LI police misconduct: The cases

From left to right, Nassau Police Officer Michael

From left to right, Nassau Police Officer Michael Tedesco, Suffolk Police Officer Bruce Blanco, Nassau Police Officer Richard Hefferon, mentioned in allegations of police misconduct on Long Island. (Dec. 18, 2013) (Credit: NCPD, SCPD)

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Newsday identified more than 200 Long Island officers linked to misconduct cases by departmental charges, jury verdicts or multiple court settlements. The Suffolk County Police Department provided Newsday with 300 pages of departmental charges for misconduct by officers whose names were redacted from the records. However, Newsday obtained a similar set of records with no redactions from a source requesting anonymity. The Nassau County Police Department did not provide any misconduct records.

The following 50 case studies are a sample of the types of misconduct accusations against Nassau and Suffolk police officers, and in most cases, how that misconduct was handled by department officials.

NAME: Christine Amthor

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department charged Amthor a year after a June 2008 car accident in which she was accused of being impaired by drugs while her young child was in the car with her. She also acted "in a manner which brought discredit upon herself and the department while in the presence of several witnesses who were aware of her position as a Suffolk County police officer," according to the June 2009 departmental charges.

Amthor acknowledged general misconduct and agreed in September 2009 to forfeit 15 days of accrued leave. She also agreed to submit to alcohol and drug testing while on duty, the department records show.

Amthor earned $129,793 in the most recent budget year, according to records. She did not respond to a call for comment.

 

NAME: Edward Bienz

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Nassau County's Internal Affairs Unit recommended that five departmental charges be brought against Bienz, who was with Officer Anthony DiLeonardo when he shot and beat an unarmed cabdriver, Thomas Moroughan, in February 2011.

The IA investigation determined that Bienz committed two unlawful acts and three counts of violating department rules. He was found to have engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and to be unfit for duty by reason of intoxicants, among other violations of department rules. Both DiLeonardo and Bienz were off duty when Moroughan was injured.

The department has declined to say whether Bienz faced any discipline for his actions. He was not criminally charged. He remains on the job and made $148,682 in the most recent budget year.

He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Bruce Blanco

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Suffolk police charged Blanco in October 2008 with extorting and accepting a bribe from a contractor in the form of a $15,000 brick patio.

Blanco allegedly gave false testimony in traffic court about a May 2008 motorcycle stop after fixing a speeding ticket for the contractor. Investigators recorded Blanco on audio and videotape negotiating the terms of the patio construction at his Commack home in exchange for making the traffic ticket go away.

In a lawsuit filed against Blanco and the department by the contractor, Adam McCabe, he said he built the patio because Blanco told him he faced jail time. The case was settled in May 2011 for an undisclosed amount.

The department charged Blanco with misconduct after his arrest and suspended him without pay. In December 2008, the department put him on paid suspension but then brought new charges against him for failing to notify the commissioner that he'd filed for retirement. He was again suspended without pay.

Blanco pleaded guilty to attempted larceny but did not serve any jail time. He retired in June 2009 and collects an annual pension of $89,402.

In an interview, he said he was innocent and did not fight the charges to protect his family. "I did nothing wrong," Blanco said. "That's the honest truth."

He said he was singled out for discipline because he had angered his superiors.

"People that know me, know me. When I was working, I took my job very serious. I was a good cop," he said.

 

NAME: Robert W. Bodenmiller

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Bodenmiller has been the subject of two excessive-force lawsuits, both of which are pending.

Bodenmiller shot and wounded Michael Moran in a Dunkin' Donuts in West Babylon in August 2010. Police had been trying to subdue his girlfriend after a doctor's office had called and said she was suicidal. When Moran saw officers attempting to subdue her, he threw a backpack at them. Bodenmiller shot him. Police charged Moran with obstructing governmental administration. That charge was later dropped.

A Suffolk internal affairs investigation exonerated Bodenmiller, according to a March 20, 2012, internal memo.

Moran sued the county and an unnamed police officer, which later court records show is Bodenmiller, alleging that police shot him "without justification and despite no danger of physical harm."

In court papers, the county has denied those allegations.

In a separate case, Bodenmiller is one of 15 officers named as defendants by the estate of Daniel McDonnell, a Lindenhurst carpenter who died while in police custody in May 2011. In court papers, the county has denied the allegations.

According to a state Corrections Commission report issued two years later, McDonnell died after First Precinct cops shot him repeatedly with a stun gun and pinned him to the floor with a riot shield after he flooded his cell by stuffing his clothes in the toilet. The state report found that McDonnell's death was a "preventable" homicide and that Suffolk police, the district attorney and medical examiner all failed to properly investigate it. County and police officials declined to comment on the report, but district attorney spokesman Robert Clifford called the report "inaccurate and baseless" at the time.

Records show that Bodenmiller made $139,810 in the most recent budget year. Bodenmiller said in an interview, "I would love to comment, but I can't because they're both pending lawsuits."

 

NAME:Philip Branigan

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Branigan was a highway patrol sergeant when the department suspended him without pay on Feb. 22, 2008. Three days later, the department charged him with falsely reporting a crime, which "constituted conduct unbecoming an officer," according to the departmental charges. He retired in March 2008.

According to his online LinkedIn profile, Branigan went on to attend Touro Law School and then to work for the Suffolk district attorney's office in 2011. Records show he continues to work as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk.

District Attorney Thomas Spota did not respond to questions about his hiring of Branigan. He also did not respond when asked whether his office sought a waiver allowing Branigan to collect both his pension and a salary. Records show he is on the payroll and collects a pension.

Branigan did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: Craig Buonora and James Vara

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Darryl Coggins was driving with two friends in Floral Park in October 2004 when Buonora and Vara pulled their squad car behind him and turned on their lights. Coggins pulled over.

In an interview with Newsday, Coggins said when he asked why he'd been stopped, Vara replied that he had been speeding. Coggins said he didn't think so because he had been at a red light shortly before being pulled over.

Vara later said Coggins smelled of alcohol and appeared drunk. Coggins, who said he'd had one beer, passed the sobriety tests.

Coggins said there was a palpable tension between him and the officers. He is black, and they are white.

Coggins said Vara started putting on a pair of black gloves. Coggins said he'd recently watched "Mississippi Burning," so he panicked and ran.

He took off down Jericho Turnpike and scrambled over a chain-link fence. As he ran, he said, he heard Buonora, yell, "Just shoot him! Shoot him in the back! Shoot him in the back!"

Coggins eluded the police and went home. The next day he turned himself in to the Third Precinct. There, he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison, as well as resisting arrest and speeding.

