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News in Brief

Arkansas: WREG reported thaton March 12, 2024, a former policeman with three years on the force in Blytheville was charged with distributing, possessing, and/or viewing materials depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. David Paul Cross, 25, was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by the Arkansas State Police. Several pieces of evidence, including electronic devices, were seized at his residence. The Blytheville Police Department immediately fired Cross, and he is now being held at the Mississippi County Detention Center on a $75,000 bond. The charges Cross faces are class-C felonies and could carry three to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each one.

California: The Union Democrat released a special report on March 12, 2024 exposing six Tuolumne County Sheriff’s deputies who were found to have committed misconduct between 2019 and 2022. Deputy David Danel resigned during an investigation into accusations of a sexual relationship he was having with a woman he arrested on a felony domestic violence call. Deputy Vincent Lee was fired after the discovery of sexually explicit texts he exchanged with another domestic violence victim. Sgt. Victor Serrano was fired after an investigation revealed that he failed to respond or send deputies to a domestic disturbance call that turned violent. In the internal affairs investigation that followed, Serrano lied about the calls in his watch report. He was fired after an arbitrator upheld the decision.Deputy Shawn Betzenderfer resigned before he was fired after a journalist exposed his discriminatory and hateful comments about race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation on his public social media accounts. Deputy Rodney Hobbs got a 30-day suspension because of an armed, off-duty altercation with a man he had been fighting with for years. The least harsh of the punishments went to jail guard Marcus Green who received a 160-hour suspension for punching a defenseless prisoner in the face seven times while he was being held down by other deputies.

Canada: On April 29, 2023, Constable Trevor Kathnelson of the Durham Regional Police Service had been consuming alcoholic beverages at a bar in Port Hope, Ontario, and offered to give his buddy a ride home. According to CB24 in Toronto, Kathnelson crashed his pickup truck after dropping off his passenger. The impaired constable then drove the “heavily” damaged car to a gas station. According to a tribunal document he then ditched his car and hurried to a nearby hotel where he called a friend to come pick him up. The court found that Kathnelson, a veteran constable with 22 years in service, “attempted to evade criminal and civil liability” two different times. First, he reported the vehicle stolen to the Ontario Provincial Police. He then denied his identity to the authorities who showed up at the hotel. On February 24, 2024, Kathnelson pled guilty to one count of professional misconduct. The Ontario Court of Justice sentenced him to probation and a $2,000 fine. He also received a two-year demotion. After two years Kathnelson will return to his former rank of First Class Constable.

Connecticut: The New York Post reported that on February 27, 2024, Thomas Brocuglio was driving his work van through Rocky Hill when he stopped behind a vehicle in the right lane. His dash cam shows him giving the finger to the vehicle that was not moving and honking his horn. Allen Ganter, an off-duty Connecticut cop in gym shorts and a hoodie, hopped out of his vehicle and approached Brocuglio. Of course, he was proudly displaying his badge. The 20-year veteran of the Meriden Police Department shouted, “You can’t take a right on red here, you asshole.” Brocuglio reads the road sign to Ganter: “Stop here on red.” Brocuglio also points out that the cop was on his phone and not paying attention. The argument lasted until Ganter unexpectedly punched Brocuglio in the face and walked away. As a result of the incident, Ganter was removed as a school resource officer for Thomas Edison Middle School and was charged with breach of peace and third-degree assault. Ganter was also suspended for five days with no pay and must attend de-escalation training for the next three years. He is banned from working as a school resource officer in the future.

Florida: March 5, 2024, Detective Victor Manual Montalvo, of the Miami-Dade Police Department, was cruising down Sunset Drive in the middle of the night. He was on duty but in an unmarked car. He was also very drunk. As a result, he crashed his unmarked car into a marked Miami-Dade police car. According to WSVN in Miami, Montalvo then stumbled out of his car, drew a semi-automatic firearm and took “what appeared to be a low-ready, prone, tactical-type position with what appeared to be a dazed or confused look on his face.” Montalvo dropped the weapon when ordered by the police. While he was being arrested, Montalvo sadly declared, “I drank too much” and subsequently peed on himself in the patrol car ride to the station. He was booked into Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, charged with DUI and DUI with damage to property. He bonded out on $2,000 and MDPD Director Stephanie Daniels had to relieve Montalvo of duty. The drunk driving cop had a commendable 20-year tenure on the force before the incident.

