Tag Archives: Plea Bargain

Maine Cop Facing 20 Sexual Assault Charges, Including Against Six Year Old, Gets Misdemeanor Plea Deal, $1000 Fine

Sexual Assault Charges Misdemeanor Plea Deal Deputy Kenneth Hatch

Maine Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Hatch facing 20 charges of sexual assault of a minor, including one who was six years old at the time was given a misdemeanor plea deal and a $1,000 fine.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth L. Hatch III was facing 20 charges of sexual assault against three minors, including one who was just six years old at the time. However, instead of refiling charges after his first trial ended in a hung jury, the Maine Attorney General’s Office offered him a plea bargain. And, boy, what a bargain it was!

As part of the plea deal Hatch agreed to plead guilty to the Class D misdemeanor (almost the lowest level of crime someone can be charged with) of “furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol.” In exchange for that, the prosecutor has agreed that his “punishment” will consist of a $1,000 fine. No jail time, no probation, no sex offender registry, not even a series of overpriced classes to sit through. It’s slightly worse than if he had received a traffic citation.

At this point, it’s hard to be surprised when cops sit back and cover for their “Brothas” no matter how heinous the crime might be. Nor is it particularly shocking anymore when prosecutors give them their “Policeman’s Discount” and they get just a slap on the wrist or the crimes committed by “Police Heroes” are overlooked altogether. This takes the cake, though.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Lincoln County Sheriffs Deputy Kenneth Hatch

Former Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year Kenneth L. Hatch III

Obviously, one would think that someone facing charges of sexually abusing multiple underage children, including one who was only six years old at the time, would get several books thrown at them.

Via the PressHerald.com:

On and off for the last 16 years, prosecutors allege, Hatch preyed on teenage girls, all the while moving through the ranks of law enforcement in central Maine.

An indictment handed up in August accused Hatch, 46, of 22 felonies, including 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, eight counts of aggravated furnishing of marijuana to a minor, and two counts of unlawful sexual contact. In many of the incidents, Hatch was on duty when the alleged abuse occurred.

Via the Bangor Daily News:

The drug counts allege that Hatch gave marijuana from a bag marked “EVIDENCE” to two of his three alleged victims, two of whom were 14 or 15 at the time of the alleged assaults.

The alleged sexual assaults against the third victim, which resulted in Hatch’s arrest in June, reportedly first occurred in 2004 when she was 6, Assistant Attorney General John Risler, who is prosecuting the case, told the grand jury in August. The indictments allege that Hatch then sexually assaulted the same girl and provided her marijuana in 2013 and 2014, when she was 14 and 15.

One would obviously be very wrong, though. Apparently, in Maine the Magical Uniforms they issue to cops are especially potent at rendering them impervious to any sort of meaningful consequences for their actions. Of course, one of his victims spoke of her fears in relation to that and how it made her reluctant to come forward. (Via the PressHerald.com, again.)

One of the alleged victims who spoke with the Maine Sunday Telegram said Hatch used his power as a police officer to sexually abuse her over a period of years. She was afraid to speak up, she said, because it would be her word against his.

“He’s a cop,” she said. “Who’s going to believe me?”

Finally in June, she spoke up and told a family member, triggering the investigation and Hatch’s arrest.

Her fear of speaking out is common among victims of police sexual violence. For every victim who comes forward to accuse an officer, five more remain silent, said Philip M. Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University and a leading researcher on police misconduct.

“There’s something about that power dynamic,” Stinson said. “Police officers are used to being in charge, of telling people what to do, and of people obeying them – or there are consequences.”

I’m sure that this sentence will alleviate those fears:

“Hatch will appear before Stokes in Knox County Superior Court on Friday morning, agree to pay a $1,000 fine, and will serve no jail time.”

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In South Dakota, Yet Another Former “Officer of the Year” Caught Stealing

In  November, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Brian William Biehl was arrested for stealing just under $70,000 from evidence that was originally stolen by way of drug seizures. As part of a plea deal (embedded below) earlier this month, Trooper Biehl pled guilty to those charges and admitted that he had taken the cash out of evidence bags and had been doing so for at least four years. Biehl used the excuse that he needed the money to pay bills and stated “I know I screwed up,” while maintaining that he planned to eventually pay it back.

