Article first published as Corrupt Cop Rebuked — Citizens Win, Right? on Technorati.
At first I thought Andrew Abramson’s article entitled “Police Captain Demoted To Officer After Turning Evidence” was going to be Mr. Fuddlesticks Part II, where police officers’ careers were destroyed when they demonstrated their integrity. I was interested to see what evidence he turned.
From the blog of Commander Rick “Roscoe” Sessa’s (Ret.) radio show, Cop Talk Radio:
“Former Police Captain Randy Maale accepted his steep demotion to road patrol officer on Thursday, although police union treasurer Lou Penque said the union has filed a grievance. ‘Our opinion is he was disciplined without just cause,’ Penque said…. Maale is believed to be the first captain in the city’s history to be demoted to officer.”
Knowing what I do about the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office’s Police Benevolent Association [union] (PBA), and seeing their support for him, raised a red flag. The PBA, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s administration, and State’s Attorney Mike McAuliffe are an unholy trinity of bad policing.
The 2004 incident report on PBA president John Kazanjian makes it very clear. The report quotes Kazanjian’s friend, shouting (at the officers whose supervisors would not allow them to arrest him), “I am a captain with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, this is my county! You will release that man now!” Don’t try this at home, even if you’re as drunk as they were. The good old boys do whatever they want without fear of consequences.
From Abramson’s article on Cop Talk:
“According to the report, Maale, then a lieutenant, held his ‘Annual Maale Memorial Day Party’ at his Palm Beach Gardens home on May 30, 2010, sending out invitations from his city computer. He told a sergeant and four officers under him to attend the party, and then signed off that they each worked 11.5 hours that day.
The city found out about the investigation from an anonymous tip, and forwarded the information to the State Attorney’s Office, which launched an official investigation. Maale, Sgt. Frank Distefano and four officers were read their Miranda rights and interrogated. The State Attorney’s Office ultimately didn’t press charges, saying it was unable to prove any intent that a crime was committed.” [Emphasis added]
Sure. He accidentally invited subordinates to a mandatory party at his house, then signed their time cards. Honest mistake, happens all the time.
The part that stuck out for me was the “anonymous tip,” suggesting that rank and file officers somehow scored a victory over corrupt superiors.
I thought the success may have been attributable to the anonymous police message board for that county, where officers communicate directly with citizens without fear of retribution. I believe this is the best chance we have of cleaning up law enforcement. I was disappointed to see virtually nothing about it on the board. In other words, it didn’t come from below.
“According to the report, Officer Fernando Desouza said there were only two options he was given regarding Captain Maale’s Memorial Day party: attend the party or go to work. He stated, ‘I knew if I didn’t go to the barbeque I would have to go to work. It wasn’t a day off for us because if it was, I would have stayed home. So I would never go. I don’t go to any social events. I felt like I needed to go.’
The anonymous letter asked investigators to, ‘Look into how many calls of service and crimes were committed on the night of May 30, 2010 in the Entertainment District Unit. Lieutenant Maale’s misuse of his authority has really created a high civil liability upon the city. If you look into the calls for service and crimes on the night of the party, how many crimes could have been prevented or aid rendered to a victim? Maybe a victim out there wouldn’t have been a victim if the six members assigned to the entertainment District Unit were working instead of being forced to attend a party.’”
The “good old boy system” is much worse for society than just the waste of tax money. Cronyism and back scratching creates a culture where those who want to serve the community become outcast. Those who play ball do a lot less work, and are better rewarded.
“The fact that the entire unit did not work their scheduled shift in order to attend a party… placed the burden of manpower issues on patrol and reduced the security in the downtown district on a three day holiday weekend.”
Public safety is a team sport, and the unfairness is self-evident. I was still left wondering why they suddenly cared about it. In my experience (in fire and EMS) such things are generally open secrets.
“A second investigation focused on Maale [and subordinate] Officer Cathy Cognetti… the same officer who Maale was previously found in a separate investigation to have had a personal relationship with. Maale, 42, is married, and his relationship with Cognetti, 25, caused discontent in the EDU. Internal records show that Cognetti was invited to the ill-fated Memorial Day bash at Maale and his wife’s home in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s unclear if Cognetti attended.” [emphasis added]
“On three different days in November, when Cognetti was still on light duty, she worked out with Maale, her supervisor, in the basement gym of the police department. They stretched, used medicine balls, and did various exercises that city investigators found she was not allowed to do. This came after Maale and Cognetti were already under investigation for their personal relationship.”
I didn’t understand how these complaints had been acted upon. Officers report much worse crimes than this to internal affairs, and get either ignored or persecuted for their trouble. Have the anonymous boards really changed the game? Can rank and file officers finally get justice on behalf of the citizens? There was no mention of any evidence being turned over.
According to an administrator on the anonymous board linked above, Maale had extensive dirt on other supervisors, and had threatened to turn evidence. The chief fired him to destroy his credibility, effectively shutting him up.
The union helped him get hired back as an officer, his salary dropping from $109,000/year to $73,000/year — the ceiling for an officer with Maale’s 22 years’ seniority. He is now at the mercy of the supervisors he threatened to destroy when he was their equal, doing grunt work alongside the officers he bullied for years.
On the one hand, he deserves what he got. That does make me happy on behalf of the honest, hardworking police officers, firefighters and paramedics who get railroaded by people like him every day.
On the other hand, it’s depressing to see that nothing has changed. Cops can continue to send anonymous letters about co-workers who shake down prostitutes, steal evidence, abuse civil rights, and beat handcuffed citizens, and nothing will be done. Unless they get the media to take an interest, or anger the crooks at the top, that is. There is no justice, only the self-interest and vengeance of the corrupt.
Sometimes I think it’s a sin
When I feel like I’m winnin’ when I’m losin’ again