Indiana: On March 2, 2024, a South Bend policeman named Rico Butler was charged with two counts of child seduction. As reported by the South Bend Tribune, according to Indiana law, child seduction occurs when a child engages in sexual activity with a person in a position of trust—say a teacher, coach, priest, or cop. The 27-year-old policeman, who is currently on administrative leave, was also working as security and as a boys’ basketball coach for a Mishawaka high school. That was where he met his 17-year-old victim. The relationship started off through Snapchat messaging, but then became more intimate. According to court documents, the two had sex several times, including in his truck as well as her house when mom was not present. After they had sex inside a classroom at the school, Butler purchased “Plan B” birth control for her. Butler had until April 29, 2024, to pay a $3,000 bond and must attend meetings, not leave the jurisdiction, and abide by a no-contact order.

Kentucky: As part of the lawsuit settlement between Louisville Metro Government and the family of Breonna Taylor, the Black woman who was wrongfully shot and killed by police in 2020, Taylor’s family’s attorney, Sam Aguiar, crafted reform demands that he thought would improve the relationship between local cops and residents. One of those measures was to have the city provide a down payment assistance program to cops willing to buy homes in certain areas. Louisville cops were offered $5,000 toward the purchase of a home located in areas with at least 51 percent low-to-moderate-income residents. According to Louisville Public Media, more than three years after the demands were agreed to, not one single cop has used it. Aguiar said, “I don’t know if that’s a symptom of the city not advertising it or if it’s just a situation where there’s a culture within the department that they don’t want to sleep where they work.”

Sarah Greenman, a professor of criminal justice in Minnesota, suggests that the residency incentive program is offered in some cities because it is much easier to do than enacting “procedural justice reforms and initiatives to involve the community in public safety.”

Minnesota: On March 11, 2024, according to the Associated Press News, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board in rejecting Jeronimo Yanez’ substitute teaching license. In 2016, Yanez shot and killed Philandro Castille, a Black man, during a traffic stop. He was shot after he told Yanez that he had a gun. Although Castille, 32, an elementary school cafeteria worker had a permit for the gun, Yanez shot him anyway. The case went viral after Castille’s girlfriend, who was with him at the time, along with his young daughter, livestreamed the shooting on Facebook. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter. The board concluded that Yanez racially profiled Castille and put the lives of his girlfriend and daughter at risk when he fired seven shots into the car. The Court also upheld the board’s finding that such actions run contrary to the ethics code for Minnesota teachers.

Mississippi: On March 14, 2024, former Pearl Police Department Officer Michael Christian Green pled guilty to forcing a detainee to lick urine off the floor of a cell. The detainee was being booked for a disturbance at a Sam’s Club on December 23, 2023, when he knocked on the door of his cell saying that he had to pee. WLBT reported that after his requests went ignored, the detainee urinated on the floor. According to court documents, at that time Green threatened to beat the detainee with a phone and ordered him to “lick it up.” Green stood in the doorway and filmed the Latino man licking the urine into his mouth. The detainee gagged and choked while obeying Green’s order and later vomited in a trash can. Over the Christmas weekend, the city of Pearl learned about the disturbing incident, opened an investigation and sent a video to the FBI. Green resigned from his position on December 27. Green pleaded guilty to one count of acting under color of law to deprive a person of his civil rights. The 26-year-old former cop is facing up to 12 months in prison

