A controversial defense contractor who was the key target of a federal case that ensnared a former FBI agent from Sleepy Hollow has been released from prison after cutting a deal with prosecutors.
Michael Taylor, who faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted on two indictments in Salt Lake City, is now home and will serve no more than 10 more months after a deal to cooperate in the case against former FBI agent Robert Lustyik and childhood friend Johannes Thaler, a former Tarrytown resident and ladies shoe salesman at Macy’s.
Taylor pleaded guilty in both cases, admitting that he used insider information in 2007 to land a $54 million contract in Afghanistan for his company, American International Security Corp.
Taylor also claimed that he sought Lustyik’s help in 2011 when he learned that the government had launched a fraud investigation into the contract.
The plea agreement makes Taylor — who was held in Utah for 14 months prior to his release — the key witness in the case. Legal experts said it also signals the government’s shift in focus from Taylor to Lustyik.
“Using Taylor as a witness is going to strengthen the case enormously,” said Ben Gershman, a professor at the Pace University School of Law in White Plains.
Black residents of Maryland are about 30 percent of the population, according to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau numbers—by far the largest population of color in the state.
Yet, the ranks of Maryland State Troopers are just slightly more than 10 percent Black, a number that has been dwindling for more than a decade.
According to state statistics, only 197 of the state’s 1,453 troopers are Black compared to 312 Black troopers out of 1,612 or about 20 percent in 2000.
“There has been a decline in (Black) membership due to attrition however, the attrition has not been favorable…The members have not been retiring as much as they have been leaving for other reasons, i.e. resignations and looking for jobs in other locations,” said Rodney Morris, president of the Coalition of Black Maryland State Troopers.
Morris, who retired from the department after 25 years of service, has been president of the Coalition since 2011. He said many Black troopers feel alienated within their own ranks for several reasons.
“There is a non-inclusive feeling (among Blacks) within the department,” he said. “The Maryland State Police is not a Democratic-led organization. You have a lot of Western Maryland and Eastern Shore… residents generally running the operation…and their ideology is not always consistent with the Governor’s office. They have a policy of diversity, but it’s not being practiced.”
Morris, who entered the department in 1986 says Blacks were aggressively recruited in the 1980’s, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Tyrone Powers, director of the Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Institute at Anne Arundel Community College.
Powers, a former state trooper and FBI agent, was recruited directly out of high school in the early 1980’s by two Black state troopers and after he left the department was recruited by Black FBI agents, who convinced him to join their agency. Powers and other critics said state law enforcement’s efforts towards diversity in the 21st century are woefully inadequate.
“Over the last 10 years, when the agency said they were going to increase recruitment of minorities and specifically African Americans, they’ve actually kind of gone in the other direction,” Powers said.
Powers says Maryland troopers don’t do enough recruiting on HBCU campuses. Also, he said recruiters could approach criminal justice instructors like him to identify students who could be candidates for law enforcement positions.
“So, they talk a great deal about diversity and recruitment, but if you look at the program, their approach to recruiting a diverse police community it’s not happening,” Powers added.
Elena Russo, spokeswoman for Maryland State Police, said diversity within the department is critical for effective law enforcement.
“People in the recruiting office go all over the state, all over the country to recruit,” Russo said. “In the last couple of years we’ve celebrated some significant accomplishments. For instance, we had our first African American female major appointed in 2012. A large part of our recruiting is focused on women, so we do recruit minorities. We try to recruit, retain and promote employees who reflect the state’s diversity.”
Russo also pointed to the work of the State Police Superintendent’s Council of Advisors on Diversity and Inclusion, consisting of several community, political and law enforcement leaders including Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young.
“They meet quarterly and provide diversity management initiatives, educational opportunities and are trying to come up with new diversity strategies,” Russo said.
Powers said efforts to increase diversity within all law enforcement agencies should transcend ideology, politics and prejudice.
The Homeland Security Department has fired an employee who runs a website predicting and advocating a race war, about four months after he was put on paid administrative leave.
CHICAGO — Claims that the Chicago Police Department has a lying problem — its very own "no-snitch" code of silence — have always been easy for critics to make, but difficult to prove.
Cops who lie often get exposed in high-profile cases, but lying to cover up misdeeds within the ranks doesn't always make headlines.
A DNAinfo Chicago investigation has found that since 2008, Chicago police — from beat cops to lieutenants — made up stories, filed false reports or told lies to cover up their actions or to back up the lies of fellow cops in all kinds of situations.
Officers lied about throwing a bag of dog excrement on a neighbor's front porch, planting drugs, shooting an unarmed teenager, aggressively flirting with twin sisters at a Walgreens and repeatedly punching a man handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.
Other cops were accused of lying about punching a CTA bus driver, making illegal searches, punching a news photographer during NATO and raiding the wrong house during a barbecue celebrating the birth of puppies.
Police even lied to cover up accidentally discharging pepper spray at a River North steakhouse, according to a review of records.
It’s a story that can be told by taking a closer look at a little-known provision in the Police Department's disciplinary code: "Rule 14: making a false statement, written or oral."