Coggins, who worked at KeySpan and has no known criminal record, said he never had a gun.

In March 2005, Buonora testified before a grand jury that while chasing Coggins, he heard the clink of metal falling to the ground and then found a 9-mm pistol. Vara testified that he saw the gun on the ground.

However, court records show a Floral Park police officer came forward and said he was the one who'd found the gun. Another officer found a clip to a .25-caliber weapon, which did not match the gun.

Coggins' attorney, Frederick K. Brewington, said the gun was planted there by the Nassau officers. Coggins has a pending $10 million lawsuit against the county, Buonora, Vara and 12 other members of the Nassau police department.

The department denied the allegations in court papers.

The department opened an internal affairs investigation. Buonora, according to court records, said he gave the false testimony because "I thought I was helping the District Attorney with her case."

Vara admitted filing false paperwork and corroborated Coggins' recollection that Buonora yelled, "Just shoot him!" the internal investigation contained in court records shows.

The internal affairs report found that Buonora committed perjury. In November 2005, Buonora pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal perjury, a misdemeanor. He received a conditional discharge and $1,000 fine.

The internal affairs report said it was "undetermined" whether Vara committed perjury.

Both Vara and Buonora are still with the Nassau County Police Department. Buonora earned $135,076 and Vara earned $166,843 in the most recent budget year.

Buonora declined to comment. Vara did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: James Burke

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Burke has been the subject of at least two internal affairs investigations, but they didn't stop his rise to the top of the Suffolk County Police Department.

Before becoming chief in January 2012, investigators found that Burke lost his gun twice and had a sexual relationship with a prostitute who sold drugs and committed larceny. The IA report concluded Burke engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer.

An earlier investigation alleged that he was stealing drugs from drug dealers, a charge investigators concluded was unfounded.

Burke started with the department in 1986. An active cop nicknamed "Starsky," he was promoted to sergeant in 1991.

Burke came to the attention of IA investigators in August 1993 amid allegations that he was consuming illegal drugs, taking drugs from dealers and failing to invoice them as police property. The drug use allegation was unfounded and the invoice accusation was found to be unsubstantiated, according to the internal affairs report.

The allegations led investigators to Lowrita Rickenbacker, who at the time had 27 arrests on her record. She had met Burke in May 1992 after a friend had a car accident. Burke seemed concerned for her, and they became friends, she told investigators.

They met occasionally over the next six months. He gave her small gifts, like roses and money for food -- which she admitted she used to buy crack cocaine -- and they engaged in oral sex in his patrol car, Rickenbacker said.

She told investigators he left his gun with her twice, which investigators found credible because she passed a polygraph test.

Burke told investigators that their relationship lasted six months and denied that she ever had his gun. He also said he didn't know she had a criminal record.

Investigators didn't find him credible.

"Given Sergeant Burke's forte for being aware of the criminal element in his patrol zone, and his intimate association with Lowrita Rickenbacker, his claim that he knew nothing of her activities or background seems disingenuous," the 1995 IA report states. "Her professed admiration and support for Sergeant Burke also lend credence to her account of the incidents she described."

The records don't indicate whether Burke was disciplined after the 1995 investigation.

He was promoted to lieutenant in 2000. Then in 2002, he moved to District Attorney Thomas Spota's office, where he led the police detectives squad. He remained in the district attorney's office until December 2011.

Earlier this year, Christopher Loeb claimed Burke punched him while they were alone in the Fourth Precinct after Loeb was arrested for allegedly stealing a gun belt, ammunition and other items from Burke's department-issued SUV.

Supreme Court Justice Martin Efman ruled Tuesday that Suffolk police violated Loeb's rights during his lengthy interrogation by not reminding him of his right to an attorney and to remain silent. The judge declined to address defense claims that Burke and detectives beat Loeb at the Fourth Precinct station house in Hauppauge where he was being held after his arrest on Dec. 14, 2012. Loeb, 27, is charged with possession of stolen property and drug crimes. He returns to court on Jan. 17.

Burke earned $227,474 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for comment.

 

NAME:Anthony Cappa

AGENCY:Suffolk

Summary: Cappa was assigned to a traffic enforcement detail in October 2008 but deliberately failed to do it, according to departmental charges. Instead, he wrote two fake traffic summonses and later lied to his supervisor about them, according to departmental charges. He remained on the job.

Then in April 2011, departmental charges allege Cappa abandoned his post without permission and went to a liquor store. "He then drove his personal vehicle in a reckless and/or erratic manner, causing public alarm and causing unexplained damage to his vehicle before he was found in a possibly impaired condition while wearing his police uniform and officially on duty," the charges state.

After that incident, the department brought nine charges of misconduct against him for the fake traffic summonses, reckless driving, being found in an apparently intoxicated condition while driving, and failing to report the sale and purchase of a gun in October 2004.

The department suspended Cappa without pay in April 2011. After an arbitration hearing, the department terminated Cappa in January 2013.

He did not return calls for comment.

 

NAME: Robert Cardona

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Cardona prepared two separate car accident reports containing factual errors and "substantively different versions" of what happened before and after an October 2007 accident, according to departmental charges. He was also charged with lying to internal affairs about it when he was interviewed a year later in November 2008.

Cardona acknowledged general misconduct and agreed to forfeit 12 days of accrued leave, department records show.

Cardona earned $134,218 in the most recent budget year. He did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: Leonardo Carrasco

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department charged Carrasco with misconduct for posting a threatening comment on Newsday.com while on duty. The comment caused the subject of the article "alarm and fear," according to the November 2012 departmental charges.

Carrasco acknowledged that he engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer. The department suspended him without pay for a week, and Carrasco forfeited five days of accrued leave. He earned $135,993 in the most recent budget year.

Carrasco told a reporter he would not comment on his case because he does not trust Newsday.

"The organization that you work for is not very friendly to our profession, so I feel very uncomfortable speaking to someone about that because, quite honestly, I don't trust you," he said.

 

NAME: Thomas Collins

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Police raided the Fraternal Order of Eagles clubhouse in Northport in November 2008 to break up an illegal poker game. Collins was at the game.

The department charged that from August through November 2008, Collins had failed to report ongoing criminal activity "of which he had direct knowledge." When asked about it in October 2008, Collins intentionally misled a supervisor who was investigating a complaint of criminal activity, according to the departmental charges.

Collins was suspended without pay for 10 days. He acknowledged general misconduct and was reinstated on Jan. 5, 2009. He was not criminally charged. While it is a crime in New York for the organizer of an illegal gambling operation to profit by keeping part of the pot or entry fees, it is not illegal to attend or play.

