Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Another IMPD Cover Up?

If you want confirmation of why you should not trust that IMPD is being run any better these days than the corruption-filled days of the 1970s, you need look no further than this latest case involving the ex-IMPD officer accused of operating a prostitution ring with his wife. As the Star's Vic Ryckaert reports:

The Johnson County prosecutor says a lack of cooperation from an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective forced him to drop a prostitution case against a former Indianapolis police officer and the ex-officer's wife.

In court documents, Prosecutor Brad Cooper's office says IMPD Detective Jean Deddish "lost interest" in prosecuting Jeremy Lee and Lori Vernon-Lee on allegations the couple ran an escort service out of their home in northwestern Johnson County.

"Unfortunately, the detective . . . seemingly has lost interest in the prosecution of Ms. Vernon-Lee," according to a document filed last week in Johnson Circuit Court. "Detective Deddish is from an agency outside of Johnson County, making it difficult for the state to compel her cooperation."

Sgt. Paul Thompson, IMPD spokesman, said the department had no comment Tuesday. Deddish was on vacation and unable to be contacted, Thompson said.

Jeremy Lee, 31, recently had completed the IMPD training academy and had been patrolling the streets when he and his wife were arrested in July 2008. Lee, a probationary officer, was fired soon after the charges were filed.

Both were charged with promoting prostitution based on evidence and informants provided by Deddish and other IMPD officers.

Police used interviews with clients and escorts to build the prostitution case against Lee and Vernon-Lee. The defense has the right to interview those witnesses prior to trial.

The case fell apart, according to Cooper's office, after Deddish "was unable and/or unwilling to produce confidential informants for scheduled depositions."

On July 17, court documents show that Deddish told defense attorney Roscoe Stovall Jr. that she had received subpoenas for the witnesses, but she would not deliver them because she did not work on weekends.

After several attempts at gathering the witnesses for interviews, Judge K. Mark Loyd last week excluded their testimony. Cooper's office said the move left prosecutors with no one to testify that a crime had been committed.
Here's what this case was all about from the very beginning. Remember how IMPD singled out early on in the investigation former Peterson Public Safety Director and then-jail liaison for Sheriff Frank Anderson, Jerry McCory, for charges of patronizing a prostitute? Here's what was reported on that case at the time:

Jerry McCory, 56, who most recently served as a Marion County sheriff's liaison at Jail II and Liberty Hall, is charged with patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor.

McCory, former director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, a Merrillville police chief and a public safety adviser to Mayor Bart Peterson, resigned from the Sheriff's Department on June 25 without explanation . . .

As part of the IMPD investigation, detectives randomly selected six names of clients who patronized Vernon-Lee's service from her log books. Among the names was McCory, whose name was listed under April 24, according to the affidavit.

McCory is accused of hiring an escort to perform oral sex. He was hired by the Sheriff's Department in December to monitor oversight and compliance in the department's work with private-facilities operators. His salary was $69,866 a year. He was not subject to disciplinary action or investigation by the Marion County department during his tenure, said Julio Fernandez, a spokesman for the department . . .

No other police officers or public officials are suspected in the case, said Capt. Chris Boomershine of the IMPD strategic investigations branch.
Quite clearly, someone gave the orders to IMPD to shut down the investigation of the prostitution ring in Johnson County to protect someone. Wouldn't you like to know all the names in that escort service's little black book? The threat of revealing the contents of that little black book is typically the best weapon the defendant has in fending off more serious criminal charges in these cases. Remember what happened to Deborah Palfrey, the D.C. Madam, after she made waves about exposing all of her wealthy and powerful clients?

Personally, I think these cases typically are victimless crimes and police could serve us better spending their time investigating crimes that involve real victims. On the other hand, I don't like it when police use their enemies' vices as a weapon to destroy them while covering up for their friends or other persons in high places. That's what I believe happened to McCory in this case, although I am by no means excusing his actions. By all appearances, once that dirty little deed was accomplished, IMPD had no further interest in the case.

UPDATE: I'm hearing an entirely different version of what transpired from this side of the county. A source claims Johnson Co. Prosecutor Brad Cooper never contacted IMPD before sending out his press release complaining that Det. Deddish wasn't cooperating with the investigation. According to the source, Deddish was given only 2 days' notice to deliver the subpoenas in question and did not understand that it was her responsibility to serve them personally. The source says it is untrue that Deddish refused to identify the confidential informant in the case. Other police involved in the investigation say they weren't contacted by the Johnson Co. Prosecutor's Office. According to one account, the prosecutor's suggestion that Deddish had no interst in the case is simply untrue. IMPD's investigation allegedly included a confession from Lee. When this case started, Lance Hamner was still the county prosecutor. He is now a superior court judge. Cooper succeeded him as county prosecutor. The Star will likely have an updated story in the Thursday edition.

UPDATE II: Jason Thomas has a follow-up story in the Star's Thursday edition indicating that an internal probe is taking place within IMPD to unravel what occurred in this case. "Deddish, after failing to appear for a March 13 deposition, showed up for depositions on June 9 but failed to produce any of the confidential informants, stating that it was not standard practice for her department to serve subpoenas, according to court documents," Thomas writes. "Depositions then were scheduled for June 25, but Deddish did not return any phone calls." Thomas also includes a quote from me. "I think the reasonable person should be asking the question about why the IMPD refused to cooperate with a neighboring prosecutor," said Indianapolis attorney Gary R. Welsh, whose blog, Advance Indiana, often is critical of the department. "I think it reflects very negatively on the department."


varangianguard said...

I invite anybody from the IMPD to show me that any of their detectives could "investigate" their way out of a wet paper bag.

As far as I can tell, if it isn't handed to them on a silver platter or whispered in their ear, it goes unsolved.

Add politics (as usual) to the mix, and this is the value we get from our police force.

Why should we expect any different, though? For example, look at the Prosecutor's office as a shining example of local law enforcement.

I'm just trying to decide who gets to play Marie Antionette in this farce.

artfuggins said...

It sounds like IMPD operates a lot like the prosecutor's office is operating now.

Anonymous said...

Folks, we got one side of the story here, and it wasn't even that detailed. Supposedly some IMPD detective refused to pass out subpoenas on the weekend. OK, is Johnson Co. Sheriff's Dept. so busy that they can't drive the miles upon miles into Marion Co. to deliver the subpoenas? If this case is in Johnson Co., why isn't there a Johnson Co. detective involved and taking the lead?

I just think that we shouldn't throw someone under the bus just because someone else says we should.

varangianguard said...

It is an institutional slam, spooknp.

The police drive company cars home, drive all weekend on taxpayer funded gas, probably lives near the Johnson County line, and gives a "I don't work weekends" excuse.

Then - give - back - the - freakin' - free - car - chumpette.

Still, they take their cue from on high. The IMPD still lives in the same philosophical place they have lived in since the turn of the century. The culture seems to be too hard to break for any long lasting reform to take hold.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I will happily do a mea culpa, spooknp, if you prove me wrong on this one. If I were the Johnson Co. Prosecutor, I would have been steaming over IMPD leaving him out there hanging on this one.

jabberdoodle said...

I'm confused on one point. If Johnson County is prosecuting the case, why is IMPD involved at all outside of internal affairs?

Is the little black book public records as in the open records law? Especially if they forego prosecution?

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

If I ignored a subpoena, I'd be jailed. How come that IMPD officer gets a pass? (And three times a pass at that?)