Officer Who Forced Dozens of Anal Cavity Searches for Fun Only Gets 2 Years In Prison

 

(POLICE STATE USA)   A disgusting scandal involving police officers performing illegal anal cavity searches with the intent to “degrade and humiliate” dozens and dozens of victims has come to an apparent conclusion, which some feel amounts to little more than a slap on the wrists for those involved.

Milwaukee Officer Michael Vagnini

Between February 2010 and February 2012, a small group of Milwaukee officers took part in a string of serial assaults on subjects pulled off the streets.  In many cases, the officers demanded the subjects produce the drugs they assumed were being hidden somewhere on their person.  When they were not satisfied with the cooperation from the subjects, an officer would jam his hand into the subject’s underpants, touch his genitals, and insert a finger into his anus on the side of the road.  Some of the complaints stated that drugs were planted during these searches.  At least one complainant was a juvenile, and one stated that he was fingered so hard that his anus bled afterwards.

The group’s ringleader was Milwaukee Officer Michael Vagnini, assisted primarily by three other officers; Jeffrey Dollhopf, Brian Kozelek and Jacob Knight.  Although 7 officers and one supervisor were originally suspended, the four officers mentioned above were the men the district attorney felt had enough involvement to pursue legal actions against.

Officer Vagnini was the the one who directly performed the searches with his hand; the others were present and assisted with detaining the victims, holding them down, provided Vagnini cover while molested them, and then failed to report the crimes to superiors in the department.

 

A Pattern of Abuse

For two years the complaints piled up from the victims, with the knowledge of department superiors, including Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.  The chief stated that the department had been aware of the behavior of his officers for “a couple of years,” but waited to investigate until the department recognized a pattern.  One complainant said he notified the department of Vagnini’s abusive tactics as early as 2008.

Vagnini and his cohorts were assigned to Milwaukee’s District 5, and regularly pulled over drivers on a pretense of not wearing a seat belt or of having darkly tinted windows, followed by searches without a legal reason, according to prosecutors.

Finally, in October 2012, city officials felt charged the officers, and the public began to become aware of the stories.  One case was described by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

In one case, a man had gone to check on his aunt’s house in the 3500 block of N. 10th St. When he came outside, his vehicle was surrounded by squad cars. Vagnini put his bare hand down the man’s pants, touched his scrotum and inserted fingers into his anus, the complaint says. When the man pulled away, Vagnini put him in a choke hold that caused him to slobber onto Vagnini’s arm. Vagnini repeatedly told him to “stop resisting” as he pulled back so hard on his neck his feet almost left the ground, the man said. Two other officers held his arms and one put a gun to his head, the complaint says.

Vagnini claimed he found crack cocaine inside the man’s anus, but the man insisted it “was not on him prior to the search,” the complaint says.

“When I got the cuffs on, he patted me down,” he told WISN-12 News. “But he rushed his hand. He rushed his hand up my butt.”

Another complaint describes a man being fingered so forcefully that his anus bled.  From JSonline:

In another search, Vagnini conducted a traffic stop near N. 12th and W. Locust streets, the complaint says. Vagnini handcuffed the driver and asked him for “the drugs.” The defendant denied having drugs but actually had hidden drugs inside his anal cavity, according to the complaint.

Vagnini put the suspect in a choke hold from behind, released him and then stuck his gloved hand inside the defendant’s underwear, “shoving his fingers deeply into the defendant’s butt crack and possibly into the defendant’s anus,” the complaint says.

The man was screaming, and as a result of Vagnini’s actions the man was bleeding from the anal area for several days, the complaint says.

And the stories kept coming forward.

Robert Mann, 55, contends that Police Officer Michael Vagnini stopped him as he was walking near N. 31st St. and Atkinson Ave. in June 2011 and without probable cause, pulled down Mann’s pants and put his hand in Mann’s rectum “in an unsafe, unhygienic, and intentionally humiliating fashion.”  No drugs were recovered from Mann.

[A] juveinile, identified as K.F., was 15 when he was riding in a friend’s car that was stopped by police on N. 26th St. in December 2011.  According to the suit, he was ordered out of the car before Vagnini reached into the teen’s pants, touching his genitalia and his anus while Police Officer Jacob Knight watched.