Via the Capital Journal:

Biehl’s arrest was based on an investigation conducted by the state Division of Criminal Investigation. It began in October, according to an affidavit written by DCI Special Agent Guy Di Benedetto, who conducted the investigation.

On Oct. 21, Di Benedetto said in the affidavit, Assistant Attorney General Michael Sharp went to the Highway Patrol’s Chamberlain squad office to review evidence for a trial with two troopers, one of whom was Biehl. During the review, $3,850 worth of cash came up missing from an evidence bag that was supposed to contain $7,590 that had been seized in the case.

That same day, Biehl and another trooper met with their lieutenant and captain. Another $1,540 was found to be missing from an evidence bag that was supposed to contain $4,262 of cash seized following an arrest Biehl had made, according to Di Benedetto’s affidavit.

Biehl’s captain asked the DCI to conduct an investigation after the second discovery was made. After the DCI was called in, Biehl asked to meet with his sergeant. According to the affidavit, they met along Interstate 90 near White Lake and Biehl admitted to taking the missing cash.

It was then, Di Benedetto said, that he went to Chamberlain to speak with Biehl. During the interview, Di Benedetto said, Biehl waived his Miranda rights and said being “short on money” was one of the reasons he started pilfering cash from evidence bags.

Initially, Biehl told Di Benedetto that he had taken about $20,000 over the course of four or five years. Biehl said he still had evidence bags from which he’d taken money. Eventually, Biehl would tell Di Benedetto that he had planned to pay all of the money back, the affidavit said.

Di Benedetto’s affidavit also said Biehl denied taking money from suspects before it had been seized as evidence, that he never took money from someone and “kicked them loose” and that he denied seizing drugs and selling those for money.

By the end of Di Benedetto’s interview, Biehl admitted that he’d probably taken more than $53,000 of cash seized from suspects in his cases. Biehl could not recall all the details from each case but told Di Benedetto that he had, at one point, taken all $20,000 he’d seized in one case about three years ago. Biehl said the money sat in his evidence locker for a year before he started slipping cash from the evidence bag.

Di Benedetto also asked Biehl if he remembered when he started taking money. Biehl said the first instance occurred in 2012 but he couldn’t recall the exact details of the case. The last time Biehl said he took seized cash from a case was Oct. 19, 2016, according to the affidavit.

Through the course of his investigation, Di Benedetto wrote, he found that Biehl had taken money from a total of 15 different cases between May 5, 2015 and Oct. 19, 2016 for a total of $69,668.

In addition to being named “Officer of the Year” in 2012 (the same year his crime spree began), Trooper Biehl is also currently the school board president for an area school district. For some reason, even after he has pled guilty to a felony involving stealing public money, there’s some confusion currently about his status in that position. Logic would dictate that he probably should be in the process of being removed, but logic doesn’t always apply to the treatment of Police Heroes and other public employees. Platte-Geddes School Superintendent Joel Bailey has refused to comment based on it being a “personnel matter.”

(NOTE: Trooper Biehl’s K-9 was also named “Service Dog of the Year” in 2012. However, there is no evidence that I am aware of currently that the as yet unnamed dog was in any way involved or even aware of Biehl’s thefts.)

Meanwhile, Trooper Biehl is facing  up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, on top of $42,000 he has already been ordered to pay as fees and restitution. He is due back in court for sentencing in March. I will make sure to update you on how long his probation will be then.

Update: Philadelphia Cop Who Robbed Contractor of $38 Given Plea Deal; Sentenced to Probation

Last June, I posted on the Copblock Network about Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Winkler, who was facing charges after he robbed a construction contractor that he had hired. At the time, the details were a little sparse, but the basics of the case were that Winkler had “lured” two workers to the location of the robbery with promises of pizza and additional money. Then, once they were there he had assaulted them and stolen all of the cash they had on them at the time. It was also reported that he had stiffed them on money for previous work.

