Nov 25 2013

Former Winchendon police officer accused of stealing from union

Dr. Q

The Telegram & Gazette reports:

A former Winchendon police officer is expected to be arraigned Dec. 4 on a charge that he stole from the Winchendon Police Association’s funds.

The former officer, Martin J. Rose, who served as president of the police union in Winchendon, has been charged by State Police working for District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.’s office with larceny over $250. He is charged with withdrawing $6,331 from the police association’s accounts between July 7, 2010, and Aug. 2, 2013. A summons was issued in Winchendon District Court for him to appear for arraignment Dec. 4.

Mr. Rose, a police officer in Winchendon for nine years, resigned Aug. 27. State police were called in by Winchendon Police Chief Scott Livingston on Sept. 20 to investigate discrepancies in the association’s funds. State Police investigator Sgt. James S. Nanof said Mr. Rose admitted the misuse of the funds when he was interviewed about the missing money.

Mr. Rose admits he took the money, but said in an interview Friday he borrowed it to pay for food for his children and heat in his home.

“I can tell you right now the money’s been paid back,” he said, adding that the Police Association has not accepted the payment. He said the check is in the possession of State Police.

This case is quite similar to one going on in Northborough where another police officer was indicted after allegedly stealing from his union while serving as its president.

Nov 18 2013

Burlington Police officer arraigned on charges of illegally obtaining prescription drugs and making fake disability claims

Dr. Q

This post is a press release from the Middlesex County DA’s office.

WOBURN – A Burlington Police Officer was arraigned on charges of falsifying prescriptions and making false disability claims, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced today.

Mark Driscoll, 38, of Wakefield, was arraigned Friday in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn on charges of forgery, larceny over $250, attempting to commit larceny, uttering false prescriptions, fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, obtaining a signature under false pretenses, and insurance fraud. Middlesex Superior Court Clerk MagistrateMatthew Day released the defendant on personal recognizance with the following conditions: he not leave the Commonwealth without approval of the Court, consume no alcohol, possess no drugs without a prescription, and participate in substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.

The defendant’s next court date is December 12 for a pre-trial hearing.

“These are troubling allegations where an officer – while in uniform – knowingly passed false prescriptions and also made false disability claims to illegally obtain insurance money,” District Attorney Ryan said. “This officer violated the trust of the community of Burlington. I commend the collaborative work among agencies which resulted in the bringing of charges against this defendant for these fraudulent activities.”

According to authorities, Driscoll, a Burlington Police Officer since July 2004, went to a CVS Pharmacy in Burlington on July 10, 2013 seeking to obtain Percocet pills. The defendant, in his police uniform, attempted to fill a prescription in his wife’s name purportedly written by a physician’s assistant in Cambridge. The on-duty pharmacist noted that the prescription did not meet new security features that went into effect on July 1, 2013, and told the officer it could not be filled until it could be verified by the doctor the next morning. The pharmacist contacted the orthopedic practice on July 11, 2013 to verify the prescription and a doctor from the practice confirmed it was not valid.

Burlington Police were notified and an investigation was launched. Based on the investigation, officials allege that Driscoll had presented five fraudulent prescriptions to CVS pharmacy between May and July of 2013. It is alleged that Driscoll received more than 260 Percocet tablets through these false prescriptions.

Further, with the assistance of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program, officials learned that Driscoll also passed false prescriptions for pain medication at an Osco Pharmacy located in a Burlington supermarket. There, he allegedly filled four prescriptions, including several refills, between May and July, receiving hundreds of various pain medications. In all but one instance, Driscoll dropped off and picked up medications while in his police uniform.

On July 12, 2013, Driscoll was placed on administrative leave by the Burlington Police Department.

On July 25, 2013, Burlington Police were notified that the defendant had submitted paperwork to an insurance company for payment through a disability policy. A review of the documents revealed that the defendant submitted a letter with a forged signature from a member of the department’s administrative staff. A further investigation revealed that the defendant had submitted eight prior claims to the disability insurance provider since 2006. While he was working as a police officer, the defendant allegedly received disability payments, collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent benefits.

As a result of the investigation, the defendant was indicted September 24 by a Middlesex Grand Jury.

These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the Burlington Police, the Unum Group, and the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts. The prosecutors assigned to the case are Assistant District Attorneys Elisha Willis and Kristen Noto.

Nov 16 2013

Student charged with wiretapping for recording Boston police

Dr. Q

It’s been more than a year since the City of Boston paid out over $200,000 in settlements to people who were falsely arrested and charged with felony wiretapping for video-recording cops, but Boston police still haven’t learned their lesson.