In July 2009, Chavies Hoskin, 28, was stopped while driving on N. 13th St.   Vagnini reached into Hoskin’s pants and pulled a bag of cocaine from Hoskin’s anal area, while Sgt. Jason Mucha and Officer Thomas Maglio watched.  Hoskin was charged with the delivery of cocaine.  His suit contends that the officers lied in reports, and that Vagnini also falsely testified under oath about how and where he found the cocaine.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed the cases of at least 13 victims as of August 2013.

Keon Canada was pulled over five times during the summer of 2011 and subjected to butt-cheek searches four times, and that officers opened the front of his pants another time. No drugs were found during any of the stops.

A plaintiff identified only as R.P. contends he was twice subjected to improper searches of his anal areas by former officer Michael Vagnini without probable cause, and the during one of stops Vagnini took his watch, despite another officer’s warning  “you can’t do that.”  R.P. said that when he went to the District Five  station immediately following the incident to reclaim his watch and file a complaint, he was denied a complaint form and his watch and warned that police would report him to the FBI.

Someone identified only as M.C.claims he was stopped and illegally searched three times in 24 hours during the summer of 2011. No drugs were found.  In December 2011 and January 2012, M.C. contends he was again stopped by Vagnini and other officers and on both occasions was struck in the face by Vagnini before being pulled out of a car, held on the ground and subjected to a forceful penetration of his anus.

The suit lists three stops of Walter Coleman and buttock searches by Vagnini, including one where Vagnini first put on rubber gloves. In most of the cases, victims said Vagnini used his his bare hands or would pull their underwear up tight, as if doing a wedgie, then use the underwear as a shield between his hand and the anal area.   The lawsuit says during the gloved incident, Coleman asked Vagnini if he had a search warrant, and the officer laughed.

James Ashford claims he was subjected to six illegal searches over a six month period starting in the summer of 2011. At one point, he, his mother and other relatives met with a District Five lieutenant to complain that Ashford was being harassed.  According to the lawsuit, the lieutenant told Ashford he should stay out of certain neighborhoods, and never acknowledged that the officers’ actions, including the warrant-less, public rectal searches, were inappropriate, or that the officers would be investigated or disciplined.

The Charges

After the long official silence, Police Chief Ed Flynn made public condemnations of the charged officers.  “Quite frankly, I’m disgusted by the willful actions by some of the officers in our Police Department.  And I’m appalled by the willful inaction of some other officers in our police department in failing to stop egregious conduct,” said Flynn.

In October 2012, the following charges were levied:

  • against Michael Vagnini, 25 charges including a sexual assault charge;
  • against Jeffrey Dollhopf, 3 felony counts of misconduct in public office, 1 felony count of false imprisonment, 1 count of being a party to an illegal cavity search, and 1 count of being a party to an illegal strip search;
  • against Jacob Knight, 1 count of misconduct in public office and 1 count of being a party to the crime of an illegal cavity search;
  • against Brian Kozelek, 2 count of misconduct in public office, 1 count of false imprisonment, and 1 count of being a party to the crime of an illegal strip search.

“Everybody involved has been on the force long enough to know better.  There’s no way you can justify it as some kind of inadvertent mistake.  The allegations are proven beyond a reasonable doubt and show inexcusable conduct,” Chief Flynn stated in a press conference.

Wisconsin law prohibits police officers from ever being involved in body cavity searches, regardless of probable cause.  This kind of abuse is delegated to professionals like doctors and nurses, according toWisconsin Statute § 968.255 (3).  And they may be only performed after a search warrant has been obtained.

Not only were the searches illegal according to the Wisconsin legislature, they clearly should be classified as rape according to the DOJ.

Rape is:  “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

– U.S. Department of Justice

This seemed to be acknowledged by the prosecution.  “I know Michael Vagnini understood the sexual undertones of what was going on,” Assistant District Attorney Miriam Falk said. “It was intended to degrade and humiliate them, and that’s what makes it a sexual assault.”  She said while Vagnini may not obtained sexual gratification from penetrating his victims’ anuses, the victims felt violated nonetheless.