"As much as I would like to talk to you about that case, because it still bothers to me this day, I'm not allowed to," Collins said in a recent interview.

 

NAME: Terence Coughlin

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Coughlin had reported that he was unable to work because of a medical condition. But the department charged that while on disability leave from June through September 2007, Coughlin engaged in unspecified activities that would tend to exacerbate his condition, according to the March 2008 departmental charges.

Coughlin retired on Oct. 20, 2008, a week before his scheduled arbitration hearing. The department terminated him anyway. He collects a $58,262 annual pension. He declined to comment.

 

NAME: Anthony DiLeonardo

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: A Nassau police department Internal Affairs Unit report found that DiLeonardo recklessly escalated a roadside verbal dispute when he shot at cabdriver Thomas Moroughan five times with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson in February 2011. Moroughan was hit once in the left arm and once in the chest as his girlfriend sat beside him in the front seat. After shooting Moroughan, who was unarmed, DiLeonardo pistol-whipped him, breaking his nose, according to the report.

The report recommended 19 departmental charges for what it found to be 11 unlawful acts and eight departmental rules violations by DiLeonardo. It also recommended five departmental charges against Officer Edward Bienz, his barhopping companion that night, based on the investigation's findings that Bienz committed two unlawful acts and three counts of violating department rules. Both DiLeonardo and Bienz were off duty when they confronted Moroughan.

The department has declined to say whether DiLeonardo faced any discipline for his actions. He was not criminally charged. He remains on the job and made $109,510 in the most recent budget year.

His lawyer, Bruce Barket of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon in Garden City, said: "The allegations against Anthony are just that. They are akin to an indictment. They are not findings."

Barket said he did not know the status of a Suffolk County grand jury convened to look into the case after Newsday reported on the internal affairs investigation in July. Suffolk district attorney spokesman Robert Clifford did not respond to questions about the status of the grand jury.

Barket said DiLeonardo would be vindicated. "We don't think he violated department policies and procedures."

 

NAME: Robert Dito

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Dito told Robert Spatafora about pending raids at illegal gambling operations in exchange for discounted car repairs from a Ronkonkoma car repair shop, according to Suffolk prosecutors. Spatafora had previously been indicted on federal charges of illegal gambling and threatening a witness.

Police arrested Dito in October 2010 on charges of conspiracy to operate illegal gambling businesses, conspiracy to obstruct enforcement, computer trespass and official misconduct. The department suspended him without pay the same day, according to department records. Two days later, the department administratively charged Dito with misconduct for accessing the state Department of Motor Vehicles records without authorization. He was also charged with conduct unbecoming an officer for accepting discounted car repairs from August 2009 through February 2010 and for "tipping off and revealing the existence and execution of a search warrant," according to the departmental charges.

Dito retired in December 2010 with an $82,376 annual pension. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge of obstruction of law enforcement in June 2011. He is scheduled for sentencing in January 2014.

In an interview, Dito said he did not know about Spatafora's connections to organized crime and said he called him only because he didn't want him to lose money in the game.

"There was no association on my part with the mob," he said.

Dito said the last three years have been painful for him and his family and that what most bothers him is that his police friends have not spoken to him since his arrest.

"It hurts. I took a lot of pride in being a police officer. I like to think of myself as a good, honest cop. I just made a stupid mistake, and unfortunately, I'm paying for it," he said. "After doing 29 good years, you're remembered as a bad cop."

 

NAME: Daniel Dowsett

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Dowsett has been named in three federal civil rights lawsuits alleging false arrests. Two were settled, and a jury found in favor of police in the third.

A suit by Patrick D. Fairhurst against Dowsett, another officer and the county alleged that the police officer arrested Fairhurst without any warrant or probable cause in December 2005. Fairhurst sued after the charges against him were dismissed. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

Nassau settled another suit in September 2011 that had been brought by Eric D. Gadson against the county, Dowsett and another officer, according to court records. Gadson alleged that he was falsely arrested and held at Nassau County Correctional Facility for three days in 2009. In December 2009, charges against Gadson were dismissed. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

Dowsett was among three officers sued, along with the county, in November 2000 by Frankel Jolivert, who represented himself. The suit alleged false arrest, malicious prosecution, illegal search and seizure and excessive force. A jury found in favor of the police and county in December 2004.

Dowsett made $191,858 in the most recent budget year. He declined to comment.

 

NAME: Erik Faltings

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Court records show Faltings called Martin Tretola, the owner of T & T Gunnery in Seaford, and asked him to turn over a gun to a friend of his without the required paperwork. Tretola refused.

"Do you know who I am? I am the head of the Pistol Licensing Bureau of Nassau County," Faltings said, according to a lawsuit filed by Tretola against Faltings, the county, unnamed assistant district attorneys and five unnamed police officers.

"I do not care who you are. What you are asking of me is against the law, and I will not do it," Tretola replied.

A year later, Faltings coordinated a raid on the gun shop, enlisting the help of the Nassau fire marshal, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Town of Hempstead's building department and the Nassau Bomb Squad. Tretola was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, and officials said Tretola was operating a makeshift gun range near a natural gas line.

In fact, the gas line had been disconnected for decades, court records said. The so-called gun range was a bullet trap, a device that safely absorbs bullets and their fragments for testing.

The criminal charges against Tretola were dismissed in February 2008.

Faltings then illegally opened Tretola's sealed criminal records and forwarded them to the Town of Hempstead, according to court papers, and refused to lift the suspension of Tretola's gun licenses, costing him the sale of more than 900 guns.

Tretola filed a lawsuit against Faltings and Nassau County, claiming he had been wrongfully arrested and maliciously prosecuted because of Faltings' harassment.

A jury agreed with Tretola, awarding him $3 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages in August 2012.

Records show Faltings kept his job with the Nassau County Police Department, earning $213,494 in the most recent budget year.

Faltings did not return a message left with the department seeking comment.

 

NAME: John E. Fenelius and Scott P. Guido

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Guido and Fenelius recovered stolen property and then disposed of it in the trash, which "wrongfully deprived the rightful owner of said property," according to departmental charges brought in April 2009. They also failed to invoice the property, and Guido did not make required entries in their memo books about it, the charges said. Fenelius submitted a false report, saying that the property had been returned to its owner, when it had not, the charges said.

Both men acknowledged general misconduct related to the internal affairs investigation. Guido and Fenelius each agreed to forfeit five days of accrued pay. Guido earned $148,821 and Fenelius earned $140,802 in the most recent budget year.

