Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cops Saw Questionable Scrap Metal Purchases At OmniSource And Did Nothing

The saga of more than 50 off-duty cops providing services to the scrap metal giant, OmniSource, continues. It seems OmniSource is trying to get a license to buy and sell scrap metal, a license it didn't think it had to bother with getting before law enforcement raided its businesses earlier this year on suspicion of buying stolen scrap metal according to a Star report today. "They operated without a license since the law went into effect in January 2008," Teri Kendrick said, "despite the fact that they were well aware of the requirement because they helped draft the ordinance."

Further evidence emerged at the license hearing this week that OmniSource and the off-duty cops who worked there knew some scrap metal purchases were highly suspicious:

Off-duty Indianapolis police officers allowed their part-time employer, OmniSource, to purchase suspicious or stolen metals at least 21 times in 2008, a city attorney said Friday.

The off-duty officers documented the suspicious purchases in reports that came to light during a hearing to determine whether the company should be granted a license to continue buying and selling scrap metal in Marion County.
But while they documented the purchases, they took no action to stop them at the time.

"They saw something wrong and felt it was wrong enough to document it, not knowing what would become of it," said Maj. Chris Boomershine. "That's not uncharacteristic of a lot of part-time situations where things come to an officer's attention."

Boomershine is the commander of a team of detectives who spent nearly a year documenting allegedly illegal transactions at OmniSource locations.

Several weeks ago, WRTV reported that the grand jury investigation would be concluded that week. Still, there have been no charges brought against OmniSource or any of the off-duty officers. I reported earlier on how Public Safety Director Scott Newman said at one of the Mayor's Night Out meetings that he saw no evidence that either OmniSource or any of the off-duty police officers had broken the law, essentially giving them a clean bill of health. During the period that off-duty police officers were employed in large numbers at OmniSource, its competitors were regularly targeted by undercover officers and charged with purchasing stolen scrap metal. The lead scrap metal investigator for IMPD was employed by OmniSource for off-duty work.

Under the circumstances, it would seem to be making a complete mockery of the City's licensure requirement to issue OmniSource a license now, but I wouldn't be surprised if a license is awarded to them. The fact that the company never bothered getting a license after it helped write the ordinance suggests it thought it was above the law because it had more than 50 police officers on its payroll. The company has hired high profile criminal defense attorney Larry Mackey, a Barnes & Thornburg partner, to defend it in this action. The law firm does considerable legal work for the City and two of its top attorneys, Bob Grand and Joe Loftus, personally advise Mayor Ballard.

As I reported earlier, Mackey wrote a letter to Scott Newman and Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi urging them to discipline IMPD's lead investigator in the case because he shared information about the case with members of the news media while the case was pending before a grand jury. Newman is a former partner at Barnes & Thornburg.


artfuggins said...

why would you ever think that Brizzi had ethics????

Concerned Taxpayer said...

I think you are being a little harsh on the police according to the facts stated in this article.

The article said the officers made a police report on the suspicious articles. That's all they can do.

They can't arrest someone because they "think" the articles may be stolen. Get real.

If the cases were NOT followed up on by detectives, maybe you should blame the chief of police.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I suppose it's all how you look at it. There's this quote from the story:

Boomershine said the officers who filed reports clearly had concerns about the sales they witnessed. He said some of the reports resulted in arrests, and some of the items were seized and held as evidence. But he said that in many other cases, suspicious items were later melted down, recycled and resold by OmniSource.

So they had concerns. They had concerns about other scrap metal yards and sent undercover officers in to arrest those dealers. OmniSource wasn't similarly targeted and it profited from the activities.

Paul K. Ogden said...

CT, police arrest people all the time because they "think" a crime has been committed. That's their job.

Anonymous said...

CT, police arrest people all the time because they "think" a crime has been committed. That's their job.

What are you talking about? Police, hopefully, arrest people when they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Police, hopefully, detained a few of these customers when they had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot.

Just because someone shows up with some scrap metal doesn't mean a crime has been committed. The problem with these cases are that they usually lack a victim. The question is, did anyone from IMPD take these informational reports and try to match them to reported thefts in the metro area?