Archive for Abuse of Power

Video Shows Officer Offering Truckers Freedom For Cash

Posted in Attack on Freedom, Corruption, New World Order, News, Police State/Martial Law, Tyranny with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by truthwillrise

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

Video of the traffic stop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — New video obtained byNewsChannel 5 Investigates shows an interstate interdiction officer offering to trade the freedom of two truckers — for their cash.

The DA says it’s good police work.

But critics say it’s a prime example of how the rules have been twisted by laws that let agencies keep the money they seize.

The video — obtained under the Tennessee Public Records Act — shows a May 2010 traffic stop in rural Hickman County, on a darkened stretch of westbound Interstate 40.

There, two California truckers were given a tough choice: potentially face a criminal prosecution or hand over the cash that the interdiction officer suspects is hidden somewhere in their tractor trailer.

“You’re going to have to trust me, or you’re going to out on a limb and see what happens once we find it,” the officer told the truckers.

Before the night was up, agents recovered piles of suspected drug money — almost a half a million dollars — money that their agency, the 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force, will get to keep.
Read officers’ narrative about why money seized

“I will do everything I can to take that money out of the hands of those drug dealers and the cartel,” District Attorney General Kim Helper toldNewsChannel 5 Investigates.

But Helper said the two truckers — who she believes were drug couriers — got to walk without even being asked to name their accomplices because she believes they had not really committed a crime that she could prosecute.

“The transportation of illegal drug proceeds through the state of Tennessee from my reading of the statute is not a crime,” Helper insisted.

The incident began as a routine traffic stop, except in this case agents are specifically looking for drug money heading back to Mexico.

Officer: “You say you’re not traveling with anything illegal in your truck, right? No drugs? And you’re not traveling with any large amounts of U.S. currency?”
Trucker: “No, sir. No, sir. No, sir.”
Officer: “You wouldn’t have a problem if I searched your truck or your trailer for any of the items mentioned?”
Driver: “Not at all.”

As the time passed, suspicions were aroused by discrepancies in the truckers’ stories, but officers were not finding anything up in the refrigerated trailer, known as a reefer.

So the agent began threatening the truckers with criminal prosecution.

Officer: “Money laundering is what it’s called, and it’s a federal offense. The good thing for you is when we seize money we don’t deal with the feds. We seize it ourselves.  And if it ain’t your money and you say ‘Agent Owens, it ain’t my money, I don’t know how it got there…'”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked the DA if the officer was not suggesting to the truck driver that his defense would be that he did not know how the money got there.

“I don’t think he is,” she answered, “because I think he recognizes at this point that the transport of money just through the state is not a crime under our money laundering statute.”

Yet, these are some of the statements that the officer made:

Officer: “Here’s the thing, alright. Don’t talk to him, just listen. Just listen. Do you want to go home?”
Trucker: “I sure do.”
Officer: “Does it not make sense that I’m trying to help you… because you honestly can’t think for a second that we ain’t going to stay here until we find it.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates told Helper that the officer “sure is making this guy think he’s committed a crime.”

“Well, as I indicated to you,” she responded, “law enforcement agents use various means of questioning to get as much information as they can.”

But if someone has not committed a crime, is it proper for a police officer to make that person think that they have?

“I believe,” Helper said, “that officers can use a variety of techniques.”

The officer also assured the driver, that if they would cough up the cash, they would not be asked to rat out their accomplices.

Officer: “Hey, I’m not asking you if you have knowledge about it, and I won’t ask you if you have knowledge about it. You understand me? It’s not my job…. All I’m asking you is, where’s the money?”

Officer: “I don’t even care where you got it. I want the product. That’s what I’m after.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates said to the DA that “throughout this incident the officers tell him you do not have to tell us where you got this money.”

Is that police work?

“Police work,” Helper said, “to the extent that these officers, from my perspective,  are trying to work with these guys who are merely the couriers.”

Still, we pressed, “At no point does any officer ever ask, ‘What’s the name of the big fish in this case?'”

“Right, right,” the DA acknowledged. “And I agree with you. Should they have asked it? Maybe.”

Finally, an hour into the traffic stop, the driver came clean.

Officer: “We’ll come back and you sign these forms saying you don’t know anything about it, you’re disclaiming it, it’s not yours and it’s done.”
Driver: “It’s in the back of the reefer. I don’t know how it got there.”
Officer: “OK.”
Driver: “It’s not mine.”
Officer: “We’re good!”

A short time later, the task force would be half a million dollars richer.

Still, the DA admitted that she isn’t completely happy with the outcome.

“I would love to see our legislature make a change so that we can make those arrests on the sides of the roads with these guys.”

We also found cases in the Dickson area where subjects admitted that the money was from drugs. Not only were they released, but we’re told that the video evidence of those stops was later destroyed.
Subject admitted $161,500 “was illegal drug money”
Subject admitted $46,500 “was illegal drug money”
Subject admitted $59,760 “was illegal drug money”
Subject admitted $198,000 “from the sale of cocaine”
Subject admitted $800,495 “from the sales of marijuana”

Still, a Nashville prosecutor, who was involved in drafting the state’s money laundering statute, tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates that he thinks the law could be used to bring criminal charges against some people running money for the drug cartels.

