New Canaan Police Officer Pickering Put on Leave-State’s Attorney Investigating

On Monday, March 11th, the NCPD honored part of a media FOI request and confirmed the officer on leave is Fred M. Pickering and they are running their own internal investigation on top of the States Criminal Investigation. This was a result of media pressure on the town 1st Selectman to get the cops to follow State FOI Laws about information on public servants put on leave. There are still unanswered questions on who is leading the investigation and why it’s being done by Pickering’ peers instead of an out of town police unit.

Update 3-9-13 11:30am: At least two employees of Tequila Mockingbird have said it was Lt. Fred Pickering who was in involved in the bar fight on February 23rd. Last night I stopped by the police station to see if Pickering was on duty but he wasn’t. The desk officer told me he didn’t know when he’d be back on duty. Pickering’s voicemail doesn’t say he’s on leave but the NCPD Chief also won’t answer emails asking when his senior officer will be returning for work. Attorney Gene Riccio told me he has been hired to represent Pickering and would not comment further on his client’s role in the alleged fight. Pickering has not returned a call for comment.

The 2011 NCPD annual report shows Lt. Pickering is in the top 6 of command for the 45 person force. He stated on the local Patch site once he needs 30 years of service to retire and started the job in May 1987. Pickering and his wife Mary Beth (a soccer coach) live at 129 Gower Rd in New Canaan. The modest 4 bedroom 3.5 bath house, that he bought two years after he started the force, is appraised at near $900,000. Pickering’s published earnings for 2012 is a little over $152k plus he can earn overtime or private service pay at $65 per hour with a four hour minimum. The police have still not told the press if the officer is on paid or unpaid leave although multiple publications including this one have made FOI request to get this information that is a matter of public interest (and paid for with our tax dollars).

The concern here is how did Officer Pickering handle himself while off duty with his friends who allegedly made racial slurs at another patron in Tequila Mockingbird. One witness, Kevin Jones, told me he heard someone called Pickering a ‘Pig’ and then more name calling happen, via Pickering’s crew, and then the altercation happen.

Pickering is the brother of the director of human resources for the town Cheryl Pickering Jones. The family has a history of working in fire, police, nursing services for New Canaan with deep roots tied to town government.

We are still waiting on the town attorney to give a legal opinion on if the NCPD has to honor the press FOI request to release the officer’s name. I first reported yesterday the State’s FOI commission believes they have to release the name of a public servant on leave. If the town attorney, Ira Bloom, denies the information we are seeking under Federal and State FOI laws I will file an appeal / complaint with the State FOI commission and I hope other local publications do the same.

3-9-13 3pm: The New Canaan Advertiser is also reporting Pickering is on leave and quotes sources that say it’s a paid leave. If Pickering is on paid leave, then given that’s funded by taxpayer dollars, the NCPD has to answer our FOI request. The public deserves to know who is running the investigation, who made the decision to put Pickering on paid leave, how long he’s been on it, and I’d like to see a copy of the police union contract that could show if they had to put him on paid leave or if they had an option. We also need confirmation if his weapons and badge have been turned back in while on leave.

3-10-13: Here is some interesting case law history on how Pickering and a few other NCPD handled a controversial DUI arrest in 2004 by a women who was having a reaction to medicine. In 2008 Pickering received the Police Meritorious Duty Award for his work in Domestic Violence cases.

3-12-13: The New Canaan Advertiser is reporting the name of the man accusing Pickering. Joel L. Anderson, of 186 Lakeview Ave, had been arrested by the NCPD in 2011 for allegedly stealing pot (but his arrest record was expunged and their are no convictions against Joel). Anderson’s address at the time of his arrest was in Section 8 Low-Income housing. He and two of his buddies were outed for the alleged pot heist after they reported the guy they might have stole it from had hit their car. It’s kind of a funny story. Sources close to Pickering have told me this is not the first time 24-year-old Anderson has tried to file a complaint against Pickering but I haven’t seen a 2nd complaint. The NAACP has gotten involved at some point in the complaints against Pickering and I have to wonder why Pickering wasn’t investigated by the State’s attorney before if there was a prior complaint?

Original Text
A New Canaan, Conn. police officer was put on leave and is under criminal investigation by the State’s attorney. The NCPD release a statement today that a person complained they were hit by the off-duty officer at a popular local watering hole, Tequila Mockingbird. The complaint said a fight started when a person in the officer’s group started racial slurs. The NCPD is not releasing the name of the officer and said the event happen February 23rd.

Josh Fisher, New Canaan Advertiser Editor in Chief, asked the NCPD Chief Nadriczny if the name would be released via a FOI request. The chief said no until the investigation is complete. The name of the complainant is also not disclosed.

If something sounds fishy here you’re right it is. Why are we just getting word of this on March 8th. If a cop is put on leave that is a matter of public interest, if public coffers are being used to pay him while he is on leave that is a mater of public interest. I spoke with Attorney Valica Harmon at the State’s FOI Commission who said, “There is no basis of fact for the Police to withhold the name of an officer that has been put on leave. That’s a personal decision and separate from the State’s attorney investigation. The public has a right to know if public coffers are being used to pay this person while on leave.”

I emailed and called Chief Nadriczny at 2pm today with a FOI request explaining the above. If he doesn’t respond with a name today the State’s FOI office said I should filed a complaint with the FOI commission.

I have also asked Chief Nadriczny if ANYONE involved in the incident was arrested for breach of peace, disorderly conduct or assault. You know the charges you usually see when there is bar fight by grown men.

