No crooked jail guards this week, but we do have a nice variety of law enforcement and prosecutorial misbehavior. Let's get to it:
In Fairview, Oklahoma, a former Custer County Sheriff was convicted last Friday on rape and bribery charges for coercing sex from female inmates and drug court defendants. Former Sheriff Mike Burgess, 56, was convicted of 13 felonies, including five counts of second-degree rape and three counts of bribery by a public official. Testimony included that of several former female inmates who testified they feared they would be sent to prison if they did not provide sexual favors to the sheriff, as well as two female drug court participants. Burgess sexually assaulted one of them in his patrol car after arresting her for a drug court violation. The jury recommended Burgess be sentenced to 94 years in prison, but sentencing is not until March 24.
In Oakland, California, 11 police officers, including two sergeants, were fired January 15 for their roles in falsifying search warrant affidavits in drug cases. The police officers would make a drug buy, then seek a search warrant from a judge, telling him the substances had been tested when they hadn't. Oakland Police discovered the problem during an internal affairs investigation and went public at the end of September. Now, the city faces lawsuits from at least seven people claiming Oakland police "have repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of citizens by fabricating information in reports (and) providing false and/or intentionally misleading information in warrant affidavits to the court." A number of pending cases have been dropped, too.
In Muncie, Indiana, the Delaware County prosecutor must repay $168,092 unlawfully seized in drug cases, a circuit court judge ruled last Friday. Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney collected the seized assets and attorneys' fees in confidential agreements without a court order. Indiana state law requires a court order, and it requires that asset forfeiture proceeds be divided between state and local government and schools, but McKinney instead deposited the funds into accounts for the Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force and the Muncie city police department. McKinney has 30 days to come up with the money. Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman also has to repay $17,164. The judge in the case said both men had perpetrated "a fraud on the court" by their actions.
In Huntsville, Alabama, the city, the police chief, and a former officer are being sued by a man who claims the officer planted marijuana in his car and then arrested him for marijuana possession. Officer Wesley Little and another officer, Ryan Moore, were indicted in May 2008 on criminal evidence tampering charges in the case, and the charges against Quincy Turner were later dropped. Little and Moore were investigated after Little was overheard saying "there could be some marijuana inside the vehicle if it needed to be." Both Little and Moore resigned from the Huntsville Police Department in June, but now, the good citizens of Huntsville are likely to pay for their out-of-control employees' misdeeds.