For the most part that’s still an accurate run down of the situation. However, during his trial, some additional details came out. Apparently, he had (according to his victims) misrepresented the amount of work that needed to be done on a new house he had recently purchased and then hired them to work on. As a result, the main victim, Nathaniel Carter, had called him to try and renegotiate the deal.

Officer Winkler didn’t like the sudden proposal for change of terms. So, he assaulted Carter, knocked him to the ground, demanded he pay him back the original $600 he had paid him, and then rifled through his pockets taking all the cash he had on him. As originally reported, that amounted to $38. (Sorta reminiscent of LVMPD Detective Michael Kitchen’s situation a couple years back.)

Things went a little further than that, though. Winkler also took Carter’s wallet, grabbed his debit card from it, illegally searched his car, and insisted that he was going to have one of the other workers at the job site go to an ATM and retrieve the rest of the money he had paid him. Then, Winkler called 911 and asked for some local cops to come and arrest Carter for “scamming” him. Of course, since he was on-duty and driving an undercover police car the whole time, he also called his supervisor and asked to be placed on vacation status.

Via LevitTownNow.com:

Upon arrival, two officers found two contractors, one seated in a Nissan Maxima and one on the ground nearby with change around him.

The two contractors told police they were hired by Winkler on May 3 to do work on his newly purchased home on Newportville Road. One of the contractors began the work for $600 cash and soon realized there was more work than initially agreed upon.

Before police arrived on May 5, Winkler allegedly called the contractor found by officers seated on the ground near the Maxima and requested he return to the Newportville Road home to renegotiate the price of the work. Winker then became angry with the man once he arrived and held his forearm to his neck, forced him to the ground and put his knee into his side. Winkler then told him he had to give him his money back, according to court papers.

The contractor told Winkler he put the money on his bank card. Winkler then demanded the contractor’s bank card and threatened to send him to jail if he didn’t turn the card over, police allege.

While holding down the contractor, Winkler allegedly said he was going to have a worker remove the money from the man’s account and then proceeded to go through the man’s pockets despite requests to call 9-1-1, court papers state.

The other contractor was seated in the Maxima during the incident and was confronted when Winkler went over to search the glove box of the car and had a construction manager search the vehicle’s trunk, police said.

Winkler then picked up a wallet from the car and removed the cash and the owner’s driver’s license. He then called his police supervisor and asked to be put on vacation status before dialing Bucks County 9-1-1, police said.

Philadelphia authorities said in a statement to LevittownNow.com that Winkler is accused of taking $38 during the robbery.

(Bristol Township Detective Greg) Beidler, who has worked in the Bristol Township Police Department for 27 years, wrote in the affidavit that Winkler told responding officers he was an on-duty police officer and wanted one of the contractors arrested for theft of services and fraud.

Police said Winkler, a 16-year Philadelphia police veteran assigned to the 16th District, drove a blue 2001 Ford Taurus detective car to his Newportville Road home for the alleged robbery.

Unfortunately for Officer Winkler, things didn’t quite unfold the way he had (presumably) expected once Bristol Township Police arrived. Instead, Winkler ended up being arrested himself and was charged with two counts of felony robbery and two misdemeanor counts of theft, theft by extortion, receiving stolen property, false imprisonment and several other related offenses. As noted earlier, he still managed to get his Policeman’s Discount and ended up being sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to just one count of theft and three counts of disorderly conduct in a Bucks County Court.

That of course, eliminates those pesky felonies he had been facing originally. It’s not really addressed in the Philly.com article, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that he’ll also probably have to wait until the probation ends before he can go and get hired back as a cop at another department.

Utah School Cop Only Sentenced to Probation for Sexual Exploitation Charges Involving Student

Sergeant Brett Ryon Hadley was given a plea deal and sentenced to probation on charges related to the sexual exploitation of a minor. As part of the deal, he pled no contest to attempted sexual solicitation and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Additional charges of lewdness and “intoxication” were dropped as part of the deal.

Sgt. Hadley admitted that he sent sexually explicit photos to a student and offered money for that student to send him nude photos. He also admitted to trying to encourage that student to work as a prostitute. In addition, the original charges included “a series of sexual assaults” over the course of eight years between 2007 and 2015.

