Archive | March 2, 2014

Six Police Officers Indicted by Grand Jury*

Six Police Officers Indicted by Grand Jury*

By Paul Elias and Sudhin Thanawala

Six current and former San Francisco police officers have been indicted by federal grand juries, and three of the officers have been charged with stealing money, drugs, electronics and gift cards seized during investigations.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, center seated, speaks during a news conference at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.

According to the indictment, the three took items they seized during an arrest in 2009, including a $500 Apple gift card. Two days later, one of them used the gift card to buy an iPhone and iPod Nano, prosecutors said Thursday

They were identified as

  • Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of  Pleasant Hill
  • Officer Edmond Robles, 46, of Danville
  • Former officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert

The officers were suspended without pay and had their guns taken away, Police Chief Greg Suhr said shortly after the indictments were announced.

“Our department is shaken. This is as serious as an issue as I can recall in my time in the department,” said an emotional Suhr, who has been with the San Francisco Police Department since 1981.

Suhr said federal authorities assured him the arrests did not reflect a systemic problem in the department.

Furminger, Robles and Vargas each face two drug-related counts carrying a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. They also face a charge of civil rights conspiracy that carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

In another incident the same month, the indictment says, the officers took marijuana. Vargas is accused of delivering the pot to two informants and asking them to sell it and split the proceeds with him, Furminger and Robles.

In a separate indictment, three officers were charged with civil rights violations. Prosecutors say the officers entered hotel rooms illegally and intimidated occupants.

The charges were based on surveillance footage from a hotel in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood that was released by the city’s public defender, Jeff Adachi, in 2011. Adachi claimed the videos of plainclothes officers contradicted police reports and sworn police testimony.

Those three defendants were identified as

  • Officer Arshad Razzak, 41,  San Francisco
  • Officer Richard Yick, 37,  San Francisco
  • Officer Raul Eric Elias,  44, of San Mateo

All face three civil rights charges that carry possible penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment did not provide additional detail about the alleged illegal searches. But a civil lawsuit filed by three occupants of the Hotel Henry in 2012 said Razzak, Elias, and three other officers got the hotel’s master key and forced their way into rooms without a search warrant or the occupants’ consent on two separate occasions. They allegedly searched the occupants and the room and then made drug arrests.

According to the lawsuit, a judge concluded that video evidence contradicted the officers’ testimony and dismissed criminal charges against the defendants.

The defendants in turn filed a lawsuit against the arresting officers and police departments. The Board of Supervisors approved a $150,000 settlement in December.

Razzak and Yick have also been charged with falsifying police reports.

None of the defendants in either indictment could be reached for comment.

Martin Halloran, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said in a statement that the indictments were apparently based on the questionable testimony of unreliable informant witnesses.

“However, we do understand that these are nonetheless serious charges,” Halloran said. “It is important to remember that the accused officers will have their day in court since federal grand juries only hear one side of the story.”

Adachi said his clients had for years reported that their rights were being violated.

“I commend the U.S. attorney for taking seriously the reports from ordinary citizens who had been humiliated, stolen from and hurt by police officers sworn to protect them,” he said in a statement.

One of the videos Adachi released in 2011 shows two officers walking into a residential hotel empty-handed and leaving with bags that Adachi said weren’t booked into evidence.

Allegations stemming from the released videos led to the dismissal of dozens of criminal cases.

The charges came after San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon referred the investigation to federal authorities, citing a conflict of interest, federal prosecutors said. Gascon was the police chief at the time the alleged conduct occurred.

“I am relieved to know that the officers have been indicted, after I referred the matter to federal authorities,” Gascon said in a statement Thursday. “It is extremely disappointing that the officers violated the trust of the community and tarnished the reputation of all the hard working men and women in uniform.”

Vargas was expected to appear before a judge Thursday, prosecutors said. The other five defendants were scheduled to appear in court Friday.

FBI Director James Comey, who was in San Francisco speaking at a technology conference, declined to discuss the cases.


