Court Roundup

New York

3 former police officials face criminal charges

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- Three former Nassau County police officials were indicted Thursday on charges they conspired to prevent the arrest of a teenager whose father was a department benefactor.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the indictment of Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, Deputy Chief Inspector John Hunter and Detective Sgt. Alan Sharpe.

They entered not guilty pleas to official misconduct and conspiracy counts and were released without bail. The defendants' lawyers said all three had distinguished careers and would be vindicated at trial.

They are accused of dropping a burglary inquiry involving the son of a police department benefactor in 2009. The burglary charges were subsequently filed against the young man, now 20, in a grand jury indictment. He is awaiting trial.

Rice said in a statement that all three officers had recently retired from the force.

"These defendants violated their oath and the law when they prevented a suspect's arrest and took investigative direction from the suspect's father," Rice said.

The charges stem from an investigation following a story in the Long Island Press last March titled: "Membership has its Privileges: Is NCPD selling preferential treatment to private citizens?"

A police department spokesman declined to comment.

The suspects' next court appearance is May 22.

California

Mattel appeals $310M award in Bratz copyright case

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Toy giant Mattel Inc. has asked a federal appeals court to reverse the $310 million in damages won by rival MGA Entertainment last year in a trial that started as a fight over the copyright to the popular Bratz doll line.

Mattel said in court papers filed Monday that it will not challenge the jury's finding that MGA didn't infringe on Mattel's copyright by developing Bratz.

But the El Segundo, Calif.-based company is asking the appeals court to reverse $172 million in damages won by MGA for misappropriation of trade secrets and $137 million to reimburse MGA for attorney fees and defense costs.

Mattel and Los Angeles-based MGA have been battling for eight years over who owns the rights to Bratz and have undergone two jury trials on the matter.

Helena

Supco upholds dismissal of officer assault charge

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that dismissed a charge of assaulting a peace officer filed against a Helena man who was shot by a police officer who said the man was trying to hit him with his pickup.

Brian John Temple was fleeing the probation office where police sought to question him about a theft on May 4 when Sgt. Peter Callahan fired at the truck. The bullet went through the passenger side of the windshield and through a lanyard hanging on the mirror before striking Temple in the lung. He drove himself to the hospital.

In October, District Judge James Reynolds dismissed the assault charge. Temple's attorneys had argued that investigators removed the pickup's windshield before the defense could run tests to determine where Callahan was standing in relation to the vehicle when he fired. The mirror and lanyard also were removed and experts said none could be reinstalled in its original position. The hospital also lost a sample of Callahan's blood taken after the shooting.

The high court ruled Tuesday that state law does not permit prosecutors to appeal a district judge's order that dismisses one count while leaving other charges in the case pending, the Independent Record reported.

Temple still faces felony charges of theft and drug possession and misdemeanor charges for possession of drug paraphernalia and obstruction of a peace officer. His trial on those charges is set for May 15.

In their petition to have the charge reinstated, Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher and Attorney General Steve Bullock argued that authorities were acting in good faith and trying to preserve evidence.

They also wrote upholding the dismissal would have serious statewide ramifications, "because defendants can always find experts willing to second-guess with the benefit of hindsight the handling of physical evidence, or blood, or DNA collection."

The high court said the case is not of statewide importance.

"There is nothing here that leads us to believe that police officers are routinely mishandling evidence across the state," the justices wrote. "Rather, we presume they are not."

Idaho

Lewiston men sentenced for defacing tribal shelter

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Two Lewiston men have been ordered to spend time in a federal prison for defacing ancient Native American pictographs at a shelter near Hell's Gate State Park.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge sentenced Michael Bernal, 21, and Tyler Carlson, 23, on Wednesday for their roles in spray-painting a rock wall at the Red Elk Rock Shelter last February. The shelter's red pigmented tribal drawings are believed to be 2,500 years old and in a region traditionally occupied by ancestors of the Nez Perce tribe.

Bernal and Carlson were convicted of willful injury or depredation of federal property. Bernal was also convicted for making false statements to federal investigators.

Prosecutors say Bernal, Carlson and a third defendant, Jerad Bovencamp, hiked to the shelter and used cans of spray paint to deface rock art drawings depicting animal figures and geometric shapes. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said the vandalism caused about $100,000 worth of damage and restoration will require the expertise of a rock art conservator.

Bernal was sentenced to 36 months in prison, while Carlson will serve four months in prison. They were each ordered to pay more than $33,000 in restitution to cover damages.

Bovencamp, 24, also of Lewiston, was convicted of similar charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

The conclusion of the court case and penalties won praise from tribal members.

"The Nez Perce Tribe is pleased with the outcome," tribal officials said in statement. "The pictographs and the location itself has immeasurable cultural and historic value. The importance of protecting and preserving such sites cannot be overstated, and such vandalism should not be tolerated."

Published: Fri, Mar 2, 2012

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