Monthly Archives: May 2016

Ghost Evidence

Pittsfield police are consummate magicians, using slight of hand to deceive grand juries.  Their favorite parlor trick:  Ghost Evidence.  Props that ostensibly exist while defendants face indictment but mysteriously vanish prior to trial.

Case in point: While testifying before one particular grand jury, Pittsfield police investigator Mark Trapani described the scene of a sexual assault.  The incident involved a young woman who was attacked in her car, a white Oldsmobile Alero, parked near the front entrance of a local Subway sandwich shop.  Trapani told grand jury members that he’d snapped numerous digital photographs of the victim’s car, especially of the passenger side window, to capture latent fingerprint images left by the assailant.

Trapani testified that the photo compilation corroborated his latent fingerprint discovery.  He vehemently promoted the photographic evidence, expounding upon its role in establishing the defendant’s culpability.  Bear in mind, he never actually brandished the photographs for jury members to see, he just touted their existence.  For reasons that defy logic, jury members failed to recognize the impropriety of not exhibiting the photos.  Nor did they insist on seeing the photos prior to indicting.

During trial, when asked to present the photographs, Trapani shrugged his shoulders and confessed that he hadn’t brought them.  Hadn’t brought them?  How could Trapani have possibly made such a flagrant oversight?  He was the lead witness in a high-profile superior court criminal proceeding.

Investigator Mark Trapani and prosecutor Joan McMenemy had collaborated for sixteen months prior to trial, yet we’re to believe that not once during their countless brainstorming sessions did they discuss the presentation of crime scene photographs?  Anyone who watches courtroom docudramas on television knows that in real life the opposite happens; jury members are inundated with crime scene photographic evidence.

For reasons never disclosed, McMenemy excluded the photos – if we’re to believe there were ever any photos – because Trapani’s latent fingerprint discovery was bogus.  There was no latent fingerprint evidence found at the crime scene and so no corroborating photographs existed.  In her typical conniving style, McMenemy withheld this fact from jury members.

Due to the agenda of criminal defense attorney Leonard H. Cohen, appropriate action was suspiciously circumvented.  In addition to nonchalantly glossing over Trapani’s highly unorthodox exclusion of crime scene photographs, Cohen never requested a recess in order for Trapani to retrieve his alleged photographic evidence.  The Pittsfield police station sits one block from the courthouse, the trip would have required ten minutes.

The Commonwealth’s case focused exclusively on a latent fingerprint supposedly discovered on the passenger side window of the victim’s Oldsmobile Alero, yet to this day no one outside the Pittsfield Police Department has been allowed to see corroborating photos.  Even more aggregiously, no one has ever seen photographs of the passenger side window to substantiate the existence of a latent fingerprint in situ.

Ghost evidence…vanished into thin air

As it so happens, I was the defendant in this case.  As a result of courtroom improprieties I served eight years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit.  The courtroom antics displayed by Joan M. McMenemy throughout her career have paid off.  In exchange for debilitating the legal system and facilitating police corruption, McMenemy now serves as a judge in the Juvenile Court.  I’m sure she’ll do the legal system proud!

Of all the criminal defense attorneys in Berkshire County guess who publicly voiced support for McMenemy’s appointment, going so far as to call her: “Eminently well-qualified to sit as a judge”  

Why Leonard H. Cohen of course.  Hmmm, just sayin…

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_15725455

Transcript excerpt, regarding no photos

 

 

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Alibi? Why Bother?

As an unsuspecting woman entered the local Subway restaurant, I was eight miles away.  As she paid for her sandwich order and exited the building, I was eight miles away.  As she walked beneath the night sky and climbed into her Oldsmobile Alero, I was eight miles away.  As a predator jumped into the passenger seat and assaulted her, I was eight miles away.  Eight miles.  The distance separating my Richmond Massachusetts home from the scene of a violent sexual attack.

Four months later I was taken into custody by Pittsfield Massachusetts detectives and charged with the crime.  Ensconced in a police cruiser, secured in handcuffs, I was scared and confused.  How could this happen to a model citizen who hadn’t broken any laws?  Surely detectives would sort out their mistake, issue me a formal apology, and then vanish from my life.

During booking, as felony charges were elucidated, something dawned on me.  Although 131 days had transpired since the October 21st assault, I had vivid recollection of everything I’d done on that particular date. October 21st had started out much differently than most days, primarily due to an offbeat workplace incident. I remembered coming home from work on October 21st, preparing a quick meal, and spending a tedious evening repairing glitches within a software project.  In addition, I’d spent time online researching study materials.

Completely naive to Pittsfield police depravity, I told detectives my activities and whereabouts for the night in question.  In addition, I blurted out that hard drive registry data on my home computer would establish that I was two towns away during the date and time of the assault.  As if that wasn’t too much information, I unwisely revealed my intentions of hiring a computer forensics investigator to extract this data.

As a result of my big mouth, detectives promptly tracked down the computer and seized it illegally without a warrant.  The Hewlett-Packard was transported to the Pittsfield police station and smuggled into the forensics department.  To conceal their malfeasance, detectives never catalogued the computer as evidence.  Once it was safely in the hands of technicians, the unit underwent malicious tampering. Meaningless files were surreptitiously introduced to the hard drive which reshuffled the hard drive registry.  With the registry chronology now scrambled, my computer was rendered useless as an alibi.

When my attorney attempted to retrieve the computer she was told that it had gone missing.  This of course was a lie.  Detectives had panicked and were now hiding the unit in the hopes of covering up their vandalism.  The ruse didn’t fool me and it certainly didn’t fool my attorney, and so a legal battle ensued.  Detectives were eventually forced to abandon their charade and relinquish possession.

The ravished computer was transported out of Massachusetts and turned over to New England Computer Forensics, LLC., where it underwent a thorough examination.  James Kalkowski, a forensic data recovery specialist, discovered that exactly 557 files were inexplicably added to my hard drive while in police custody.  An excerpt from his report reads: “…The first thing I noticed was that, based on the information I was given regarding the computer’s seizure, a proper forensic analysis was not done.  A proper computer forensic investigation means that the data on the hard drive should never be altered after a computer is seized…”

Had my computer contained incriminating evidence, Pittsfield police would have initiated great pains to preserve its integrity.  No mystery files would have been introduced and the registry data would never have been scrambled.  But after learning that the computer held exculpatory evidence (my alibi) they thought nothing of illegally tampering with my hard drive and hiding their secret.  If I was so guilty then why the need to steal my computer and vandalize it?  More importantly, in how many other cases have such acts been perpetrated?

Alibi?  Why bother?

 
Letter From Attorney Concerning Missing Computer

Forensic Analysis Of Computer

 

Hide-And-Seek

For an agency that pledges to run an open, accountable and transparent operation, the Pittsfield Police Department exercises great pains to keep the waters murky.  Case in point:  Their well-deserved reputation for denying citizens access to public records is the worst in Massachusetts. Why expend so much effort to bury information if there is nothing to hide?  I experienced this malfeasance firsthand when numerous written requests for public records were dodged by the administrative services commander.

With nowhere else to turn I solicited help from Boston.  I was put in contact with Alan N. Cote; first deputy Secretary of State and supervisor of records under Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin.  In addition to holding a Juris Doctorate degree from the Massachusetts School of Law, Mr. Cote was a graduate of the State Police academy.  He spent eight years working as a Chelmsford police officer and had zero tolerance for police corruption.  Alan Cote was a zealous advocate for the principle of open government records.

After communicating with Mr Cote, he concluded that the Pittsfield Police Department willfully and intentionally violated the Commonwealth’s open record laws.  Acting on my behalf, he placed several phone calls to the department, demanding the release of documents to which I was legally entitled.  Several weeks and numerous conversations later it became obvious that the administrative services department had no intention of complying.  Police officials rationalized that any risk of drawing fire from the secretary of state’s office outweighed the perils of divulging departmental transgressions via the release of public records.

Many of the requested documents were eventually procured, but not without tenacious pursuit by the Secretary of State’s office.  Ironically, had this information been released in a timely fashion, I never would have discovered the deceptive and misleading tactics employed by Pittsfield police personnel during criminal investigations.  Alan Cote had apparently rattled someone within the department’s inner sanctum.  This person got scared, lost focus, and released ancillary records – material that I never knew existed – which exposed departmental improprieties.

By seeking refuge in secrecy, the Pittsfield Police Department’s administrative services division has lost credibility with the people it serves.  When requests for public records are evaded, taxpayers become suspicious.  This is a poor substitute for running an open, accountable, and transparent operation