Yet as part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the sexual assault charges since Vagnini agreed to plead no contest to four felony charges and four misdemeanors.  Vagnini will no longer have to register as a sex offender.

The serial abuser and his accomplices.

In fact, all of the perpetrators were given plea deals and given light sentences.

Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf, 42, will face a $300 fine and and was ordered to 100 hours of community service for his involvement in the assaults.  Since he pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct as a party to the crime, most of his charges were wiped out. As part of his deal, he agreed to resign from the department.  He spent one full year on paid leave from the department.

Officer Brian Kozelek, 34, was given a similar deal.  After a full year of paid vacation, he now faces a $300 fine and a mere 20 hours community service.   He also agreed to voluntarily resign his position at the department.

Officer Jacob Knight, 32, will actually face a small amount of jail time.  He was sentenced to 20 days in the House of Correction, a $300 fine and 60 hours of community service after an extended amount of paid time off.

As for Officer Michael Vagnini, his record of molesting innocent people, illegal detainment, illegal searches, penetrating orifices for fun, framing people with false evidence and ruining their lives has come to a close.  After terrorizing his community for years in a most disgusting and egregious way, he will face just over 2 years behind bars — 26 months.

 

Faith Restored?

Do these sentences restore faith in the justice system and the Milwaukee Police Department, as some claim?

Michael Vagnini in court (Source: Kristyna Wentz-Graff | jsonline.com)

Attorney Jonathan Safran, representing some of the victims, said he’s “tired of the excuses” about training and supervision.  “… The concern is that it goes beyond just these officers. We have allegations of a number of other officers in a number of other districts doing some of the same kinds of things.”  Of the sentencing of Officer Knight, Safran said, ”I’m not sure if it’s strong enough.”

Vagnini’s own lawyer said Vagnini’s aggressive tactics were no secret within the department and the court system, saying the whole system encouraged and rewarded his crime fighting tactics to get drugs off the streets.  “He’s left holding the bag for everybody,” Michael Steinle told the court, citing Vagnini’s dedication to fighting crime.

If what the defense and prosecuting attorneys say is true, the corruption in Milwaukee may go a lot deeper than just the 4 officers who have been officially charged.  A deeper cleaning of the department may be in order, and only the Milwaukee mayor can see that it happens.  His contact information is provided below.

One of the ironies of this story is that sadistic, violent freaks who physically abuse the public are given lighter sentences than many of the very people whose lives were ruined and were dragged into cages for the crime of possessing arbitrary plants and substances, harming no one but themselves.

And why should twisted individuals get lighter sentences for these acts due to their wearing a badge and a uniform?  If a gang of strange men approaches a person, accosts them, threatens them with violence, detains them against their will, and penetrates their orifices with parts of their bodies, that should be considered rape or sexual assault, and those involved should be considered accomplices.  That’s what would happen to a normal person without a badge.  “Official misconduct” is only the tip of the iceberg for these monsters.

It should be noted that even if a few corrupt cops are no longer a part of the police force, the very same oppressive and unjust drug laws remain in place for future cops to abuse and destroy innocent, non-violent lives with.  There’s a lot to be disturbed with after reading this case, and the problems will not go away without serious overhaul of the department, the laws, and the legal system itself.

SOURCE

Medical marijuana mom faces another custody battle for supporting pot

(MOTOR CITY MUCKRAKER)   Steve and Maria Green watched in terror last year when Child Protective Services removed  8-month-old Baby Bree from their Lansing home.

Today, as Baby Bree turns 1, Maria Green is now fighting for the right to see her 7-year-old son.

The reason: They use state-approved medical marijuana.

Maria Green’s ex-husband is trying to deny Maria parental rights to her 7-year-son by saying that she and her husband are “ringleaders of a small separatist group within the Michigan Medical Marijuana Community” because they are involved in a pot advocacy group, The Human Solution, which does not promote anything illegal.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Georgia teen killed by police was holding a Wii remote, not a gun, family says

17 YEAR OLD BOY SHOT BY POLICE

(RT)  A 17-year-old high school student who wanted to be a US Marine was fatally shot by Georgia police officers who mistook the video game controller in his hand for a weapon, the lawyer representing his family says.

