Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bad Trooper?

Published: March 14, 2004

Since the investigation of a rape complaint by a scholarship student against two classmates at the prestigious Hotchkiss School here in 1997, the feud between Mark A. Lauretano, this rural town's lone police officer, and the office of the local prosecutor has been on a low simmer.

But now, the feud may have reached a boiling point, with accusations that it is compromising the quality of law enforcement here and that the State Police unfairly restrict the free speech rights of officers.

In a memo to his commander, Trooper Lauretano wrote that hostility from a prosecutor and staff members in his office had delayed the signing of his arrest warrant in a dangerous domestic violence case for almost three weeks.

''Apparently anyone victimized in Salisbury, whose case is handled by me, will not be provided the same timely consideration of their complaint,'' Trooper Lauretano, a 22-year veteran of the State Police, wrote in the memo, which was addressed to Lt. Christopher Arciero of the North Canaan barracks. The letter was released to the news media last week.

Trooper Lauretano has been alienated from the office of the state's attorney since his bitter disagreement with Frank Maco, then Litchfield state's attorney, over the Hotchkiss investigation, the memo said. Under a policy established by Mr. Maco before he retired in 2002, law enforcement officials said, Trooper Lauretano was banned from courthouses in nearby Litchfield and Bantam and forced to travel 78 miles to Rocky Hill and back to file warrants at the office of the chief state's attorney.

Friends and critics of Trooper Lauretano agree that the Hotchkiss case caused the rift. As investigating officer, Trooper Lauretano pressed for charges against the two boys, but Mr. Maco decided not to file them. According to newspaper accounts at the time, the complainant, a 14-year-old boy, backed off of his rape claim; Trooper Lauretano said the boy had been persuaded to do so by other police investigators involved in the case. When the boy was about to be interviewed by the police an eighth time, Trooper Lauretano hired a therapist, who said she was convinced that the boy was telling the truth about the sexual assault.

But Connecticut State Police officials said that Trooper Lauretano was not authorized to hire a therapist or to pay for it himself, according to newspaper accounts at the time. He was suspended in 1999 for 60 days and transferred to the Litchfield barracks. No charges were ever filed in the Hotchkiss case.

After he was reinstated as resident state trooper in Salisbury in 2002, Trooper Lauretano was directed to Rocky Hill to process warrants. Later he was allowed to return to Bantam Superior Court, but told to work only with Cynthia J. Palermo, an assistant state's attorney. It is Ms. Palermo, Trooper Lauretano wrote in his memo, who ''has been uncooperative and hostile.'' He wrote that he had ''nothing but difficulty and stalling in the handling of arrest and search warrant applications.''

Trooper Lauretano submitted the warrant in the domestic violence case on Feb. 6, but it was not until Feb. 26, after his supervisor intervened, that the warrant was signed, according to the memo, which was released to the news media by Donald Connery, a Kent journalist who wrote a book about the arrest and wrongful conviction of Peter Reilly in the 1973 murder of his mother in Canaan.

Andrew Wittstein, the supervisory assistant state's attorney at Bantam Superior Court and Ms. Palermo's superior, denied that any court employees were being rude or hostile to Trooper Lauretano. Mr. Wittstein said that he ultimately signed the warrant and that the process took only two days -- not the nearly three weeks that Trooper Lauretano claimed.

''A two-day turnaround time for any warrant is above standard,'' Mr. Wittstein said.

The Litchfield state's attorney, David Shepack, said last week that Trooper Lauretano still could not file warrants at the courthouses in the Litchfield Judicial District. But Mr. Shepack played down the restriction and said that Trooper Lauretano had been allowed access to court in Bantam since last summer.

''Certainly Salisbury has full access to the courts, regardless of who brings the complaints,'' he said. But Salisbury's first selectman, Val P. Bernardoni, who also received a copy of the memo, was not so sure.

''This is preposterous,'' Mr. Bernardoni said. ''Now it's standing in the way of justice being served.''

In this scenic hamlet where the tweedy and the bookish live in rambling country houses, support for Trooper Lauretano remains. After he was disciplined for his handling of the Hotchkiss case, residents raised $10,000 for his legal defense fund, money he ultimately returned.