Fenelius declined to comment. Guido did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Frank A. Ferrigno

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: In September 2009, the department agreed to allow Officer Frank A. Ferrigno to retire or face termination. "Failure to retire by Jan. 12, 2010, shall result in P.O. Ferrigno's immediate termination," the departmental charges state.

Although the nature of Ferrigno's misconduct is not stated in records, a signed stipulation and agreement resolved the investigation. The stipulation states that Ferrigno would be prohibited from possessing or purchasing any weapons during his remaining employment.

He collects a $66,670 annual pension.

Ferrigno declined to comment.

 

NAME: William Flanagan

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Former Nassau police Second Deputy Commissioner Flanagan was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 3 months of community service in July after he was convicted of official misconduct for his role in returning stolen property to a school that had been burglarized by the son of a police benefactor. Former Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and former Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe were also charged in the case, in which prosecutors alleged that they tried to prevent school officials from pressing charges because of the father's police connections.

Prosecutors said Flanagan improperly used his influence to get police to return electronics equipment to John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009 after Zachary Parker, the son of police benefactor Gary Parker, stole the items. Flanagan believed the school could be persuaded not to pursue charges against Parker once the equipment was returned. Gary Parker gave Flanagan two $100 gift cards to a Great Neck restaurant and a state-of-the-art flashlight.

A judge gave Flanagan his sentence in a standing-room-only court packed with supporters on July 15. Flanagan left the Mineola courtroom to huge applause. After the proceeding, a state appellate court stayed his jail sentence pending an appeal.

About 150 letters were written on Flanagan's behalf, including one from former Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and another from Rep. Peter King, both of whom attended the sentencing.

Police never arrested Zachary Parker, but prosecutors later presented his case to a grand jury, which indicted him. He pleaded guilty to burglary charges and is serving 1 to 3 years in prison.

Flanagan retired in March 2012 with a $136,132 annual pension.

His lawyer, Bruce Barket of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon in Garden City, said he plans to file an appeal in January. "We are confident that Bill's act of making an inquiry as to when and if the police were going to return stolen property they had recovered to the property's owner is not a criminal act. He will be exonerated."

 

NAME: Matthew Goodman

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Goodman accessed the state's confidential DMV database for personal reasons and left his assigned post to loiter at a commercial establishment in Commack, despite warnings from a supervisor to stop, according to departmental charges.

Goodman acknowledged general misconduct and agreed in September 2011 to forfeit 20 days of accrued leave.

Goodman earned $151,127 in the most recent budget year. He declined to comment.

 

NAME: Kenneth F. Hamilton

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: At least seven citizen complaints -- six alleging excessive force -- have been lodged against Hamilton since he joined the department in 2002, according to an officer history log obtained by Newsday. One of those complaints was filed the day after Hamilton beat a suspect in April 2010 the officer said was combative and had fled police. The young man, 19-year-old Kevin Turner, later died from complications stemming from the injuries he suffered in the beating.

Internal investigations cleared Hamilton of misconduct in all the previous complaints made against him, although the officer history log indicates the most recent excessive force complaint is unresolved. In two federal lawsuits, settlements were paid to plaintiffs who claimed that Hamilton had been excessively violent with them.

Hamilton remains on the force and is seeking a line-of-duty disability retirement for injuries he says he suffered while apprehending Turner.

Records show he was paid $123,981 in the most recent budget year. Hamilton and his attorney did not respond to calls for comment.

 

NAME: Richard Hefferon

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: A security video caught Hefferon pointing a loaded gun at a Farmingdale bar manager's head while drinking off duty in April 2011.

After an internal affairs investigation, Hefferon was arrested in June 2011 and charged with reckless endangerment. He was also suspended without pay, and his guns were confiscated.

Hefferon pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of menacing and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service and a $500 fine. He also was ordered to continue substance-abuse therapy.

He remains on the job but will not be allowed to carry a gun for two years while off duty under the sentence imposed by District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer. He made $132,699 in the most recent budget year.

He declined to comment through his attorney, Robert McDonald.

 

NAME: John Hunter

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Former Deputy Chief of Patrol Hunter pleaded guilty in May in Nassau County Court to misdemeanor counts of conspiracy and official misconduct. He was sentenced to probation.

Prosecutors alleged that Hunter, Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan and Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe conspired to quash the arrest of Zachary Parker, a 21-year-old Merrick man, for stealing $11,000 in electronics from his alma mater, John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009.

Hunter retired in March 2012 and collects a $145,545 annual pension.

His lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said, "He remains a mentor to many in law enforcement and continues to give back to the community in very charitable and private ways."

 

NAME: John Jeheber

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Department records charged that Jeheber walked into a Babylon thrift store, dropped his shorts to his knees and rubbed "his crotch area in a suggestive manner," according to departmental charges brought in October 2012. He agreed to resign from the department seven months later.

In an interview, Jeheber said no criminal charges had been filed against him.

His attorney, Sasha Robins of Borrelli & Associates in Great Neck, said Jeheber has a skin condition and that he had an allergic reaction to clothing he was trying on in the dressing room. She said the PBA pressured him into signing a stipulation to resolve the charges.

 

NAME: Jonelle Jones

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Jones tried use his position as a police officer to get into a strip club with an underage woman and then got into a fight with the bouncers in March 2009, according to departmental charges. Asked about the incident a year later by internal affairs investigators, Jones "was not truthful," the charges said.

Jones acknowledged general misconduct and agreed in August 2010 to forfeit two days of accrued leave. He earned $154,929 in the most recent budget year. He did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: William Kaul

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Nassau police arrested Kaul, a detective sergeant and supervisor of the Sixth Squad, in January 2010 for drinking on duty and causing a crash that injured another driver. The department suspended Kaul for 30 days without pay and then allowed him to return to administrative duties. He retired in March 2010 and collects an $80,966 annual pension.

Kaul was charged criminally with official misconduct, obstructing governmental administration and leaving the scene of an accident. In April 2012, he pleaded guilty to official misconduct in that he failed to sign off duty as required. He received a conditional discharge and $500 fine.

His lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said, "Bill is an absolute family man, enjoying retired life and is pleased to have put this case behind him."

 

NAME: Michael Knatz

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Knatz has been named in three federal civil rights suits. Two are pending, and one was settled for $15 million, according to court records.

Thomas Hartmann sued Knatz, Officer Karl Snelders and other Nassau officers after Snelders drove his police car into Hartmann in March 2004. Hartmann, a Long Beach construction worker, had been accused of threatening his ex-wife and officers. Knatz was a passenger in Snelders' car.