Currently, most Rule 14 investigation details remain hidden from the public.
The police union contract prohibits the city and Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, from naming officers accused of misconduct or disclosing details of administrative investigations, including Rule 14 violations, unless the allegations are proven true or an officer requests they be made public.
DNAinfo Chicago obtained through sources a list that named officers investigated by IPRA who were accused of breaking Rule 14.
The list was used to search public records — including thousands of pages of civil and criminal court records, police board and IPRA documents, depositions and police reports — and to conduct dozens of interviews with victims, civil rights lawyers, accused cops and current and former police brass to take a closer look at the code of silence that a 2012 federal court ruling called a “persistent widespread custom” within the Police Department.
DNAinfo Chicago found that IPRA has investigated 87 cases — involving 160 officers — that included alleged Rule 14 violations between 2008 and 2013.
And during that same time period, the Police Department's Internal Affairs Department leveled Rule 14 allegations in 140 more misconduct cases and completed investigations that determined officers violated Rule 14 in 90 more cases, according to public records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Police union officials claim the number of Rule 14 allegations made each year simply aren't enough to claim that a department with 12,500 sworn officers harbors a culture of lying.
But last year, a federal jury ruled a Police Department code of silence emboldened former Police Officer Anthony Abbate, who conspired with fellow officers under cover of law to cover up the drunken, videotaped beating he gave a female bartender in 2007.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration attempted to have that part of the jury's judgment taken off the books, but U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve refused.
The judge's written ruling states the jury verdict should stand as a matter of principle that has "ramifications for society" and "social value to the judicial system and public at large."
Experts who study law enforcement statistics say the few Rule 14 cases that are publicized offer just a glimpse of the culture that St. Eve declared a matter of "public interest."
University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, who has studied Chicago police misconduct for 15 years, said one must look beyond the numbers — particularly when it comes to Rule 14 allegations, administrative findings made against police officers by law enforcement officers — to fully understand how pervasive the code of silence is within the department.
After reviewing more than 1,000 police misconduct cases, Futterman said that neither the Police Department's Internal Affairs Department nor IPRA charged an officer with violating Rule 14 every time an officer was accused of filing a false report in cases that involved alleged dishonesty.
"A charge of making a false report could be submitted in any police misconduct investigation. It's present in every single complaint in which an officer doesn't admit, 'I did it.' Those are allegedly false reports," Futterman said. "And we're not seeing those charges added or investigated in any systematic matter by Internal Affairs or IPRA.”
IPRA’s acting director, former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor Scott Ando, said the agency never files charges that officers lied unless they make "material false statements or reports" after they are allowed to review initial police documents and any previous statements they made to investigators.
"We don't make those allegations in a cavalier way, because we realize how significant it is and how devastating it can be to a police officer's career," Ando said. "It impacts their credibility as a witness, and in so many instances can be a career killer."
'TO SAY IT DOESN'T EXIST IS NAIVE'
Some of the Rule 14 cases reviewed by DNAinfo Chicago either occurred or were investigated under the watch of former police Supt. Jody Weis, a retired FBI supervisor despised by many rank-and-file officers who considered him an outsider.
Weis said that during his tenure, dozens of officers explained to him why the culture of lying exists within the department.
"The culture here is if you get in trouble, if there's an administrative inquiry, you can lie and do whatever you can to get out of it because the penalty for lying will never be greater than the trouble you're in," Weis said. "The 'Thin Blue Line,' … to say it doesn't exist, is naive."
Chicago police union officials take offense to the idea of a code of silence being part of Police Department culture.
"It's a slap in the face to the dedicated police officers that work the streets in the city of Chicago on a daily basis,” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said.
"They're out there putting their lives on the line, and you've got people thinking, 'Well, they're all out there lying.' It's really disheartening."
But Chicago's most prolific civil rights attorneys say it's not fair to argue the Police Department's trouble with the truth is the work of just a few bad apples.
Attorney Jared Kosoglad, who represents several people suing police officers accused of covering up misconduct, said it's obvious to him that police stay silent to protect other officers.
"They'll watch misconduct. They'll watch officers beat people up. They'll watch false reports being made and lies being told under oath, and nobody will stand up and say, 'Hey you know this is fraud and it's wrong,' " Kosoglad said. "That police officers routinely lie is obvious. The best part is, they lie even when [my] client is guilty."
A Chicago beat cop with more than 10 years on the job offered his perspective on the issue, answering questions from DNAinfo Chicago on the condition of anonymity, because he said he fears retribution from fellow officers.
Personally, he said he knows and tries to avoid "certain people on every watch, in every unit" who go "above and beyond in a bad way.
"Sometimes you see these people at a job and just keep driving," the officer said. "You don't do this because you don't want to back them up. You do it because you don't want to get sucked into their bulls---."
And he said that presents the kind of quandary regular folks face when they witness violence but don't cooperate with police because they fear retribution for violating the "no-snitch code of silence" on the street that the Police Department says is the top reason more shootings and murders don't get solved.
