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  1. #1
    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005

    FBI targets more suspects in Conn. police scandal for 'profiling' Hispanics

    FBI targets more suspects in Conn. police scandal
    Associated Press

    In this Thursday Jan. 26, 2012 photo, Mario Marin sits inside Guti'z Bakery in East Haven, Conn. Marin's brother Moises Marin, was assaulted by East Haven Police Officer Dennis Spaulding while recording alleged profiling by police outside his restaurant in November 2008.

    EAST HAVEN, Conn. -- The arrests of four police officers accused of tyrannizing Latinos could mark the start of a bigger scandal in this working-class suburb, where the FBI is targeting additional suspects. The state is preparing for the possibility of widespread arrests that could cripple the town's police department.

    Federal prosecutors have urged witnesses to come forward with details of abuses in East Haven, which was rocked by last week's arrests of the officers. The FBI described them as a "cancerous cadre" that subjected Hispanics to beatings and false arrests.

    In a community that saw many Hispanics move away at the height of the abuse complaints, one obstacle for investigators is finding victims who are not deterred by fear of police or, in some cases, concerns about their residency status. The officers preyed on illegal immigrants who were unlikely to report abuse, according to the indictment.

    "Many people are afraid to talk. We have to be careful," said Wilfrido Matute, the owner of My Country Store, the site of many incidents of alleged harassment of its largely Hispanic clientele.

    The case adds to a history of friction between police and minorities in East Haven, an increasingly diverse community of 28,000 people that was nearly all white a generation ago. A separate civil rights investigation released last month found a deep-rooted pattern of discriminatory policing, and the town is under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department to make reforms.

    For the police department, a more immediate concern is the prospect of more arrests.

    The Connecticut governor's liaison on criminal justice policy, Mike Lawlor, said the state is prepared to step in and bolster the East Haven police department if necessary.

    "State police are continuing to monitor the possibility that a significant number of police officers will be indicted," he said. "It seems like that is going to happen."

    The police chief, Leonard Gallo, is apparently referred to by the federal grand jury as an unnamed co-conspirator, accused of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. His attorney has denied the allegations and criticized prosecutors for including the reference to him when he is not charged.

    The Hispanic community grew to 10 percent of the town's population by 2010 as immigrants from Ecuador and Mexico, including many who had lived across the town line in New Haven, moved here for the peaceful, small-town setting. Many left amid a rise in profiling allegations, and while Latino businesses are now bouncing back, some say police are still widely feared.

    Mario Marin, who testified before the grand jury in Bridgeport, said he knows of many who have refused to testify and even moved out of the state to avoid the police.

    But Marin, a native of Ecuador who is pursuing U.S. residency, said he was eager to tell his story. His brother, Moises Marin, was videotaping alleged profiling outside Moises' restaurant, La Bamba, in November 2008 when an officer threw his brother to the ground, causing a cut to his chin and repeatedly kicking him while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.

    Mario Marin said he was frozen by fear as stood by and watched, knowing police could lock him up away from his family if he defended his brother. But the feelings of guilt kept him awake at night for months.

    "I am happy they are paying for their wrongs," said Marin, 40. "I agree with the laws of the United States, but not the laws that the police make up themselves."

    That beating is among the crimes attributed in the indictment to officer Dennis Spaulding, described by prosecutors as the most dangerous defendant and barred from entering East Haven while he is free on bond. He and the other defendants - Sgt. John Miller, David Cari and Jason Zullo - face charges including deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice.

    The Rev. James Manship, a priest at St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, who has advocated for East Haven's Latinos, said the arrests do little to address the rift between police and the Hispanic community.

    "While some may feel the arrests somehow bring this to a conclusion rapidly, I don't think that would be honest," Manship said. "We need to recognize there is an incredible amount of anxiety for a large part of community."

    The East Haven police department of some 50 officers has come under scrutiny for previous civil rights issues. A federal jury ruled in 2003 that a white officer used excessive force and violated the rights of a black man he fatally shot after a chase.

    The mayor, Joseph Maturo Jr., says he has taken steps toward reform including the appointment of a new police advisory committee and the publishing of civilian complaint forms in both English and Spanish. His efforts toward healing the rift were set back, however, by his poorly received quip to a television reporter last week that he might "eat tacos" as a way of doing something for the Hispanic community. He has apologized.

    Posted on Sun, Jan. 29, 2012 11:15 AM

    Source: FBI targets more suspects in Conn. police scandal -

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    New Alien City-(formerly New York City)

    Police chief retiring in Conn. town hit by scandal
    Associated Press
    Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 8:28 am

    The police chief in a working-class city where four officers have been charged with tyrannizing Latino residents and using excessive force against illegal immigrants is retiring from office, his attorney said Monday.

    Leonard Gallo had been suspended as chief of the East Haven Police Department in April 2010 after the FBI launched the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated to the post in November after his friend Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. took office.

    Gallo apparently has been referred to as an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal indictment, accused of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. His attorney, Jon Einhorn, has denied the allegations.

    The retirement will take effect on Feb. 10, Einhorn said. A news conference on the retirement is planned for later Monday and Einhorn declined to comment further.

    The four officers, who were arrested Jan. 24 by the FBI, are charged with waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings, false arrests and harassment of those who threatened to report misconduct. They have all pleaded not guilty.

    Frederick Brow, chairman of the town's police commission, said Monday that the commission was preparing to vote Tuesday night on whether to recommend to the mayor that Gallo be fired. He said he believes Gallo should be dismissed.

    "It's been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it's time for Gallo to be terminated," Brow said.

    The FBI also is targeting additional suspects, and state officials say they are preparing for the possibility of widespread arrests that could cripple the town's police department.

    An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division, which was separate from the criminal probe, noted concerns in a December report that Gallo had helped created a hostile environment for people who cooperated with federal investigators. It said Gallo had warned staff that the Justice Department had agreed to provide him with the names of individuals who cooperated with the investigation, even though that was not the case.

    Maturo is also facing heavy criticism for saying last week that he "might have tacos" as a way to do something for the Latino community. He later apologized for the remark.

    More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Maturo to replace Gallo. The petition was started by Reform Immigration for America, the same group that sent hundreds of tacos to Maturo's office to protest his remark that he would eat tacos as a way of doing something for the Hispanic community.

    Maturo was mayor from 1997 to 2007 and was re-elected again in the fall. After taking office in November, he reinstated Gallo, saying at the time that he did not believe the abuse allegations were true. The previous mayor, April Capone Almon, placed Gallo on administrative leave in April 2010.

    Read more: Police chief retiring in Conn. town hit by scandal
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