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May 30, 2012 10:29 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

More Than 100 Arrests Being Reviewed By D.A. After Two Are Released

May 30, 2012 11:53 AM

The unprecedented move last week by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota’s office to exonerate two men convicted as drug dealers and release them from prison, blaming the lack of “credibility” of an arresting Southampton Town Police officer in the department’s now-defunct Street Crime Unit, has significantly raised the stakes in a rapidly unfolding saga regarding the past operations of the department.

Although Police Chief William Wilson Jr. has called the releases “disheartening,” they appear to lend weight to some of his more recent actions.

In addition to vacating the convictions and dismissing the indictments of Mohammed H. Proctor, 36, of Riverside and Bernard T. Cooks, 31, of Southampton, the D.A.’s office said it is reviewing more than 100 arrests—both closed and pending cases—involving the officer in question, and anticipates the dismissal of more cases. Another court hearing in Suffolk County Criminal Court to examine the status of another arrest is expected to take place this week.

Mr. Proctor had filed a $50 million lawsuit against the town in 2010 challenging the circumstances of his arrest.

The D.A.’s office has not identified the officer in question, but several sources have confirmed that it is Officer Eric Sickles—one of two men named the department’s Officer of the Year in 2011—who reportedly developed a drug dependency while working undercover in the Street Crime Unit, which Chief Wilson disbanded last fall. A 12-year police veteran, he had worked in the unit for nine years.

The D.A’s office has offered no details on how Officer Sickles’s credibility was called into question. However, his direct supervisor in the Street Crime Unit, Lieutenant James Kiernan, then a sergeant, was suspended without pay earlier this month after Chief Wilson filed 32 disciplinary charges against him.

Those charges remain confidential, but Lt. Kiernan is accused of, among other things, giving tacit approval to Officer Sickles to continue to carry a sidearm, drive police cars, interact with the public and make arrests, despite having been aware that Officer Sickles had developed an addiction to prescription drugs. Lt. Kiernan also is accused of trying to cover up Officer Sickles’s dependency. In addition, at times, confiscated drugs in the Street Crime Unit office at police headquarters in Hampton Bays reportedly were left unsecured.

The Southampton Town Board is expected to discuss Lt. Kiernan’s charges at a meeting on June 12, pending a hearing. Officer Sickles has not been charged with wrongdoing and has not been suspended from duty.

The D.A.’s office recently “came into possession of information” affecting the credibility of the arrests, according to a statement released by the office on Friday.

“The decision to release convicted drug dealers back into the community under these circumstances is not undertaken lightly and is made free from political consideration or favor, contrary to recent assertions made by former town and police officials,” D.A. spokesman Robert Clifford wrote in the statement. “Rather, we are duty bound under the law to take this action,”

Days before the D.A.’s office asked for the release of the prisoners, it had, under subpoena, confiscated seven boxes of files from Southampton Town Hall. The files represented “every confidential personnel police investigation from the police department from the years 1990-2009,” according to an internal town memo that accompanied the subpoena.

Mr. Proctor was arrested, police said at the time, for selling cocaine and marijuana out of his home­ and using his underage son as a lookout. After obtaining a search warrant on his Riverleigh Avenue home in Riverside, police said they found more than 11 grams of crack cocaine, approximately 16 grams of marijuana, several Vicodin pills, a scale, packaging material, an electric stun gun and approximately $7,000 in cash. He was convicted and sentenced to two to four years in prison.

In the $50 million lawsuit Mr. Proctor filed in December 2010 from the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside, he claimed that the Street Crime Unit officers illegally searched his rectum for drugs, yanking a baggie of cocaine out of his anus, causing pain and injury, and then pressured him to sign a false statement saying the crack cocaine had been found in his pant leg, according to a copy of the suit. A felony complaint signed by Lt. Kiernan that accompanies the suit states that the cocaine was found in Mr. Proctor’s pant leg, but a police report, also signed by Lt. Kiernan the same day, April 21, states that the cocaine was secreted in Mr. Proctor’s rectum.

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Just because the PO had substance abuse issues does not mean that these people were wrongly convicted. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until they recommit a crime and hope that no violent crimes occur against the citizens. Sounds to me that the DA should set a higher bar here than the cop was addicted. OK, but prove to us that the rest of the evidence is tainted. If so, fine. The officer had problems and his supervisor mishandled the situation and that has to be remedied by the police department. ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 25, 12 6:55 PM
Jury's decisions were based on skewed facts presented by DA.
Case was dismissed; therefore, no retry and this is very bad.