Hartmann had no weapons and lost his right leg, according to court records. A jury awarded Hartmann $19.6 million, and the county settled for $15 million, according to court records.

In a second case, Lawrence Rose sued Nassau County and Knatz in 2012 for illegal search and false arrest after Rose was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon when police found a disassembled gun in his trunk in May 2010. Rose said he had a Pennsylvania gun permit for it and that it was an illegal search. The case is pending. In court papers, the county denied the allegations.

In a third case, Knatz is one of 17 cops sued by Seemona Sumasar, whose ex-boyfriend Jerry Ramrattan framed her for a robbery she did not commit. She spent seven months in jail on the false charges. Knatz and another officer arrested her.

When Queens Judge Richard L. Buchter sentenced Ramrattan to 32 years in prison, he chastised the Nassau cops, saying, "You wouldn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to discover something fishy." He also said the Nassau officers had been "duped by liars, of whom they had a right to be suspicious."

According to Sumasar's lawsuit, officers did not tell her why she was being arrested and lied to her friend about where they were taking her. The case is pending. In court papers, the county denied the allegations.

Knatz made $208,212 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Lonny M. Krimsky

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department in February 2011 charged that Krimsky lied to internal affairs when he denied knowing who wrote certain letters to a civilian, or the contents of the letters. No further details are provided about the incident.

The following month, the department charged him with three counts of misconduct after he instructed his children to lie to police and Child Protective Services, "embellished the facts of a pending police investigation to the District Attorney's office" and used department computers to access information about his estranged wife and her boyfriend.

Krimsky acknowledged general misconduct and agreed to forfeit five days of accrued leave, the records show.

Krimsky made $138,888 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for an interview placed through the department.

 

NAME: Nicholas Lemma

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Lemma, a detective, did not tell anyone that a Queens teenager charged with armed robbery could not have committed the crime because he was already in jail on another charge, according to court records.

In March 2005, police arrested Raheem Crews on armed robbery charges in Roosevelt. At the time of the robbery, Crews, then 19, was in jail on a criminal mischief charge.

Although Lemma obtained that information from a police computer, "I kept it to myself and said, 'Let the chips fall where they may,' " he said in a deposition that is part of Crews' civil lawsuit alleging unlawful arrest and prosecution that is pending against the county.

The charges against Crews were dismissed.

In court papers, the county has denied the lawsuit's allegations.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case after Crews' attorney, Frederick Brewington, referred it to her office.

Lemma was arrested in January 2010 and charged with official misconduct and obstructing governmental administration. There is no record of a disposition in the case.

Lemma had already retired at the time of his arrest. He collects a $73,061 annual pension.

He declined to comment.

 

NAME: Patrick Looney

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: After responding to a domestic violence incident in July 2008, Looney had the victim sign police paperwork and then later inserted her "statement of allegations," according to departmental charges. Looney made "a false verbal communication" when asked about how he prepared the statement by internal affairs investigators. An arbitrator determined in April 2010 that Looney should forfeit eight days of accrued pay, department records show.

The department charged Looney with misconduct again two months later for establishing an "inappropriate relationship" with someone he had arrested. Departmental charges allege he also used the police computer to make 136 data requests about someone and left his assigned sector to loiter at a private residence "for other than official police business." Looney acknowledged general misconduct and in April 2011 agreed to forfeit 30 days of accrued leave.

Looney earned $137,053 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Joseph Lynch

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: The Nassau District Attorney's Special Investigations Bureau found in 2005 that Lynch had been stopping motorists without probable cause, usually late in his shift, so that he could arrest them for drunken driving and boost his overtime.

"Members of the Internal Affairs Unit have indeed observed Lynch stopping vehicles without having a reasonable basis for doing so. It appears as if the vast majority of drivers were young people," the 2005 IA report states. "All of this activity leads us to the conclusion that Lynch, in many instances, was stopping vehicles without having an adequate basis for doing so, in an effort to fish for individuals who had been drinking."

The department assigned him to desk duty.

In 2008, the department put him back on patrol. Records show he earned more than $190,000 in 2010 and of that, about $52,000 -- or more than a quarter of his compensation -- was overtime pay.

After new complaints emerged about Lynch's stops in 2011, the DA's office released an internal investigation that examined 12 arrests he made and included surveillance reports. The report did not recommend criminal charges.

"Separate and apart from this determination, however, it does appear as if Lynch is stopping drivers without having an adequate basis for doing so in various instances. Thus we should refer our findings to the Internal Affairs Unit of the Nassau County Police Department for whatever administrative action it deems appropriate," the DA's report says.

In one instance, Lynch stopped a van driven by internal affairs investigators. When they asked him why they had been stopped, he said they were speeding. They replied that they had been driving only 30 mph. Lynch responded that it was an unsafe speed for the road conditions but let them go.

Lynch retired in 2011 after the new complaints emerged about his traffic stops. He collects a $121,452 annual pension.

He did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: Garrett Mannerz

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Mannerz stopped a car in February 2011 with three women in it in East Meadow. After giving field sobriety tests to the driver, he ordered a passenger out of the car, commented on her attire and asked for her telephone number, according to a November 2011 news release from Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

He told the woman if she "did something for him," he would allow the driver to leave without being charged criminally or getting a summons, the news release said. Mannerz then grabbed the woman's waist and made her touch him sexually, and the women left the scene, the news release said. Within two hours, Mannerz made a series of sexually suggestive phone calls to the woman; she taped one of them and brought it to police, according to the news release.

Prosecutors charged Mannerz with bribe receiving, coercion and official misconduct. Mannerz pleaded guilty to official misconduct in November 2011 and resigned from the force. Judge John Kase ordered him to serve 80 hours of community service and granted him a conditional discharge, the news release said.

His lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said, "Garret and his family have relocated, and he is sorry for any embarrassment he caused the police department."

 

NAME: Dennis Mannix

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Mannix, a detective, did not safeguard jewelry recovered in a 2009 burglary investigation, and the jewelry was "lost or stolen due to his failure," according to departmental charges brought in August 2011. Mannix then faked paperwork and did not put the burglary incident into the department's computer system, concealing the facts from his supervisors for more than a year, the charges said. He was also accused of concealing from the district attorney's office that the jewelry was missing and misleading the victim of the burglary as to the status of her property.

Mannix acknowledged general misconduct, forfeited 60 days of accrued leave and was placed on a two-year probationary period where additional misconduct could result in "a suitable penalty," according to department records. He remains on the job and earned $179,539 in the most recent budget year.