Mississippi: The Associated Press reported that on March 19, 2024, Senior U.S. District Judge Tom Lee delivered justice to Hunter Elward, a former Mississippi sheriff’s deputy, who was part of the notorious “Goon Squad.” Elward got 241 months in prison for participating in the torturing of two Black men. On January 24, 2023, a white neighbor called Rankin County high-ranking former deputy Brett McAlpin, 53, to report that two Black men were in a white woman’s home. McAlpin then told Deputy Christian Dedmon, who then texted “The Goon Squad.” When the squad busted into the home the two Black men, Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, were handcuffed and then the “Goon Squad” poured milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup over their faces. Next they mocked the Black men with racial slurs and shot them with stun guns. Then it was time for a mock execution, which went badly, and Jenkins was shot in the mouth. The “Goon Squad” devised a coverup, in which they planted drugs and a gun. For months, the two men faced these false charges. Jenkins and Parker have filed a $400-million civil lawsuit against the Rankin County Sheriff Department and have called for Sheriff Bryan Bailey’s resignation. CBS reported on the sentencing of the other members of the “Goon Squad” on March 21, 2024: McAlpin, 27 years; Christian Dedmon, 40 years which included an incident from December 2022; Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, 17.5 years.

Nevada: Chasen Bradford certainly has many stupendous accomplishments in his life. In 2017, he was a reliever for the New York Mets. He was decent, with a 3.74 ERA in 28 appearances. Then, seven years later, on March 21, 2024, he was welcomed into the Henderson Police Department along with 13 other police academy graduates. However, just a few hours later, on March 22, Bradford was seen driving recklessly through the streets late at night. When the cops pulled him over, at 10:23 p.m., he admitted to drinking two beers, but as the conversation endured, it became five or six beers. According to the New York Post, a day after his arrest, Bradford was fired.

Ohio: As reported by WKYC in Cleveland, former East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner, 49, was on trial for some pretty serious crimes, including two counts of grand theft, two counts of money laundering, one count of aggravated theft, six counts of fraudulent actions concerning a tax return, and many more. An investigation into Gardner’s tax filings and financial decisions had been going on for years. Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Samantha Sohl said that Gardner “grossly underreported” his earnings from his business, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars less in taxes over the years before hiring an accountant and tax attorney to assist in filing amended sales tax filings during the state’s investigation. He even stole from the Fraternal Order of Police. Instead of the money going to the police, it went into Gardner’s sketchy business and his lavish lifestyle that included trips to the Caribbean. On March 21, 2024, Advance Local Mediareported that Gardner will not go to prison. He halted his trial on dozens of charges when he pleaded guilty to a single charge of failure to remit sales tax, a fourth-degree felony. Prosecutors from Cuyahoga County dismissed the other charges in exchange for the plea. Gardner must pay the back taxes and perform 600 hours of community service.

Ohio: WFMJreported that on March 13, 2024, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Joseph M. Bell indefinitely from practicing law. Bell worked as an attorney in the child support unit of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. The assistant county prosecutor lost his job after getting arrested for soliciting sex online from someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl but was an undercover agent with the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force. Bell had also frequented profiles of sex workers on his phone. Writing for the Court majority, Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote “His job was to protect children, instead, while on the job, he negotiated a price to victimize one.”

Oklahoma: As reported by KOTV-DT in Tulsa, James Matthew Waltman, 42, a nine-year veteran of the Mannford Police, has been terminated and is sitting in jail on rape charges. Waltman, a school resource officer, invited a student to his house where they each consumed 12 shots of whisky. According to the affidavit, the student became sick and lay down to rest after being invited into a hot tub with Waltman. When he awoke, Waltman was assaulting him. The student demanded to be taken home. He then told a pastor, who told the police. A second student has come forth and told authorities, that he too was lured to Waltman’s residence and then offered alcohol. The second student denied sexual contact. Waltman was booked into the Creek County Jail on March 5, 2024, on charges of first-degree rape and providing alcohol to a person under 21 years old. On March 19, Waltman pleaded not guilty to rape.

Oklahoma: Back in November 2022, Jeffrey Scott Smith Jr., 35, was working his first solo shift as a cop in Savanna when he pulled over a woman and her boyfriend. The Associated Press reported that he ticketed the guy for speeding but then turned off his body camera. According to prosecutors, he next escorted the woman to his patrol car where he proceeded to sexually assault her. Thanks to a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Smith is looking at a much longer sentence. Before the law changed for committing such a disgusting crime, Smith’s maximum penalty would have been ten years. Now, he is looking at up to 40 years in prison after a jury found him guilty. In addition, Smith can get up to 20 years for turning off his cameras.