''He's the best town trooper we've ever had, and we've had some excellent ones,'' said Joseph L. Mulligan, who owns Salisbury Package Store on Main Street, in a comment echoed by his fellow shopkeepers last week.

Joy Mcintosh, the mother of the scholarship student who filed the sexual assault complaint in 1997, has followed the fallout from the case from her home in Brooklyn. Ms. Mcintosh, a native of Guyana, said on Tuesday that she was ''behind Mark all the way.'' She said other officers had lied to her and mishandled the investigation of the complaint by her son, now 21 and a senior at an Ivy League university.

The memo has prompted Mr. Bernardoni to investigate whether the prosecutor's policies have compromised the effectiveness of the town's only police officer, he said.

Robert J. Krzys, counsel to the union for the State Police, said he had asked the state's attorney's office to allow Trooper Lauretano full access to the courts. If that does not happen, he said, he will file a grievance on Trooper Lauretano's behalf.

''These petty differences shouldn't affect how a trooper can do his job,'' he said.

Trooper Lauretano would not comment. He is forbidden by State Police policies from discussing the Hotchkiss investigation publicly. However, State Police officials discussed the internal investigation with Mr. Connery and other journalists, Mr. Connery said.

A ruling is expected in a few weeks in a lawsuit that Trooper Lauretano filed in Federal District Court in 1999 that in part challenges the legality of State Police regulations that restrict free speech by troopers.

A spokesman for the State Police, Paul Vance, also would not comment, citing the lawsuit.

Trooper Lauretano's lawyer, Karen Lee Torre of New Haven, said the policies of the State Police violated the First Amendment rights of officers and were intended to prevent officers from telling anyone about violations inside the agency. ''What's happening to Mark is a consequence of his lawsuit,'' she said. ''He took on the state police, who believe there are no reins on their power.''

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[click here] for:

A pattern of deceit, retaliation, and dirty backroom deals

CT Officers ask AG to investigate state police
By Beth Berlo

GOAL/NE Vice President, Det. Michael Carney

Following what the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) of New England has described as a series of discarded complaints in the internal affairs department at the Connecticut State Police, the organization is now asking the state’s attorney general to step in.

According to Det. Michael Carney, a Springfield, Mass., police officer and vice president of GOAL/NE, several troopers have filed internal affairs complaints which he believes have been swept under the rug.

Most recently, two high-ranking supervisors have been accused of harassing troopers who they suspected to be gay or lesbian. According to Carney, one of the troopers complained to GOAL that he was called a ``fudge packer” by a superior, while another, he said, experienced a more direct threat by a supervisor who reportedly threatened, ``I’m going to bury you.” [more]

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Justice and Political Influence is For Sale

A blowjob, car crash, politically powerful man dead, and alleged police/court tampering, skewed investigations, and harassment allegedly orchestrated out of a governor's office. ...

[click here for more]

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A Corrupt Governor and a Homeland Security Scam Involving the State Police

Vincent J. DeRosa was named director of the state Homeland Security Department under former Gov. John G. Rowland. [click here for more]

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Is Rape, NOT RAPE, if committed by a Connecticut Police Officer?

Probe of sex allegation urges punishment for constable
By Christine McCluskey, Journal Inquirer August 07, 2003

ELLINGTON - State police have finished their investigation of Michael Nieliwocki, the town constable accused by a Glastonbury woman of sexually assaulting her in February 2002, and recommend that Ellington discipline Nieliwocki.

Town labor lawyer Anthony J. Palermino said Wednesday the discipline recommended could range "from suspension to discharge."

Abolish Police Unions Nationwide and promote 'Civilian Oversight of Police' with quality control questionnaires should go out to those requiring police service and that call in.

The early 70's, Serpico, played by Al Pacino in the movie, shows us that police should not police themselves. Serpico could not find a single officer nor NYC police official that was either willing to take his corruption complaint, not taking bribes, didn't care, or was not part of the corruption.

Connecticut Police officers have been accused of rape, shaking down prostitutes for cash and sex, harassing citizens, shooting unarmed citizens, harassment, acting as 'Armed Revenue Collectors' for towns and the State, pulling over motorists based on race, etc.

