Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why I Crashed Greece, NY Police Chief Patrick Phelan's Big Day (VIDEO)

Greece, NY Police Chief
Patrick Phelan making short speech.
By Davy V.

There are two things that Patrick Phelan will always remember about Monday March 24, 2014.

First, the excitement of being officially named as Greece, NY's next Police Chief.

Second, a community activist with over 18 years of exposing police misconduct and corruption, asking him his first question as Chief.

That activist is me.

Patrick Phelan was introduced as Chief Patrick Phelan, by Greece Town supervisor Bill Reilich just after 10:00 a.m., at a press conference inside the Greece Town Hall.

After a short speech, Phelan asked Rochester's corporate-America LAMESTREAM news media, such as News 10NBC's Nikki Rudd, if they had any questions.

Before any of the brown nosing reporters could even get a word out, I did. (VIDEO BELOW)

Although I later joked about my having "crashed" Greece, NY Police Chief Patrick Phelan's big day, and asking the questions that a bunch of sell out reporters are too afraid to ask, I actually like Patrick Phelan.

I'm sure many of you who follow my work and this blog may be asking yourselves if you read the sentence above correctly, yes, you did.

Rochester, NY's
outside Greece, NY Town Hall
Let me explain.

Besides the fact that we have completely different roles, and that whole "brotherhood", "code of silence" thing, which every cop subscribes to, I like him.

Here's why.

Patrick Phelan, sorry, Chief Patrick Phelan now, has always respected me.

He's always taken my calls, when I've called him with a question, or seeking a comment.

And he has always taken the time to listen to me.

But most of all, like I said, Patrick Phelan has always respected me.

He's always been courteous.

And he's always been nothing but professional during all of our exchanges.

Even though we disagree.

And for that I respect him.

I believe Chief Patrick Phelan means well.

At least I hope so.

However, I'm reminded of something my dad Mario Vara used to say about men in positions of power.

My dad used to say that no matter how good a police chief was, no matter how well intentioned he, or she, may be, one man, or woman can't control an entire police force.

They can't be everywhere, all the time.

And surely Chief Patrick Phelan knows this.

And surely Chief Patrick Phelan knows that he has a tough job now.

After all, it was just a few years ago when the Greece, NY Police department seemed to stay in the news, controversy after controversy.

Former Greece, NY Police Sgt. Nick Joseph
NYS Department of Corrections photo
In 2008 former Rochester, NY Police officer and Greece Police Sgt. Nick Joseph was off duty, drinking and doing cocaine at Spenders bar on Lyell Ave. in Rochester, NY when he got behind the wheel of his brother David Joseph's (Joseph is a Sgt. with the Rochester, NY Police department) Ford Fusion and while racing on interstate 390 North, doing in excess of 80 miles per hour, rear ended a stalled vehicle which was parked on the shoulder.
Former Greece, NY Police Chief Merritt Rahn
NYS Department of Corrections photo

In that vehicle was Alexis Sharpe, a young pregnant mother.

The impact ruptured Sharpe's placenta and she had to undergo emergency surgery, forcing her to deliver her daughter, Azaria, 14 weeks prematurely.

Azaria spent 93 days in the hospital and suffers ongoing medical problems.

Joseph fled under the cover of darkness immediately after crashing into Sharpe's vehicle.

The incident led to Greece, NY Police Sgt. Nick Joseph being convicted of aggravated vehicular assault, two counts of second-degree assault, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and first-degree perjury; as well as two misdemeanors: driving while ability impaired and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Key evidence in Joseph's trial included surveillance video from the bar which showed Joseph downing drink after drink, as well as cocaine residue on the airbag of the Ford Fusion.

Nick Joseph was sentenced 3 to 7 years in New York State prison.

The investigation into Joseph's incident led to former Greece Police Chief Merritt Rahn also being charged with several felonies in connection with Joseph's hit and run, including guilty of tampering with public records, hindering a prosecution, falsifying business records, falsely reporting an incident, and two counts of official misconduct in an attempt to cover up the Joseph incident.