Pennsylvania: Trib Total Media reported that on March 24, 2022, Keith Edmonds, a Pittsburgh cop, was fired for repeatedly using his taser on a homeless man. There was no question as to what happened—Edmonds had murdered a homeless man. An $8 million settlement was paid by the city in December because of the wrongful death suit. Edmonds himself even admitted under oath that he violated the policies of the City of Pittsburgh. What could make this disturbing News in Brief even more horrifying? On March 8, 2024, the police union president announced that a neutral arbitrator had decided to reinstate Edmonds. Not only will he be reinstated, but he will receive full back pay and benefits. Now there is even another reason NOT to visit Pittsburgh.

Texas: Emanuel Isac Celedon, 36, was a Customs and Border Protection officer in Texas who had a profitable but illegal side hustle at work. According to NBC News, for the right price, he would allow people to enter the U.S. without an inspection through the Juarez-Lincoln Port of Entry. Celedon even accepted $6,000 to allow vehicles transporting cocaine through our borders. However, turns out it was only a few kilograms of “sham cocaine,” a prop used in an undercover investigation. He pled guilty on March 11, 2024, to four counts of bringing an undocumented alien into the United States, bribery and attempted importation of a controlled substance.

Vermont: The investigation began in late January 2024. At that time, Vermont troopers were moving into the new barracks in Williston. According to WPTZ in Plattsburg, New York, a part of the move required troopers to transfer seized personal items into the new lockup. However, a diamond dust pendant, worth $375, went missing. According to the log, Giancarlo DiGenova, 45, a former Vermont trooper, had used his ID to enter the lockup and take the item. eBay records revealed that DiGenova sold the necklace in December 2022. This diamond pendant is the fifth case against DiGenova, including a missing Rolex worth $14,000 and other items seized by narcotics back in November. In 2023, DiGenova pleaded not guilty to 20 charges in four cases. If found guilty, he could be looking at 60 years in prison. After the newest charge, DiGenova’s attorney informed the judge to expect a plea deal to cross his desk changing the plea either to guilty or no contest.

Washington: Back in January of 1986, on a rainy night, Ruby Doss’ strangled and beaten corpse was found just off the side of the road. According to KNDO, she was a 27-year-old sex worker when she was killed. Her four daughters went through the next 38 years bearing the painful knowledge of their mother’s murder. In 2015, at least they began to get an answer. 51-year-old Richard Aguirre’s DNA matched the DNA from a condom near the crime scene. When the killing took place, Aguirre was 21 years old and in the U.S. Air Force. After his military service he became a Pasco cop. In June 2015, he was arrested. The judge ruled a mistrial in the first trial. When his second trial began in November 2023, he opted to forgo a jury. The judge then found Aguirre guilty of murder on December 26. Aguirre was sentenced under 1986 law, which gave the judge a span of only 20 to 26 years. The four daughters expressed their anguish as they pleaded for the maximum punishment. On March 4, 2024, Aguirre received a 25-year sentence.

Wisconsin: According to article in Roadside Zoo News published on March 18, 2024, former Racine County Sheriff’s Deputy Preston Kite, 37, and three others have been charged with a plethora of child porn and bestiality charges. On February 3, 2024, after a man claimed Kite exposed himself to him in a public bathroom, authorities searched Kite’s phone. The disturbing images and videos on the device included videos of child sexual assault, as well as people performing sexual acts with animals. In a message that Kite had sent from his phone, he bragged about engaging in sexual contact with a dog and a cow. Once the phone was in the hands of the authorities, the other guilty parties fell like dominoes. Police arrested former Outagamie County Human Resources Director Adam Westbrook, 34. A video on Kite’s phone, of a naked child engaging in sexual acts at a nearby hotel, had been sent by Westbrook. Upon searching Westbrook’s phone, police found explicit videos and photos from Jacob Boudreau, 30, who owns a dog grooming business. When police searched Boudreau’s phone they found numerous images of child pornography, as well as videos from his roommate Noah Thiel, age 20, showing Thiel engaging in sexual contact with Boudreau’s dog.   

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