At 2:45pm Chief Nadriczny wrote back saying

“Ms. Buhl -This is an ongoing, active criminal investigation and our press release contains the information we will release at this time.”

I also want to know if another town is being called in to run the investigation. Can the NCPD investigating one of their own?

Remember this is the same police unit who was investigated for racial profiling with traffic ticketing writing last year by the CHRO and was also involved in accepting free alarms from New Canaan Alarm company but no one was ever charged with wrong doing or fired.

New Canaan Patch/AOL editor Michael Dinan wrote in comments on his story about the event that the Patch would not allow readers to post comments speculating who the officer is. I find that ironic since AOL/Patch is known to encourage their editors to allow all kinds of speculative comments about people in town to get the page views up.

If you’ve heard who the officer is feel free to comment here and I’ll investigate it. The NCPD is paid with our tax dollars and we have the right to transparent information from them, which we are unfortunately not getting today. Based on the NCPD Chief’s refusal to honor the press FOI request I’ll be filing a complaint.

Here is the NCPD press release from 11:45am on 3-8-13:
NCPD Press Release Dispute Investigation 03-08-13

UPDATE 4:30pm: I spoke with Ira Bloom the town attorney who said he’s looking into if he thinks the NCPD have to release the officers name. The Advertiser also spoke with the town First Selectman who said he asked Bloom to look into it and they’d have an answer on Monday. If they say no I encourage every local publication to file a FOI complaint with the State Commission as they clearly think the NCPD has to comply.

Conflict Exposed: State’s Attorney in Banker Hate Crime Case is also a Muslim

The Stamford State’s Attorney office has some explaining to do as more troubling evidence has come out about how they handled the hate crime case against a former Morgan Stanley banker. Charges were dropped in October against Darien resident William Bryan Jennings who was accused by a New York Muslim cabbie of stabbing him with a pen knife after he tried to kidnap the banker over a cab fare dispute. We’ve now learned ASA Steven G Weiss – the prosecutor on the case – is a converted and practicing Muslim.

David DesRoches over at the Darien Times has a front page story today asking if Weiss choice to use a felony hate crime charge, instead of a misdemeanor assault charge, was motivated by Weiss’s own religion. Connecticut hate crime statistics show less than half a dozen hate crimes have been filed against Muslims in the last five years. The town of Darien had only one prior hate crime filed since the state started to track them.

A records and asset search for Steven G Weiss shows he served as an executive leader for the American Institute for Muslim and Islamic Studies in Fairfield, CT where he also owns a modest 4 bedroom home. (Ironically off Jennings Lane in Fairfield) Weiss who grew up Jewish in Greenwich’s poorer Bryam neighborhood converted to being a Muslim. A few people have told me this had to do with his wife’s background. The Muslim education center where he held office from 05-07 confirmed he practices prayers on his prayer rug.

Weiss, age 61, is a small-sized man who defense lawyers in Fairfield County told me can be volatile emotionally but they still respect his legal work. Work that has now come into question for violations of the Brady law. You see besides a possible religious conflict of interest for Weiss it’s also been confirmed he withheld exculpatory evidence from Jennings defense lawyer for four months. He did this while still trying to get Jennings to accept a plea deal. The Brady law says he needed to share the evidence with enough time before trial. Jennings got it only two weeks before the trial start date so it would be up to Weiss’s superiors to decide if this violated the Brady law.

When you look at the documented reporting DesRoches has done on this bizarre case I don’t see how lower Fairfield County residents aren’t very concerned that Stamford State’s attorney, David Cohen, has problems with judicial ethics on his team.

There is also the issue of shoddy police work by the Darien police explained in Jennings Franks Hearing motion that Darien residents need to pay close attention to. You see Jennings was fired from his million dollar job at Morgan Stanley and now faces the tasked of finding new work while potential employers see, via a simple Google search, headlines describing him as a racist cabbie stabber. All for an alleged crime the Darien police and the State now say never existed because they dropped the charges.

Weiss, a public official paid for by taxpayer, has been hiding under his desk from reporters like DesRoches- refusing to answer questions about how he handled the case and the State’s attorney office has Cohen defending him in quotes to the Darien Times. It’s a clusterfuck they likely want to go away.

While CT law doesn’t allow Jennings to sue a State’s attorney for a bad arrest, incurring high legal fees, and possibly ruining one’s public reputation – all he can really do is file a grievance complaint against him. Which would likely only make a black mark on Weiss’s record but wouldn’t cost him his job or law license.

Jennings stronger action is to sue the wealthy town of Darien for the actions of the local cops. Civil rights attorney Norm Pattis has commented for me in the past that Jennings case is definitely interesting with potential clout. But if Jennings does sue the town, they’d likely settle, then he’s forcing his friends and neighbors to pay for the gross mistake of the local cops. That’s not much of a win.

Another alternative is for Jennings to work with his elected town council to poll Darien taxpayers and get a petition to have the Darien cops who worked on the case fired. The town taxes do pay their salary. If there are other cases where Darien police have filed warrant reports leaving out critical evidence then that’s something the town needs to take a serious look at.

If you are Darien resident or live in a town that has to answer to David Cohen’s Stamford or Norwalk prosecutors this is case you want to pay attention to. A Muslim prosecutor coming up with a Muslim hate crime off a he-said he-said case with circumstantial evidence ,and drops it, just doesn’t sound like justice.

