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Former Albuquerque DA Calls APD a Criminal Enterprise Admits She Refused to Charge Cops

As she left office last month, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg stated in a letter (embedded below) to U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez that the Albuquerque Police Department is comparable to a “criminal enterprise.” Brandenburg had decided not to seek a fifth term after she was targeted by the police, their union, and other politicians.

The reason for the harassment leveled at her and toward her family was that for the first time in her 14 years as a prosecutor she had chosen to file charges against cops. Within that same letter, Brandenburg also admitted that prior to that case she had refused to ever charge police officers. However, when video (embedded below) of APD Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez executing James Boyd, a homeless man who had been camping just outside the city, was released, the publicity it generated and the clear evidence it showed forced her hand.

Brandenburg charged Sandy and Perez with murder and as the APD revenge campaign against her began any allies she had within the local government either turned on her or scrambled for cover. The very fact that she had charged two cops was even used to discredit her ability to run the prosecutor’s office by painting her as biased against the police. Brandenburg, who at one time was considered the most accomplished woman ever to work as a prosecutor, suddenly was being accused of incompetence and even found herself and her children the subject of criminal investigations.

Throughout the letter, Brandenburg referenced this retaliation she had faced as well as past acts of retribution the Albuquerque Police Department had directed against people that had dared to cross them. In addition, she mentions allegations from former Albuquerque Police Department records supervisor Reynaldo Chavez that body camera footage from shootings was edited or deleted. And in one of the opening paragraphs she acknowledges the worst kept secret on this and several other planets, that as a district attorney she absolutely refused to bring charges against police officers prior to the Boyd case.

Below are excerpts from that letter:

As you know, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been under a Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice for the past two years. Reasons for this are too numerous to recount here, but mast are obvious. one of the major areas of concern are the number of officer involved shootings and instances of unreasonable force by APD. In all fairness, our office has been part of that controversey, as we declined to criminally prosecute any officer involved in an officer involved shooting until January 2015.

When we made the decision in October 2014 to prosecute the officers in the Boyd shooting, a firestorm ensued that called into question the integrity of the eintire Bernalillo County Criminal justice system…

Since the Settlement Agreement was reached between APD and the Department of Justice, we have seen little progress. Please refer the independent monitor’s reports for more specific information. In his most recent report, James Ginger, noted the behind the scene reality was that APD has “almost no appetite for correcting behavior that violates existing policy.” Further, it was pointed out that investigations looking into use of force by officers appears “…preconditioned to rationalize or explain away officer conduct.” Throughout the monitoring process, APD has failed to comply and meet agreed upon standards and measures. In fact, their performance can accurately be characterized as grossly noncompliant.

In addition to failing to meet their obligations under the Settlement Agreement, other issues have arisen, calling into question the integrity of APD, and thus all agencies in the criminal justice system. Such includes numerous and serious alleged violations of IPRA in an attempt to cover up wrong doing, editing, deleting, and/or destroying lapel camera video in controversial officer involved shooting cases, a refusal to cooperate, and in fact, hinder Police Oversight Board investigations and recently problems with the APD lab and DNA analysis.

From the outside, looking in, it appears whenever a problem comes up, instead of honestly addressing it, APD engages in a cover-up. Many men and women of APD allege promotions are given to reward those who have “kept quiet” or maintained the chain of command’s version of the “truth”. Given this, change for the better is becoming a more and more distant reality…

Frankly, if any other group of individuals were acting the way APD has allegedly been acting, some of us in law enforcement might refer to them as a continuing criminal enterprise and/or engaged in the act of racketeering.

Of course, while it’s nice to have one of their own officially acknowledge it, none of these “revelations” are in the least bit surprising. While Albuquerque is one of the worst cities nationwide for police corruption, the APD is in no way unique in acting like “a continuing criminal enterprise,” nor was Brandenburg’s office anywhere close to alone in its refusal to prosecute cops.

DA Kari Brandenburg’s full letter to feds about APD by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd

James Boyd Murder by Albuquerque Police Officers Sandy and Perez

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Update: Investigation Opened Into Misconduct and Fraud by Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Bryan Jeffers of South East Missouri (SEMO) CopBlock, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. It is an update of a previous submission about potential misconduct and fraud by Sheriff Dean Finch of Wayne County, Missouri. This post was originally published at the website of SEMO CopBlock under the title, “Did Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch violate the Hatch Act?

In addition, Bryan stated:

This Email was sent to me right before I shared this story.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has opened a case file and started an investigation into Sheriff Dean Finch’s misconduct. It would be great if Dean is charged and convicted of breaking the Hatch Act. It may not land him in prison as we’d prefer, however, it will be justice, no matter how small the punishment may be.

dean-finch-hatch-act-investigation

Click for full size image.

Did Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch Violate the Hatch Act?

