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Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ticket case’s legal aspects unclear

February 23, 2012

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Federal authorities who investigated allegations that two suspended Lawrence police officers had a role in dismissing speeding tickets in exchange for Kansas University basketball tickets declined to pursue criminal charges.

And Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib and City Manager David Corliss said the internal investigation involves a violation of the city’s gratuity policy.

Although city officials have not publicly released all the facts of the investigation, Laura Routh, a frequent police department critic, said the incident appeared to be more serious and referred to it as “graft and corruption.”

Mary Kreiner Ramirez, a Washburn University law professor, said it’s hard to tell without knowing specific facts about how the ticket fixing worked but there are likely many reasons why federal authorities decided not to pursue criminal charges of either bribery or gratuity, which is a lesser offense.

“Frankly I don’t know that it necessarily falls under one and not the other,” said Ramirez, a former federal prosecutor. “It depends on how the facts fall.”

Khatib and Corliss have confirmed that other officers were involved in the process of dismissing speeding tickets for an individual who had access to KU basketball tickets. The investigation has indicated those officers may have been asked by a single member of the police department to dismiss those tickets as a favor. It isn’t clear whether those other officers received KU basketball tickets in exchange for the dismissals. The city has declined to provide an estimate of the number of other officers involved or whether other suspensions could be forthcoming.

The individual who provided the basketball tickets was a person now in federal prison related to the broader KU ticket scandal in which four athletic department employees and one consultant stole about $2 million worth of basketball and football tickets from 2005 to 2010.

Ramirez said to prove a bribery charge against a public official, prosecutors must convince jurors there was a quid pro quo, such as an individual giving an officer basketball tickets in exchange for a later dismissal of the speeding ticket.

“It’s a bit more difficult because you’re talking about intending to influence a particular act in the future. You have to link them together particularly,” she said.

But it could get muddier if the facts show the tickets were given to an officer after the speeding citations were already dismissed. That case would likely fall under the federal gratuity statute because it would be harder to prove an officer even knew the basketball tickets would be coming.

“It’s a lower standard of proof. You don’t have to prove it actually influenced their decision,” Ramirez said. “With the bribery, you have to show it was intended to influence their decision.”

Sam Walker, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said from seeing news coverage about the Lawrence ticket-fixing case so far it appeared to be more in line with bribery than gratuity.

“It’s an integrity issue,” Walker said. “Even though it’s only a speeding offense, and even though it’s only basketball tickets, you just can’t overlook a little thing because the next thing, it will be a big one.”

Khatib has said the ticket fixing does not involve dismissing “a ton” of speeding tickets, and it’s not “a widespread, systemic amount of officers.”

The city has not identified the two suspended officers, calling the matter a personnel issue.

“One of the best ways to address it is to seek to foster a culture that has consequences for inappropriate action,” Corliss said last week. “That’s what we’re doing. Even though there’s not been a crime committed, we are taking serious action in regards to this.”

City officials previously have said their investigation determined that one officer largely orchestrated the ticket fixing, while the other officer on suspension had knowledge of the activity and did not step forward. The city has not yet released a specific time frame for the ticket fixing or said how many speeding tickets were dismissed.

Khatib has provided the names of the two suspended officers to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson so that prosecutors could determine whether the alleged ethical violations of the two officers are pertinent to pending or past criminal cases.

Ramirez, the Washburn law professor, said federal prosecutors could have taken into account other factors when deciding not to pursue charges, including possible internal department consequences for the officers involved.

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

Question:?

Were the tickets the Office(s)r in question got considered stolen from the Athletic Department. After all, the person who got them for the officer did not buy them as that person is now in jail or some pokey someplace.

The tickets if given as gifts were stolen property. Just 1099 everyone who got the tickets from the get go. The next time you are offered a ticket, you might think twice and make certain it was legally obtained.

Move on to another story, JW. The case is closed and as for the names of the officers involved, just look around to see if your neighbor has been home more often lately., that is if they work for the LPD.

Ms. Routh speaks of "graft and corruption", to her I would very strongly say that her shoving the idea of Carts for Trash is not much better, and to some it is a "corruption" of the present trash collection service and the profit to be made is certainly "graft" as well.

I don't want her cart nor can she prove graft and corruption is anymore rampant in the LPD than some of the shenanigans pulled at City Hall with regard to working with business and development.

Lawrence , sadly, has only basketball tickets to put the city into fame.

Routh or Consequences, sadly more Routh and not much Truth.

Did John Stavros have to deal with this mentality within the city some years ago?

