"Rogue East Cleveland Cops Framed Dozens of Drug Suspects," by reporter Jon Schuppe, published by NBC News on March 27, 2017; (Thanks to CSIDDS (Forensics in Focus) for bringing this story to our attention. HL);
GIST: "In January 2013, police raided the home of a Cleveland drug dealer, saying in a search warrant that an informant had recently bought crack cocaine there. But the drug dealer had surveillance cameras that proved the officers were lying. He gave the tapes to his lawyer, who showed the FBI. The feds then worked to uncover a massive scandal of a rogue street-crimes unit that robbed and framed drug suspects who felt they had no choice but plead guilty to fraudulent charges. Four years later, authorities are still unwinding the damage. Three cops who worked for the city of East Cleveland are in prison. Cases against 22 alleged drug dealers have been dismissed. Authorities are searching for another 21 people who are eligible to have their convictions tossed. On top of those injustices, there is a slim chance that any of them will be fully reimbursed, because the disgraced officers and their former employer don't have the money. "I always took it on the chin when I got arrested for something I know I did. But when a cop lies to get you in prison, that's a different story," said Kenneth Blackshaw, who was arrested in a 2013 traffic stop and spent two years behind bars before his drug conviction was overturned. ........The Cleveland-area victims are among thousands of people who have been exonerated in cases involving police graft over the last three decades countrywide, from California to Texas, and from New Jersey to Ohio. In Philadelphia, more than 800 people have had their convictions dismissed. The Rampart scandal in Los Angeles in the late 1990s led to at least 150 tossed cases. These "group exonerations" are distinct from the stories of people cleared by DNA or new evidence, a movement led by crusading lawyers who dig into individual cases to expose faulty forensics, false confessions, mistaken identities and official misconduct. Group exonerations rarely attract much attention outside of the communities where they occur. They typically involve people convicted of relatively minor crimes that resulted in short prison sentences or terms of probation. The victims often have criminal records and, if not for the corrupt methods that led to their convictions, may actually have been guilty of a crime. There is no official record of group exonerations, and researchers believe that in some police corruption scandals, authorities don't bother to identify tainted convictions — or tell victims they could be cleared. Even so, the number of people wrongly convicted under such circumstances likely exceeds the more than 2,000 individual exonerations recorded since 1989, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. The vast majority of victims are black — a result that points to national trends in American drug-law enforcement researchers at the registry said in a report issued last month. "As any forger knows, the way to create convincing fakes is to make them look like the real thing," the report's authors wrote. "For drug cases, that means arresting mostly black suspects." The impact is profound. Group exonerations not only undermine crime fighting efforts, but also destroy faith in police and fuel the belief that the justice system treats poor, minority communities unfairly. "What I saw in this case is a legitimate reason for these folks to have these feelings toward law enforcement," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Feran, who prosecuted the East Cleveland officers. East Cleveland is a city in distress, much more so than Cleveland, its larger Rust Belt neighbor. More than 40 percent of its 17,843 residents live in poverty, almost all of them black. Mass demolitions of abandoned homes has left the 3-square-mile city pocked with vacant lots. The median household income is $19,592. The local government is near bankruptcy. That is the atmosphere in which the rogue street crimes unit operated.........Most of the victims mentioned in the federal indictment didn't have private lawyers to push for their release. But the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office had just formed a Conviction Integrity Unit, which helped make sure all of the convictions were vacated. Blackshaw was released from prison in February 2016. All three officers were sentenced to prison: Moore got nine years, Malone six and Jones nearly four. In a tearful courtroom apology, Moore said she'd turned rogue in 2011. That revelation prompted the Conviction Integrity Unit to review all of the officers' work since 2011. They came up with dozens of suspect cases. In some, the officers cited the use of confidential informants without proving their existence. In others, money used for undercover drug purchases, or money seized in arrests or raids, was not properly logged, raising questions about where the cash ended up. Each of the defendants, like Blackshaw, had pleaded guilty. Now they were all eligible to have their cases dismissed. Some of the victims had likely committed drug offenses. But because the entire process was corroded, the cases could no longer be defended in court. Justice required their dismissal. "We didn't go all the way to determine whether they were factually innocent or not," Jose Torres, who heads the unit, said. "We were convinced that they were legally innocent, and that's enough for us." So far, authorities have identified 43 people whose convictions deserved to be tossed. But in order for that to happen, they or a lawyer representing them needs to appear in court to ask a judge to dismiss the charges. Working with the county public defender's office, they've only been able to dismiss convictions for 22 people, Torres said. They've tracked down a couple of others who are expected to appear in court soon. The rest either haven't been found or don't want to come forward. In each case, defense lawyers have insisted on protecting the victim's right to sue for damages. But whether they get any award remains to be seen."
The entire story can be found at:
See also the related CSIDDS (Forensics in Focus) - Framing the innocent with planted forensics evidence and lying cops - post at the link below: "Not just a myth or a fictional plot line. This article starts in Cleveland OH and references other examples where people ‘of color’ with criminal histories get thrown into jail. In Cleveland, three police went there too. It’s called ‘framing’ the innocent. (click the above pic to go to “Youtube” vid reports on the subject."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/