Via the Standard-Examiner:

Concerned about the welfare of a teenage son, a family hired a private investigator, triggering an inquiry that resulted in the downfall of a veteran Northern Utah police officer.

Brett Ryon Hadley, 39, was terminated in December 2015 from the Harrisville Police Department after an investigation into allegations of sexual improprieties dating back to his time as a school resource officer employed by the Pleasant View Police Department and assigned to Weber High School.

Now, in a case that has involved three police departments, three prosecutor’s offices and two state agencies, Hadley has been sentenced to probation on two misdemeanor offenses and faces the loss of his professional certification.

Key details of the case were learned only this week after six months of conflict over public access to an Ogden Police Department investigative report.

Responding to an open records request by the Standard-Examiner in March, Ogden City withheld the bulk of the report, having classified it as private and citing an invasion of privacy of alleged victims.

The newspaper appealed the denial, and the city on Sept. 2 released further portions of the report that provided a broader look into the investigation. Police interviewed this week said the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old when the improprieties began and is now an adult. Detectives also looked into the possibility of a second male teen victim, but no charges resulted from that.

The Standard-Examiner does not identify the victims of sex crimes without permission from them. The victims’ identities were not released to the Standard-Examiner.

A partial timeline of the alleged criminal activities and a chronicle of the investigation and prosecution of Hadley was pieced together through police and court documents, as well as interviews with police, city and school officials…

An alleged victim told police it began with Hadley sending and requesting sexually explicit photos via cell phone and he paid cash for the photos. The detective wrote, “This pattern of illicit behaviors appears to possibly be (Hadley’s) ‘grooming’ of (a victim) for a lengthy period of time.”

In the report’s conclusion, Mackley wrote, “It does appear from witness accounts as well as evidence on Officer Hadley’s own cell phone that he was soliciting sexual favors … in exchange for money.”

Hadley described the text messages “as a joke,” the report said. Mackley added, “It seems based on the entirety of the text messages that it is not.”

Hadley was sentenced to 90 days for the solicitation charge and 180 days for the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge. Both charges were suspended as part of the deal, though. He was also given a fine of $600 and will be required to complete “Moral Reconation Therapy,” a counseling program that is supposed to build moral reasoning among convicted offenders.

Sgt. Hadley, who was a school resource officer at Weber High School in Utah during the time the crimes were committed, was never arrested or forced to turn himself in to be booked at the jail, as people facing charges typically are. Instead, he was just issued a summons. With the sentence of probation and no actual jail time, that means he literally will spend not one single minute in jail as a result of his crimes.

Interestingly, Hadley resigned as a school resource officer due to unspecified “health reasons” shortly after the sex crimes involving this victim are alleged to have happened. Somehow though he managed to recover enough to be hired by the Harrisville Police Department in 2015. It’s almost as if he resigned before the scandal became public and in order to avoid being fired and charged with these crimes. (Which were only filed as the result of evidence uncovered by a private investigator the victim’s family hired.) Obviously, that would never happen, though.

New York Cop Who Crashed a Stolen Car While Drunk Then Ran From the Scene Fined $1000 and Not Even Fired

Nicholas P. Kozack, a Kingston NY police officer, got drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, stole a car, wrecked into a highway sign after missing an exit, flipped the car totaling it, and then ran away from the accident site. He was later caught hiding nearby in someone’s backyard. Initially, he was charged with DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, and felony possession of stolen property.

One would think he’d be in big trouble after all that. However, one would soon be reminded that Officer Kozack has a Magic Suit that renders him impervious to meaningful consequences for his actions, regardless of how illegal, immoral, dangerous, or even deadly they might be. Instead, Kozack received a rather generous Policeman’s Discount and was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor DWI charge by Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Margo Hanstein.

His “punishment” will consist of a $1000 fine, getting one of his co-workers to sign a paper saying he attended a “victim’s impact” class, and having to get someone to blow into the tube attached to his car for a year when he drives drunk (unless he steals another car in order to avoid that indignity).