Editor’s Note: The Jennings case hit international headlines from the New York Post to the UK tabloids at the time of Jennings arrest. Even John Dillon at Bloomberg was aggressively covering the story-all blaming the rich white banker off a one sided Darien police report. Now that the case was dropped it’s only the Darien Times who has done the leg work to report out what really happened. It’s a shame Hearst CT Newspapers have ignored the story and never even tried to interview Jennings. That’s likely because they are afraid to ruin their info trading relationship with their local cops and State’s attorney. I am a firm believer if you start a story you’d better try to finish it – luckily DesRoches appears to be that type of reporter. It’s something we need more of in their sister paper the New Canaan Advertiser.

Darien banker Jennings Bad Arrest Leads to Millions of lost Compensation

UPDATE 1-15-13: Darien Times is reporting ASA Weiss with held evidence from Jennings’ defense for months. It appears he did it to try to get Jennings to plea out. The local paper questions the ethics of our Stamford States Attorney office.

Original Text
Today the Wall Street Journal has a story showing how Darien banker William Bryan Jennings got totally screwed over by Morgan Stanley after he was arrested for a hate crime the state of Connecticut later dropped. One of my readers had commented last month in some of the stories I’d written about Jennings that the investment bank he spent two decades with wasn’t going to pay him millions in deferred compensation. I tried to follow-up on that news but it looks like the WSJ beat me to it.

You see most bank executives don’t get their full bonuses when they are awarded each year. The bank usually sets up a 2-3 year deferred stock payout to keep great performers in their job. Jennings was one of those bankers who has now learned bad pr for him equals Morgan Stanley is going to take the opportunity to not fork over millions in pay he previously earned. The Journal says Jennings wasn’t fired until October – a few weeks before all charges were dropped. Morgan Stanley claims they can fire him because his actions hurt the firm even though his job performance isn’t why he’d be fired. Sounds like a totally BS excuses to me. What’s also troubling is the CT assistant States attorney, Weiss, waited until October to drop the charges when he knew in May the cabbie had lied about having the weapon all along — in May Jennings was still employed by Morgan Stanley.

Officials at the firm believe it owes him nothing, citing “clawback” provisions that allow the company to withhold or seize pay from employees who hurt Morgan Stanley, wrote Aaron Lucchetti for the Wall Street Journal

The story was clearly leaked to the WSJ by a public relations person Jennings has hired as he is currently negotiating with Morgan Stanley to get paid. But if negotiations were going well this story wouldn’t have been leaked; so there is strong chance we’ll see Jennings sue the bank over the termination. Of course if he does that he better secure a good settlement figure because no other bank is going to hire him.

As I’ve previously written, CT civil rights lawyers think Jennings has a decent case to sue the town of Darien for the police actions in a wrongful arrest and thus a violation of his civil liberties. And now that we know he also lost a job, that paid millions each year, for a bad arrest what’s holding him back?

UPDATE 12-19-12 5:30pm: Darien Times got Jennings to pick up the phone and he told them ‘Yea my former employer does owe me a lot of money which kind of sucks’ – to see Jennings exact quote go read David DesRoches story

Justice in Fairfield County? Morgan Stanley Banker Hate Crime Case Had Flaws

William Bryan Jennings, a Morgan Stanley Executive, had to wait nearly nine months before Connecticut admitted they didn’t have the evidence to litigate a hate crime case against the Darien, CT native. Felony charges were brought against the banker in February after a New York cabbie told the Darien police he’d been assaulted by Jennings over a dispute about the price of a cab fare from New York City last winter. The Queens-native cabbie was Muslim, the banker rich & white—a scenario that created an easy target for supervisory assistant state’s attorney Steven Weiss and his boss, David Cohen, to show Main Street they’ll prosecute bad behaving Wall Streeters. Except in this case the banker became the victim.

A review of the request for a warrant, Darien police notes the night of the incident, Jennings signed statement, and a motion challenging the process the local cops and states attorney went through to get to an arrest show significant evidence was left out of the judicial process. Most of the information in Jennings own statement to the Darien police, signed on January 28th, was not in the warrant request filed by Darien Detective Chet Perkowski. Attorney Weiss claimed when he dropped the charges against Jennings it was because the cabbie, Mohamed Ammar, had not been honest about having the weapon, a pen knife, this whole time. A fact Weiss actually learned in May but waited till mid-October to disclose in open court.

The 2 ½ inch pen knife was allegedly used by Jennings to stab the cabbie in his right hand when the cabbie abducted Jennings after he wouldn’t pay the fare because he said it was over the usual rate. Darien’s Captain Komm told me they searched cab the night of the stabbing but never found the knife. In Jennings sworn statement he said he didn’t have the knife and thought the cab driver had it. Detective Perkowski actually mentioned this in his police notes but left this detail out in the warrant report which the judge used to sign for Jennings arrest.

Who had the knife was important because there was a he said-he said debate if the cabbie grabbed the knife out of Jennings hand and caused the cuts to his hand or if Jennings actually used the knife to purposely assault the cabbie.
“I told the driver that I had a knife in my possession and that I expected him to pull his car over and allow me to get out of it at this point. He again refused and I showed him the knife so it was clear to him that I had one in my possession. At no point did I attempt to make contact with the driver (with the knife or otherwise). The driver reached towards my hand in an aggressive manner and attempted to grab the knife from me. I released my grip on the knife and, at this point, I believed he had the knife in his hand,” wrote Jennings in his police statement.

