal). Details of this extortion scheme have yet to unfold with Gammel’s next court appearance scheduled for June 10 in St. Francis County Circuit Court.

California: Mark DeRosia, 68, the former police chief of the Delano Police Department was dismissed in 2017 for confidential reasons. Roughly seven years later, in March 2024, DeRosia was back in California for a wedding and went online to explore chat rooms on the internet. Meanwhile, Kern County Sheriff’s Office was conducting a periodic sting investigation in which a decoy assumes the identity of a minor. The decoy that struck up a conversation with former police chief DeRosia was 15. Quickly, the conversation became sexual, and then, inevitably, the two arranged to meet in person. Early in the investigation, they discovered that the person the decoy was communicating with was the former chief of police. An arrest was made days later, on March 26. When KGET contacted the department for an explanation of DeRosia’s separation from the department seven years’ earlier, they were told ‘no comment.’ The Kern County District County Attorney’s Office will decide whether to file charges after they receive the case.

Indiana: On April 19, 2024, the Whitley County Prosecutor D.J. Sigler dropped all charges against Vivian Augustus, 18. WPTA out of Fort Wayne also reported that according to a town councilman, Officer Brian Schimmel had been released from the South Whitley Police Department due to “safety concerns.” The situation began on January 24, 2024, when Schimmel pulled Augustus over for speeding and one non-working headlight. Schimmel coincidentally happened to switch his body camera off before approaching her car. Luckily, the entire encounter was caught on the gas station’s surveillance. Schimmel asked Augustus for her ID. It was her first time being stopped by the police and the teenager fumbled looking for it. Schimmel apparently grew impatient over the delay, opened the driver’s side car door, threw her on the asphalt and cuffed her with cable ties. Augustus’ initial charges were refusal to identify herself, resisting and speeding. As soon as Augustus’ parents posted the gas station surveillance, the story exploded. The resisting charge was dropped in January, but as soon as the video went viral, the other charges were dropped as well. On that same day Schimmel was fired. After the video was released, the South Whitley Police Department posted a Facebook message accusing the video of being edited. Shortly afterwards, that post was deleted and then the department’s Facebook page went dark.

Kansas: In January 2024, Michael Tennyson, 24, was hired as a deputy by the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. Three months later, he would be fired after his arrest on charges of indecent liberties with a child. KWCH in Hutchinson reported that the Kansas Bureau of Investigations was contacted by the Hays Police Department regarding a missing 15-year-old runaway. The Hays investigators believed that Tennyson and the teen were together. After searching his home in Iola, the teen was discovered, and Hays was arrested on March 29, 2024. The former deputy is being held in the Bourbon County Jail.

Kentucky: Under Kentucky’s open records law, WDRB from Louisville obtained an investigative file that provided some new details about the June 2023 termination of three guards at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, and about another who was suspended for 30 days. Boone Collins, Robert Grim, Alan Dube were terminated, and Justin Newsome was suspended. On May 9, 2023, Governor Andy Beshear received an email about sadistic guards from the mother of a prisoner prompting the investigation. The 630-page investigation by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet concluded that these prison guards would tase inmates who failed drug tests. However, the file conveniently left out some unseemly details that would surface in a lawsuit filed by Lexington attorneys on March 12, 2024, in U.S. District Court's Eastern District in Ashland. According to the report, prisoners who failed drug tests would be given the choice to get tased or drink urine. According to one of the prisoners, a guard said to him, “Either you get tased or take the dirty.”

Massachusetts: On December 27, 2023, according to WXFT in Boston, James Anthony Feeley, 56, a former Winthrop police lieutenant, was arraigned on one count of aggravated rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. The arrest came just days after he confessed the heinous crimes to Winthrop Police Chief Terence M. Delehanty while standing at his parents’ graves on Christmas evening. The Suffolk District Attorney said the crimes had taken place in the past year. A report obtained by WXFT stated that Feeley “did unlawfully have sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse” with the victim who was “under 12 years of age.” A probable cause hearing was held on March 28, 2024. Freeley had been a member of the department for 20 years but is no longer a part of the Winthrop Police Department. He had also been a foster parent.

New York: Reuters reported that on April 8, 2024, federal court employee Dionisio Figueroa, 66, was sentenced to two years in prison, and disbarred New York lawyer Telesforo Del Valle, 65, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for a bribery scheme. Del Valle gave tens of thousands of dollars to Figueroa, who would convince criminal defendants to hire Del Valle as opposed to using court-appointed counsel, which is free. According to prosecutors, Figueroa managed to steer at least 45 criminal defendants to Del Valle. At least 20 of these criminal defendants would wind up retaining him. In exchange, Del Valle gave Figueroa referral payments in the form of cash. Judge Mae D'Agostino also sentenced both Figueroa and Del Valle to one year of supervised release. She ordered Figueroa to forfeit $40,000 and fined Del Valle $10,000.

Ohio: According to the Columbus Dispatch, on March 27, 2024, former Pike County Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Mooney, 49, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for savagely beating and pepper spraying a detainee who was already strapped in a restraint chair. Thomas Friend, 27, had been picked up on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Mooney was convicted in August 2023 by a federal jury in Columbus of civil rights violations for the unlawful use of force against Friend. Back in November of 2019, while working an overnight shift, Mooney punched Friend eleven times in the face at three different times while wearing leather gloves. He hit Friend so hard that he broke his own hand delivering the punch. Mooney later cynically filed a workman’s comp claim for the injury. The entire hour-long beating was caught on the facilities’ cameras. At one point during the assault Friend was seen on videotape pushing himself in the restraint chair backwards off a curb in the loading dock and landing against the concrete with his face a bloody pulp.