Priot to that, he also had to pay the person whose car he stole almost $2500 to cover what the insurance didn’t pick up and was given a thirty day suspension before it converted into a paid vacation for the past six months. But he could afford that since he didn’t even lose his $68,000+/year job. He also didn’t even lose his license, although there’s no word on whether he will be required to have an anti-alcohol ignition lock installed on his patrol car.

Via the Daily Freeman:

Kozack pleaded guilty before Ulster town Judge Marsha Weiss in full satisfaction of the charges against him. He was then sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine, ordered to attend a victims’ impact panel, and was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle for one year.

Kozack was given a 20-day stay in order to apply for a conditional driver’s license. His license had been surrendered to Weiss in April.

His attorney, Kevin Harp, said Kozack had waived an earlier hearing with the state Department of Motor Vehicles regarding his refusal to submit to a sobriety test after the accident.

Harp added that Tuesday’s sentence was standard for a person pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. (He forgot to add that people committing this type and number of crimes don’t typically get the opportunity to plead down to a misdemeanor drunk driving charge – Editor)

Prior to pleading guilty, a felony possession of stolen property charge against Kozack was reduced to a misdemeanor by Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Margo Hanstein.

The stolen property charge was in relation to the vehicle Kozack was driving at the time of the crash.

“He paid restitution to the owner of the vehicle to cover all out of pocket expenses not covered by insurance,” Harp said of Kozack. He said paying the $2,470.25 in restitution was required of Kozack as part of a plea deal.

Kozack, who was off duty at the time of the crash, was suspended for 30 days without pay after a unanimous vote of the Kingston Police Commission on March 16. After the 30 days expired, Kozack remained suspended but began receiving his pay again.

That’ll teach him.

Former Illinois “Officer of the Year” Sentenced to Just Six Months of Jail for Multiple Rapes

Jerad-Gale-Champaign-Cop-Rapist
Officer Jerad Gale, the 2014 Officer of the Year for Champaign County, Illinois, has agreed to accept plea bargains in a string of sexual assaults that will allow him to serve just six months in jail. He was arrested just three months after the ceremony in which he was given that Officer of the Year award.

In total, he faced charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated domestic battery against three women, including an ex-girlfriend, dating back to 2012. He was also accused of rape by a fourth woman, but prosecutors declined to file charges in that case because the assault took place years earlier.

Via Herald-Review.com:

The victim in the Monticello case sat a few feet away from Gale as she read her victim impact statement Thursday. Gale sat at the adjoining defense table, set in an L-shape against the state’s table, staring at her without showing any expression.

“The state can’t give me back what you destroyed, but they can make you sit in this room and not interrupt me when I’m talking to you,” the victim said, as she sat between Piatt County State’s Attorney Dana Rhoades and Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dobson. “They can prevent you from inflicting further destruction upon my being.”

She said that his actions took away her confidence, friends, mental health and voice, but worst of all he took her body from her.

She said she cared for her body, treasured it, and screamed at him that night that she did not want him to touch her.

“You killed a part of me that day,” she said. “You killed my sense of safety. I will always be afraid now.”

The young woman said that during the legal process she had to endure “endless questioning about an evening that I see as the vilest mark on my life.” She had to hear from people who told her she was a liar, or made public comments that she was “out for money,” or for attention.

“Why else would a woman seek justice for being raped?” she said.

Four victims came forth against Gale, including one whose case was not prosecuted, because it occurred several years earlier.

She was slated to testify at the Champaign County trials, along with the other victims.

In the plea deal, Gale agreed to plead guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse in the three cases. Part of the agreement is that the sentences will run concurrently. So, he will serve just over five months in jail after credit for time served and then will serve four years probation and be required to register as a sex offender.

Jerad Gale Champaign Rapist CopThe excuse for the leniency given in the sentencing of Officer Gale was that it would prevent the victims from having to testify and because rape cases are hard to prosecute. While that might be true, the idea that the best deal they could come up with to avoid that would be one in which he serves serves just six months for four different sexual assaults is pretty hard to believe.

In fact, there has recently been very extensive (and very valid) criticism throughout the country of the six month sentence Brock Turner received for committing a single rape.