The wiretapping law makes it illegal to secretly record conversations, however, Boston police have arrested a number of people over the years for openly recording and charged them with wiretapping.

Last year, the taxpayers of Boston were forced to pay $170,000 to Simon Glik and $33,000 to Maury Paulino. Both men were arrested — Glik in 2007 and Paulino in 2009 — by Boston police officers for openly video-recording cops making arrests in public.

Last month, Boston police again used the wiretapping law as their excuse for arresting someone who was recording them. This time the victim was a Northeastern student who used his cellphone to record the police during the celebration after the Red Sox won the World Series. Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The Huntington News, a Northeastern student paper, reported the following information about the case:

I was able to catch up with the student charged with wire-tapping, Tyler Welsh, to hear what he did in the confrontation to deserve that charge. He said he and the officer got into an argument after Welsh questioned why he couldn’t go past the barricades the police had set up to contain students near Fenway Park.

“It was like the situation was getting to the point where I thought he wasn’t doing the right thing,” Welsh said. “He was lacking that professionalism and I thought, ‘I’m going to catch this on camera so at least I can go back and have it and be able to see if what he said was okay, was it not okay or was what I was doing okay?”

Welsh described the confrontation with the officer in an all too familiar way for anyone who ever been in the same situation. He described feeling nervous, afraid and losing control of the entire situation. So he put his phone in front of his chest and began to record a video.

It wasn’t the first time the student felt the need to do so.

Two weekends ago, Welsh was outside a party Boston Police shut down in Mission Hill. He encountered five police officers surrounding and pushing one second-year business student, Michael Kerr, and once again felt the need to document the incident.

“I exited the building after asking a cop inside if I could retrieve my jacket, who replied by grabbing me by my collar and yelling at me to leave immediately,” Kerr said. “I asked another officer outside the same, at which point I was surrounded by 5 of them pushing me and calling me a ‘tough guy’ and to ‘stop with all the questions.’”

An October 31 press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office confirms that Welsh was arrested for recording the police:

A dozen people arrested in Boston after last night’s World Series win appeared in a Boston courtroom today, with 10 of them being arraigned today on charges related to their alleged conduct, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

Of the 12 people arrested by Boston, State, and MBTA Transit police, Roxbury District Court Judge Tracy-Lee Lyons dismissed one case for lack of probable cause and continued a second man’s case for arraignment at a later date. Those two men were a 23-year-old Allston man arrested by Transit Police for trespassing into the tunnel leading from the Blandford Street MBTA stop toward Kenmore Square and a 20-year-old Northeastern University student who allegedly refused to follow Boston Police officers’ orders to leave the area of Kenmore Square and recorded the confrontation on his cell phone. (emphasis added)

Nov 16 2013

IWW picketer says he was falsely arrested by Cambridge police

Dr. Q

Open Media Boston reports:

A picket outside Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge resulted in the arrest of a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union Thursday night.

Jason Freedman was arraigned at Cambridge District Court in Medford Friday morning in a brief hearing by the court’s First Judge, Roanne Sragow.

Charged by Cambridge Police for assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, Freedman called the allegations “ridiculous.”

Speaking to Open Media Boston at the court, Freedman said, “we weren’t blocking the sidewalk; we were there to protest terrible conditions and pay at Insomnia,” which he says are the “plight of millions of Americans.”

He was taking part in the picket, one of many since August when workers at Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge went on strike for better pay, improved working conditions, and healthcare; four workers were fired following that initial strike.

Freedman alleges that the police officers on the scene treated the demonstrators as if they were a “nuisance,” describing the officers’ behavior as “very aggressive,” and claims that they were there to “harass” and “detain” protestors, and “break-up” the picket.

He further alleges that the police “were there to make an example” of the demonstrators.

Adamant that he was taking part in the picket peacefully, Freedman says he “wasn’t trying to cause conflict” when he was allegedly targeted by police.

Photos and video captured of the incident show that Freedman was tackled to the ground by several Cambridge Police Officers.

He was arrested and released on bail after being held at a police station near Kendall Sq.

At the court, Freedman had a visible scrape and slight swelling above his right eye, and he complained of a great deal of pain in his left arm, noting that same arm had been broken before.

“I definitely felt punches on my body as they tried to wrestle me to the ground,” Freedman alleges, adding that they were “definitely assaulting me.”

He alleges that “it seemed like they … wanted to punch me, and kick me.”

After he had been arrested, he says he repeatedly said to officers, “please don’t touch my left arm,” because he thought it was broken.

Following multiple requests for medical attention, he was treated by paramedics who determined he had not received a broken arm.

This incident follows the firing of a fifth employee of Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge, Tommy Mendes, allegedly for becoming a member of the IWW.