Probe of sex allegation urges punishment for constable
By Christine McCluskey, Journal Inquirer August 07, 2003

ELLINGTON - State police have finished their investigation of Michael Nieliwocki, the town constable accused by a Glastonbury woman of sexually assaulting her in February 2002, and recommend that Ellington discipline Nieliwocki.

Town labor lawyer Anthony J. Palermino said Wednesday the discipline recommended could range "from suspension to discharge." Palermino said it is up to the town whether Nieliwocki will be disciplined at all, and if so what form that discipline will take, because Nieliwocki is a town employee.

The months-long state police internal affairs investigation found no reason to prosecute Nieliwocki, Palermino said. "They found no reason for an arrest or a prosecution on the claim of sexual assault ... there wasn't enough evidence," he said. "But the internal affairs investigation feels there is still cause for some form of discipline." "Had there been an arrest or something, there might have been some action taken," Palermino added.Nieliwocki was put on administrative duty last fall pending the results of the investigation.

Ellington officials have been waiting for the investigation results before taking any further action. First Selectman Michael Stupinski is still reviewing the report.

Birthday party gone wrong According to a lengthy Vernon police report, on the night of Friday, Feb. 8, 2002, the woman was celebrating her sister's 21st birthday at Cioppino's Restaurant and Pub on Route 83 in Ellington.

Nieliwocki responded to a call that a fight had broken out at Cioppino's and found the drunken woman fighting with her sister outside, the report states.

Nieliwocki, who was 38 at the time, drove the 23-year-old woman to a Vernon hotel. "She stated that she cannot remember what happened with the police, but remembers that all she wanted to do was to go home with" her sister, Vernon Detective Michael E. Greenier wrote.

But police "would not let them leave together because they were fighting," the report continues. "She said that a police officer named Michael told her that she could not drive home and she could not go home with" her sister. "So she had to go to a motel."According to the report, Nieliwocki drove the woman to the Holiday Inn Express on Kelly Road in Vernon, where he helped her check in, left, and later returned in his private vehicle after he was off duty at 3 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 9.

He was still wearing his uniform, however.

A hotel clerk saw the two together and said the woman spoke loudly and slurred her words. Later that night, the clerk said he walked by the room and heard what sounded like consensual sexual activity, the report says.Another trooper who responded to the fight at the bar told Vernon police that Nieliwocki was in the parking lot with the woman and "at the time he told his trainee that the way Nieliwocki was allowing her to get so close to him was totally unsafe," the report says.

According to the report, the woman woke up in the hotel room Feb. 9 wearing only socks.

She went to Rockville General Hospital on Feb. 9 with bruises on her legs.

Around 10 p.m. that night, a hospital nurse called Vernon police on behalf of the woman to make a sexual assault complaint.

The woman told police she had been "really drunk and stoned" the night before. Later, she cooperated with Vernon police, making phone calls to Nieliwocki while police listened.

Invited in?

Nieliwocki later told police the woman had invited him to her hotel room, and that he went there after the end of his shift. He said they did not have intercourse but that they did engage in sexual activity.

"This is a problem, I know it was consensual ... This is every man's nightmare. You have sex and then someone says it was rape," Nieliwocki told Greenier, according to the report.

Nieliwocki told police he could not tell whether the woman was intoxicated. "He stated that he could not tell if a person was intoxicated without running them through tests first."I then questioned that if he [is a] trained police officer, and he could not tell if she was intoxicated, then perhaps he could explain to me why the desk clerk felt that she was.

"He stated that not everyone could tell when a person was intoxicated," Greenier wrote.An 11-month investigation by the Vernon Police Department and the chief state's attorney's office found insufficient evidence to criminally charge Nieliwocki.State police conducted their own internal investigation of Nieliwocki because, although he is a town employee, as a constable he reports to the town's resident state trooper.

Though state police had said the findings of the internal investigator were expected in February, it was not until last month that the report was released to the town.On June 25, state police spokesman Sgt. J. Paul Vance said the reason for the delay was that this is a "very involved report" that had to be "scrutinized" by several people.

The woman's lawyer, William H. Paetzold of Glastonbury, could not be reached for comment today.Paetzold said in January that his client intended to file a federal lawsuit against Nieliwocki and the town.


