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Archive for Friday, March 30, 2012

Officers won’t face criminal charges in ticket-fixing case

March 30, 2012, 2:13 p.m. Updated March 30, 2012, 2:23 p.m.

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Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said Friday prosecutors have determined the results of 18 past criminal cases would not be undermined even though two officers who were witnesses were recently dismissed from the Lawrence Police Department after a ticket-fixing scandal.

Branson also said his office would not file criminal charges in connection with the ticket investigation because prosecutors did not find probable cause to prove bribery or other crimes.

Two officers were suspended earlier this year, and neither is now employed with the police department. In 2011, the FBI investigated allegations that speeding tickets were dismissed in exchange for Kansas University basketball tickets.

The city has not identified the two officers, but city officials have confirmed that Matt Sarna and Michael Monroe, both sergeants and longtime officers, are no longer employed with the department.

When asked on Friday whether the active cases reviewed involved Sarna and Monroe, Branson said they did.

Investigation and review

City officials have said six speeding tickets were dismissed for a former athletics official who now is in prison as part of the broader KU athletic-tickets-for-cash scandal. The speeding tickets were dismissed in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009.

The officer who resigned in February, now identified as Sarna, had a long-term friendship dating to the late 1990s or early 2000s with the KU Athletics employee and received “free, discounted or otherwise special access to certain athletic events over several years,” and at some point the athletics employee asked for help dismissing speeding tickets he received or was about to receive.

The second officer — Monroe, who was suspended and was no longer employed with the city as of last week — was asked two or three times by Sarna for assistance in fixing a ticket and may have benefited from KU tickets obtained by Sarna.

The other tickets were fixed by asking officers who issued or were about to issue a ticket to void it or not issue it, but those officers did not “knowingly” receive anything in return. No other officers have been suspended.

FBI agents, at the city’s request, investigated the case and decided against filing federal charges of bribery or other offenses.

In the last month, Branson reviewed past cases because prosecutors are required to turn over to defendants possible exculpatory evidence involving witnesses.

In a statement, Branson said his office used its computerized records system to identify cases in which the two officers were listed as witnesses. Prosecutors, who discovered the 18 cases, reviewed:

• Each officer’s role in the cases.

• Whether the cases resulted in a plea or trial.

• Whether each officer’s contribution to the investigation was material.

• Whether there was “a reasonable probability that had the officer been unavailable for trial the result of the proceeding would have been different.”

“There were no cases identified where the officer’s involvement undermined the confidence in the outcome of the case,” according to the statement.

However, Branson said his office was not able to review every case that could involve the two officers because his office’s current computer system allows for searches only back to October 2005.

Sarna and Monroe were employed with the department beginning in 1991. Monroe was promoted to sergeant in 2004, and Sarna was promoted to sergeant in 2008 after serving as a school resource officer for several years. When he became a sergeant, Sarna was a patrol supervisor until he became the department’s public affairs sergeant and media spokesman in 2010.

Monroe worked as a patrol supervisor from 2004 to 2009 and later moved to the department’s office of professional accountability. In 2011 he was a sergeant and supervisor in the investigations division.

“If there is an attorney that has reason to believe they may have a case that is affected by this situation, they should contact the district attorney directly so he can pull that file and make a review,” the district attorney’s office statement states.

No criminal charges

In his statement Friday, Branson said prosecutors reviewed the FBI and department’s internal affairs report, which revealed the KU tickets were provided to the officers and that the same officers fixed certain traffic tickets.

“However, the timing and circumstances surrounding the receipt of or access to those basketball tickets could not be directly linked to specific requests for fixing traffic tickets,” which would be required in a bribery conviction, Branson said.

That meant there was insufficient evidence to establish probable cause that a crime was committed “based upon the nexus between the receipt of basketball tickets and any request for traffic tickets to be fixed,” Branson said.

Comments

ShePrecedes 2 years ago

If they broke the law, they should be punished.

It is the people who create, judicate and enforce the law who should be held to far higher standards than the average citizen.

This reminds me of how the FBI broke the law for years (!) and was never once called to account for all those law-breaking years. Then they force Congress to make laws, with a retroactive clause, so the DOJ would not have to prosecute the FBI. Now just how fair is that? http://www.bing.com/search?q=FBI+broke+the+law+for+years+on+phone+searches&form=MOZSBR&pc=MOZI

Who will watch the watchers??!!

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Liberty275 2 years ago

The cops did blatantly wrong things. I won't argue with whatever punishment they receive. However, I'd think anyone that received a speeding ticket from either officer has grounds to appeal any convictions on the possibility they may have been wrongfully ticketed to make up for the infractions not pursued. Their actions undermine every case in which they were the sole policeman to provide evidence.

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begin60 2 years ago

Here's a great article on prosecutorial misconduct:

http://www.chron.com/news/kilday-hart/article/Patti-Hart-Who-polices-prosecutors-for-violating-3445764.php

In my unfortunate experience, the Lawrence version of "law enforcement" is a dirty, southern-justice bunch of criminals themselves-- certainly not individuals any thinking person with a good reasoning capacity and high ethical standards would respect. In fact, my own vindictively brought case was dismissed mainly because I let it be known that otherwise I'd be reporting these local, despicable criminal yahoos to the Kansas Bar. The case was rife with unforgivable constitutional violations that only the truly hateful and ignorant could ever be guilty of. I so fricking detest liars, especially the hillybilly type and those who give the legal and academic professions a bad name.