Jennings goes on to state the cabbie actually stopped the taxi in the middle of Post Road (that runs through Darien town center) and got out of the driver side door.
“I feared that he now had my knife and that he had the opportunity and intent to harm me physically so I grabbed my belonging and ran as fast as possible up Leroy Avenue,” wrote Jennings.

These statements were never seen in the warrant report or the multiple news stories about the attack but could be found by any public citizen or journalist if they went to the Stamford court house and request the file on the case – like I did.

Officer Perkowski appeared to want to build a case against Jennings with the logic of Jennings not coming to them first to report the crime so he must be hiding something. Perkowski stated in his warrant report that when he sat in the cab he thought it would have been impossible for the cabbie to reach back through the partition and grab the knife from Jennings. If true that would make Jennings statement not credible. But when Jennings attorney, Gene Riccio, inspected the cab he said it would have been possible. He also stated in a motion to dismiss that State’s attorney Weiss also came to this conclusion. In an interview with Darien Captain Komm he told me attorney Weiss had actually never seen the inside of the cab only photos so there are unanswered questions on if Weiss thought officer Perkowski was mistaken. Weiss has refused to answer reporters’ questions about the case and only made comments in court. Komm told me he thought Weiss stood by the police work in the warrant report yet he dropped the charges?

The level of injury was also miss-stated in the warrant report. Medical records of cabbie Ammar show he only had stitches on the middle part of his right index finger and not his palm. Darien Officer Whyte, the first officer on the scene, wrote in his police notes “the night of the incident Ammar said he was stabbed multiple times in his right hand.” Whyte did note he saw the cabbie’s right hand was bleeding and “had small slice wounds that would have been caused by a sharp object”. Whyte stated the EMTs cleaned and bandaged Ammar’s wounds but he refused further medical treatment. Ammar later told the Darien police he went to New York’s Roosevelt hospital to get treated and needed 6 nylon stiches in his right finger. Medical records show Ammar’s doctor wrote there was no visible tendon or bone and he had full sensation and motor function intact. The cabbie left the hospital with a bill, before insurance, of $1169.52.

Ammar’s wounds were reported as a violent stabbing in the press. A media interpretation Jennings attorney had problems with. Attorney Riccio wrote in his motion to dismiss this June, “Does probable cause to arrest exists where the description of the assault and the injury sustained by Mr. Ammar are not supported by the medical records and photographs of the injury?”

The state’s attorney had used statements the cabbie said Jennings made to get the felony charge for ‘intimidation by bias’. The warrant report shows Ammar telling Darien cops Jennings yelled, “Mother fucker I’m going to kill you, you should go back to your own country.” This was allegedly said after Ammar  overcharged him for the fare and then drove off with Jennings locked in the car when he refused to pay $300—the NY taxi rate chart shows the fare should be $204. Ammar also said Jennings made threatening statements about paying $10,000 in taxes to the town so the cops wouldn’t do anything if Ammar called them. Town records show Jennings actually is assessed to pay $29,852 in taxes on his home.

The problem is Officer Whyte’s police notes, taken at the scene, don’t have a word about hate statements being made by Jennings. Yet those alleged facts, witnessed only by Ammar and Jennings, made it front and center in the warrant report filed weeks later. You see Darien police records show somehow Ammar remembered these hate statement when Detective Perkowski did a follow up interview. Jennings consistently maintained he didn’t say anything like that. Court records show Jennings had no prior disturbance of the peace or hate-like charges filed against him in the past. There is nothing in his FINRA broker check record that shows prior criminal actions.

There is a federal law that mandates States track all reported hate crimes even if it’s only a verbal threat. In 2010 Darien had no assault hate crimes reported but its poorer neighbor city, Norwalk, shows eight were reported. In 2011 Darien had one hate crime based on race filed and Norwalk had five. In 2010 for all of Connecticut only one assault hate crime was reported against a Muslim, 37 were reported against Jewish people. The report filed by Commissioner Ruben Bradford says in 2010 there were 72 hate crimes reported against people (they also track property that is vandalized) of which only 8 were with an injury that needed treatment. In 2011 only 9 out of 82 people were assaulted with an injury that needed treatment. The report shows in both years about 20% of the hate crimes happened on a highway/road/street. Jennings faced up to ten years in jail if convicted of the assault because a hate crime was attached to it. With no weapon and a he-said he-said series of statements why did Stamford’s state attorney go so gung-ho with pursuing these charges against a rich banker? It’s a case with a lot of holes in the State’s attorney’s process of justice that is still answered.

When I asked Darien’s Captain Komm if he ever remembered a hate crime charge in the town, that was headed for trial, during his long tenure on the force he said no. He also said the Darien police asked state’s attorney Weiss if they could charge the cabbie with abduction and he said “no only go after Jennings”. Not surprisingly the State’s Attorney office is mum about how many hate crimes they’ve brought that had to be dropped.

Court filings show attorney Weiss knew since the early summer the cabbie’s statements were not adding up. So why did he wait till the weekend before the October trial was set to start to tell the cops he was going to nullify the charges. Darien PD told me Weiss even spent the state’s money issuing subpoenas for the cops and cabbie to testify at trial. Jennings lawyer filed at least three motions to dismiss which piled on the banker’s attorney cost. Weiss was likely trying to bluff Jennings into taking a plea deal after Judge Provodator ruled their Franks Motion would not go forward and Jennings couldn’t put the cops on the stand before trial to question them about their shoddy police work. But Jennings held to his not guilty plea and even requested a bench trial(judge rules without a jury) to speed up a trial date.

