Not Immune: Sheriff’s Captain Convicted of Civil Rights Violation

Originally published on January 31, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former captain with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office has been convicted on charges of violating the civil rights of an arrestee, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in a federal investigation. Abusing his power and authority, Captain James “Jim” Corder stole $1,785 from a handcuffed suspect during an arrest and failed to log the money into evidence. Although witnesses saw Capt. Corder steal the cash, Corder later lied to the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agents investigating the theft.

In July 2013, William “Billy” Easterwood and his wife Amy were arrested on suspected burglary charges. As Capt. Corder placed Billy Easterwood in the back of a sheriff’s car, Billy asked his mother to take the money from his pocket. A day before the Easterwoods’ arrest, the couple had sold their dog and their camper for $1,785 in cash.

With his hands cuffed behind his back, Billy could not physically give the money to his mother. According to Billy’s mother, Corder took the cash from Billy’s pocket claiming it was for restitution. Instead of logging the $1,785 into evidence, Corder kept the money and refused to return it to Billy.

Depicting Corder as a crooked cop who routinely took liberty with arrestees’ property, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller told jurors, “When Jim Corder gets a hold of a prisoner’s property, he does whatever he wants with it.”

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CIA Whistleblower Faces 100 Years in Prison for Talking to NY Times Reporter

Originally published on January 29, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former CIA case officer has been convicted for telling a New York Times reporter details concerning a reckless CIA operation that potentially sped up Iran’s nuclear advancement. Although the case against the CIA whistleblower was largely circumstantial and lacking evidence, former case officer Jeffrey Sterling faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison for speaking to New York Times reporter James Risen. Under threat of arrest, Risen tenaciously refused to reveal his sources to the government.

After joining the CIA on May 14, 1993, Sterling eventually rose to the rank of case officer and began working with the agency’s Iran Task Force. Between November 1998 and May 2000, Sterling had been assigned to a mission conspiring to deliver flawed nuclear blueprints to the Iranian government codenamed Operation Merlin. Unaware of the design flaws, the Iranian government would waste years devising a nuclear weapon that could not detonate.

The CIA planned to use a Russian nuclear engineer codenamed Merlin to transport the nuclear blueprints to the Iranians. In a luxurious hotel room in San Francisco, Sterling and a senior CIA officer gave the blueprints to Merlin, who immediately identified a flaw even though he had not been debriefed. Instead of aborting the mission because the design flaw was too obvious, the senior CIA officer went ahead with the operation.

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FBI Arrests Cop on Charges of Police Brutality and Falsifying Records

Originally published on January 28, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The FBI arrested a New Jersey police officer on Friday after a federal grand jury charged him with violating a defendant’s civil rights by using excessive force during an arrest and falsifying records in an attempt to conceal the alleged crime. According to a lawsuit filed by the victim and his family against the Bayonne Police Department, Officer Domenico Lillo repeatedly struck the handcuffed victim in the face with a metal flashlight knocking out most of his front teeth. In 2011, the City of Bayonne paid roughly $100,000 to settle a previous suit accusing Lillo and other officers of conspiracy, deliberate indifference, deprivation of due process, deprivation of property, excessive force, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution, and wrongful arrest.

On the evening of December 27, 2013, Bayonne police officers Domenico Lillo, Francis Styles, and James Wade responded to Kathy Walsh’s residence to execute an arrest warrant for her son, Brandon. According to police, Brandon Walsh answered the door but refused to step outside with the officers. Pushing one of them back, Walsh allegedly attempted to force the door closed when one of the officers grabbed the front of his shirt. Walsh reportedly struck the cop on the side of the face and the top of the head before they restrained him with handcuffs.

But according to a federal lawsuit against the police department, officers Lillo, Styles, and Wade had stormed into the residence pepper spraying Walsh and throwing him to the ground. As they continued to assault Walsh on the floor, the officers also doused his mother’s face with pepper spray when she asked why they were attacking her son. Suffering from the noxious fumes of the pepper spray, Kathy Walsh, her children, and her grandchildren watched as the police handcuffed Walsh and escorted him down the front steps.

The police claim Walsh cut his forehead when he tried to pull away, causing an officer to fall onto of him. In contrast, Walsh’s family asserts Walsh had accidentally fallen down the stairs. After getting up off the ground, the officers continued escorting Walsh to their patrol car when Lillo pulled a metal flashlight from his belt and repeatedly beat Walsh across the face while Walsh’s hands were cuffed behind his back.

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NY Assembly Speaker Arrested for Accepting $4 Million in Bribes

Originally published on January 25, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The FBI arrested New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Thursday charging him with multiple counts of conspiracy, fraud, and extortion. Accused of accepting roughly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks, Silver allegedly abused his position by providing state funding and other benefits to the highest bidders while funneling the dirty money through two corrupt law firms. After Silver convinced Governor Andrew Cuomo to terminate the commission investigating his illegal activities, a lobbyist and close friend of Silver decided to cooperate with the Justice Department by testifying against him.

Elected to the New York State Assembly in 1976, Silver has been Speaker since February 11, 1994. By soliciting and obtaining client referrals worth millions of dollars in exchange for official favors, Silver allegedly abused his power over the real estate industry and healthcare funding. Instead of reporting the bribes, Silver attempted to disguise the money as legitimate income earned from his work at the two law firms accused of laundering his kickbacks.

For steering real estate developers with business before the state legislature to a law firm run by a co-conspirator, Silver received approximately $700,000 in kickbacks. Although Silver had performed no legal work to earn those payments, the law firm Goldberg & Iryami received millions of dollars in legal fees from real estate developers. Goldberg & Iryami reportedly paid Silver to use his official power and influence to refer potential clients to their firm.

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