He did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: Michael Milton

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department charged Sgt. Milton with misconduct in August 2012 after he arrested photojournalist Philip Datz for obstructing governmental administration after he filmed a crime scene on a public street in Bohemia, according to department and court records.

Datz was filming the crime scene in July 2012 and did not cross police lines or interfere with police activity, according to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court against Milton and the county. After Milton told him to stop filming, Datz asked him where to move. Milton refused to direct him anywhere, so Datz moved a block away and resumed filming from a public street next to other bystanders, the lawsuit said. Milton drove his patrol car directly at Datz, seized his camera and arrested him, according to Datz's unedited video of the incident.

Assistant Suffolk County Attorney Richard Dunne denied the allegations in a response to Datz's lawsuit.

The resolution of Milton's misconduct charges is unclear. He made $176,366 in the most recent budget year. Milton did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

Milton's attorney, Brian Davis of Garden City, said the incident was minor. He said his client would likely face the loss of some accrued leave and possibly a fine. "And that's all that this case merits," he said.

He said Milton had no intention of hitting Datz with his car or intimidating him and has been retrained. "It was the classic white heart, empty head," Davis said.

"Under the circumstances, Sergeant Milton believed he was doing the right thing," Davis said. "He thought he was protecting the identities of the undercover officers."

 

NAME: Vincent Muscarnera

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Nassau Insp. Muscarnera crashed his police cruiser after leaving a colleague's retirement party in Williston Park in July 2006, police said after the accident. Police at the scene did not take a blood sample from him, but internal affairs later reviewed the incident, according to an Aug. 2, 2006, Newsday story.

Nassau prosecutors used a search warrant to test blood taken from the injured inspector at the hospital that showed his blood-alcohol level was .21 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08, police officials told Newsday after the accident.

The department suspended him for 30 days. He was reinstated in September 2006 but remained out on sick leave, police officials told Newsday at the time. His attorney, Brian Davis of Garden City, said the department also fined him roughly $40,000 of his termination pay.

State records show he retired in February 2007 with a $134,133 annual pension.

He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and reckless endangerment. In the December 2007 plea agreement, a judge sentenced Muscarnera to 3 years' probation and community service, according to a Sept. 7, 2007, report on the court hearing.

Davis said, "He's a gentleman. It really destroyed his career because you don't want to go out the way he went out."

 

NAME: Nicholas Nigro

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Departmental charges against Nigro from April 2009 show the detective failed to open a narcotics investigation after he obtained cocaine from a civilian and that he brought alcohol into his department-issued vehicle more than once. Nigro was also charged with harassing his neighbors from August 2007 through March 2008. The department charged Nigro again in September 2009, saying he used a police computer to access IRS information about his next-door neighbor.

In May 2010, the department demoted Nigro to police officer. Less than nine months later, the department brought three more misconduct charges against him for intentionally burying his neighbor's car with his snowblower. He was suspended without pay in February 2011 and retired the same day. He collects an $87,305 annual pension.

Nigro declined to comment.

 

NAME: James E. O'Hagan and James Spoerel

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: O'Hagan and Spoerel "failed to give due care and attention to the complainant and complaint" and did a "careless investigation" in response to a March 2011 call, according to departmental charges.

After a hearing, the officers each acknowledged general misconduct and agreed to forfeit 25 days of accrued leave. Both remain on the job. In the most recent budget year, O'Hagan made $150,657 and Spoerel $150,021.

 

NAME: Anthony Raymond

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: An Elmont minister was in his home when he heard gunshots a little after 3 a.m. in December 1995. He went to his window and watched a police officer fire two shots into the body of a man lying on the ground offering no resistance, according to his testimony in a civil case five years later. The only motions the man made were "two twitches" as the bullets hit him, he testified.

The man was 28-year-old Christopher Wade, a parolee who had served time for a drug-related offense. Nassau Police Officer Raymond had stopped Wade on suspicion of buying drugs. He said he opened fire after Wade pointed a gun at him.

A police department review of the incident found that Raymond fired 16 shots, including some after he reloaded his weapon when his gun jammed. Nine of the bullets tore into Wade's chest, arms, kidney, shoulder, liver, lungs and head. Wade died at the scene with no drugs found in his possession.

Wade's family insisted he had not been armed and that he had just gone out to buy cigarettes. Raymond handed in a loaded .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver that he said he had kicked out of Wade's hand. Tests showed that it had not been fired and bore no fingerprints, according to a Feb. 5, 1997, Newsday account of the case.

Five months after the shooting, a Nassau grand jury cleared Raymond of any wrongdoing.

In a subsequent federal lawsuit filed by Wade's family against the police department and Raymond, the department produced personnel documents showing Raymond had been the subject of 19 civilian complaints during his tenure with the NYPD before joining the Nassau force. The complaints, which ranged from the use of racial slurs to assault, were all ruled unsubstantiated.

Raymond also had been arrested twice, according to news accounts of the case. First in 1982, when he was 18 and working as a gas station attendant. He was charged with stealing $250 in receipts from the gas station and falsely reporting that there had been a robbery. The charges were dismissed.

Then in 1989, while Raymond was still with the NYPD, a Queens grand jury indicted him on official misconduct charges in connection with an on-duty altercation at a bar. The indictment was later dismissed.

Despite those issues, the Nassau police department hired Raymond in 1994, a year before he shot Wade.

When the Wade family's civil rights lawsuit went to trial five years after the shooting, Raymond testified that he had felt his life was in danger. The jury disagreed, and in December 2000, awarded Wade's family $2.25 million.

Frederick K. Brewington, the Wade family's attorney, prepared another claim against Nassau County, arguing that it had been negligent in hiring Raymond, given his prior arrests and civilian complaints. However, the family offered to withdraw the suit if the county agreed to set up an independent civilian review board to further investigate complaints against officers that are deemed unsubstantiated by the police department.

The county's attorneys said the county had done nothing wrong in hiring Raymond and rejected the offer. The court later dismissed the family's second suit.

In subsequent years, Raymond was named as a defendant in four more federal lawsuits alleging excessive force. In two cases, juries ruled in favor of the police and a third ended in a judge's dismissal. A fourth suit, filed in 2009 against Nassau County, Raymond and five other officers, was settled with a $255,000 payment to the plaintiff Louis Martire, according to Gregory Calliste Jr., Martire's attorney.

Martire alleged that Raymond and other officers severely beat him when he was arrested and jailed after a fight at a family wedding in September 2008. Martire claimed police punched him in the back, kicked and kneed him in the ribs, slammed his head against a bench and left him lying in a pool of blood.