Weiss statement to Judge Provodator that he was not going to try the case because the cabbie mislead him about having the knife reads like bull shit. Jennings attorney Riccio is not talking about what he thinks motivated the charges being dropped and only made statements questioning the media’s pre-trial guilty verdict against his client based on one Darien cops warrant report. Most metro reporters are taught by their editors on day one “the cops lie and the perps lie your job is to find the middle”. But the wide variety of international reporters who covered this case wrote their stories copying other reporter’s work which hardly checked out the facts in the warrant report. Darien Times metro reporter David DesRoches was a rare exception and continued to follow the story with details presented by Jennings attorney that questioned the info in the Darien Police warrant report.

After the charges were dropped the Muslim cabbie cried race again and eluded to feelings that this was a white rich man getting off and an injustice occured. Ammar even said he’d ask the DOJ to follow up and charge Jennings but that isn’t likely to happen. He also told the Darien Times he was considering a civil suit against Jennings but a search in New York and Connecticut court records show nothing has been filed. The person who likely has a viable case to sue civilly is actually Jennings. He can’t sue the state’s attorney but can sue the town of Darien for the cops’ violations of his civil liberties via a false arrest.

Seasoned civil rights lawyer Norm Pattis told me, “It’s hard to build a case proving the police built a case that didn’t get to probable cause but this case sure has unusual facts. It’s troubling to see the State’s attorney use politics in the wheels of justice here.”

“It looks like this was a race to court house steps, whoever reports to cops first becomes the victim, and Ammar did that,” said Pattis. “Civil remedies are definitely worth a look here as it turns out the defendant became the victim.”

Bloomberg reported unnamed people who worked at Morgan Stanley saying Jennings no longer worked there. The investment bank, where he was co-head of U.S. bond underwriting, said at the time of his arrest this February he’d been put on indefinite leave. Jennings isn’t answering questions about where he works now. His $3 million home at 39 Knollwood Lane (4 beds, 5 baths, 6,484 sqft) is still listed in his family’s name so it appears they are still living in Darien. His attorney wouldn’t comment on questions if Jennings wants to sue the town.

So what’s left, Jennings avoids a criminal charges and goes on with his life but every time someone Googles his name the hate crime charge will come up. Attorney Weiss gets off without a solid explanation of how Connecticut dragged this man’s name through the mud and failed to build a viable case. The Darien cops go unchecked unless Jennings files a suit against them. I guess that’s how justice works in Connecticut’s gold coast of Fairfield County.

Will Morgan Stanley Banker Accused of Hate Crime now Sue Darien Police for Bad Arrest?

This story has been updated

The Darien Wall Street executive who was arrested for felony assault and larceny this February appears to have beaten the local cops and Stamford Conn. states attorney in their quest to label a white rich Morgan Stanley banker guilty of hate crimes. News broke this morning that William Bryan Jennings will have 2 class D felonies and 1 class C misdemeanor dropped against him on Monday when the case was scheduled to start its court trial.

Jennings made international headline news this March when the arrest warrant written by detective Chet Perkowski of Darien PD detailed statements made by a New York cabbie born in Egypt saying Jennings tried to stab him in the neck and verbalized ‘hate statements’ at the driver after a dispute about the amount of taxi toll from NYC to Darien. The request for warrant report also said the cabbie took off with Jennings in the car (basically kidnapping him) after he refused to pay a near $300 toll. Jennings was booked and had to post $9,500 to get out of jail but the driver, Mohamed Ammar who lives in Queens, was not charged. It sparked an international media debate around bias, hate crimes and bankers behaving badly. But a legal motion filed this summer by Jennings attorney, Gene Riccio of Gulash & Riccio, showed a series of misstatements and material facts left out of the request for warrant report filed by Officer Perkowski and Lt. Ron Bussell.

I read through the media reports by local papers this June and David DesRoches of community newspaper The Darien Times did an excellent reporting job explaining all the alleged inaccuracies and sloppy police work by the Darien Police. The motion DesRoches reported on is called a request for a Franks Hearing. This is where defendants have the chance to put the cops on the stand, without a jury, and hold a hearing questioning how they got to the information listed in the warrant report. A judge can then rule the warrant ineffective. Franks Hearings are hard to get in the Fairfield County, CT court systems because judges don’t like to put another judge’s decision to sign an arrest warrant on the stand.

DesRoches reported:

Additionally, police stated in the arrest warrant that it would have been “virtually impossible” for Anmar to reach back for the knife that Jennings held, which led to Anmar’s hand being cut. Riccio said that the interior of the taxi was examined by himself and the prosecution and it was learned that reaching back would have been possible. Attempts to contact Steven Weiss, prosecuting attorney, to confirm Riccio’s statement, were unsuccessful.

This “assertion of impossibility was one of the three critical reasons” for the arrest, the motion stated, “along with (Jennings) not calling the police on the night of the incident and his refusal to submit to a polygraph examination…”

Anmar told police he thought Jennings was trying to stab him in the neck and defended himself with his right arm while steering with his left hand. Jennings said Anmar tried to take the knife from him, which cut Anmar’s hand. Det. Perkowski, who has been on the Darien Police force for 24 years, stated in the arrest warrant that his investigation “discredits Jennings’ statement that Anmar reached into the back of the cab while he was driving.”

The motion also shows the cabbie never mentioned racial slurs when he was first interviewed by the Darien police and those statements ‘just happen’ to show up after the officers came back a second time to interview Anmar.