Read the rest of this article here.

Nov 10 2013

Lowell police conducting internal investigation after woman dies in police custody

Dr. Q

WCVB reports:

Team 5 Investigates is exposing a local police department that failed to get a young woman who died in its custody medical care.

The troubling events leading up to her death were caught on surveillance cameras. Team 5 Investigates’ Kathy Curran obtained the exclusive video showing what went wrong.

Thirty-one year old Alyssa Brame’s last hours of life were spent at the Lowell police department after she was picked up for soliciting sex last January.

Team 5 Investigates exclusively obtained surveillance video of the night in question that shows the young mother highly intoxicated and unable to stand and walk on her own.

At first, police put her on the floor next to a stairwell where at one point as many as six people stood around assessing her condition. Then Brame was carried to the booking room where she was placed on the floor and quickly searched.

Brame was breathing, but not moving, so she was placed in a cell, unconscious, and left alone for more than an hour, in violation of department policies which state “at no time will an unconscious prisoner be placed into a cell,” and another policy that requires prisoners to be visually checked every 30 minutes.

Her mother, Alice Swiridowsky-Muckle, is outraged. “You know, the motto for the police department is ‘protect and serve’ and in no way did they protect or serve her,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle. “It’s negligence. They were negligent that night because they did nothing,” she said.

The video shows when two civilian workers finally checked on Brame, her arm and face were blue and she had no pulse.

Team 5 Investigates has learned neither one of them had current training in CPR. One left to alert a commanding officer, then several officers went back to the cell to try and resuscitate Brame. However, it took fourteen minutes before anyone called for medical help.

“It’s remarkable that there were so many officers who saw the state Alyssa was in and none of them said, ‘let’s call 911,'” said Howard Friedman, an attorney for the family.

Records show when EMTS finally arrived, they were told the patient was dead and had been gone for a long time.

“She died like a caged animal,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle.

Captain Kelly Richardson, a spokesman for the Lowell police department declined Team 5 Investigates request for an interview because he said the department is conducting an internal investigation.

Read the rest of this article and see the video here.

Update (11/14/2013): The Lowell Sun obtained a copy the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s report on Brame’s death. The district attorney found several policy violations, but concluded that no criminal charges against the police officers were warranted.

Nov 8 2013

Chicopee police sergeant charged with assaulting female prisoner

Dr. Q

The Republican reports:

A veteran Chicopee police officer is facing assault charges from a February struggle with a prisoner who was spraying blood and saliva from her mouth as officers attempted to restrain her, court and police records show.

Reversing a clerk-magistrate’s decision, Holyoke District Court Judge Maureen E. Walsh ruled last month that Chicopee Police Sgt. Daniel Major can be charged with assault and battery for his handling of a prisoner who admitted being drunk and under the influence of the street drug PCP, according to police.

After reviewing the booking videotape 30 times, Walsh said the sergeant could have been acting out of frustration, not concern for his health, when he grabbed the prisoner by the throat and forced her to the floor.

“The facts in this case are not so crystal clear,” Walsh wrote in her Oct. 17 decision, adding the sergeant’s self-defense claim was not supported by “uncontradicted facts.”

The prisoner, identified as Maylene Maldonado, of Chicopee, was arrested by officer John Birks for assault and battery on a police officer after she inflicted several wounds to his face. At the police station, the prisoner, who was handcuffed, was yelling, screaming and urging six officers present to remove a piercing that was cutting her lip, according to Walsh’s ruling.

“In the videotape, Ms. Maldonado certainty appears agitated, argumentative and at times loud and non-compliant during most if not all of the booking,” Walsh wrote.

Major eventually grabbed Maldonado by the throat “because she was bleeding from her lip and spraying small droplets of blood and saliva,” Walsh said. The sergeant claims that his actions were reasonable and necessary to “protect himself and others against potentially dangerous substance (blood),” the judge said.

Major pleaded innocent to the charge Wednesday in Holyoke District Court and was released on personal recognizance.

The arrest has echoes of the West Springfield case involving Daniel O’Brien, the police captain fired last week after he was accused of several violations including taping the mouth of a spitting woman who had been taken into custody.

In Chicopee, an internal police review found that Major did not violate departmental rules, according to Capt. Mark Gilbert, who said he reviewed video footage of the booking process multiple times and found nothing objectionable.

A clerk-magistrate’s hearing in September seconded that assessment, ruling that no charges should be filed against Major.

Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni successfully appealed that ruling, however, and Major is due back in Chicopee District Court for a Dec. 6 pretrial hearing on an assault and battery charge.

And here is a video from ABC40 on this case: