Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will Whirlpool/Upton Corruption be Brought Down?

( - 9/10/09 - GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Bernard Hall, Jr., age 33, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of inhabitants of the City of Benton Harbor, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today. Hall was indicted back in July 2009 in connection with a corruption investigation involving the Benton Harbor Police Department. Hall faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.

At the time of the offenses alleged in the Indictment, Bernard Hall, Jr. was a sworn police officer of the Benton Harbor Police Department ( BHPD ), serving as the ranking police officer and supervisor of the Narcotics Unit. As head of the Narcotics Unit, Hall was responsible for the supervision of other police officers assigned to the unit—including former BHPD police officer Andrew Thomas Collins. Collins is currently serving time in federal prison for his felony drug conviction on January 26, 2009. At the time of his conviction, Collins admitted that he abused his position of trust as a BHPD officer, in that on more than one occasion he failed to report and submit to the BHPD all narcotics he seized in the course of his duties and instead retained possession of narcotics for his own use, gain or purpose. Collins also admitted that he reported false and fictitious controlled purchases to the BHPD for the purpose of improperly securing search warrants and to embezzle funds of the BHPD.

Count one of the Indictment alleges that Hall and Collins were involved in a pervasive pattern of police corruption resulting in the violation of the civil rights of inhabitants of the City of Benton Harbor. The Indictment alleges that Hall and Collins falsified search warrant affidavits, obtained search warrants without probable cause, embezzled funds from the Benton Harbor Police Department, filed false police reports, and unlawfully seized and misappropriated individuals’ money and personal property for their own personal use.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and its law enforcement partners consider allegations of public corruption to be of the highest importance and priority. U.S. Attorney Davis explained that: “ Because the respect and confidence the citizens place in their governmental institutions is dependant upon the honest and faithful services of the governmental employee, my office will aggressively pursue and prosecute governmental employees who violate their solemn oath and duties.” U.S. Attorney Davis further vowed that his office will work diligently with its law enforcement partners to seek out and remedy any wrongful convictions resulting from Hall’s and Collins’ alleged criminal conduct.

The investigation of this matter was conducted by the St. Joseph Office of the FBI with the cooperation of the Michigan State Police, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office and the BHPD. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian K. Delaney. [The only hope for Benton Harbor residents to have the state of seige lifted from their community rests with the two US Attorneys, Davis and Delaney. This last paragraph lists people and institutions who have aided and abetted criminal and unconstitutional court and law enforcement behaviors for decades. Their masters are Rep. Fred Upton and Whirlpool Corporation.]