Riccio wrote in his Franks Hearing motion, “In light of this repeated conduct by Det. Perkowski throughout the affidavit… the court was presented with an affidavit that was distorted to present Anmar’s assertions in the most favorable, albeit erroneous, light possible and (Jennings’) position in the least favorable, also erroneous, manner possible. These gross and repeated misrepresentations are diametrically at odds with the legal obligation of (police) in the warrant process.”

Darien police Captain Fred Komm told me in an email today the request for the Franks Hearing was actually denied by the court. This mean Riccio didn’t get to put the cops on the stand and question their actions under oath so a court trial was scheduled to take place next. But clearly the State’s assistant attorney took the evidence Riccio presented to heart because right before the trial was to start he wants to drops the charges.

So what happen? If the case had gone to trial Jennings attorney would still have a chance to put the Darien cops on the stand and try to show the court their flaws in the warrant process. This could have been really embarrassing for the Darien police and the judge who signed the warrant. On top of that if the State lost their case the defendant has an even better chance of suing the town for violations of their civil liberties and recovering the cost of attorneys fees and loss of income due to the faulty arrest. Jennings was the co-head of fixed income at Morgan Stanley – a million-plus dollar job. At the time of his arrest on February 29th the bank put him on leave and today Bloomberg sourced unnamed people at the bank who said he didn’t work there any more. I was not able to confirm if Jennings is really out of Morgan Stanley but if he lost his job because overzealous local cops got him arrested for a crime the State is dropping charges on nearly a year later – well that’s real problem in our local justice system.

The cabbie made press statements he’s outraged the case is being dropped but we have yet to hear from Jennings on if he’s planning to sue the town of Darien for violations of his civil liberties based on the Darien Police actions in obtaining an arrest warrant. I have a freedom of information request in asking if Officer Perkowski has had citizen complaints filed against him before and if he’s had other warrant reports challenged in legal filings.

This case looked like an attempt for local cops in a wealthy enclave of Wall Street to be main street’s hero by get a hate crime criminal charge against a big bad rich banker. But was the banker, Jennings, instead the victim here?

UPDATE 12-19-12: One of my commenters was right. It looks like Morgan Stanley totally screwed Jennings on millions of his deferred compensation. This story reads like Jennings public relations person leaked it to the WSJ – a tactic used because Jennings is negotiating with the bank to pay him or he’ll likely sue.

Greenwich Realtors Use Cops to Try and Silence Blogger Christopher Fountain

Christopher Fountain, a popular and outspoken Greenwich real estate blogger, is being strong armed by the Greenwich Association of Realtors for his writings on the distressed state of local McMansion sales. The GAR went so far as to try to use the local police to scare him off but he’s fighting back with plans to file an anti-trust complaint with the DOJ. And now that the scuffle has gotten national media attention the GAR is ducking in the sand.

I wrote about it for housing publication ml-implode.com. Click here to read how I caught a GAR VP lying about the event.

Is Steven Guynn’s New Canaan Mistress a Scammer?

Jeannette the Raw Food Healer?

UPDATE3-26-12: Longevity expert Daniel Vitalis has now backed out of doing Jeannette’s next Eco Tour in Peru. The one scheduled for August that she is desperately trying to sell. His assistant told me today, “Daniel has actually decided to cancel the Peru tour due to the recent unfolding of the story with Steven Guynn. Daniel personally had no idea that this was going on in the background and decided he would rather cancel a project that was being funded in such a way.”

Original Story
Another New Canaan finance bigwig is in the news for a sex scandal that involves extramarital sex and possible physical abuse. Wall Street lawyer Steven Guynn got slapped with misdemeanor assault and threatening charges last week when his long time mistress called 911 after a disagreement at her New Canaan love shack on Main Street.

The New York Post had a field day with the story publishing sexy photos of the European mistress Jeannette Schaefer and Guynn’s $3.2 million family home at 309 Laurel Rd where one of the alleged fights happen. Schaefer, a natural blond from the Netherlands who was also married when she first met Guynn, has played well into the role of victim here even though her claims of abuse tie her to an affair with a very married Mormon man who she admits taking money from. Guynn’s, been slaughtered by the press as the bad guy but a little digging shows his accuser has some questionable behavior of her own.

Steven Guynn 5 bed 5 bath New Canaan Home

In September an anonymous poster published a warning about Schaefer, who goes by Jeanette Kielo Dussel in her work as a raw food healer and tour guide, claiming she doesn’t have the new age training she advertises. When I asked Jeanette about the fraud claims on Friday, she shrugged it off as a vengeful move by her ex husband, William Schaefer, who sued her for alimony payments when she left him for married Guynn. She also didn’t seem too upset about the New York Post outing her name telling me in an interview she thought “Who Cares” after she read their story. This might be because any press is good press for the 41-year-old mistress who needs to sell wealthy travelers on shelling out coin to roam through a Mexican jungle and eat raw food on one of her ‘Eco Tours’ if she plans to support herself. You see in the last few months the mistress has been hitting up anyone with a celeb name to join her nature walks in what appears to be a move to add credibility to the operation – a company incorporated for her by Guynn in September 2009.

During the first week of March Jeannette showed up at a NuSkin event hosted by New Canaan’s New Balance store where 90210 TV star Ian Ziering was promoting the benefits of the company’s anti-aging products. Ian told me she chatted him up for a while trying to impress him with her knowledge of raw foods and tried to sell him to join one of her eco tours. He politely declined. A month before that Jeannette tried to get a well-known alternate healing medical practitioner, Dr. Klinghardt, to allow her to exhibit for free the eco tours at a paid medical training seminar he was hosting in New York City.

