Crooked policing sparks lawsuits in Oakland and New Haven, another jail guard goes down, so does a Border Patrol inspector, a Louisiana narc gets busted for burglary, and an Illinois cop gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Let's get to it:
In Oakland, California, the Oakland Police Department is facing a lawsuit from at least nine people who claim Oakland cops improperly falsified information on drug search warrants and filed false reports. Oakland police have admitted that some officers used purported narcotics obtained through undercover drug buys as probable cause to search homes even though the crime lab had not yet confirmed the substances actually were illicit drugs. Some criminal cases have had to be dropped and verdicts reversed. The lawsuit seeks financial damages and an injunction against the city.
In New Haven, Connecticut, a man who was charged with eight felony drug counts after New Haven police planted drugs on him is suing the department and the city for $10 million. The lawsuit filed Monday by Norval Falconer names the city, former Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, Jr., the former head of the department's Narcotics Enforcement Unit, former Detective William White, and two other former detectives, Justen Kasperzyk and Jose Silva. The three detectives have all pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and been sentenced to prison. Kasperzyk and Silva have acknowledged that they set up Falconer. Kasperzyk testified in a deposition "that Ortiz, White and the NEU enforced a policy of planting evidence, falsifying arrest warrant affidavits, taking keys from drivers in order to illegally search their homes and making arrests that officers knew were unlawful."
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a jail guard was arrested Tuesday for smuggling drugs into the Santa Fe County Jail. Leah Fragua, 21, allegedly smuggled cocaine and marijuana into the jail in a cigarette pack for a prisoner and got busted after jail authorities heard about it while listening in on inmate phone calls. No word yet on formal charges.
In Eagle Pass, Texas, a US Customs and Border Patrol inspector was arrested October 30 for allegedly helping drug traffickers smuggle 3,000 pounds of cocaine intro the country over five years. The Customs officer, Jorge Leija, 43, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and making a false statement. Leija was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts, an unnamed DEA agent testified at a bail hearing last week, including $30,000 he was paid to make false statements on a passport application for another person. Leija was ordered held without bail. He faces from 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine if convicted.
In New Iberia, Louisiana, an Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office narcotics division agent was arrested for burglarizing a house on October 26. Narc Jerrel Tauzin allegedly burglarized a home while the owners were out of town, stealing a handgun, a remote control car, and a bag containing $1,000 in parts. Because some of the items had been hidden in the home, the owners suspected it was someone they knew, and attention quickly turned to Tauzin, who subsequently admitted taking the items. The stolen goods were found in his home. The two-year veteran was fired early this month and now faces one count of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. He's out on $10,000 bond.
In Galesburg, Illinois, a former Galesburg police officer was sentenced November 6 for stealing drugs from the department evidence locker. David Hendricks, 50, pleaded guilty last month to charges of official misconduct and drug possession after being arrested last year. He was accused of stealing drugs over a three-year period for his personal use. While he could have faced up to 20 years in prison, he will do only 180 days and 30 months of specialized probation.