Helper says she’ll now ask lawmakers to clarify the law — something that apparently no DA had bothered to do before our investigation.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com 

Back to NC5 Investigates: Policing for Profit

Middle Tennessee Police Profiting Off Drug Trade?

Posted in Attack on Freedom, Business, Corruption, economic tyranny, Economy, News, Police State/Martial Law, Tyranny with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by truthwillrise

Poilce Corruption

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A major NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered serious questions about Tennessee’s war on drugs. Among the questions: are some police agencies more concerned about making money off the drugs, than stopping them?

At the center of this months-long investigation are laws that let officers pull driver over looking for cash.  Those officers do not even have to file criminal charges against a person to take his/her money.

It turns out, those kind of stops are now happening almost every day in Middle Tennessee.

Case in point: a 2009 stop where a tractor trailer was stopped for a traffic violation, leading to a search and the discovery of large blocks containing almost $200,000 cash — cash that officers keep on the suspicion that it’s drug money.

“What’s wrong with having a large amount of cash?” asked Karen Petrosyan, a California businessman who owned the truck.

Petrosyan refuses to admit there’s anything suspicious about the stash that police discovered. Officers later released his father, who was driving the truck, without filing a single charge — and authorities cut a deal that let Petrosyan come to Tennessee to get his big rig back.
Read officers’ narrative about why money seized

“If I am a criminal, if they allege me to be a criminal,” Petrosyan told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, “why would they settle? They do not just let criminals go.”

District Attorney General Kim Helper said that “in general, it was seized because — based upon our evidence and probable cause — it’s illegal drug proceeds.”

Still, Helper admitted that what makes the Petrosyan case a bit unusual is the location. The traffic stop occurred in Smith County, near the Carthage exit. But the officers work for Helper’s 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force out of Franklin — more than an hour away.

Her officers patrol that area under a deal where they give a third of any cash they seize to the agency that owns that stretch of road.
Read the agreement between the 21st and 15th judicial districts

“It’s a way to make money … for your task force?”NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Helper.

The DA paused.

“Honestly?” we asked, prompting a smile from Helper.

“Well, you know, when you say ‘make money,’ I guess it is a way for us to continue to fund our operations so that we can put an end to drug trafficking and the drug trade within this district,” she responded.

In fact, Interstate 40 has become a major profit center for Tennessee law enforcement — with officers stopping and often searching out-of-state vehicles. It’s because of a state law that lets them seize money simply based on the suspicion that it’s linked to drug trafficking.

If an owner does not take legal action to get the money back, the agency gets to keep it all.

“This is really highway shakedowns coming to the U.S.,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney with the Washington-based Institute for Justice.

Last year, the conservative-leaning group issued a report — “Policing for Profit” — that gave Tennessee a D-minus for civil forfeiture laws that make that it all possible.
Read the “Policing for Profit” report here

“Under civil forfeiture,” Bullock said, “you give law enforcement a direct and perverse incentive to go out and try to take as much property from citizens as possible.”

Dickson Police Chief Ricky Chandler said, “What we are doing, we’re taking advantage of how the laws are, to use the money to be able to put back to fight the drugs.”

Chandler heads the board for the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force, which has made millions off seizures in its counties — Humphreys, Dickson and Cheatham.  The town of Fairview also provides officers to the Task Force in exchange for a cut of the cash.

Then, three years ago, Chandler and the Dickson County sheriff helped create a second team — known as Dickson Interdiction Criminal Enforcement, or DICE — to work the exact same stretches of interstate.

Humphreys County and the town of Kingston Springs provide officers — and Cheatham County allows DICE to work in its jurisdiction — in exchange for a share of the money.
Read the agreement for the creation of DICE

“Everything’s paid through seizures and fines,” Chandler said.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “So if these officers out on the interstate don’t come up with cash, then they might lose their jobs?”

“Well, it’s a possibility, yes,” Chandler answered.

Out on I-40, interdiction officers have a choice: Conventional wisdom is that the drugs come in from Mexico on the eastbound side. But the money goes back on the west.

While both agencies have made some big drug cases, we spotted both the 23rd and DICE staging time and time again with their backs to the drug side.

In fact, a review of daily activity sheets kept by the 23rd discovered that, when officers noted the location of their traffic stops, there were 10 times as many stops on the money side.
Review activity sheets for 23rd DTF, Oct-Dec 2010
Review summary of 23rd DTF cases, 2009-2010

Both DICE and the 21st Judicial District say they do not keep such daily activity reports.

UPDATE: A review of case summaries supplied by DICE shows that the entire team made one drug seizure — 602 grams of heroin — from Interstate 40 in all of 2010.  Those officers arrested six people during stops on I-40 during that same 12-month period — four of them on fugitive warrants, not for drug possession.  Most DICE cases were seizures of money in the westbound lanes.
Review summary of DICE cases, 2010

“We want both sides of the road worked,” Chandler insisted.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, “It looks like that they are not concerned about stopping the drugs, they just want the money.”