"On some levels, police officers are no different than a street gang when it comes to the culture of silence. We are not supposed to snitch, just like they say on the street. Yet we implore those that live in high-crime areas to put their lives at risk and [be a] witness against gang members," the officer said.
"Most officers play by the rules. … The department does not endorse silence, lying, etc. It's the culture within the department that makes it possible," he said.
The officer said he's never been openly asked to lie, but that's not how the Police Department code of silence works, anyway.
"The key phrase used is, 'Get your story straight.' There is an expectation to fall in line with the narrative of an event, even if it differs from what you actually saw," he said. "I haven't had this happen often, maybe a handful [of times] at best. But it does happen."
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said there's no doubt that Chicago cops who lie tear at the entire department's credibility with Chicagoans, especially with folks who already don't trust the police.
"The third rail in departments across the country is Rule 14s, lying. 'You lie, you die,' that's what they call it in Boston. You get terminated if you lie during an official investigation. And I support that," McCarthy said.
"If you boldface lie ... my policy is termination. It has to do with our credibility."
But even when officers get caught violating Rule 14, some of them serve out suspensions and wind up back on the job doing police work, according to IPRA findings and Chicago Police Board decisions.
When that happens, McCarthy says his hands are tied.
"That's why we need to terminate people who get convicted of a Rule 14," he said.
McCarthy blames the department's "convoluted" disciplinary process — IPRA recommends punishments, and then the police superintendent files charges with the police board, which makes the final decisions — for not doling out consistent punishment that sends a message to the rank-and-file that lying won't be tolerated.
CHICAGO STYLE CORRUPTION IN GRANTS PASS OREGON
By Former City Councilor Bob Anderson December 21, 2013 NewsWithViews.com
Grants Pass Oregon, Where The City Government Fears The Truth. Tell It, And They Send The FBI To Shut You Up.
Grants Pass, Oregon: - I've lived in Grants Pass Oregon for 30 years. It's where I raised my family on blue-collar wages. I own a house and property and pay my taxes. I'm a good citizen. Why then, did FBI Special Agents visit my private shop today?
Monday, December 23rd, 2013
A retired Chicago police officer wants justice for seven fellow officers who he contends were wrongfully convicted in a 1996 police corruption investigation.
At a Friday, Dec 20, press conference at New Tabernacle of Faith Church, 531 N. Kedzie, Otha "T.C." McCoy alleged that the investigation of seven Austin police officers was a "shame" perpetuated by the F.B.I. and the Chicago Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.
McCoy is calling for a special federal prosecutor to investigate the incidents that led to the arrest and the eventual prosecution of seven 15th District tactical officers, since known as the "Austin Seven."
McCoy wants the special prosecutor to look at all aspects of the investigation, including the prosecutingU.S.attorney at the time, Jim Burns. McCoy alleges that prosecutors were aware that the corruption investigation was a fraud.
A Texas judge claims he wasn’t choking his girlfriend — he was saving her life.
Dallas County Judge Carlos Raul Cortez was arrested Saturday morning after his 26-year-old girlfriend told police he strangled her, dragged her by the hair to his apartment balcony and choked her some more against the railing....
Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"
Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.
NEW YORK -- The FBI has denied Freedom of Information Act requests for records related to federal officials' interviews with Dylan Davies, a security officer who claimed to have witnessed the Benghazi, Libya, attack in a now-discredited “60 Minutes” report.
Huge 9/11 Fraud Case Accuses Retired …
Scores of retired New York City police, fire and corrections officers were arrested today in a crackdown on disability fraud stemming from the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The fraud cost taxpayers millions of dollars, prosecutors claim.
The Manhattan district attorney's office accuses the retired workers, along with their lawyers and doctors, of faking work-related stress, including feigned psychiatric disorders related to 9/11.
Among those busted today was John Minerva, the disability consultant for the Detectives Endowment Association, officials said.
Today's arrests cap a two year investigation, aided by federal investigators, the city's Department of Investigation and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.
The alleged fraud cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in improper Social Security benefits.
None of the accused actually suffered from debilitating stress, officials claim. Many were caught working after retirement, a violation of disability benefits.
And some of the retired officers retained their gun permits. Retired officers cannot possess guns if they are being treated for stress.
Most of the arrests in the fraud sweep took place in the city, with others being busted in Florida and elsewhere in New York State.
It was the second 9/11 scam to be revealed this week. On Monday, two New Jersey men pleaded guilty to raising and keeping $50,000 for a Sept. 11 charity that was supposed to help families who lost loved one in the catastrophe.
Thomas Scalgione and Mark Niemczyk never gave any of the more than $50,000 in proceeds to the victims' families or to charities as promised, they told the court.
Four ringleaders coached the former workers on how to feign depression and other mental health problems that allowed them to get payouts as high as $500,000 over decades, Vance said. The ringleaders made tens of thousands of dollars in secret kickbacks, he said.
see link for full storyThu Aug 14, 2008 10:15 pm
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