New Jersey State Road Pirates Prey on Helpless Drivers to Generate Revenue and Fill Ticket Quotas

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The person submitting this describes an experience they had while traveling in New Jersey to attend a work related meeting. Instead of being allowed to complete a productive day of work, they were stopped and extorted by a Road Pirate intent on generating revenue for the state.

They also discuss the negative impact and helpless feelings that an average citizen may often feel after being victimized by these Roadside Buccaneers. In addition, they speculate that it was a concerted effort by these New Jersey State Highwaymen to rob and plunder travelers who are from out of state or who otherwise are perceived as an easy target for Revenue Generation.

Date of Incident: May 31, 2016
Department Involved: New Jersey State Police
Email: Contact Us
Phone Number: (609) 882-2000
Address: Office of the Superintendent, New Jersey State Police, PO Box 7068, West Trenton, NJ 08628

I was pulled over at 6:40am on my way to an out-of-state work meeting for “driving faster” than the officer was. Prior to being pulled over, I was in the express lane on the New Jersey Turnpike and the officer was in the local lane, which is separated with a divider. Initially, I was driving in the middle lane and switched to the left lane to pass a car, before moving back to the center lane.

I am an out-of-state licensed driver and was in a brand new car with New York plates (a rental car provided by work for this one meeting) and may have been perceived as a good potential revenue target. It appears a new tactic for New Jersey Troopers is to follow from different lanes, but I saw him a mile back and was driving at the posted speed limit.

Road PiratesAs background, there are a lot of cars on the highway at this hour. Along the whole Turnpike, from Newark all the way thru Philadelphia, you could see the entire New Jersey State Police was out in full force ticketing people – I personally saw at least 25 pull-overs from troopers before and after my own ticket. My ticket is not for a speeding ticket – it is for careless driving – because there is no real record of how fast I was going.

I am writing this post because I feel powerless. The system is stacked against you and from what information I can find online and anecdotally, it seems there is no real way to fight this, it is a pure revenue generator for the state. My options are to pay the fine, but in doing so I am admitting guilt for “careless driving,” which in principle I find to be a hard pill to swallow, or to go to court to plead to a lower misdemeanor of “unsafe driving.” This carries zero points, but has a higher fine associated with it, which is also untrue, unless I pay for an attorney who may have connections or insight to get this ticket thrown out.

Incidentally, within two days of the ticket, I received ten spam letters from New Jersey traffic attorneys in my home state. This seems appalling to me, as well. There is no potential positive outcome for me, nor any potential avenue for vindication or justice. I know this is not a major offense or grievance compared to what others may have seen.  However, as a law-abiding citizen who has a great respect for our country and the law, this experience has been jarring given the sense of helplessness it has created.

Those troopers are supposed to protect our roads, but instead are incentivized to make taxpaying drivers into additional revenue generators for the state and THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO to fix the system.

– Thank you to the CopBlock Network for providing a means to share this experience.

Miami Cop Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes to Protect and Serve Drug Dealers

Miami Police Officer Jose Maldonado-Dick accepted a plea bargain last week in which he admitted to accepting bribes to essentially serve as security for drug dealers while they were making sales. This apparently was something he had been doing prior to the two instances for which he was arrested in October of 2014.

Unfortunately for him, a police informant tipped off some of his co-workers that Ofc. Maldonado-Dick was involved in drug sales. They then set up two additional drug deals, which they recorded.

According to testimony at his trial, Maldonado-Dick received $1,900 in exchange for sitting inside his patrol car, with his department issued pistol drawn and ready to murder someone, while two staged drug deals took place. He also offered some helpful “how-to’s” on being a better drug dealer between the sales.

Via NBC 6 Miami:

Maldonado-Dick allegedly used his uniform, gun and badge to protect drug dealers and make sure they were safe to conduct their transactions on the streets…

According to the arrest affidavit, a confidential police informant called Maldonado-Dick to arrange two illegal drug transactions involving large amounts of cocaine. The informant told Maldonado he needed protection during the transactions, according to prosecutors.

Maldonado met with the informant several times and oversaw the two drug transactions conducted by the informant and an undercover officer, according to the affidavit. For one of the transactions, Maldonado-Dick suggested they use the McDonald’s parking lot near his patrol area, the affidavit said. The officer allegedly arrived to each meeting in his marked City of Miami Police patrol car. He was dressed in full uniform and armed with his standard issue Glock handgun, the affidavit said.