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thuja 2 years ago

Words words words words words words words words words words words words words.

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smitty 2 years ago

cont:

Rantz is connected to the YH case which may account for the disclaimer quoted in today's JW:

.......“There were no cases identified where the officer’s involvement undermined the confidence in the outcome of the case,” according to the statement.

However, Branson said his office was not able to review every case that could involve the two officers because his office’s current computer system allows for searches only back to October 2005.......

The Neighbors have claimed all along that the LPD is corrupt and involved in conspiratorial conduct. Those claims are made in the civil suits after several years of no response by the city manager and commissioners by avoiding the internal investigation with the personnel issue disclaimer(Olin) and the avoidance of an internal investigation until the YH case is prosecuted.

Rantz, Bialek. and Khatib all joined the LPD the same year as the highly controversial cover up in the LPD killing of Gregg Sevier...they were indoctrinated into police culture from their very first day in training for the LPD. Khatib was involved in the earliest part of the YH investigation while he was the head of the drug unit, the extremely busy drug unit if we are to believe the JW stories on the drug unit's PR releases.

Then there is the the quote from Khatib about the favors for favors in the drug stings that allowed armed felons to run free. No way has the corruption problem in Lawrence's city government toward the LPD been addressed adequately.

We were spared the non-enforceable and biased analysis by a KU professor though and went straight to the FBI for the CYA.

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smitty 2 years ago

Carrie Neighbor's civil suit states....

Abuse Of Discretionary Authority : Harassment:

On October 19,2010, Ms. Neighbors communicated to her husband via a CCA recorded phone call that

Louis Marshal would be accompanying her at his hearing. On October 20, 2010,

Micky Rantz falsely arrested Louis Marshal on a falsified State Warrant, with a forged Judges signature, in Federal Judge Carlos Murguia's court room. Mr. Rantz had the Marshall's place Mr. Marshal in a Federal holding cell with Guy Neighbors. As part of the cover-up, the public arrest log falsely showed [400 State Avenue, Kansas city Kansas] as the location of the arrest, instead of the actual location of the Department of Justice, at [500 State Avenue].

In 2007, at the expense of the Lawrence Tax Payers,

Officer Micky Rantz and Jay Bialek drove a police issued Crown Vic to Denver Colorado, to interview former Yellow House employee Sandra Donner. Ms. Donner was not called as a witness at trial.

Annette Miller was a single mother with 2 children living in Denver also. Miller had filed a complaint with

Internal Affairs Sgt. Dan Ward against several Lawrence police officers including Jay Bialek for harassment tied to the Yellow House case.

On the same day as Ms. Donner's interview two men were seen in a Crown Vic with Kansas Plates in Annette Millers Apt. Parking lot.

A short man matching officer Bialek's description got out of the Crown Vic walked around her car and slashed all four of Annette Millers tires.....

Rantz sure us involved in quite a few favors. Obviously, there is a police report that verifies the slashing of the tires of a potential witness in the YH case.

However Rantz falsely arrested Louis Marshal when Marshall showed up in the court room to view CN's hearing. This is an act of conspiracy with the federal prosecutors to harass any supporters of the Neighbors. All part of divide and conquer tactics from the LPD level to the federal level.

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smitty 2 years ago

Let's see if (R) Tom Sloan will write a new law that corrects the obvious problems with KS law that allowed for LE to do the crime and spend the time.

But will LPD M T Brown lobby for a new law as he did in the YH case should (R) Tom Sloan step up to be even handed and honest in his work for the people of Kansas? roflmao

After all (R) Tom Sloan stepped in and corrected the law that would have exonerated the YH owners had it been in place before the corruption of the LPD in that case.

This is an excerpt from Carrie Neighbor's civil suit against the city, LPD, Rantz, and Bialek that was filed the same week as this CYA corruption story broke.

From the supporting affidavit to Carrie Neighbor's civil suit. These are all bought and paid for as were the officers in the ticket scam.

Witness Coercion And Intimidation:

In exchange for testimony in Plaintiffs property case witnesses were not charged for the following criminal acts:

Tony Reyes: Grand Theft Auto, Drug Trafficking. Louis Parsons: Convicted Felon with Firearms, Gun trafficking including the sale of an AK-47 assault rifle to an undercover officer, Trafficking Narcotics.

LKPD Officers Jay Bialek and Micky Rantz: Theft and mishandling of evidence, Falsified Documents, Misappropriation of City funds and Evidence, impersonation of a Federal Agent, perjury.

Patrick Nieder: Convicted felon with firearms,early release from incarceration. During Mr. Nieders interrogation he states to Lawrence Police officers Bialek and Rantz that he dealt with Patricia. Officers correct him and give him Carrie Neighbors full name. He then confesses to having been in possession of firearms while a convicted felon. He is assured by the officers that's not a problem.