P.S. Enfield, Connecticut, Police were sent to doors collecting overdue library fines. This just goes to show us it is about the cash not about the criminals.

-Steven G. Erickson (Vikingas)

Posted by Vikingas at August 16, 2003 06:12 AM | TrackBack

Arthur L. Spada head of DPS, Connecticut State Police demoted the highest ranking woman in the State Police allegedly because she was a woman. There also have been accusations of bias against minorities lodged against CT departments.

From the Hartford Courant, September 27, 2003:

Police Officer Wins Settlement
Hartford To Pay More Than $200,000 In Compensation

September 27, 2003
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer

The city must pay a Hartford police officer more than $200,000 in back wages and other compensation because it failed to reinstate him when a larceny charge was dismissed eight years ago.

The settlement was accepted Friday in Hartford Superior Court by Judge Thomas Corrigan. The city did not acknowledge wrongdoing but agreed that Juan A. Morales would receive $206,874 in back pay, $20,874 for sick days and $34,995 in pension benefits, and an undisclosed amount for attorney fees, the court document shows. After taxes and a pension deferral, the payment totals $225,000.

Additionally, Morales was reinstated on paper to his position as a patrol officer. He then resigned effective January 2004. Over the next five months, Morales is expected to continue accruing time toward his pension. In addition to the lump sum, the city will pay Morales more than $1,000 a week until his retirement becomes official, the agreement says.

"I think this is an excellent disposition," Morales' lawyer, Michael A. Georgetti, said Friday.

The settlement reached Friday marks the fourth time in recent years the city has paid back wages to a Hartford police officer accused of on-duty corruption.

Morales, Joseph Smith, now known as Joseph Davis, and Matthew Rivera, all were accused of stealing city time after a grand jury, following an 18-month investigation, accused them of hanging out at the Charter Oak Package store during their shifts. The charges were later dismissed. Rivera and Smith returned to work after they obtained lump sum payments from the city.

Also, the city was ordered to pay another officer, Eric Smith, more than $120,000 in July after that officer was cleared of sexual assault allegations. His arrest did not stem from the grand jury's findings.

Morales was a 12-year police veteran when he was arrested and accused of loafing in July 1995. He tried unsuccessfully over the past eight years to get his job back. He sued the city in 2001 seeking back wages, pension benefits and attorney fees. Georgetti said Morales was forced to sue the city because he could not obtain a hearing. He said Morales might have gone back to work as a patrol officer if the city had given him a hearing.

The city attorneys declined to comment for this story.

Gates Landry, police union president, said, "It's a reasonable settlement. All parties are in agreement. Hopefully this ends an unhappy chapter in the police department and we can all move on with our lives."

Courant Staff Writer Matt Burgard contributed to this story

Posted by: Steven G. Erickson at September 27, 2003 07:53 AM


'The biggest Affront to our American Values'

Click on my name below to be transported to link as noted above.

Posted by: Steven G. Erickson at October 19, 2003 11:23 AM

I came to this sight from mrlandlord.com

This is disgusting, STeve, I hope this is not the norm in Connecticut

Posted by: gh at October 23, 2003 09:42 AM

Steal Billions, kill your ex-wife leave your DNA and glove, shoot your neighbor cut his body up, rape little boys at your Neverland Ranch �

Click 'more' for more.

Posted by: more at January 6, 2004 08:39 AM

Cops Should be put in jail for their crimes.

Posted by: at January 16, 2004 02:29 PM

Cops Should be put in jail for their crimes.

Posted by: at January 16, 2004 02:29 PM

Cops Should be put in jail for their crimes.

Posted by: at January 16, 2004 02:29 PM

Connecticut cops can beat, rip you off, and even murder you and nothing is done about it. Rape is just something the cops in Connecticut think they are entitled to, along with $1/rents for single family houses and other freebies.

The state is the biggest employer in Connecticut, so they protect their own, and if a taxpayer says anything a whole angry bee's nest of State employees will respond and punish those that speak out.

Posted by: at May 25, 2004 08:18 AM

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Steven G. Erickson's beef:

stevengerickson At Yahoo Dot Com

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