Debbie Floyd, Klinghardt’s business assistant for the Klinghardt Academy, told me Schaefer hasn’t completed the full training with their program and doesn’t have a certificate from the Academy. In fact last year she only attended half the training in New York and then according to Floyd had an emotional breakdown claiming a family death to get her money back from the seminar. Floyd told her she couldn’t attend this years training unless she paid for it after Jeannette called to try to sell her on getting Dr. Klinghardt to attach his name to her Eco Tours. But Jeannette doesn’t seem to take no’s well –after Floyd turned her down Jeanette showed up at the February event anyway. According to Floyd the mistress snuck in during a break making a beeline for the famed Doctor to try and charm him into joining the Eco Tour. When Floyd saw her chatting up her boss she says she politely pulled him away from Schaefer.

Floyd noticed something else this weekend while reviewing Jeannette’s RawFlora website. She says the mistress has a proprietary food cocktail of Klinghardt’s posted on the site and re-sells the expensive supplements to make it. The problem is Klinghardt does extensive training with real medical doctors to subscribe the alternate medicine recipe because not all patients need all the supplements – supplements he claims help with problems like Lyme disease. In fact Floyd told me the cocktail Jeannette has posted on the site is actually outdated and not the one Dr. Klinghardt current subscribes.

In our interview on Friday Jeannette told me she had done training with the Klinghardt Academy and advertises she can also administer ATR therapy. Autonomic Response Testing was trademarked and created by Klinghardt and is practiced at his Academy of Neurobiology. Jeannette would not return a follow up request for comment when I asked if she could show me a certificate of training from Klinghardt.

The anonymous site “Jeannette Kielo Dussel is a Fraud” writes:

Do NOT take health-related advice from this charlatan, and especially beware of any products, tinctures, or other “remedies” she offers, She has endangered the health and lives of dozens of victims in her very brief “career” as a health “authority” — she is no such thing; just a greedy grifter and predator!

There are no names of injured parties from her raw food business or comments on the site from others claiming they’ve had a bad experience with Jeanette. She list a few testimonials on the RawFlora site but also took down her bio page detailing her training this weekend.

Guynn’s attorney Christopher Young posted a comment on the site asking for anyone who has been a victim of Jeannette to contact him. It will be interesting to see if the New Canaan Police have once again lobbed on criminal charges, with possible damaging effects to this Big Law attorney’s career at King & Spalding, without doing enough background investigation into the source of the complainant.

When Jeannette was asked if she is trying to hire a civil lawyer to sue her boyfriend for the alleged assault which gave her a black eye she told me she never do that. But people familiar with the drama say Jeannette tried to contact a lawyer in New Haven to file a civil claim against Guynn but the lawyer wouldn’t take her case. Even though she asked for a full no-contact order on Guynn, Jeannette told me she’s been in contact with Guynn’s attorneys. It’s unclear if it’s to try to get some form of monetary payment from her now ex-boyfriend or maybe she’s backing down from her statements to the New Canaan Police about Guynn’s physical attacks. The case has been moved to the domestic violence docket which means Guynn may never have to plea and a deal for anger management classes along with a continued no contact order could be negotiated.

Guynn’s attorneys at Gulash & Riccio had no official comment for this story.

Jeannette told me in an email Friday, “I’m not really angry with Steve. His violence is a conflict within himself.”

Allegations of physically abuse are usually scaring and typically a traumatic life event for women but Jeannette’s breeze comments during our interviews showing little care for being outed as a mistress of a high powered man who beat her –she seems dismissive of the event like it’s a shrug off.

New Canaan Patch Editor Plays Favs for RTC Chairman O’Hora

Patch Editor Paul Devlin working at New Canaan Library

This story has been updated because the AOL Patch editor is upset his own emails caught him in a lie and thinks he needs police protection

Original Text

New Canaan’s rookie Patch editor, Paul Devlin, is already playing favorites with an elected member of the town’s Republican committee and has even agreed to delete comments posted on Patch for him.

Around noon today, New Canaan RTC Chairman James O’Hora sent an email to Devlin asking for comments made publicly by Roy Abramowitz (RTC Treasurer) to be removed on a Patch story about the Wilton teens stealing the NC High School flag because he claimed Abramowitz was trying to seek revenge against him for winning Chairmanship of the RTC.

Abramowitz, a CPA and outspoken member of New Canaan’s Republican Party, was expressing frustration at the Patch for their sensational coverage of a high school prank that led to the arrest of two teens. His comment was trying to direct the editor’s attention to another drama brewing inside the RTC over O’Hora and a member of the town council who according to Abramowitz publicly disparaged his junior high school daughter to gain an edge during the local RTC elections.

Around noon today O’Hora wrote to Patch’s Devlin:

“Roy is referring to myself and Penny Young in his comment and it has no relevance to the article and it’s actually untrue and just a rant!

FYI…Roy was a member of the New Canaan Republican Town Committee and he ran for re-election in January at our caucus; and he was unsuccessful. He lost!

So he is trying to blame others for his defeat and exact revenge by making these type of comments. I believe numerous people have flagged the comment as inappropriate yet it still remains.”