Christopher Roupe was preparing to watch a movie when two police officers showed up at the door to execute a probation violation against his father, according to his family.

Euharlee Police Chief Terry Hagert also stated that two officers arrived at the home on Friday night. When Roupe answered the door, the female officer believed he was pointing a gun at her and fired a single shot at the young man. The police refused to reveal the names of the officers that responded to the scene.

Roupe was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in high school and has friends who he helped at school.

He was a good kid. He always hung out with me and he took up for me,” friend William Corson told WSB-TV.

A funeral for Roupe is scheduled for Friday, just one day before what would have been his 18th birthday. The young man planned to join the Marines after graduating from high school.

Neighbor Ken Yates told reporters he heard the gunshot and saw the female officer seconds after.

This is tragic. She came out of this house. She put her head in her hands and she was sobbing,” he said. “Supposedly, he opened the door with a BB gun.”

Chief Harget declined to identify the officer involved in order to protect her privacy, but referred all questions to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is running the probe into the incident. The officer has been placed on administrative leave – the standard measure when an officer is involved in a shooting.

Roupe’s family plans to file a lawsuit against the department, with attorney Cole Law saying the story simply “doesn’t add up.”

We don’t know where that statement came from,” he said. “The eyewitness on the scene clearly stated that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest.”

Euharleee is a bedroom community of Cartersville, Georgia, with a population of under 5,000 people at the time of the 2010 US Census. Roupe was a senior at Woodland High School.

SOURCE

New York Anti-Gun Zealot Arrested for Taking Gun to School, Wants Absolution

February 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured Stories, Politics

GUN BAN

(CANADA FREE PRESS)   Dwayne Ferguson an African American community activist and vehement anti-gun campaigner who worked tirelessly for New York’s gun grabbing SAFE Act was arrested last week for carrying a concealed weapon into a grade school. He said he “forgot” he had the gun on him and wants to be given a pass on the violation.

Last week, Ferguson, the leader of the extremist anti-gun group MAD DADS, was the cause of a lockdown of Harvey Austin Elementary, in Buffalo, New York. Police responded to a call about a man with a gun on school grounds with their search ending when they found Ferguson’s handgun.

The activist, who helps run an after-school program, was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, including having a loaded weapon on school grounds–charges now enhanced by the anti-gun SAFE Act. He could be sentenced to up to four years in prison for the violation.

He pleaded not guilty to the crime saying he should be given a pass because he merely “forgot” that he had his pistol on him and since he has a legal concealed carry permit he thinks he should be let off the hook.

But this isn’t the rule he fought so hard to enact. Thanks in part to his own efforts, it is currently illegal to bring a gun into a school unless you are an on-duty policeman. Period. There are no other exceptions.

Naturally, Ferguson’s anti-gun pals are crying to have him released from his crime. Why, he should be let go because, heck, he means well, dang it!

Take for instance, the pleads from Reverend James E. Giles in the pages of the Buffalo News.

“I’m sure Dwayne went into the school not thinking he had the gun on him,” said Rev. James E. Giles, a friend of Ferguson and president of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries. “We know this for a fact, that he called out to a Buffalo police lieutenant asking why the school was in lockdown, and that they were looking for a man with a gun.

“Dwayne’s reaction was to get his kids – he had about 50 of them – and make sure they were safe,” Giles explained. “He led them into the cafeteria and closed the doors.”

Yeah. Ferguson was protecting the kids… from himself? He was the one with the evil, evil gun, after all.

Of course, the whole thing of the matter is that anti-gun extremists don’t care about the individual and his well-meaning ideas. Guns are evil and anyone that has one is instantly assumed to be a murderous criminal. Ah, but when it’s one of their own, why the rules should be set aside because, gosh darn it, they are the good guys.

The Rev. Giles isn’t the only hypocrite coming to the aide of this criminal. George Johnson, president of Buffalo United Front, dismissed the whole thing saying that “mental lapses happen” and that Ferguson should be let off because, “things happen.”

Now, as a supporter of the Second Amendment, I see absolutely no reason why a law-abiding citizen shouldn’t be allowed to carry his legally carried weapon into a school. In fact, I encourage it to serve as a way to prevent mass shootings in areas that are usually deemed an absurd “gun free zone” where murderers can roam hallways killing indiscriminately and without worry of being opposed.