Because of the fact he used a gun while playing bodyguard for what he thought were drug dealers, Maldonado-Dick was originally facing a life sentence for each of his two trafficking charges. Typically, Florida courts are particularly harsh in regards to cocaine based charges due it’s prevalence there and have very long mandatory minimum sentencing restrictions along with a reluctance to offer plea bargains. In fact:

It is important to note that prosecutors do not waive minimum mandatory prison sentences, reduce charges, or offer reduced sentences just because your criminal defense attorney asked them to. It also makes no difference whether you are willing to do community service hours, seek counseling or attend rehab.

The only thing that would motivate a prosecutor to act on a trafficking in cocaine case is a legal issue or an evidentiary problem. (Emphasis added)

Unlike possession of cocaine for personal use, trafficking in cocaine is the most severe commercial drug offense. Someone charged with trafficking in cocaine should not expect any mercy whatsoever from prosecutors.

Of course, if you’re wearing a magic suit and shiny badge while trafficking coke then those prosecutors are much more merciful than they are with ordinary victims of the War on (Some) Drugs, even when you were caught on video doing it and the evidence is pretty much airtight. Instead of a life sentence or even the 15 year mandatory minimum for the crimes he was originally charged with, Ofc. Maldonado-Dick was offered a plea bargain for just three and a half years in jail and another three years probation.

Update: New Jersey Cop Pleads Guilty to Sexting Teenage Girls

Back in August CopBlock Network contributor posted about Erik Reamy, a Glen Rock, NJ police officer who was arrested after the mother of a 17 year old girl discovered he was sending her daughter creepy text messages.

On March 3rd, the 51 year old married father of three accepted a plea bargain for a three to five year prison sentence in exchange for admitting guilt in the case involving the seventeen year old and a fourteen year old he was also caught sending inappropriate texts to. Reamy had been working as a juvenile detective and was conducting (separate) investigations involving the two girls at the time he sent the messages.

He also pled guilty to another charge related to stealing and then selling evidence mostly consisting of confiscated guns. That was apparently uncovered during the investigation of his text message improprieties.

Via NJ.com:

Reamy was charged last summer with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors said he contacted a 14-year-old and 17-year-old girl using his department-issued cell phone.

“Can I say you’re hot” and “Did you think I’d call and start sexting right away ???? Hahaha,” were among the texts he sent, according to the report.

In other texts Reamy asked the 14-year-old to send naked photos of herself and sent photos of his genitals, prosecutors said last year.  The mother of the 17-year-old found inappropriate text messages on her daughter’s phone and went to police, prosecutors said.

Reamy, who remains free on $250,000 bail, pleaded guilty Thursday to a second-degree count of endangering the welfare of a child and a third degree count of failure to make the required disposition of property for selling firearms that should have been locked away as evidence, the report said.

Reamy will have to register as a sex offender, serve the rest of his life on parole and pay unreimbursed medical expenses for the victims, according to the report.

Sentencing is scheduled for June.

Reamy had been a hero for 27 years and was preparing to retire at the end of August (2015) when he was arrested earlier that month.

2015 Was a Record Year For Exonerations of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

As originally reported by Mother Jones, a report from the University of Michigan Law School has declared that 2015 set a new record for the highest amount of people that have been freed after it was proven that they were wrongfully convicted. As detailed in the report, there were several reasons why innocent people ended up behind bars. that ranged from outright misconduct by prosecutors and police to those pressured into taking a plea bargain even though they were actually innocent.

Shockingly, there were actually 75 total cases in which no actual crime (even victimless ones) were even committed in the first place. Also, included within the 149 people released were five individuals awaiting the death penalty. Pointed out within the report is the fact that a combination of those two factors led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas, in spite of a wide range of evidence that the fire his three children died in was accidental and not a case of arson, for which he was convicted and subsequently killed.

It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of those wrongfully convicted resulted from the War On (Some) Drugs, many of which even if they had been valid would have involved non-violent victimless “crimes” in the first place.