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

  1. the facts of this case including the results of any police investigation have not been released to anyone outside the LPD, except only the names of the officers have been released to the DA to determine which current and past cases might be impacted because they were involved,

We do not know how many LPD are involved but [two higher ranked] LPD have been suspended without further look at any other officer because Khatib didn't provide any information to DA on the full number of participants known to Khatib.

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purplesage 2 years, 1 month ago

If someone in the general public sells tickets for more than face value, it is scalping, right? That can get you arrested. So please tell me how it is that a basketball ticket can be traded for a speeding ticket and that not get you arrested?

Just what does it take to get a cop blamed for the excesses and indiscretions. Check out the no wrong doing in the link below. Tasered 71 time . . .

http://azdailysun.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/tasered-times----and-still-alive/article_beaa8785-d918-52ad-a113-7b984e6d6608.html

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Sigmund 2 years, 1 month ago

can8iv66049 (anonymous) says… "Two sides to EVERY story and we have only seen very little if any information on only one side so far.........."

What we do know: 1. police officers took basketball tickets and more than one but not a "ton" speeding tickets were dismissed as a result, 2. the facts of this case including the results of any police investigation have not been released to anyone outside the LPD, except only the names of the officers have been released to the DA to determine which current and past cases might be impacted because they were involved, 3. no one who knows the facts of this case has flatly stated that no crime (ie Kansas bribery laws) were committed.

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bornon7 2 years, 1 month ago

While eating lunch at work today, I asked my co-workers how they felt about the LPD/ticket scandal....I was unsettled by their responses..." I know so and so and they let my family off all the time!" and " I am from Lawrence...I haven't paid a ticket yet!" Boy, I must be a total zero. I was not raised in Lawrence, I don't have a ton of money, and I obviously don't know the right people. Guess I am not only screwed, but naive.

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JimmyJoeBob 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't believe they have different sentencing guidelines for cops and civilians so I don't believe the penalties can be more severe. The sentence length would all be based on their criminal history.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

Here is a simple solution and then move one. First, find out how many tickets were made available from the Athletic Department. Set a value on each ticket.

Then 1099 the person who gave the tickets away, after all it was income to them because they did not pay for them.

Then 1099 the officer(s) who gave them away again.

Then 1099 the recipients of the tickets as they were not paid for and could be considered income.

That should get enough people involved to slow down the process in the future of "obtaining' tickets" and "distributing tickets" and "receiving the tickets" as "gifts".

Bring in the IRS and the Secret Service as money is involved.

Let's keep this story going as it takes away from more mundane issues in Lawrence like potholes and sewer lines and porta potties and even how tall a building should be.

I wonder if John Stavros had to obtain some tickets years ago as a payoff to build downtown?

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Sigmund 2 years, 1 month ago

biggunz (anonymous) replies… "Well, I'm guessing you are not a part of the official investigation so your opinion really means nothing."

Correct, I am not part of the LPD who investigated the LPD and determined the LPD committed no crimes which seems pretty incestuous to me. The fact that the LPD and DA are not releasing a lot of pertinent facts that would help us mere civilians offer more informed comments must give you great comfort.

But then again since you are not a part of the official investigation your opinion really means nothing as well.

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Uhjh 2 years, 1 month ago

I believe the rudimentary question is why a police officer has the ability to ‘fix’ a ticket. Once it is issued and supposedly sign by the offender shouldn’t it then be up to City Hall to collect the fine or an appearance required. There seems to be some sort of connect here. If not then it must have never entered the ‘system’. To me there needs to be an independent review to determine how the thing was fixed and to assure an officer does not have ability to ‘fix’ a traffic violation.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 1 month ago

Question: I don't see where the story indicates whether the cops were suspended with or without pay. The public has a right to that answer.

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WOOHOO 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder why the normal spokesperson for LPD isn't giving the press releases. I wonder if he was involved?

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Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 2 years, 1 month ago

Strange, whenever other adults engage in misconduct their names appear in the paper, but the names of these cops isn't? How is that even remotely fair? This crap of constantly giving cops a pass when they violate the law is getting old. No special treatment, either in, or out of jail. You break the law, you get punished and your name appears in the paper. We're always told that crimes against cops are more serious, so shouldn;t it hold that when we're confronted with a crooked cop the penalties should be more severe?

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mutualrespect37 2 years, 1 month ago

I've witnessed some truly despicable acts of dishonesty by local law enforcement, including misrepresenting and tampering with evidence. Southern-justice is all about crooks abusing power to retaliate against the true victims. That seems to be what the criminal injustice system is all about in Douglas County. Conflict-of-interest, incompetence, and lies rule! I love justice and integrity, yet these values appear unknown among the local conflict-of-interest DA's, judges, and slimy, half-educated lawyers.

