Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Feds: White just a crooked cop

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — Detective William “Billy” White was not a gang-busting supercop whose inexplicable lapse of judgment at the end of his storied career should be weighed against a lifetime of good.
Rather, a federal prosecutor argued, he’s a crooked officer who betrayed the public trust and tarnished his badge out of nothing more than personal greed.
Days after White’s attorney filed a glowing 440-page sentencing memorandum and exhibits seeking to convince the judge to give a lenient sentence to the former detective, who was a 39-year veteran at the time of his 2007 arrest, the prosecution offered its counterpoint and a far less charitable depiction of White.
“He had the power to enforce the laws but his actions reflect a belief that the laws did not apply to him. He violated the public trust, and the damage in many ways is simply not quantifiable because the public perception becomes not simply that White committed crimes but that police officers cannot be trusted,” said Nora R. Dannehy, acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut. Dannehy prosecuted the FBI’s probe into corruption in the New Haven Police Department’s now-disbanded narcotics squad.
White, 64, is to be sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in New Haven, and Dannehy argued in court documents that he should be sentenced to 37 to 46 months in prison, the sentence for which guidelines call. White’s attorney, Hubert Santos, will argue for less.
In her 38-page memo, Dannehy directly rebuts some of Santos’ arguments, which are supported by more than 100 letters of support from family, friends and retired colleagues who say White’s well-documented work during his long career should be taken into account during sentencing.
Simply doing the job a police officer is paid to do shouldn’t be rewarded with a lighter sentence, she said.
She also dismissed Santos’ suggestion that untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from the murder of White’s son Tyler in 1994 might have contributed to White’s bad judgment and criminal actions.
White was charged with taking bribes for years from bail bondsmen to track fugitives who jumped bond, and for stealing money planted by the FBI in a sting operation started in July 2006 after a state police sergeant working with city narcotics officers reported potential corruption and began cooperating with a secret investigation.
In his sentencing memo, Santos cited two mental health professionals who said White’s lapses in judgment were consistent with PTSD, as was White’s intense interest in the undercover officer’s (fictitious) sob story of deep financial problems brought on by two troubled daughters.
The prosecution said evidence and secretly recorded statements show, however, this was not some short-lived scheme driven by White’s belief the undercover officer needed money.
In fact, White openly bragged to the undercover officer that he made $50,000 to $60,000 from the bondsmen over the last five or six years finding fugitives, and in the 1980s boasted that he took kickbacks from bondsmen for tipping them off about prisoners who needed bonds, prosecutors contend.
Those statements, Dannehy said, makes White’s assertions in his plea bargain that his corrupt arrangement with the bail bondsmen began only in 2006, “ring hollow.”
Two other police officers, former detectives Justen Kasperzyk and Jose Silva, pleaded guilty in the probe and Silva already is serving his sentence.
Bondsmen Robert Jacobs and his sons Paul and Phil also pleaded guilty, although Paul Jacobs is trying to withdraw his plea.
Santos did not return a call seeking comment.
Evan as Santos included hundreds of praising letters from supporters, including current New Haven police officers, White’s son, Detective William White Jr., and union president Sgt. Louis Cavaliere, and accolades from White’s personnel file, prosecutors included in its memo excerpts from hundreds of wiretaps and recorded conversations to show a consciousness of guilt and disregard for law and people’s rights.When the FBI barged into police headquarters last March and arrested White and Kasperzyk, details of the schemes made national headlines and prompted the city to hire a national consultant to help determine what went wrong -- and what was wrong -- at the police department. While some people downplay the seriousness of the bail bond scheme since capturing wanted fugitives was for the public good, the prosecution Monday said that misses the point.
Dannehy gave this analysis: Bondmen make money writing bonds and, in assessing risks of posting an individual bond, the Jacobs knew they had a police officer “in their pocket” if the defendant jumped bail.
The bottom line, she stated, was that “a wealthy person was able to buy a cop” and that White “put his own greed above the law.”
The evidence, Dannehy contended, doesn’t depict a good cop who made a bad choice.
While White was not charged with civil rights violations, he apparently suspected that Kasperzyk had planted drugs and framed a defendant during a November 2006 drug raid in the Hill neighborhood and tacitly approved.
When asked by the undercover officer if the drugs in question were really found in the closet where Kasperzyk claimed, Dannehy said White replied, “I guess it came out of there now,” and laughed.
“The evidence reflects that White was a corrupt police officer who accepted bribes in return for the exercise of his police power and during the course of the investigation showed little respect for the rights of individuals or the court system.”When the FBI planed $27,500 in a rented car in the Long Wharf area, Dannehy noted, White pulled the hood from a sweatshirt over his head, tied a bandana around his face and donned gloves to steal it. Initially, he took only part of the money fearing the informant who the undercover sergeant told him had tipped him off would get killed if all the money went missing. They later returned and took the rest and White wrote “estupido” on the money bag to throw off drug dealers. He didn’t know the drug dealers were fictitious and the FBI taped the incident.
When he talked with the undercover sergeant about where to hide the stolen cash, White made a telling statement that undercuts any PTSD argument, Dannehy said.
“I am too old to be arrested,” White said.

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