Two Ft. Lauderdale police department detectives have been arrested and charged with nearly twenty counts of racketeering, kidnapping, grand theft, extortion and official misconduct.
A spokesman for the Broward County State Attorney said that Detectives Brian Dodge and Billy Koepke “were involved in an ongoing pattern of criminal conduct that focused on stealing money and pills from patrons of pain clinics.” Their arrests were the culmination of a long-term investigation by the FBI and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the detectives “came under scrutiny after a hotel security video was found that contradicted their versions of two arrests they made at a Red Roof Inn.” The investigation reportedly “turned up evidence that Koepke and Dodge claimed they found crack cocaine on a man who had none and stole several thousand dollars that should have been turned over as evidence.”
The Sun Sentinel also reported that Dodge had been suspended from the police force without pay in 2006 after an allegation was sustained that he used his position on several occasions between October 2004 and March 2006 to “fix” parking citations that had been issued to a friend.
Check out the New York Times article HERE.
According to the NYT, New York State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach, who presided over the criminal trial, “scolded the [NYPD] for what he described as a widespread culture of corruption endemic in its drug units,” and declared that “this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”
After 11 years behind bars, two North Carolina men were freed after a panel of judges ruled they didn’t kill a man during a home invasion despite their having pleaded guilty.
According to the AP, “Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson said they felt pressure to plead guilty to second-degree murder for the shooting of Walter Bowman so they wouldn’t have to face the death penalty or life in prison. A later confession by a prisoner led to DNA testing that excluded five men, including Kagonyera and Wilcoxson, who served time for the crime.”
Queens prosecutors have agreed to open a “full investigation” into the possible wrongful conviction of Tejpal Singh for a 1996 drive-by shooting.
The case dates back to Aug. 25, 1996, when two men, Kamaljit (Goldie) Singh and Ramjit (Rocky) Singh were shot in a drive-by in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. Goldie died, but Rocky survived. He and another eyewitness, Sukjinder (Kala) Singh, identified Tejpal Singh as the triggerman.
According to the Daily News, a private investigator recently recorded Rocky saying he really didn’t know who shot him and that he was pressured by prosecutors to finger Tejpal. The investigator also said that Kala Singh told him if he said what had really happened that night it would help overturn the conviction, but he only offered to tell the truth if paid.
Additionally, the investigator tracked down the driver of the black SUV from which the deadly shots were fired — he not only told the investigator that Tejpal was not even in the car, but he identified two others as the real triggermen.
To make matters worse, an ex-NYPD sergeant has sworn under oath that he wanted to arrest somebody else for the crime but that prosecutors wouldn’t let him, and that a detective’s DD-5 form that could have undermined the prosecution’s case against Tejpal was never produced to his attorney.
Singh is currently serving 25 years-to-life sentence.
Check out this editorial about Troy Davis, who is scheduled to be executed next week by the State of Georgia for killing a police officer 20 years ago.
Davis was convicted on the basis of eyewitness identification, which is notoriously unreliable. According to the Innocence Project, seven of the nine eyewitnesses who testified at Davis’ trial have since recanted and new evidence points to another person as the real perpetrator. Yet Georgia is apparently ready to plunge ahead with the execution.
Notably, former FBI director William Sessions is calling on the state of Georgia to halt the execution of Davis, saying in an editorial to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “serious questions about Mr. Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction.”
For several years, the Marine Corps has required its JAG lawyers to serve simultaneously as both prosecutors and defense counsel for those servicemen and women under court martial. Under this practice, the Marine Corps transfers its attorneys from defense to prosecution; after Marine Corps defense attorneys become prosecutors, they reportedly are not permitted to prosecute the same defendants thay had previously defended, but nevertheless are obligated to wrap up whatever defense cases they had.
Most troubling, Marine Corps defense attorneys who are transferred to prosecutorial duties must then report to prosecutor bosses who are overseeing the very cases that those attorneys are still required to defend. And those prosecution bosses are are grading those attorneys for promotion.
The big question then is how zealously can an attorney defend a case when the prosecutor is evaluating him or her for promotion?
“What part of this isn’t a bomb waiting to explode?” asked Judge J.A. Maksym of the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals during a July 1 oral argument. More importantly, how many Marines may have been shortchanged by a potentially conflicted military defense attorney?
Police in Chandler, Arizona thought they had the right guy in a fatal nightclub shooting, based on eyewitness accounts – problematic enough even when the suspect’s identical twin brother is not also at the scene. Now, after additional eyewitnesses came forward and claimed Brandon Nembhard was in fact the shooter, prosecutors have dropped the original charges against Orlando Nembhard without prejudice.
Interesting idea of justice from the victim’s family: when you have two suspects, one of whom is certainly guilty, why not just “put them in a room and let them battle it out,” and let them decide between them “O.K., who’s going to do the time?” It’s unclear whether this novel procedural device would apply only to identical twins, or if it would extend to people who look very similar, or are simply close friends. I guess the courts would have to flesh it out.
According to the NYT, there is a Yonkers connection.