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Kelly Anderson 2 years, 1 month ago

The way I see it....after all of these comments, some good, some not so good, is one of the many reasons that they have NOT disclosed the names of the officers is because it looks to me that they have already been convicted and NONE OF US has any more information then this article does. Two sides to EVERY story and we have only seen very little if any information on only one side so far..........

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Liberty275 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if the policemen in question knew the tickets were stolen property.

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Sigmund 2 years, 1 month ago

biggunz (anonymous) replies… "Well, apparently, the people trained in the judicial process have determined no crime was committed."

Well I have been trained in the judicial process and I have not come to the determination that no crime was committed. In fact no one familiar with the case has said publicly that no crime was committed. The fact that the feds did not prosecute may be for a number of other reasons like they expect the local DA to prosecute under Kansas Laws as they have more pressing cases.

Looking at the facts we know and the law as published leads me and others to the conclusion the crime of bribery was committed:

21-6001. Bribery. (a) Bribery is: (1) Offering, giving or promising to give, directly or indirectly, to any person who is a public officer, candidate for public office or public employee any benefit, reward or consideration to which the person is not legally entitled with intent thereby to influence the person with respect to the performance of the person's powers or duties as a public officer or employee; or (2) the act of a person who is a public officer, candidate for public office or public employee, in requesting, receiving or agreeing to receive, directly or indirectly, any benefit, reward or consideration given with intent that the person will be so influenced.

(b) Bribery is a severity level 7, nonperson felony. Upon conviction of bribery, a public officer or public employee shall forfeit the person's office or employment. Notwithstanding an expungement of the conviction pursuant to K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-6614, and amendments thereto, any person convicted of bribery under the provisions of this section shall be forever disqualified from holding public office or public employment in this state. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/statute/021_000_0000_chapter/021_060_0000_article/021_060_0001_section/021_060_0001_k/

So the next time Biggunz gets pulled over for speeding I suggest just offering $100 if the officer forgets all about it, either the officer accepts and you're golden, or if you are charged with bribery just tell the Police and the DA you didn't do this a ton of times and you won't be prosecuted as this is the new standard in Douglas County.

Not a fan of Laura Routh or police oversight boards, but if if the LPD new policy of self enforcement is "we didn't accept bribes a ton of times so it is a internal matter" and the DA goes along with that nonsense, then I am afraid we need a citizen oversight board for the LPD and a new District Attorney.

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nangasaur 2 years, 1 month ago

LKPD: Take this example as what a police department should be doing when officers are caught breaking the law. You shouldn't be protecting them, you should be exposing them and charging them with the crimes they committed.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=8553519&hpt=ju_bn5

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0day 2 years, 1 month ago

I think one of the criminals in prison from the ticket scandal had something to do with the anonymous letter. Time to make another bag of popcorn.

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Amy Heeter 2 years, 1 month ago

First this is not a public. Issue. This is a internal affairs matter. If federal investigators are not recommendi.g charges no amount of pressure from the press or forums will change that.

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fu7il3 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm not being sarcastic or anything, but I am just wondering if I missed something in the past. I've only lived in Lawrence for a few years, but who is Laura Routh? I've seen her quoted a couple of times now and have yet to see anything credited to her other than "doesn't like the police."

Does she have some advanced degree in Law, Criminal Justice, Public Administration, or something like that? Papers published that would make her an expert of some sort? Spokesperson for some sort of non-profit related to police corruption?

I am just wondering who she is that she keeps showing up in these articles next to law professors, prosecutors, police chiefs and the like. I assume she must have some sort of qualifications other than "frequent critic," otherwise what is the point of quoting her specifically?

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biggunz 2 years, 1 month ago

Reading these comments is pure comedy. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. You all act like Lawrence, your little red town in Kansas or whatever you're so proud of calling it, is above this type of thing. When is everyone meeting to get their torches and pitchforks? Surely the only way justice can be served is by the LJW online brain trust banding together to fight this horrible corruption within LPD! LMAO. It's being handled or it isn't. Either way, it won't change "police culture". It's been that way long before anybody around here.

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purplesage 2 years, 1 month ago

How do you approach a citizen, whom you are accusing of breaking the law, with an ounce of integrity if the possibility of dismissing those charges exisits for some, particularly those who can provide desirable things in exchange.

Cops are crooked, some more than others. The lack of accountability for their actions makes this the case. They operate in a culture so isolated from the society that hey are commissioned to protect and serve that the mentality of being above the law and free to do what they pleae quickly develops. And of course, there aren't any charges forthcoming. Cops look out for cops - in this case, the FBI for LPD. That doesn't mean there isn't a crime here. And it is not a "personnel matter."