Included below is the MotherJones.com article detailing the report and its conclusions:

Call it the Serial effect. According to a new report from the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, 2015 set a record for the number of wrongly convicted Americans who finally found justice. There were 149 people last year who were either declared innocent or otherwise cleared of the consequences of their convictions or guilty pleas. Many had served some lengthy prison time—the average exoneree had served nearly 15 years—for crimes they did not commit.

The data in the report paints a disturbing portrait of a criminal justice system riven with errors and official misconduct. Among the lowlights:

  • Innocent but pleaded guilty: An extraordinary number of the exonerations came in cases in which the defendants had pleaded guilty (65 out of 149), more than in any previous year since the registry started in 1989. These were mostly drug cases but also included eight homicides. Those who pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit tended to be mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or under the threat of an even longer prison sentence should they try to go to trial.
  • No-crime crimes: Seventy-five exonerations came in cases where it turned out no crime had even been committed. A number of these were old murder cases involving arson. They brought to mind the sad story of Cameron Todd Willingham, whom Texas executed in 2004 for allegedly murdering his three children through arson, despite significant evidence that the forensic arson investigation that led to his conviction was mostly bogus. Those same sorts of bogus fire investigations played a role in five of six of the homicide cases that led to exonerations last year in cases where officials ruled that no crime had been committed. In those cases, the defendants were luckier than Willingham: The fires that led to their murder convictions were shown to be accidents, not arson, and their convictions were vacated.
  • False confessions: In 27 of the exonerations in 2015, including 22 homicide cases, the defendants confessed to crimes they hadn’t committed. Many of these people were juveniles, mentally ill, or intellectually disabled—precisely the folks currently overrepresented on death row.
  • Official misconduct: Prosecutors and cops don’t come out looking good in the new report. Official misconduct was a factor in 75 percent of the homicide exonerations, a number that’s even bigger in the cases where there were false confessions. Eighty-two percent of those were the product of misconduct by cops or prosecutors.
  • Death penalty errors: Five of the exonerees in 2015 were death row inmates, three of whom had been there more than 20 years—more evidence of serious flaws in the capital punishment system.

National Registry of Exonerations

The exonerations were clustered in jurisdictions where local prosecutors had made significant efforts to reform their practices to prevent wrongful convictions. The largest number came from Harris County, Texas, where a new assistant district attorney in the post-conviction review section discovered that a lot of the cases coming through her office involved defendants who’d pleaded guilty to a drug crime, only to have lab work come back months later showing that the stuff cops had seized from the defendants wasn’t actually a controlled substance.

Washington Post columnist Radley Balko has dug into this issue and found that Harris County isn’t the only place with the problem. The field tests cops use to test for drugs are notoriously unreliable, and they’ve mistaken everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheese and tortilla dough for drugs. Nonetheless, the false guilty pleas—usually made under pressure and the threat of even longer prison sentences from a jury trial—often aren’t thrown out when later testing finds an absence of drugs. In 2014, the Harris County district attorney’s office launched a Conviction Integrity Unit to try addressing such problems. The result is a startling number of drug crime exonerations just from that one office—73 of them so far.

Such units within prosecutors’ offices offer hope for reforms to the criminal justice system. But the new report suggests they have a mixed record that can depend largely on the drive of an individual prosecutor rather than systemic support. Harris County has shown lots of promise, as has a unit in Brooklyn, which has been responsible for the exoneration of 16 murder defendants in the past two years. A more discouraging example came in New Orleans, which launched a Conviction Integrity Unit during the district attorney’s reelection campaign, in partnership with the local Innocence Project. According to the report, the unit kicked off in January 2015, worked on a single exoneration, and gave it up a year later.

Media accounts and shows like Serial and Making a Murderer have raised awareness about the problems with the criminal justice system and the prevalence of wrongful convictions, but the report urges caution before declaring victory. “As with climate change, the significance of the issue of false convictions is now widely acknowledged, despite committed doubters,” the authors write. “In other respects, we are far behind. We have no measure of the magnitude of the problem, no general plan for how to address it, and certainly no general commitment to do so. We’ve made a start, but that’s all.”