Because disciplinary actions against officers are not public, it is unclear whether Raymond faced departmental discipline in connection with any of the incidents for which he was sued.

State records do show, however, that he remained on the job until March 2012, when he retired. He collects a $123,303 annual pension.

Raymond did not respond to a request for an interview made through the police department.

 

NAME: Alan Sharpe

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Former Det. Sgt. Sharpe is awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges in connection with the Zachary Parker case. Prosecutors charge that Sharpe, former Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan and former Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter conspired to quash Parker's arrest for a burglary at a high school because his father contributed heavily to the Nassau police foundation. They allegedly pressured the school's principal not to press charges.

Sharpe retired in January 2012 and collects a $96,242 annual pension. He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Raymond Smith

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department filed 32 charges of misconduct against Smith in February 2008 for allegedly emailing reporters on a police computer and expressing his opinion about certain department policies. He also used the department computer to surf the Internet and to send personal emails, including one to an off-duty Suffolk lieutenant to talk about his department charges that contained a profanity, according to the departmental charges.

The department suspended Smith for 30 days without pay. He retired a month later.

He filed a federal lawsuit against the department alleging that he was singled out for discipline. The suit claims the department violated Smith's First Amendment rights by launching a full-scale internal affairs investigation, serving him with disciplinary charges, reassigning him to a lower-paying administrative position, suspending him without pay and eventually forcing him into retirement.

The lawsuit says then-Commissioner Richard Dormer offered to drop all charges if Smith would retire.

Smith also complains in the lawsuit that he was unable to work overtime before his retirement because of his reassignment.

"It is common practice for police officers contemplating retirement to work midnight and overtime in order to increase their base salary and, as a result, their pension," the lawsuit says.

Smith's annual pension is $85,180. He did not respond to a request for an interview made through his attorney.

The court dismissed his lawsuit, but Smith is appealing.

In a recent interview, Smith said he felt his First Amendment rights were violated.

"I was talking to reporters, so they were going to suspend me? Excuse me, I expressed an opinion," Smith said. "I was commenting on what I read in the paper. It's not like I was releasing inside information."

 

NAME: Karl Snelders

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Snelders has been sued three times in federal court, with each settled in favor of the plaintiffs for a total of more than $15.1 million.

In March 2004, Snelders drove his police car into Thomas Hartmann after Hartmann allegedly reached into his waistband, as if he had a weapon. Hartmann had no weapons and lost his right leg, according to court records.

Snelders revealed in a deposition that there had been "seven or eight" complaints against him for excessive force, including an incident where he broke a suspect's jaw with a punch and earned the nickname "The Hammer." A federal jury in Brooklyn in February 2010 awarded Hartmann $16.6 million. The county later settled for $15 million.

In a second case, Stephan Frazier alleged that he was falsely arrested in July 2003 and later convicted based on the false testimony of Snelders and two other Nassau cops. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

A third case, filed in 1997, was settled for $99,999.

In 2004, Paul Macri sued Snelders for negligence related to a car accident. The case was settled before trial for an undisclosed amount.

Snelders, who is still on the force, made $182,610 in the most recent budget year. He did not return a call for comment.

 

NAME: Michael Tedesco

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: A Massapequa resident complained that a police patrol car sometimes spent hours at a time parked in a neighbor's driveway. The patrol car belonged to Tedesco, who parked in the driveway of Tara Obenaur so he could have sex with her while on the job, according to a Dec. 12, 2012, Newsday account of the case.

Prosecutors would later say Tedesco spent at least 80 of his shifts with more than one mistress. His actions could have been identified if the department had analyzed the GPS system in all county police cars. But under a 2007 agreement with the union, the department is barred from using the GPS in patrol cars to initiate discipline against any officer.

Prosecutors brought a 109-count indictment against Tedesco in December 2012, charging him with tampering with public and business records and official misconduct. He allegedly told supervisors he was on his way to crime scenes when he wasn't, and he once waited six minutes before leaving to help a man having a heart attack, Newsday reported. If convicted, Tedesco faces up to 7 years in prison.

Tedesco, who retired in April 2012, collects a $89,176 annual pension.

His attorney, Bruce Barket of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon in Garden City, said the trial will take place sometime next year.

"Officer Tedesco, while he was an officer, was one of the more well respected, active officers in his precinct, so much so he received commendations and he was slotted to be moved to highway patrol, which statistically is done for better officers," Barket said. "You can say he shouldn't have been involved with mistresses. You can't say he wasn't doing his job."

 

NAME: Kerri Tennis

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Tennis brought an "intoxicant" to work and consumed it while on duty at Suffolk's Pistol Licensing Bureau, according to departmental charges.

"On March 18, 2009, Police Officer Tennis #3603 was on duty while her ability to perform her assigned duty was impaired by the use of an intoxicant," the department charges state.

The department suspended Tennis for a month without pay in March 2009.

Tennis retired in April 2012 and collects a $78,558 annual pension. She declined to comment.

 

NAME: Robert Trotta

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Trotta, a detective, received a rare rebuke from a federal judge after he tried to persuade a prisoner he was transporting in January 2007 to fire his attorney and accept a plea deal of 18 years in prison, according to court records. The conversation was recorded.

The prisoner, Rodney Morrison, faced charges stemming from an alleged multimillion-dollar cigarette bootlegging operation on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic. He would later tell the court he had been influenced by Trotta's advice. As a result, Morrison said he'd made incriminating statements later to prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley said Trotta exhibited "egregious behavior" that "interfered with Morrison's relationship with his attorneys." Hurley said Trotta and another detective had "tried to use their time alone with defendant, i.e. absent his attorneys, to convince him that he had no chance of prevailing at trial and accordingly, he should accept the government's plea offer lest he spend the rest of his life in jail, or possibly, receive the death penalty."

Hurley did not allow the government to use Morrison's incriminating statements against him. Morrison was convicted in 2008 on two charges of bootlegging and gun possession but acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder, arson, extortion and robbery. Hurley sentenced Morrison to 10 years in prison but ordered a retrial in November because a possible bribe offer to a juror had potentially tainted deliberations.

Trotta kept his assignment on a federal gang task force until August 2012, when he and two other detectives were transferred to precincts.

Over the course of his career, Trotta has been sued seven times in federal court and once in state court. Of the seven federal civil rights cases, one was withdrawn, two were administratively closed, three were dismissed and one is pending.