To understand if Dean Finch violated the Hatch Act we first have to understand what the Hatch Act is about. The Hatch Act of 1939 was named after Senator Carl Hatch a Democrat from New Mexico who wrote it. The Hatch Act is officially, an act to prevent pernicious political activities. The act was amended in 2012. As such, we will focus on the 2012 amended version.

In 2012 President Barack Obama signed the “Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012.” It modified penalties under the Hatch Act to allow for disciplinary actions in addition to removal for federal employees; clarified the applicability to the District of Columbia of provisions that cover state and local governments; limited the prohibition on state and local employees running for elective office to employees whose salary is paid completely by federal loans or grants. (The complete law can be found here.)

According to subsection 7324. Political activities on duty; prohibitions
Picture

PictureSEMO Cop Block obtained evidence of Dean Finch allegedly violating three of four prohibitions. In the picture provided, Dean Finch is seen at the Ozark Heritage Festival, campaigning in uniform with badge and belt present, with a county issued shirt on.

According to Subsection 7324, “An An employee may not engage in political activity, while the employee is on duty. As you can see from the picture provided the Sheriff is on duty, and in uniform.  Both of the accusations could be covered by Subsection 7324 A(1), and A(3).


In the festival’s parade, Dean Finch allegedly violated the Hatch Act early the same day by campaigning in a parade while he was driving the vehicle that he leases to the county, and is paid $0.54/mile when he drives it (read more here)
Did Dean add the mileage he drove during the parade to his mileage log he is paid from? According to the subsection 7324 – (4) it is prohibited “using any vehicle owned or leased by the Government of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof.” Hence Dean drove his leased vehicle during a campaigning session by driving the county leased vehicle throughout the “Ozark Heritage Festival” with a sign the read “Wayne County sheriff Dean Finch” on both sides of the vehicle. Isn’t this a violation of the Hatch Act?
We at SEMO Cop Block believe so. Dean Finch should be charged, convicted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law. According to subsection 732:

Dean Finch should be subject to removal and not allowed to hold any elected office for a period not to exceed 5 years. A fine not to exceed $1,000.

SEMO Cop Block has not just written up this article, we have filed a complaint with The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). (You can read the complaint here) The OSC is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Their basic authorities come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). The OSC would be the one in charge of investigating the Hatch Act complaints.

If you believe Dean Finch or anyone else has violated the Hatch Act, the OSC contact information is:

U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, NW
Suite 218
Washington, DC 20036
Hatch Act Hotline:           (202) 254-3650 or (800) 854-2824
Hatch Act Fax:                 (202) 254-3700
E-mail:                              [email protected]
Website:                          www.osc.gov

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has opened a case file and started an investigation into Sheriff Dean Finch’s misconduct. It would be great if Dean is charged and convicted of breaking the Hatch Act. It may not land him in prison as we’d prefer, however, it will be justice no matter how small the punishment may be.

The ‘NATIONAL SHERIFFS’ ASSOCIATION” has been trying to change the law to not include sheriffs, but has failed in every attempt they’ve made. In a letter they wrote in 2012, they say:

“HB 498 would clarify current law to allow sheriffs, in their official capacity, to participate in political activities. Moreover, it also clarifies allowable political activities of a sheriff to include, but not limited to, endorsing a candidate through print, radio or TV ads, speaking at political events, attending or sponsoring fundraisers.” (full letter here)

The bill they asked for was referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy. The bill has never made it out of the subcommittee.

The Supreme Court has several times declined to hear challenges to the act and has twice upheld its constitutionality. In a 1947 case brought by the CIO, a divided court found that Congress had properly exercised its authority as long as it had not affected voting rights. Then again In 1973, in a case brought by the National Association of Letter Carriers. A 6 to 3 decision found the act is neither too broad nor unclear.
The Hatch Act is there to prevent people who are paid in part or completely by the Federal Government from campaigning in uniform or while on duty. The Supreme Court has ruled twice on its fairness and broadness. Congress did not vote or discuss the bill brought to them by the National Sheriffs’ Association.

– Bryan Jeffers
   SEMO CopBlock

 

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New Mexico Cop Recorded Himself on Body Camera Stealing Drugs and Cash for Girlfriend

Normally cops “forget” to turn their body cams on right before they do something illegal. For Sergeant Roshern McKinney, a Grants, New Mexico police officer, it worked the opposite way. Instead of it “malfunctioning” right before he beat and/or shot someone, he inadvertently recorded himself stealing marijuana from the police station.

The video also showed him taking it to his girlfriend’s house and then engaging in a celebratory game of grab ass with her. The fun didn’t last long, though. Not only has he been busted for the “Bad Apples Gone Wild” video, but during the investigation of that some additional “behind the scenes” extras were uncovered. Apparently, this isn’t the first rodeo he stole drugs from and he’s also being accused of making off with almost $800 in cash.