Further, I am sure that Ferguson did nothing wrong in essence. However, he did violate ethics and morals, not to mention hypocritically violating the very law he pushed so hard to have enacted. By being an anti-gun activist who carries a gun is hypocrisy in and of itself.

The full weight of the law should come down on this creep’s head. If he is cut a break even in the smallest of ways, it will prove that the “law” is not the rule. It will show that anti-gun nuts will be given breaks while Second Amendment supporters will be unfairly prosecuted.

Dwayne Ferguson must be sentenced to the maximum jail time… or the law should be vacated for everyone.

SOURCE

Obama’s Valentine’s Day bachelor golf holiday marks 23rd vacation

February 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured Stories, Politics

 

(WASHINGTON EXAMINER)   America, you know how to treat a president and his family. With another Presidents’ Day bachelor holiday planned by President Obama, this time golfing in California, and Aspen, Colo., resort reporters on the lookout for the annual first lady ski trip this weekend, the taxpayer’s tab for the first family’s vacations has topped $2.4 million.

But that’s just the start. That total is just from the skimpy documents detailing travel and security expenses obtained by the public watchdog group Judicial Watch from a handful of first family vacations.

When all of the reporting of the first family’s 22 vacations so far to Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, Spain, Colorado, Florida, Africa and elsewhere is added up, the estimate reaches over $18 million when hotel and resort rent, security hotel and car rentals, and airfare are included.

Concerned about the trip expenses and the administration’s lack of transparency on the trips, Judicial Watch has sought spending documents. They’ve had success on just eight trips and only received Air Force and Secret Service expense forms which total $2,417,595.47. Included is the $1 million tab for Michelle Obama’s 2011 trip to Africa, her $476,585 2010 vacay in Spain, the first couple’s 2009 New York City date night that cost $11,648 and the first lady’s 2013 trip to Aspen for Presidents’ Day costing $81,523.

Those expenses generally calculate onboard food, and security hotel and car rental charges. Sometimes actual receipts have been provided to Judicial Watch. For her Spain trip, for example, the Air Force spent over $1,300 on food, including potato chips, candy, and cookies. They also bought two magazines, Elle and Women’s Day.

But that’s it. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Secrets, “The Obama administration has simply stopped voluntarily producing information about the costs of the travel. It is radio silence. They are in cover up mode.”

Multiple news organizations have also tallied the costs of the first family’s Christmas vacations in Hawaii, $16 million; and summers in Martha’s Vineyard, $500,000.

The White House under no administration has released detailed vacation costs, though Secret Service and Air Force records have been subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, which is how Judicial Watch has received their figures.

“The Obamas are abusing the perks of public office,” said Fitton. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for their luxury travel.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

SOURCE

Proof Rand Paul Is Controlled Opposition

February 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured Stories, Politics

RAND PAUL

(Truthstream Media)   Rand Paul’s quiet backing to the tune of millions by Machiavellian operative Karl Rove and his public association with George P. Bush and other establishment GOP figures make it all too clear that the grassroots liberty movement generated to support Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns was just fodder for the co-opted rise of Rand Paul. Under this emerging vision of the GOP future, tea party supporters and those who’ve rejected the two-party system are just other demographics to pander to and usher into the voting booths alongside Hispanics, women and the Religious Right.

Think about it before you jump on the Randwagon…

Website: TruthstreamMedia.com
Twitter: @TruthstreamNews
FB: Facebook.com/TruthstreamMedia

School Safety Expert Threatened for Questioning Sandy Hook

 SANDY HOOK - 02

UPDATE: WOLFGANG HAS BEEN VISITED TWICE BY THE LOCAL SHERIFF’S DEPT SINCE THIS INTERVIEW WENT OUT, EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF ANOTHER INTERVIEW. CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE UDATE.

(FEDERALJACK)   Wolfgang W. Halbig doesn’t believe anyone was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, and he’s looking for some answers. So many answers, in fact, that he was paid a visit by some police investigators telling him to back off.

