Source: U.S. attorney probing Southampton police
Federal law enforcement officials are investigating the Southampton Town police department and have begun questioning people with knowledge of the Street Crime unit, its supervision and the broader department leadership, according to several sources.
The U.S. attorney's office got involved this month after it received documents that detailed a number of alleged problems in the department, according to a source with knowledge of the ongoing interviews.
Documents detailing internal operations of the department, including internal memos and sworn statements, have been circulating among law enforcement agencies for several weeks. Newsday obtained documents earlier this month that alleged the Street Crime unit had unsecured baggies of crack, methamphetamine and prescription painkillers in its office, and that an officer addicted to painkillers was allowed to remain on the job, even after his wife pleaded with his supervisor to intervene. That officer, Eric Sickles, who had been suspended in July 2012, was reinstated to work last week.
The documents also included three felony charges and a misdemeanor charge prepared by former Chief William Wilson Jr. in 2012 against a police lieutenant, James Kiernan, for allegedly changing time sheets indicating days worked. The Suffolk District Attorney's office never executed the charges.
Robert Nardoza, spokesman with the U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment on the federal investigation. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she did not know about a federal probe and said the town is trying to move forward.
"We have dealt with the matters internally. We have done an internal investigation that has led to some disciplinary results on two officers," she said. "That concludes it as far as we're concerned."
The district attorney's office has been reviewing for more than a year more than 100 cases filed by Southampton Police.
Perini, who also represents the Southampton Superior Officers Association, said he believed there are no open investigations into the department.
"There's no indication that there's an investigation by any agency concerning Southampton, including by the D.A.," he said. "I think that's over."
But Suffolk district attorney spokesman Robert Clifford said, "The investigation is ongoing."
The district attorney's review has led to the dismissal of drug convictions against five individuals so far. At least two have been released from prison.
Det. Kevin Gwinn, vice president of the town's Patrolman's Benevolent Association, has called for outside scrutiny of the department.
"The administration has been so unchecked for so many years," he said Wednesday, after town police found evidence that had been reported as missing. "The feeling is that they can do whatever they want and don't have to answer to anybody."