California releases eye-opening salary database for all cities and counties

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The controller’s office in Sacramento has just released a database of the annual pay and benefits of all employees of cities and counties throughout the state of California.

The specific employee names have been removed for purposes of confidentiality, although the job titles of each position is listed. The complete list can be found here.

When compiling the list, the controller counted total 2009 wages as the amount reported to the federal government for Medicare tax purposes. That total includes bonuses, overtime, deferred compensation, and paid-in-cash sick leave and vacation days.

There is also a column called “applicable defined benefit pension formula”, that shows two numbers separated by a “@” symbol. The first figure is a percentage of their final annual pay that they receive when they retire, and the second figure is the age at which they can retire.

For example, most public safety officials show the code, 3@50. This simply means that they can retire at 50 and receive a pension equal to 3 times the number of years of service. If such an employee retired at age 50, with 30 years of service, they would receive retirement pay equal to 90 percent of their final year’s salary.

Some of the figures are eye opening. Burbank shows that one its firefighters earned $165,347, a library director earned $156,193 and an electrician $118,243.

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Miami cop arrested for stealing 10,000 Bluetooth headsets

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A Miami cop, already under investigation for two fatal police shootings over the summer, was arrested on Thursday for receipt and possession of stolen goods.  Ricardo Martinez, 40, faces 10 years in prison if convicted on the charge.

Martinez is a 12-year veteran of the force. A Miami police spokeswoman, Kenia Reyes, said that Martinez was suspended with pay while the investigation is pending.

Officials say that Martinez stole the headsets off a truck that was transporting the merchandise from Chicago to Miami. The company handling the shipment is owned by Martinez’s wife.

Martinez had teamed up with a man who at one time was incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, where Martinez formerly worked. FBI agents approached the man on Wednesday, and he agreed to be a confidential source. While agents met with the man, Martinez called several times discussing possible buyers for the merchandise.

The man told agents he had “an agreement with a MPD officer to steal a shipment of 10,000 Bluetooth headsets” and that they planned to sell them for $10 each. Martinez was planning to make about $40,000 on the deal.

On Thursday, the informant and Martinez drove to a house where they loaded the headsets into a vehicle provided by the FBI.  Agents on the scene arrested him.

The Miami Herald

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Former Atlanta cop sentenced in drug dealer protection case

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A former Atlanta cop was sentenced on Thursday to 12 years in prison on drug and corruption charges.

Lucius T. Solomon III pleaded guilty to charges that he took $2,000 in protection monies three separate times in 2009 and 2010 from drug dealers. Solomon, 32, was on the Atlanta force for nine years.

Solomon was originally charged with attempting to sell 5 kilograms of cocaine and possessing a firearm while involved in the sale of illegal drugs. When arrested, he was under video surveillance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Solomon was attempting to sell the cocaine to an undercover FBI agent when he was caught. Prosecutors claim that Solomon worked the deals when in street clothes, and out of his police cruiser when he was in uniform.

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Former Atlanta transit cop pleads guilty to stealing and pawning highly sensitive police equipment

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An ex-Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority police officer has pleaded guilty to stealing $26,000 worth of equipment, and selling it at pawn shops throughout Clayton County.

The officer, Christopher Heggs, 40, a 12-year veteran of the force, resigned in February 2007 after being suspected of making unauthorized departmental purchases. A later investigation showed that he had stolen highly sensitive pieces of tactical equipment including ammunition, high-capacity weapon magazines, night vision binoculars and laser sights.

Heggs pleaded guilty to eighteen counts and was sentenced to five years, although he will serve only one in prison. He agreed to voluntarily surrender his MARTA pension to pay restitution for the stolen goods.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of New Jersey firefighters and law enforcement officers

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A seven-month investigative report in the Star-Ledger details the illegal activities of Dr. Joseph Coalo, who is said to have been the main supplier of steroids and human growth hormones to hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighters in and around New Jersey.

State records show that at least 248 officers from 53 agencies were provided the drugs, mostly at the expense of taxpayers who footed the cost through government-paid health plans. The types of drugs prescribed by Colao are often associated with increased aggression, confusion and reckless behavior.

Colao was found dead in his apartment in August 2007, abruptly shutting of the drug supply for most of the officers. However, the story doesn’t end there. Read the entire article at NJ.com

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Former Florida cop is dumbest bank robber of the year

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You’d think that someone who used to be a cop could do a better job of robbing a bank. Not so for former Hialeah, Florida police officer Rolando Bolanos, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strong arm robbery.

Last year, Bolanos, 38, walked into a Bank Atlantic branch and slipped the teller a note demanding cash. After the teller handed over $2,389, Bolanos walked out, hopped in the getaway car and took off. Unfortunately, Bolanos didn’t put too much thought into the robbery.

A bank employee ran outside, and jotted down the license plate number of the car, a black Mercedes, which was registered to Bolanos. The bank’s video surveillance camera captured images of Bolanos’ distinctive wardrobe, which police later matched to clothing that he was wearing in home videos.

Police detectives also immediately suspected the former co-worker because of a distinctive mole on his neck that was described by witnesses. The bank that Bolanos robbed happened to be in the same city in which he was formerly employed.

Phone records also put Bolinas in the exact geographic location of the bank at the time of the robbery, although he tried to create an alibi by calling in a phony tip claiming to be in a distant location. Within 20 minutes of the robbery, Bolanos made a deposit at his own bank for $2,200.

After realizing the evidence was too much to overcome with a jury, Bolanos pleaded guilty and received a one-year jail term. It doesn’t sound like much jail time, but perhaps his father put in a good word for him; dad Rolando Bolanos Sr. was Hialeah’s Police Chief for over 20 years.

The Miami Herald

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L.A. police union wants more overtime, not more officers

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In what appears to be a sharp turnaround from a standard union position, the Los Angeles Police Protective League is telling the city to stop hiring new officers, and instead, pay its existing members more overtime.

In an interview and article submitted to the Los Angeles Times, union president Paul M. Weber is asking the city to not replace retiring or resigning police officers. Weber’s reasoning for his suggestion is that officers used to earn as much as an additional 50 percent compensation for overtime work. Ever since the financial crisis hit the city two years ago, officers are now required to take time off as compensation for scheduled overtime.

Matt Szabo, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff said, “It’s hard to imagine how the union is motivated here by the public’s safety.” Since Villaraigosa was elected and began increasing the headcount of police officers, crime has fallen significantly. Despite the city’s extreme financial crisis, the mayor is committed to hiring more officers to maintain the level that it’s been at since he took office.

The union says that the money would be better spent on fewer officers and allowing them to routinely rack up overtime, and hiring civilian workers to do office jobs that police officers are currently handling.

Not mentioned by either party is the issue of overtime and how it affects the retirement pay of those officers about to retire. Since overtime is used in the calculation that fixes the base salary for purposes of retirement pay, critics say that the department routinely funneled overtime assignments to officers in the final year before their retirement, in order to boost their retirement benefits by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Los Angeles Times

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