In the last case, filed in September 2012, Aboubacar Diallo alleges that Trotta illegally seized $16,503 from him after other officers stopped his truck. Diallo was not charged with any crime. The county attorney's office, which is defending Trotta, has denied the allegation.

Trotta ran as a Republican and Conservative from Fort Salonga for the Suffolk County Legislature in the most recent election and won. He declined to comment.

 

NAME: Edwin Trujillo

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Nassau police arrested Hofstra student Michael Fonte in November 2002 on charges of slashing another man with a knife in a bar fight. But two witnesses told Trujillo, a detective, that Fonte didn't do it, according to court records. A third said he saw another man with a knife. And the victim who initially fingered Fonte said two weeks later he was no longer sure, the court records said.

Fonte, who had no known criminal record, insisted he didn't do it. However, the case against him was presented to a grand jury.

At least one witness statement exonerating Fonte was not presented to the grand jury, and when Fonte's attorney, William Kephart, was given the witness statements on the eve of trial in March 2004, he demanded that the case be re-presented to the grand jury, he said in an interview. According to court papers, the Nassau district attorney's office refused. After a judge ordered that the case be presented again, the charges against Fonte were dismissed.

Fonte later sued the county, police department, district attorney's office, four assistant district attorneys, Trujillo and five other unnamed people. He won a settlement of $88,500.

Fonte, who is now married with a family and living in Westbury, said the case still haunts him. His father died before it was resolved and whenever he starts a new job, he has to fill out paperwork to explain it.

For Trujillo, it wasn't his first case of arresting the wrong man.

In 2002, the Nassau district attorney's office opened an investigation into allegations that Trujillo, then a homicide detective, coerced a false confession from Jose Anibal Martinez. As a result, Martinez spent five months in jail on a manslaughter charge.

In an interview at the time, Martinez said Trujillo slapped him and yelled at him, making him afraid to not sign the statement, even though it was false. Trujillo said he had been "stewing" about the allegations but declined to make any further comments.

While Martinez was in jail, police obtained information in October 2001 that he was not the killer. However, the prosecution did not turn over that information until the real killer was arrested in January 2002, according to court papers.

Martinez sued Nassau County, the department, Trujillo and 11 other police officials, and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Trujillo has also been named as a defendant in two other federal civil rights cases. One was filed by Santos Castillo against the department, Trujillo and other officers in 2001. The other, alleging civil rights violations, was filed by Jarol Escobar against the department, Trujillo and other officers in 1999. Both were settled for undisclosed amounts.

Trujillo still works for the department. He made $188,521 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for an interview placed with the department.

 

NAME: Unknown

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: A Suffolk officer, whose name is redacted in documents, continued cashing government-subsidized rent checks for three months from August through October 2010 after the tenant of his rental property had died, according to departmental charges. The officer is accused of then altering dates on a county police report he submitted to the Community Development Corp. of Long Island, which distributes federal rent money. He was caught in a routine check and paid the money back, Community Development Corp. officials said. They did not refer the case for criminal charges. According to the March 2012 department records, he "pled guilty to general misconduct" and agreed to forfeit 10 days of accrued leave.

 

NAME: Unknown

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: The department brought 13 charges of misconduct against a Third Precinct officer, whose name is redacted in documents, in October 2012 for failing to investigate or report a case of suspected child abuse in June 2011 and lying to internal affairs about it. The officer also failed to complete required police paperwork and "entered erroneous information, inaccurate names and false information into a field report," according to departmental charges. Finally, he treated the complainant and witnesses "in an unprofessional, rude and dismissive manner," according to departmental charges.

The resolution of the charges is not indicated.

 

NAME: Unknown

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: A Second Precinct officer, whose name is redacted in records, was accused of using "illegal drugs and / or steroids," associating with a drug dealer and lying to internal affairs about it on January 2012, according to September 2012 departmental charges. The resolution of those charges is not indicated.

"Police Officer (name redacted) did lie to superior officers of the Suffolk County Police Department during an Internal Affairs Bureau interview, on Jan. 19, 2012, when he knowingly made false statements about owing money to a member of the public and the nature of the text messages contained in his personal cellphone," departmental charges state.

The officer was also charged with lying when he denied knowledge of the arrest of a member of the public and for improperly attempting to influence the disposition of a traffic summons.

 

NAME: Giacomo Viola

AGENCY: Suffolk

Summary: Police incident records show that while parking his truck in a Ronkonkoma parking lot in December 2007, Joseph Rinaldi nearly hit a Lexus owned by Joseph Romano.

Romano ran over and punched Rinaldi, according to three witnesses, one of whom was an off-duty Nassau police lieutenant. Rinaldi, owner of a medical gas installation company, didn't hit him back, police records of the incident show.

Romano left the scene and returned with his girlfriend's uncle, who identified himself as an off-duty NYPD cop, according to police records.

When Viola arrived at the scene, he refused to arrest Romano, take witness statements or write out an accident report, according to departmental charges. Rinaldi insisted that Romano be arrested, but Viola refused and told Rinaldi that if he didn't back off, he'd be arrested, according to Rinaldi's witness statement taken nearly a month later.

Rinaldi needed 20 stitches at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, emergency physician records entered into the court file show. Frustrated by the police inaction, Rinaldi and his wife went to the precinct several times to complain.

"They kept saying it wasn't an assault," Rinaldi said in a recent interview with Newsday. "We just kept going back, kept hearing no. Finally, I guess I was persistent enough and got to speak to a detective."

In January 2008, another police officer, Michael Barr, arrested Romano on assault charges and took witness statements, according to District Court records. Romano pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 days in jail and a five-year order of protection, according to court records.

Four months later, the department charged Viola with misconduct for failing to make an arrest, despite probable cause, failing to obtain evidence at the scene of a physical assault and failing to complete an accident report, according to the departmental charges brought in April 2009.

To settle the charges, Viola agreed to forfeit one day of accrued leave. Viola made $175,590 in the most recent budget year. He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

 

NAME: Thomas Welsh

AGENCY: Nassau

Summary: Police arrested Welsh in April 2012 on charges that he shoplifted $40 worth of baby food, using plastic bags and a bungee cord wrapped around his body. He was suspended without pay for 30 days. A judge agreed to dismiss the case against him and seal the file in June 2012.

In a June 2012 interview with Newsday, Welsh's wife said her husband had been taking more than a dozen medications, including painkillers, after surgery from an on-the-job injury. She said he "was not in his right mind."

Welsh retired in October 2012 and currently collects a $97,697 annual pension. He did not respond to a request for comment placed through the department.

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