Mr. Halbig isn’t your average “conspiracy theorist.” He’s worked in public education as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, principal of an alternative school and as the Director for School Safety and Security for the Seminole County Public Schools, a school district of approximately 65,000 students.

A former Florida State Trooper and United States Customs Inspector, Mr. Halbig was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice to train over 3,500 school police officers, school superintendents and school principals. He travels the country providing presentations and keynotes to a variety of school board associations and conferences and is a nationally-recognized school safety and security expert and consultant, who has provided safety training and school assessments for more than 4,000 school districts nationwide.

Dave Gahary spoke with Wolfgang about why he doesn’t believe the official story of the Sandy Hook Elementary School event, in this interesting interview.

SEE ALSO:

Cops Harass School Safety Expert Wolfgang Halbig During Radio Interview Questioning The Sandy Hook Massacre

Debunking The MSM Attack on Professor James Tracy

Prof. James Tracy: Sandy Hook, Boston, Logical Fallacies & More

The Sandy Hook Shooting – Fully Exposed

How the Newtown massacre became a Mind-Control television event

Reaction to FAU professor’s Newtown conspiracy is misguided and misinformed

CT. COP on Sandy Hook Inconsistencies: “THINGS DON’T ADD UP”

 

Florida State Trooper Who Pulled Over Cop Sues After Harassment by Other Cops

(MIAMI HERALD)   Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts was on routine patrol early one morning when a Miami police car whizzed past at speeds that would eventually top 120 mph. Even with her blue lights flashing and siren blaring, it took Watts more than seven minutes to pull the speeder over.

Not certain who was behind the wheel, she approached the car warily, with gun drawn, according video from her cruiser’s dashboard camera. “Put your hands out of the window! Right now!” she yelled. It turned out the driver was Miami Police Department officer Fausto Lopez, in full uniform. Watts holstered her gun but still handcuffed him and took his weapon.

“I apologize,” Lopez said, explaining that he was late for an off-duty job.

“You were running 120 miles an hour!” Watts barked back.

That October 2011 confrontation made national headlines and eventually got Lopez fired. But Watts’ actions involving a fellow officer didn’t sit well with many in law enforcement, and not long after she made that traffic stop, she says, the harassment began. Random telephone calls on her cell phone. Some were threats and some were prank calls, including orders for pizza. Unfamiliar vehicles and police cars sat idling in her cul-de-sac. She was afraid to open her mailbox.

Watts suspected her private driver’s license information was being accessed by fellow officers, so she made a public records request with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It turned out she was right: over a three-month period, at least 88 law enforcement officers from 25 different agencies accessed Watts’ driver’s license information more than 200 times, according to her lawyer.

Law enforcement officers have long been known to band together and protect each other, but Watts said in her lawsuit that these actions went too far.

Watts is suing those police agencies and the individual officers under the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, a 1994 law that provides for a penalty of $2,500 for each violation if the information was improperly accessed. Watts’ attorney, Mirta Desir, said it’s clear most of the officers had no legitimate reason to look up her data. If all the searches were found illegal, Watts could receive more than $500,000.

“Ultimately what it comes down to is a violation of privacy,” Desir said. “It wasn’t for any legitimate purpose on the part of the police officers and it was done by people in a position of trust.”

According to court documents, most of the individual officers named in Watts’ lawsuit did face some disciplinary action, usually a written reprimand. But lawyers for the agencies have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that under the U.S. Constitution, Congress cannot hold police officers liable for merely accessing the information, but only if they try to sell it. And some claim they did have a legitimate reason.

For example, a lawyer for fellow state Trooper Andrew Cobb said in court papers that he accessed Watts’ information after “hearing rumors that other troopers were threatening” her and that his actions were done “out of concern for a fellow trooper” and as “a matter of public safety.” Under Highway Patrol policy, employees typically are not permitted to comment on legal matters.

The challenge by some Florida police agencies to the driver’s license law has drawn the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which is defending its constitutionality. In its own court November filing, the Justice Department insists that numerous courts have held that Congress can regulate such activity even if the items involved aren’t being sold.

“There is value in drivers’ information and a market for it,” the Justice Department lawyers said. “What the defendants fail to recognize is that there is value in drivers’ information whether or not it is actually sold.”