Since several witnesses including, but not limited to,

Nicole Beach and Mr. Nieder could not properly identify Ms. Neighbors during the initial interrogations, the Prosecution erected a large poster on an art easel at trial with various photo's including Ms. Neighbors Photograph and name on it.

James Ludwig: Cover-up of new information about a murder for hire, and his giving false information to a Grand Jury.

Postal Inspector David Nitz: Violations of Jurisdiction, Violations of search and seizure laws, failure to investigate, perjurious testimony presentment to the trial court of false inflated unsubstantiated dollar amounts that were not in accordance to Supreme court rule that defines "proceeds" as "profits".

Stacy Barnes Catlett: Not charged under the career criminal act, promised a reduced sentence on her identity theft charges, released from prison immediately following her testimony........

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LJ Whirled 2 years ago

So ... It's not chargeable as bribery because the corruption was long-standing and ongoing? Because the bad guys owned the bad cops --- had them on retainer --- rather than having to pay them on an per-service basis?

Will LPD be publishing a menu and price list, so I can know how much it will cost to have my future tickets dismissed?

The People of Lawrence need to assemble a grand jury.

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wprop 2 years ago

Part of damage control is to release information late on Friday.....that alone is a sign of cover up......let us see some details about the pensions.....they can't be charged because they "know" too much......

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grammaddy 2 years ago

Duh! Did anyone really expect a different outcome?

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Jayhawk_4_Life 2 years ago

of course not...officers are above the law.

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Steve Jacob 2 years ago

I like how the DA says "18 past criminal cases would not be undermined even though two officers who were witnesses were recently dismissed from the Lawrence Police Department after a ticket-fixing scandal." I think that's for a judge to decide. You can bet the appeals are being worked on as we speak.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years ago

Wonder if the DA's office got any tickets for this? If it would have been me or you we would be doing time.

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0day 2 years ago

They will not pay dearly for the rest of their lives. It's not like they planted drugs on some scum bag criminal or stole property. I'm surprised they had to be let go to be honest. Trivial mistake.

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goodcountrypeople 2 years ago

Double standards rule in the dirty, backwoods town of Lawrence. Leave it to the creepy KU-graduated, poorly educated lawyers and prosecutors to falsely accuse and smear anyone with integrity while hypocritically pretending those like themselves are pillars of the community. The true criminals seem to the punitive scam-artists in charge. Even the doctors, lawyers, and judges in this town are coarse and uncultured hicks. Those in authority offer "get out of jail cards" to the crooks and liars who most resemble themselves.

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schwa997 2 years ago

These guys are going to pay dearly for the rest of their lives for some damn basketball tickets. What makes this really bad is that it dates back 12 years.

My understanding is that both of these guys were well liked by their peers, community, and employer. Both were seargents.

Seriously, if all you did since college is be a law enforcement officer, what are they looking at for employment? Remember Brian Edwards, who was a veteran of the force who plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to something involving a false claim on a computer manufacturer or something along those lines. He ended up being an adjunct professor at Washburn and now is in senior management for loss prevention for Nebraska Furniture. I really do hope these two men find a way to support their families. As 20 year veterans, these guys were making 65-75k a year. Any law enforcement job in any other state.... this is going to follow them.

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pace 2 years ago

I am sure since the DA decided insufficient evidence and they weren't charged, if they don't mind moving, they will get another law enforcement job. Fixing tickets for objects of value= bribe. It is not hate, it is fact. Saying they took a bribe is just fact. What kind of silliness is it , when you are suppose to lie or cover up corruption out of "love" or "hate".. Everyone pays when there is no standard of conduct expect of law enforcement. No one but crooks want the police to be on the take.

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tomatogrower 2 years ago

Well, they have lost a good paying job, and have to start looking for another one. I'd say life is not good for them.

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progressive_thinker 2 years ago

Violation of gratuity policy would be along the line of accepting a reduced rate meal just for showing up in uniform, or maybe accepting a gift card for changing someones tire.

I do not see how they get violation of a gratuity policy where there is a quid pro quo exchange of basketball tickets for the officer's breach of public trust.

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Matthew Herbert 2 years ago

what they did was unethical and ultimately cost them their job. Justice has been served. Quit defending them, but also quit burning them alive. Move on.

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Paula Kissinger 2 years ago

It just makes me sick...illegal or not...it just makes me sick that they brought shame to the police as a whole by doing this.

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jafs 2 years ago

Wow.

They fixed some traffic tickets, and received KU tickets from the same people.

Sure sounds like bribery to me.

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consumer1 2 years ago

Let the hater begin. Both of these men are wonderful professionals, Fathers, Son's and brothers. They served their community for several years and do not deserve the rath of the haters which will follow them around.

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Clickker 2 years ago

Doesnt really sound like a bribe. Sounds like a cop doing a favor for a friend. Nothing wrong with that. It wasnt until later that a favor was asked. The cop could have said "no", but probably did it out of friendship, not because he got a few free tickets.

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MarcoPogo 2 years ago

Put some quarters in the jukebox because here comes the same ol' Song and Dance crowd...

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