Pubdate: Sat, 13 Nov 2010
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2010 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Margaret Harding
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)
Bookmark: (Policing - United States)


Allegheny County prosecutors plan to review court cases involving two
Pittsburgh police officers accused of wrongfully arresting a pair of
men at a North Side car wash.

"I'm shocked that these people we're used to looking up to made up a
story like this," said Karen Kelly, 55, of McCandless, whose son Tim
Joyce was arrested on drug charges during the bust in question. "How
many other innocent people are sitting in jail today?"

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office on Friday charged
officers Ken Simon and Anthony Scarpine with fabricating reports and
information -- and Simon with stealing money -- when they arrested
Joyce, 22, and David Carpenter, 38, in July.

Authorities filed the charges after video surveillance contradicted
the officers' account of what happened, and showed Simon removing what
appears to be a roll of cash from Joyce's pocket, investigators said.
Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Joyce and Carpenter.

Simon, 49, who has been on the force for 16 years, faces a felony
perjury charge and misdemeanor counts of official oppression,
conspiracy, theft, obstruction and other crimes. He was released on
his own recognizance after arraignment and faces a hearing Thursday.

When questioned about the case as he walked into his Overbrook home,
Simon did not comment. A lawyer could not be reached.

Scarpine, 58, was charged by summons with misdemeanor counts of
conspiracy, obstruction, official oppression and unsworn falsification
to authorities. A 17-year veteran of the bureau, he could not be
reached for comment.

His lawyer, James Wymard, said Scarpine never claimed to see a drug
transaction, but did see Carpenter put a white substance in his pocket.

"He's trying to do his best to get through all this where he was
really just following what his partner had indicated," Wymard said.
"Scarpine never indicated he saw any kind of a transaction."

Police said they placed the officers on paid administrative leave
pending disciplinary action. Both men have a base salary of $58,678.

"This is an isolated incident and should not reflect on the other
officers within the bureau," Chief Nate Harper said in a statement
released by spokeswoman Diane Richard.

Harper refused to comment further on the incident, Richard

Zappala's office will review any case in which Simon and Scarpine were
the only witnesses, spokesman Mike Manko said. Zappala was unavailable
to comment on the case, Manko said.

Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 leaders did not return

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review
Board, said neither officer has been the subject of a public complaint
proceeding by the board.

In the criminal complaint the officers filed in July, Simon said he
saw Joyce hand Carpenter a plastic bag with cocaine while at a car
wash on Stayton Street. He said he saw Joyce put money in the center
console of a Chevrolet when he approached. Simon said he arrested
Joyce, and Scarpine saw Carpenter put a bag of cocaine in his pocket.
Scarpine arrested Carpenter and removed the bag. In the complaint,
Simon said back-up officers found $793 in the Chevy and $217 in
Carpenter's pocket.

The arrest came under suspicion when the car wash's owners provided a
surveillance video of the arrest; the officers' supervisor, Cmdr.
Rashall Brackney, then notified Zappala's office. The video did not
show any contact between Joyce and Carpenter at the car wash, but does
show Simon removing money from Joyce's pocket, according to the
complaint against the officers.

"It's going to be a matter of credibility," Wymard said. "There's no
tape to support anything against Scarpine."

Joyce told investigators he had $1,600 in cash, including $825 he
borrowed from his mother. The complaint says $807 is missing.

"Thank God we learned there was a tape because who's the court going
to believe, my 22-year-old son or these officers with 16 and 17 years
on the force?" Kelly said.

Joyce pleaded guilty to a drug possession charge earlier this year,
court records show. Carpenter, who could not be reached, is awaiting
trial on drug and assault charges stemming from a 2009 arrest.

The charges against the officers could have repercussions for other
cases in which they're involved, legal experts said. Richard and Manko
both said they didn't know how many cases that entails.

Judges have discretion over whether to permit a defense attorney to
introduce alleged police misconduct in court, said John Burkoff, a
University of Pittsburgh law professor. Pending and cases under appeal
could be affected, he added.

"It is the kind of thing that defense counsel could pretty much be
expected to try and use," Burkoff said. "There's not much tactical

It's what Downtown criminal defense attorney Caroline Roberto would
do, particularly if the officers involved are convicted, she said.

"If they're convicted, then I'm making a motion to dismiss," she said.
"I would argue that (the defendant) can't be prosecuted without those
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