Saturday, March 28, 2009

High-Ranking Cop Demoted In OmniSource Investigation

Weeks after search warrants were executed by federal, state and local law enforcement officers on five OmniSource scrap metal businesses in town where more than 50 off-duty police officers worked, a high-ranking IMPD officer has been demoted. "The commander of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's North District is being stripped of his position in the wake of an investigation into moonlighting by off-duty officers, public safety officials said Friday," writes the Star's Vic Ryckaert. "Maj. David Allender -- one of 51 officers who worked part-time security jobs for a metal-recycling firm linked to allegations that its workers knowingly purchased stolen metal -- will be busted to his merit rank of captain and reassigned to new duties within a week, public safety officials said in an e-mail to The Indianapolis Star."

It's unclear from the Star report exactly what Allender did wrong. Ryckaert quotes Newman as saying an internal investigation raised questions about his "absolute commitment to the people's business." Chief Deputy John Conley told Ryckaert, however, that Allender's demotion "was not related to any scrap-metal investigation and has no criminal violations or implications."

Few details have emerged in local news media reports. A trade publication, Platts Steel Markets Daily, however, offered more specification information about what allegedly took place at OmniSource's scrap metal sites in Indianapolis. Platts reported that police recovered "folders on how to avoid anti-trust violations." The Platts report indicated that undercover police officers pretending to be auto thieves were able to sell items to OmniSource which had been altered to appear stolen. Platts also reported that OmniSource allegedly "wanted to target their competitors while employing [IMPD] officers." At the same time, Platts reported that "nothing of enforcement appeared to be happening at their yards."

As I've previously reported, there are a number of conflict of interest concerns posed by the OmniSource investigation. OmniSource has hired a top flight white collar criminal attorney at Barnes & Thornburg to defend it against the allegations. The law firm performs legal services for the City in a variety of capacities. Public Safety Director Scott Newman formally worked as a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn, who chairs the Public Safety Commitee which oversees IMPD's budget and other law enforcement-related matters, is an attorney for Barnes & Thornburg. Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office employs the services of Barnes & Thornburg. Advance Indiana recently learned that a planned civil RICO action to be brought on behalf of the public was abruptly halted.

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