The legal clash over Watts’ lawsuit comes as some police agencies are seeking changes in the driver’s license law itself. Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Agencies, said law enforcement officials are concerned that lawyers are using the law to target individual officers who access the information. He noted that the $2,500 penalty per violation can add up quickly.

“In our view, it was not what the federal law was enacted to counteract,” Johnson said. “I think it would be unfair and outside the scope of the legislation to think individuals would get whacked like that.”

NAPO is lobbying Congress to remove the automatic $2,500 penalty and change the law so that a violation could only occur if there was “specific intent to secure an economic benefit,” according to the organization’s documents.

Desir, the attorney representing Watts, said anyone can ask the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a report — known as D.A.V.I.D., for Driving and Vehicle Information Database — on who has accessed their driver’s license information and how many times. But it isn’t easy.

“You don’t even know you’ve been looked up unless you make a concerted effort to find out,” she said.

A judge is expected to rule on the law enforcement agency and officers’ motions to dismiss in the coming weeks, which will determine whether the lawsuit continues. Desir said Watts, who had been assigned to road patrol in Broward County, has relocated and is no longer driving a cruiser, although she still works for the Highway Patrol. Through Desir, Watts declined to be interviewed.

“She’s doing OK,” Desir said.

SOURCE

Property Rights Bill Introduced After Va. Woman Threatened with Fines for Kids’ Birthday Party

 

(CNS NEWS)   “Local officials who abuse zoning authority powers to cower citizens into submission and deprive land owners of Constitutional rights in the enjoyment of their land must be subject to fines and actual damages they cause including attorney fees,” Delegate Bob Marshall noted in support of his HB 1219 recently introduced in the Virginia General Assembly.

Marshall introduced his bill in direct response to incidents precipitated by county officials who threatened Virginia citizen farmer Martha Boneta. Boneta gained national attention after she was cited and threatened with $5,000 per-day fines for hosting such ‘menacing activities’ as a birthday party for eight 10-year old girls without a permit and advertising pumpkin carvings. Virginians rallied at two “pitchfork protests” in support of Boneta.

Marshall said, “I am convinced this harassment will continue until local officials realize they can be held liable in the form of fines and other costs.” H.B. 1219 provides that local governments violating constitutional rights through zoning shall pay their victims (1) the amount of the fines they sought to impose, and (2) actual damages including attorney fees.  Local government officials who intentionally violate this law would also be liable.

Martha Boneta said, “I am confident that I would not have been bullied by my county government had this bill been in place earlier, and I ask all Virginians to contact their delegates and senators to support H.B. 1219, which protects all of us.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

San Antonio Police Officer Indicted for Pulling Over and Raping a 19 Year Olg Woman While on Duty

 

(KSAT)   A San Antonio Police Department officer who was arrested in November on sexual assault charges was indicted Tuesday afternoon for the offenses of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

San Antonio police also announced Tuesday that Officer Jackie Neal, 40, has been suspended indefinitely without pay.

A 19-year-old woman reported she was stopped and sexually assaulted by Neal on Nov. 22.

Neal, an 11-year-veteran of SAPD, allegedly pulled the victim over, searched her invasively, handcuffed her and forced her to the back seat of his patrol vehicle, where he sexually assaulted her.

The victim claimed Neal told her not to report the assault because he knew where she lived.

An immediate investigation was launched after the alleged assault and the victim identified Neal by his name plate and through a photo lineup.

According to the district attorney’s office, when Neal learned of the allegations he attempted to reach the victim at her home. He was arrested on the charges a short distance from the victim’s residence.

Neal could face up to 99 years for the aggravated sexual assault, up to 20 years for the sexual assault and up to $20,000 in fines for both.

The charge of improper sexual activity with person in custody is a state felony which may be punishable by a state jail term of six months to two years with fines as much as $10,000.

Neal was on administrative leave prior to this indefinite suspension, which is tantamount to a firing, San Antonio police Chief William McManus said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

Anyone with any information or complaints about Neal, or allegations of misconduct against Neal, is asked to call the SAPD’s Special Victims Unit at (210) 207-2313.

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