Related Topics:

How to Handle a Police Encounter*

Written By A Cop: Facing Crime

Killer Cop on the Rise

Articles of Impeachment Filed against Obama*

Citizens Reclaim their Town from Corrupt Cops

Scotland’s Eigg Island: Self Sufficient and Owned by its Residents*

Scotland’s Eigg Island: Self Sufficient and Owned by its Residents*

Virescent mountains, verdant valleys, and clean energy. Sound like a scene from The Sound of Music or a fictional novel about utopia? It is neither. It is in fact, the description of the one place on this planet that is about to be 100% self-sustaining – Scotland’s Eigg Island. Eigg has a pristine landscape, a broad array of sustainable strategies and gets over 90% of its energy from renewable sources. Along with its witty accent, the Scots offer an example of how to live well, without fossil fuels and rampant ecological and environmental degradation.

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” No, we have new heroes. They are the residents of Scotland’s forward thinking Eigg.

Solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric schemes sprinkled across the island meet the energy requirements of almost all of its residents. With a $2.64 million electricity grid switched on back in 2008, operating independently of the UK’s national grid, the island wasn’t able to bring in big energy companies, so they did something unthinkable – they used their electricity economically – keeping consumption under 5 kilowatts, with a limit for businesses at 10 kilowatts.

The island also enjoys a wonderful geographic locale. It has abundant sun, and wind – what some would call ‘harsh’ weather conditions, but a phenomenon the islanders use to their benefit. They even have free heating in public spaces, like churches and their community center.

What’s even more shocking – the island is owned by its residents!

In 1997 Eigg Islanders bought the farm – quite literally.  Anyone who lives on the island for more than six months becomes a member of the resident committee that decides who things are run in their town.


Related Topics:

‘Scotland  Shedding the English Shackles*

U.K. Going through an Earth Shift*

Prince Charles Accused of Bullying so He Could Mine Under Villager’s Homes*

British Royals Cash in on Hard-up Families*

Losing Consumers Costing British Gas Profits*

Bolivia: Rights of Mother Earth Becomes Legal*

Largest Solar Energy Plant Killing Wildlife*

Wi-Fi Viruses Now Possible*

Wi-Fi Viruses Now Possible*

By Giuseppe Macri

Computer science researchers have demonstrated for the first time how a digital virus can go airborne and spread via WiFi networks in populated areas at the same pace as a human diseases.

The “Chameleon” virus, designed by a University of Liverpool team, showed a remarkable amount of intelligence by avoiding detection and breaking into personal and business Wi-Fi networks at their weakest points – spreading at an alarming rate.

Network Security Professor Alan Marshall said the virus doesn’t try to damage or disrupt established networks – instead, the virus slips in unnoticed to collect the data and log-in information of all users connected to the network via Wi-Fi, and seeks other Wi-Fi networks through them – a much more subtle, sinister and dangerous objective.

“Wi-Fi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus,” Marshall said in a ScienceBlog report.

“It was assumed, however, that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack Wi-Fi networks – but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly.”

The secret to Chameleon is the method by which it avoids detection. Traditional computer antivirus programs look for viruses present on computers and the Internet itself. Chameleon sticks strictly to Wi-Fi networks, bypassing secured, more heavily encrypted networks to enter and spread through weaker ones – especially free public access points like those found in cafes, on trains and in airports.

A lab experiment by the University’s School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Electronics simulated what researchers likened to an airborne contagion attack against Belfast and London, entering Wi-Fi access points that connect public and private networks to the Internet.

The virus traveled fastest across access points within a 160 feet or less of each other, following similar rates of human infection by viruses among more densely populated areas.

“We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely,” Marshall said.


Related Topics:

The Counter-Productive Health Risks of Wi-Fi in Schools*

Google Fined for Spying on Wi-Fi Users*

Warning from UK medical Doctors on Health and Safety of Wi-Fi and Mobile Phones

Walking into a Wi-Fi Field 2*

Principal of Australian Girls School Resigns Over Wi-Fi*

Son Died from Wi-Fi Induced Brain Cancer Parents Say*