Via KRQE.com (in Albuquerque):

According to confidential police sources, the Sergeant unknowingly recorded himself on duty last month. It shows him enter his private office at the police station, grab what appears to be marijuana, then drive to his girlfriend’s house.

At her house, the Sergeant is recorded saying he’s giving her marijuana for her father. Sources tell KRQE News 13 the lapel then shows the Sergeant’s girlfriend on his lap while he fondles her…

Through the investigation, the Sergeant is also accused of two other crimes while on duty, stealing marijuana along with close to $800 that was supposed to be submitted as evidence…

Wednesday, State Police arrested McKinney for distribution of marijuana, conspiracy, and two counts of embezzlement.

McKinney’s girlfriend was also arrested for conspiracy and distribution of marijuana. Both are booked at the Sandoval County Detention Center.

As of now, there’s no word on long it will be before McKinney is off paid vacation and back out there arresting people for stealing and drug possession.

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“I’m an Officer of the Law!” Belligerant, Drunk Cop, Who Wrecked Into Parked Car, Already Had Two DUI’s When Hired

On Friday August 12th, the Albuquerque police received a call about a drunk driver at the MATS Detox Center who had run into a parked car and had then began acting aggressively toward the staff of that detox center. Upon arriving at the location, they soon discovered that the drunken, belligerent driver was New Mexico State Police Officer Morgan Ortiz, who was obviously drunk and not just a little, but to the point he could hardly even stand up.

When questioned he began repeating “11” to each question in a potential tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, i.e. “how much have you had to drink?” – “11” – “where were you coming from?” – “11” – etc., etc. Believe it or not, things got even a little weirder after that, once it was determined that this wasn’t Ortiz’ first drunken rodeo.

Via KRQE.com:

The reports go on to state that Ortiz was too drunk to be arrested for aggravated DWI and reckless driving. Instead, he was taken to a hospital and will be summonsed for the charges.

In the lapel video, Ortiz is heard yelling, “I’m an officer of the law.” Ortiz was even heard cussing at officers.

This was his third DWI, according to criminal records. He was previously convicted of DWI back in 2003 and 2004, both before his 21st birthday.

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As it turns out, Ortiz, 32, is a graduate of New Mexico State Police’s 89th academy in December 2015. He hadn’t even been patrolling the streets for a year.

“We put him through a battery of tests: psychological, medical tests that, unfortunately, after all the years of him being sober, something happened.” Chief Pete Kassetas said.

Kassetas said he was fully aware of Ortiz’s criminal record when he hired him, and took a chance on the young man.

“He’s embarrassed, he’s upset,” Kassetas said. “Obviously as the chief, I’m embarrassed and I’m not happy.”

Ortiz’s gun and badge have been taken from him and he’s been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of both the criminal case and an internal affairs investigation.

new-mexico- state-police-officer-morgan-ortizAs embarrassed and unhappy as Chief Kassetas is by this whole unpredictable outcome, he still hasn’t figured out what will be done with Officer Ortiz once he comes off the paid vacation they sent him on while his friends “investigate” this “unfortunate” incident. Although he states that his job is “in jeopardy,” it could be several weeks before the chief decides how hard to slap his wrist.

And remember, if you want to avoid getting arrested, just get really incredibly drunk to the point that they have to take you to the hospital and they’ll just send you home from there. See how that works out for you if you don’t have one of those Magic Suits in your closet.

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When Police Go Rogue on Facebook by Ken Armstrong of the Marshall Project

This post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader, via the CopBlock.org Submission Page. It was originally published by Ken Armstrong at themarshallproject.org.

Last week, Seattle police apologized for an incident in which a female officer arrested a 69-year-old man walking in the city with a golf club. She said he wielded the club as a weapon. He said it was simply a cane. Police video supported the man’s account.

But it was only after another discovery – made by a Seattle newspaper, The Stranger – that the police department removed the officer from street duty, assigning her to a desk.

The officer is white. The man she arrested with the golf club is black. Last year, the officer posted this on Facebook: “If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism that far exceeds any white racism in this country. I am tired of black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them. … I am tired of black people saying poor poor me …”

When Seattle’s police chief read those Facebook comments last week, she said she was “shocked and disappointed.”

Around the country, other chiefs can relate. So can other communities where officers – and sometimes, the police chiefs themselves – have posted Facebook messages that created controversy and sometimes led to suspensions or firings. Such episodes have played out on other social-media sites, of course. And, like the Internet itself, they extend beyond the United States. (In the United Kingdom, more than 150 officers have faced disciplinary action for bad Facebook behavior, including one constable who wrote: “Let’s not be so soft on these [worst expletive imaginable] out there.”)

But looking just at Facebook – and just at police in the United States – here’s a roundup of cases where officers have been accused of crossing a line when going online.