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

thank Laura Routh for the ongoing saga of the Recycle Carts and do not forget Laura Routh was a campaign donor to Mayor Cromwell . Put those two together and it should be easy for Commissioner Carter and Commissioner Dever to wonder why Lawrence appears business unfriendly.

Ms. Routh can question the police department but she really needs to get a hobby and deliver meals on wheels. Maybe the Feds will investigate her income sources.

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Ricky_Vaughn 2 years, 1 month ago

“One of the best ways to address it is to seek to foster a culture that has consequences for inappropriate action,” Corliss said last week. “That’s what we’re doing. Even though there’s not been a crime committed, we are taking serious action in regards to this.”

So where's the consequences? Fire these corrupt lackeys! No crime committed? What serious actions are you taking? You mean looking the other way? Of course I have to remember that this is coming from the guy that likes to use the phrase "spear-chucker".

Now I know what Lawrence is all about...KU basketball, nepotism, and corruption of authority. I'm thankful I don't live there anymore.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

From the FBI Bullertin

Police Corruption An Analytical Look into Police Ethics

http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/may_2011/law_enforcement_professionalism

......While leaders certainly play an integral part in forming the overall climate of the organization, they alone cannot ensure that high levels of integrity are maintained. During a national symposium on police integrity, one speaker noted that it still is "our sergeants, lieutenants, and captains who have the daily and ongoing responsibility to ensure that the appropriate workplace standards are maintained."5 But, while ethical supervisors help maintain an ethical workplace, the opposite also remains true: uncaring and incompetent officials actually can promote misconduct........

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nangasaur 2 years, 1 month ago

Termination and felony conviction for abuse of power under color of authority.

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thewatcher 2 years, 1 month ago

Nothing short of the officers termination is acceptable. Lead by example!

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KU_cynic 2 years, 1 month ago

Troubling situation, to be sure.

One aspect that seems to be under-reported on is how widespread the supply of tickets from KU Athletics in exchange for favors might have been in the past . I am skeptical that this practice was limited to the already-convicted-felons involved with the KUAC ticket scandal. Instead, I conjecture that KUAC coaches and administrators have pervasively used tickets and similar favors to law enforcement as means of smoothing over problems related to traffic violations and other minor infractions committed by KUAC personnel and student athletes. Seriously, would such a practice seem out of character for KUAC in the Lew Perkins era?

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Richard Payton 2 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like the police department had their own yellow house.

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Sigmund 2 years, 1 month ago

somebodynew (anonymous) says… "Thank you George. While there are still questions out there, at least this was a balanced article that tried to shed some light on the process."

Agreed, good article George. But Khatib's comments are very concerning, "Khatib has said the ticket fixing does not involve dismissing “a ton” of speeding tickets, and it’s not “a widespread, systemic amount of officers.” Apparently the LPD can unilaterally dismiss tickets on a whim and only refer cases involving the Police to the DA when there are a "ton" of them. Apparently the occasional bribe to police officers are tolerated and only a internal matter.

If we can't trust police officers on small matters just how are we to trust them with more weighty responsibilities? After all police officers carry weapons and are given certain privileges and immunities to use deadly force. Their word at trial is often accepted as facts by juries who regularly convict defendants at trial. We expect that they have excellent judgement and character.

If the DA office gives a pass to the police who on the face of it have committed bribery but refuse prosecution because they didn't do it a ton of times, this gives the impression that both the Chief and the DA are willing to accept a certain amount of bribery in Lawrence because everyone does it.

The DA needs to charge these police officers with bribery and take them to trial. The officers can get a defense attorney and defend against those charges. Let the facts come out and let a jury of their peers make the close call, if it really is a close call which I doubt it is. I don't remember any case where civilians were given a "pass" on criminal charges just because they didn't commit the crime a ton of times.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

It's time for the PD to come clean on the facts. So far they've been hard to come by.

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Keith Richards 2 years, 1 month ago

There needs to be serious consequences for this. The secrecy from the police department is telling that the entire culture has not changed when Khatib was hired.

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OutlawJHawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Since this seems to have happened more than once, why would this not be some form of conspiracy? The term "orchestrated" reeks of conspiracy and usually the Feds eat this kind of stuff up, unless of course it is one of their own. Or just maybe the cop gave the Fed prosecuter a couple of free KU mens basketball tickets...

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somebodynew 2 years, 1 month ago

Thank you George. While there are still questions out there, at least this was a balanced article that tried to shed some light on the process. And with information from people who have no axe to grind (on either side).

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