Merritt Rahn was also found guilty of offering a false instrument for filing in the case of former Greece Police officer Gary Pignato’s background check.

In Rahn's 2009 trial, cell phone records showed several calls made between Joseph and Rahn after Joseph's hit and run.

It is believed that Rahn tried to cover-up for Joseph, including telling Joseph not to immediately go to the hospital for a cut on his forehead which he suffered in the accident, so as to avoid blood tests which would have shown alcohol and cocaine.

Merritt Rahn was convicted and sentenced 1 2/3 to 5 years in New York State prison.

Also in 2009, Greece, NY Police officer Gary Pignato, also a former Rochester, NY Police officer, who was fired from the RPD, was charged with bribery and coercion, stemming from several traffic stops of women, whom he would try to force into having sex with him in exchange for him letting them off traffic tickets and crimes.

Former Greece, NY Police officer Gary Pignato

In one case, Pignato responded to a domestic disturbance call where the boyfriend of a young woman had called police.

The woman had been drinking alcohol.

Once Pignato learned the woman was on probation, he bribed the woman by telling her that if she did not have sex with him he would arrest her and she would be in violation of her probation.

Pignato would routinely follow women to their homes and stalk them.

At his sentencing, Pignato told the Judge "I literally placed my life on the line" as an officer and that it's "degrading and demoralizing to be in jail."

Pignato was sentenced 2 to 6 years in New York State Prison.

Merritt Rahn hired Pignato despite Pignato's long history of misconduct, including being from the Rochester, NY Police department.

In hiring Nick Joseph, Rahn also ignored his long history of misconduct and corruption.

Nick Joseph worked on the Rochester, NY Police department's Tactical unit, 

In 1997 Nick Joseph broke into my home without a warrant, beat me and falsely arrested me in retaliation for my having videotaped his brother, David Joseph, (now a Sgt. With tne RPD) a few months earlier, mistreating a Jamaican motorist during a traffic stop.

Former Greece Police Chief
Todd Baxter
After the scandal involving the Greece, NY Police departnent, Todd Baxter, a former Rochester Police officer, was picked as Chief.

Baxter recently announced that he was stepping down to take a position with the Veterans Outreach Center.

Some believe there is more to Baxter leaving, believing that he was forced to step down, and replaced with Phelan.

On Sunday I wrote a piece about Greece, NY Police officer Sengova Sandi terrorizing Diane Martinez, a 34-year cold mother of two, and sociology major at St. John Fisher College.

Diane had stepped outside of TC Hooligans bar and grill at The Mall at Greece at Ridge Center, to smoke a cigarette in her car, when officer Sengova Sandi began banging on her car door window, yelling at her to get out.

Greece, NY Police officer
Sengova Sandi
Greece Police officer Sengova Sandi then illegally detained, and arrested Martinez, handcuffing her as he accused her of loitering.

(You can read my original story on that incident below.)

Greece, NY Police officer Sengova Sandi's actions are very disturbing.

It shows a culture which is still very much alive within the Greece, NY Police departnent.

One where officers abuse their power to harass and intimidate innocent people.

Officer Sandi's rogue tactics, taking advantage of, and overpowering a woman, reminds me of Greece Police officer Gary Pignato

TC Hooligans
Greece Ridge Mall
And that's why I crashed Patrick Phelan's big day.

I wanted to remind Patrick Phelan of a few things.

Mainly, that there are still rogue, dirty cops on his force, and that they are being watched.

I wanted to remind him that the rogue, thug-like actions and behavior of those officers in his department will continue to be exposed.

I wanted to remind him that while many Greece, NY residents may have short-term memories and have perhaps forgotten about the corruption in the Greece Police departnent... I have not.

And I wanted to ask Chief Patrick Phelan, his first question as Chief.

And I did.

I asked Chief Phelan if the Greece, NY Police department still had an issue with abusive cops.

As you can see in the video below, Chief Patrick Phelan said "Absolutely not."

He's wrong.

We'll agree to disagree.

Click Play to watch video

Click link below to read my piece on Greece, NY Police officer Sengova Sandi illegally detaining, and handcuffing woman.


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