Marlin, Texas: A police sergeant was fired in August 2014 after posting this on Facebook: “The first day of the month! The day I absolutely LOVE going to the grocery store after putting in 120+ hours last month. I love being able to see how the useless lazy turd bags spend the hard earned money my working friends and I provided for them so they can sit of their lazy asses all month and drink the beer I am paying for. I especially love it in the summer so I can admire the thousands of dollars of ink they have adorning their unclean bodies as they smile at me with that mouth full of bling. Makes me want to help them take their groceries and help them load them into that Escalade with $4000 rims. I promise, if I ever snap and go on a killing spree, it will be in a supermarket on the first.” (Elsewhere in Texas, police have created Facebook dustups in Dallas, Emory, and Matagorda County.)

Jonesboro, Ark.: The same month that police sergeant was fired in Texas, the police chief in Jonesboro, Ark., resigned. The chief, on Facebook, called a newspaper reporter a “pro-dope smoking, law license revoked, left wing liberal.” He also called her “smelly,” and wrote: “Dealing with ole Sunshine is like trying to pick up a dog turd by the ‘clean end.’” Jonesboro’s mayor handed the chief a 30-day suspension, but the chief quit before serving it. (And he wasn’t the only police chief to resign last August over a Facebook post. The chief in Chickasha, Okla., did, too. Before that, so did the police chief in Williamston, S.C.)

Bainbridge Island, Wash.: On this island in the Puget Sound, police in 2010 shot and killed a mentally ill man, in a case that prompted a civil rights lawsuit and a $1 million verdict against the city. A week after the shooting, the officer who opened fire received a Facebook message from a Los Angeles cop, who flippantly referred to the shooting as “combat qual.” The Bainbridge officer responded, on Facebook, with: “no sweat here … bad guy should have listened a little better.” (A year later, a different Bainbridge officer was reprimanded for going on Facebook and writing of a crackdown on traffic offenses: “We rained terror on the island and no one was taken alive.”)

Portsmouth, Va.: In 2011, a police officer shot and killed an intoxicated, unarmed cook, a citizen of Kazakhstan who was struck 11 times. Afterward, the officer’s Facebook page – captured by The Virginian-Pilot before disappearing from the web – became the subject of an internal review. Among other postings, he described a photo of a box of handguns as his “box of VENGEANCE!” and wrote: “would be better if i was dirtying them instead of cleaning them!”

Boston, Mass.: Last year, a police officer for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority posted on Facebook: “Farther’s (sic) Day, the most confusing day in Roxbury.” The president of the Boston NAACP told television station WCVB, “It’s a sad commentary on what this gentleman thinks is going on in communities of color.” Afterward, the officer was stripped of his role as a police-academy drill instructor.

Indianapolis, Ind.: Television station WTHR aired an investigative report in 2009 about an Indiana state trooper’s Facebook posts. “I pick up trash for a living,” the trooper wrote. He boasted of drinking heavily and posted a photo in which a fellow police officer pointed a .357 Magnum at the trooper’s head. By matching Facebook’s timestamps with state patrol employment records, the station discovered that the trooper sometimes posted while on duty. The trooper subsequently resigned.

Albuquerque, N.M.: That trooper certainly wasn’t the only police officer to refer to people as garbage. In 2011, an Albuquerque police officer shot a man in the back after a traffic stop, killing him. Soon after, local media reported that the officer listed his job on Facebook as “human waste disposal.” No charges were filed against the officer for the shooting, but he did get a four-day suspension for his Facebook post.

New York City: In 2009, a New York City police officer described his Facebook status as “watching ‘Training Day’ to brush up on proper police procedure.” A few weeks later, that post was used to attack the officer’s credibility when a defendant he had arrested went to trial. (In “Training Day,” there is little, if anything, proper about the corrupt narcotics detective played by Denzel Washington.) Two years later, more than a dozen NYPD officers posted offensive comments about the West Indian Day Parade, leading to eventual discipline.

Monroe, La.: Responding to the protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, a police officer in Monroe, La., went on Facebook and wrote: “Ive got an idea on how to clear the streets in Ferguson Missouri. Lets have a crop duster fly over and drop job applications.” The officer, who was subsequently placed on leave, also wrote: “I’m surprised the beauty salon didn’t have armed guards. That ‘good hair’ is expensive. Thats ghetto gold.” Police elsewhere also made Facebook posts about Ferguson that stirred controversy. That happened, among other places, in Elgin, Ill.;Glendale, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Kansas City; and Seattle.

Volusia, Fla.: Before Michael Brown’s death, there was the controversy surrounding Trayvon Martin’s. In 2013, on the day George Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin’s death, a Volusia County Beach Safety officer posted on Facebook: “Another thug gone. Pull up your pants and be respectful. Bye bye thug r.i.p.” The following month, the officer was fired.

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