“That’s what it looks like,” the chief admitted.

Is that the case?

“That shouldn’t be the case, but that’s what it looks like.”

Scott Bullock with the Institute for Justice said that “it shows that the police are really focusing, not on trying to get the drugs, not on trying to enforce the drug laws and stop that flow throughout the country. They’re focused on getting the money.”

And it can lead to turf wars.

After DICE got a $1 million seizure last fall, police video shows that a DICE officer suddenly found himself being blocked by a unit from the 23rd while watching the westbound lanes. Within minutes, five units from the 23rd were lined up in a show of force.

As a result, the two agencies had to work out a “letter of agreement,” specifying who would have priority on the westbound lanes on which days.
Read the letter of agreement between the 23rd and DICE

Then, there’s a 2008 video where a unit from the 23rd cuts in front of a DICE unit on a stop, prompting this heated exchange:

23rd DTF Officer: “Leave me the f***k alone!”
DICE Officer: “Let me tell you something…”
23rd DTF Officer: “Punk!”
DICE Officer: “You ever come up [on] me and try to wreck me out again, it will be your last time. You understand?”

Chandler called those disputes “ridiculous.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, “You’ve got two agencies fighting to stop the same cars.”

“Competition can be a good thing,” the chief said, “as long as you don’t violate any person’s rights.”

But they’re competing for the money that they can take off of drivers.

“Well, they are competing to do their jobs is what they are competing for,” he insisted.

It’s a job that, Bullock said, has lost its way. “Law enforcement is supposed to be about getting the bad guys. It’s not supposed to be about making money.”

Law enforcement authorities say their goal is to hit the drug traffickers in the pocketbook.

But some people have hired lawyers after their cash was taken and, sometimes after months and months of litigation, judges have ruled that the money that was taken from them really had nothing to do with drug dealing at all.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com 

Back to NC5 Investigates: Policing for Profit

Coloradans Outraged Over Police Beating of Dog Owner

Posted in Alex Jones, Attack on Freedom, Attack on the Republic, General, Infowars.com, New World Order, News, Police State/Martial Law, Stupid Government Tricks, Tyranny, Unconstitutional with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by truthwillrise

Heidi Hemmat
Fox 13
August 19, 2010

DENVER – Coloradans are outraged and demanding action from city leaders after seeing our investigative report about a dog owner beaten by two Denver Police officers.

It’s a story FOX 31 News broke Tuesday night.

Now the Denver police independent monitor says he’s responding to the public outcry and reviewing the video to see if a larger investigation is warranted.

Mark Ashford was walking his dogs near 20th and Little Raven, when he witnessed police pull over a driver for failing to stop at a stop sign. He told the driver he saw him stop and would be willing to testify in court.

His attorney, Will Hart, said the police officers overheard Ashford’s comment and “weren’t happy about it.”

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Hart said the officers demanded Ashford’s I.D. and wouldn’t let him leave. “They had no reason to stop him or detain him, that’s a violation of his fourth amendment rights,” said Hart.

Read entire article

Michigan Considers Law to License Journalists

Posted in Attack on Freedom, General, New World Order, News, Stupid Government Tricks with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by truthwillrise

patterson.jpg

Senator Bruce Patterson.

Jana Winter
Fox News
May 31, 2010

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets–traditional, online and citizen generated–and an even greater amount misinformation.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

Read entire article

Columbia, Missouri Police Chief: “I Hate the Internet”

Posted in Attack on Freedom, New World Order, News, Stupid Government Tricks, Tyranny, Unconstitutional with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2010 by truthwillrise

Radley Balko
Reason.com
May 13, 2010

Columbia, Missouri Police Chief Ken Burton is apparently frustrated. At another press conference yesterday, a reporter asked the chief what he has learned from the international attention generated by the YouTube video of his department’s SWAT team conducting a drug raid last February.

His reply: “I hate the Internet.”

I’ll bet he does. For two-and-a-half months, Burton and his department were quiet about the raid. That’s likely because, as I wrote yesterday, the raid was really no different from the tens of thousands of similar raids conducted every year, and that are probably conducted by his own department a couple of times per week. Within days of the video hitting the web, Burton was forced to hold several press conferences, and has now laid out several reforms to the way SWAT raids will be conducted in Columbia in the future. I suppose it’s possible those reforms were brewing all along, and the timing of him announcing them after the video went viral was mere coincidence. It seems at least plausible, though, that the dread “Internet” sparked some actual policy changes, here.

Read entire article

Cops Pose as DHS, Steal Pizza, Punch Clerk

Posted in General, New World Order, News, Police State/Martial Law with tags , , , , on May 12, 2010 by truthwillrise

Infowars.com
May 11, 2010

Police Raid House, Shoot Dog over a gram of Marijuana

Posted in Alex Jones, Attack on Freedom, International Bankers, New World Order, News, Paul Watson, Police State/Martial Law, Tyranny, Unconstitutional with tags , , , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by truthwillrise