Pennsylvania: WPMT in York reported that the Lykens Criminal Investigation Unit filed charges against Steven Cugini, 28, a policeman with the York City Police Department on April 16, 2024. The incident occurred a week earlier after troopers responded to the severe bruising of a 13-month-old child. The little girl was immediately transported to the hospital where the Dauphin County Abuse Team as well as the Pennsylvania State Police reviewed the child’s injuries. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, the child suffered broken bones, sexual violence, and severe bruising. Court documents show that Cugini was charged with rape of a child. Charging documents also reveal that Cugini initially blamed the baby’s injuries on a fall, a diaper rash, and the family dog. After the police questioned him, he admitted that the baby’s injuries occurred while he was looking after the child by himself. Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow said in a statement, “Per our protocol, the individual has been immediately suspended as the investigation continues and the City looks to appropriate action.”

Tennessee: Christopher Law had a lot to be proud of regarding his law enforcement service. In 2023 he was recognized as the Lenoir City Police Department Officer of the Year. According to WBIR from Knoxville, Law was also recognized for earning an Officer of the Year award in 2020. But on April 15, 2024, the model policeman got way too drunk and was asked to leave a retirement party. According to the arrest warrant, Law started arguing at the party, so someone called for Law to be picked up and taken home. When the caring family member arrived to take Law home, Law started screaming obscenities at her. The next day, Law got into another argument with this same family member and followed her into the bathroom. According to the warrant, Law punched the bathroom wall and shoved his relative before screaming in her face, daring her to hit him. Then Law smacked the cellphone out of the relative’s hand, because Law thought he was being recorded. The relative continued to refuse to punch Law, so Law started punching his own face — “three or four times”. According to court documents, Law has since been suspended with pay after being charged with domestic assault.

Texas: On April 17, 2024, Chief Deputy Kirk Bonsal announced that Deputy Constable Victor Solorzano of the Harris County Constable Office’s Precinct 3 is on paid administrative leave while an investigation transpires for disclosure of intimate visual material. Solorzano is accused of taking pictures of a female coworker while she was taking a shower and then showing them to a sergeant. KPRC in Houston reported that Solorzano was at a Christmas party and asked the sergeant if he could keep a secret. He then showed him the photographs. Apparently, the sergeant could not keep a secret, as the female coworker would eventually confirm that the photograph was of her, and it was taken during a Facetime. She also confirmed to investigators that the screenshot was taken without her consent. The Journal of Interpersonal Violence published a national study in 2020 revealing that 71 percent of women who work in law enforcement face sexual harassment in their workplace.

Washington: The accident took place in August 2022. Commercial truck driver Shawn Foutch allegedly struck rookie trooper Phirawat Apisit, pushing the cruiser into a median barrier. Apisit was injured. The moment the responding state troopers arrived on the scene alarm bells went off. First, several of the troopers said they could smell alcohol on Foutch’s breath. Breath and blood tests showed zero alcohol in his system. Being a diabetic, Foutch had not had a drink for years. Even after Sergeant TJ Johnson of the Washington State Patrol viewed the dash cam footage showing Apisit’s vehicle shooting across several lanes directly into the path of Foutch’s truck, he continued to demand that Foutch be charged with negligence. Next Johnson contacted a collision technician. But when this technician concluded that it was not Foutch’s fault, he went fishing again. Eventually, Foutch would get a negligent driving ticket in the mail, potentially risking his commercial driver’s license. KING 5 in Seattle did top notch investigative work that caused the prosecutor’s office to close the case. The reporting also compelled the Washington State Patrol to demote Johnson to trooper rank with the corresponding lower pay. Instead of taking the cut, the 30-year veteran retired.

Washington: Tri-City Herald reported that in the evening of April 22, 2024, an amber alert was issued for former Yakima policeman Elias Huizar, 39. Huizar had abducted his one-year-old son after shooting and killing his ex-wife Amber Rodriguez at the school where she worked. After the shooting, and as police were searching his home in West Richland, Washington, they found yet another body, believed to be his girlfriend. Huizar’s career in law enforcement came to an end when he was arrested in February 2024 after his underage girlfriend caught him assaulting her 16-year-old friend. According to court documents, the two girls immediately left his home, but Huizar followed. Once they found a cop and asked for protection, Huizar left the area. After the two teens reported the crime, the police went to Huizar’s home, where he was arrested with the help of SWAT team. On February 15, Huizar entered a not-guilty plea to child rape accusations. Because he made bail, he was not in custody and attempted to flee to Mexico. Komo News reported that the day after an amber alert was posted, the Oregon State Police located him driving on I-5 near Eugene. Troopers chased Huizar at high speeds for 25 miles, and even exchanged gunfire with him. The pursuit came to an end when Huizar struck a car. Before the troopers could make it to the crash scene, Huizar had shot and killed himself. The one-year-old was uninjured.

Wisconsin: Paul Garchek, 51, was a cop with the Racine Police Department from 1997 to 2010. After becoming addicted to opioids, Garchek left the department. Fourteen years later, April 6, 2024, a call came into the Pleasant Prairie Police Department from a blocked number, warning of a bomb at Costco. Moments later cops rushed in, staff and customers evacuated, and according to Costco, as a result, the store suffered damages in the amount of $330,000 in lost wages and spoiled merchandise. Kenosha News reported that at the same time as every law enforcement agent was searching the aisles of Costco, a bank was being robbed. The robber escaped in a Toyota Camry with a little more than $7,000. In the investigation, police found out that the phone used to call in the bomb scare was not registered but was used to call Garchek a bit before the bomb scare. When police went to Garchek’s home, they saw the Toyota Camry in the driveway. Garchek was arrested and charged with terrorist threats for the Costco incident and robbery of a financial institution for the alleged robbery at Chase Bank. A cash bond was set at $250,000.

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