Within 20 minutes Devlin responded:

“James,
Thank you for your note. It’s been removed.
Paul”

Meanwhile, Roy noticed the comment was taken down and tried to post another one which read:

“I would appreciate knowing why my post concerning the bullying of a 12 year student by a NC political party officer and senior female Town Council member who are hypocrites concerning civility was deleted. It is the truth and more important than a sportsman prank concerning a banner. I guess the political machine does not care. Appalling.”

Now here’s where it gets weird. Devlin proactively emails Roy after deleting his second comment saying:

“We don’t like to post comments with accusations that are unsubstantiated and cast a wide net over a certain group.
If you’d like to elaborate further and want us to look into your claim,
please let us know. “

The two ended up having a phone call and according to Roy he asked Devlin if O’Hora asked him to take the comment down and Devlin said “NO it was an edit choice by the Patch”. When I reached Devlin by phone this evening he also commented on the record that O’Hora hadn’t requested the comment removed. I then let him know I’d been forwarded emails of his exchange with O’Hora so how could he deny this? Devlin got flustered and then said on the record Patch doesn’t comment on its editorial decisions. Oh Boy – talk about being caught in a lie for what down the road could look like a pay-for-play between a local editor and a leader of the New Canaan Republican party. I can’t even speculate on Devlin’s motive since he hung up while I was asking him why he’d do this.

Now this is not the first time O’Hora took aim at Abramowitz. I confirmed last Spring when Roy appeared in a News Channel 12 editorial pertaining to Governor Malloy’s then state tax proposals, O’Hora contacted the station’s edit staff and ranted about Abramowitz’s appearance. Apparently he was little bothered by the fact that Roy was speaking as a member of the New Canaan RTC (At the time of the TV interview Roy held an elected RTC position so O’Hora’s complaint didn’t really add up).

I was able to reach O’Hora this evening who admitted he asked Devlin to take the comment down. O’Hora’s only on record comment about the event was, “I am chairman of the committee and Roy is not longer an elected official. My dealings with Roy are over.” (Roy holds his RTC position of Treasurer until March 12th so O’Hora actually still works with him as Roy is the only RTC member who can sign on the group bank account.)

O’Hora when questioned didn’t hide from the fact he made the comment removal request so why did the editor, Paul Devlin, feel the need to lie to his reader and another journalist? Roy didn’t actually name O’Hora or 20-yr town council vet Penny Young in his Patch comments but did attempt to indirectly describe them. The comment also wasn’t talking about a ‘group’ which Devlin uses as an excuse for removal – Roy was specifically talking about the actions of two people in public office. I find it hard to believe the Patch editor took the time to independently figure out if Roy’s comments were also unsubstantiated. How could he – he didn’t even call or email Roy until after he removed his comment the second time? Roy used his full name to express his views which thank goodness in this country the First Amendment allows.

Patch editors publicly state they want an open dialog from their readers (and by the way it really helps their page views when locals get all vocal on their site and spit out a running comment debate. You see Fortune pointed out this week- they are in desperate need of page views to garner ad rev which is in the tank). So when we see an AOL publication like Patch playing favs to remove a comment talking about a real political down and dirty drama going on it just smells like bad journalism. If you want to understand more about the shady editorial ethics at Patch, my fellow journalist over at Business Insider have done a bang up job on reporting out their editorial issue from plagiarism to holding news reports to appease advertisers for over a year.

The personal fight between O’Hora and Abramowitz that involved Roy’s daughter getting questioned by school officials during the time they were running for RTC elections is actually quite an interesting political drama that I think our local papers should try to interview out and report on. O’Hora told me he wasn’t going to comment on it but Roy said he’s open to an interview should any New Canaan reporter want to run with it.

As far as Devlin goes – Journalism 101 – don’t lie to your readers about simple things like comment removal because it makes them question what else you’re not telling them. And lying to a professional journalist like myself, with a seasoned track record of investigative reporting for most major publications, is just downright stupid.

Patch Editor Paul Devlin working at New Canaan Library 2-19-2012

UPDATE 2-20-12: I have been notified by NCPD, Officer Micena, that Patch editor Paul Devlin has filed a claim of harassment for the content of this story and is using the NCPD to tell me that I can not call him. Really Paul? So apparently the Patch editor doesn’t want to be contacted for further comment on any stories I might write about Patch or their editorial decisions.
The email quoted in this story between Devlin/O’Hora was forwarded to me by a source who said they saw Devlin’s Gmail account because he left it open at the New Canaan Library where he at times works from on a public computer. A fact Devlin and O’Hora were both made aware of when I called them for comment. Paul and I as journalists are both considered public figures and I find it odd that he is trying to use the NCPD to stop me from following journalistic standards to call him for comment on a story. I have not been charged for any wrong doing in expressing my first amendment rights in this story so it’s unclear if this is the NCPD bullying a journalist or a local editor afraid of what other facts I might’ve uncovered.

2-22-12: Top media blogger, Jim Romenesko, wrote about the Patch editor’s NCPD complaint today. Devlin’s gone radio silent and wouldn’t comment for Romenesko. As of 9 p.m. Patch has now listed their regional floating editor, Chandra Johnson Greene, as New Canaan’s editor. It’s unclear if Devlin was fired as editor or just removed from his title as a public relations tactic by AOL and still allowed to report for another Patch town.

Editors Note: For readers from New Canaan who are new to my byline I suggest you check out my about page. I am an internationally known freelance investigative financial journalist who lives in New Canaan. At times when I see a local story that needs reporting and is being ignored by our local papers I will report on the issues here.