By ron sport (14), southampton on May 26, 12 11:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
Retrying the same case would be an exercise in double jeopardy. The case has already been heard and a sentencing handed down. If you want both of these men in prison again, they will have to commit another unlawful act and obviously get caught.

Now, since the charging PO has/had substance abuse issues it can be easily argued that the charging officer was unfit for duty. If the charging officer is not of the right mind, the facts presented during the trial by said PO may be corrupted, wrong, ...more
By MegaThorpe (2), Fredonia on Jun 6, 12 7:07 AM
Should we feel safer with the results of this preliminary review/comments??
It appears that we are totally focused on not holding reported drug dealers
and we allow people to openly break our rule of law!!!
By East Ender (64), Southampton on May 25, 12 6:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Actually the rule of law has not been broken. In fact the DA pretty much affirms that the rule of law is still around and kicking.

The way our justice system works is that to get tried by the state (the government by another word) you have to have sufficient evidence in order to prove the charges. The reasoning for this is that you don't want government officials (in this case Police Officers) fabricating charges just so that they can detain someone they don't like. This is not a perfect ...more
By MegaThorpe (2), Fredonia on Jun 6, 12 7:16 AM
It depends what they know about this PO. How badly was his credibility affected? If the convictions are based entirely on his testimony and the DA has information that the PO is not believable, for whatever reason, it may be the right decision. We don't know all the facts. This is a pretty extraordinary action, however.
By HB90 (164), southampton on May 25, 12 9:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
I completely agree, extraordinary action.
Correct, I don't have all facts but the defendants will likely have an affirmative defense of ENTRAPMENT.
By ron sport (14), southampton on May 26, 12 11:18 AM
My favorite part is they are not taking this lightly. Two drug dealer slash home invaders released back into the general population of this county is pretty stupid. If I remember right these two guys admitted to their crimes. Whoever is lucky enough to be these guys next victims make sure you sue the D A's office for playing "law and order" IN THE REAL WORLD. Good work
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 25, 12 9:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
The law suits against the town are going to be interesting.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 25, 12 9:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just in time for a big weekend.
By workingmomof4 (21), Southampton on May 26, 12 12:09 AM
You heard this was coming....
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 26, 12 2:30 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 26, 12 7:10 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By azkaban77, Hampton Bays on May 26, 12 8:50 AM
How did the P.O.'s drug use get to point of serious addiction? Don't they piss test these guys?
By fish head (9), Southampton on May 26, 12 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
That's one of the hazards of that particular job -- and the lack of supervision of the officer's performance is probably one of the key elements of this latest issue.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 26, 12 2:59 PM
And union protection
By double-D (96), southampton on May 28, 12 5:22 PM
They test either once a year, OR when an incident happens that waarants it. More testing if they work for Home Depot.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on May 30, 12 3:41 PM
Dont assume frank
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 26, 12 4:26 PM
Hey!, all I know is what I read here, GB.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 27, 12 2:25 AM
Maybe you should broaden your horizons.
By jams (129), hampton bays on May 27, 12 7:48 AM
Defense attorneys will be scouring their files for cases with Kiernan's name on them. Another black eye for the DA's Office.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on May 27, 12 8:15 AM
Why a blackeye for the DA's office? The DA is the one cleaning up this mess.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 27, 12 9:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
Uses his kid for a lookout and now wants child custody restored. Father of the year.How many people wound up with a serious drug addiction because of these guys.Next time these guys get busted they'll claim they were targeted unfairly.And someone will plead their case.This makes me sick
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on May 27, 12 2:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tiana Bob you don not know that for sure. That was an accusation by a "dirty" cop. I remember village cops accusing a kid of riding his bike on Main Street because the kid was actually walking the bike. The cops answer "Well he looked like he was about to get on a ride away". And Do Not blame serious drug addiction on the seller alone. YOU know drugs including alcohol are addictive. YOU know when You need to leave that stuff alone.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 27, 12 3:23 PM
oh great, another uber-liberal jackass who pities the poor drug dealers. I hope the first house they come into when they open the cage is yours
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on May 27, 12 9:17 PM
its the only way idiots learn the truth. like when you liberals are against the death penalty until someone close to you is the murder victim. then its "off with his head!!" stay at home phil, you can be number 2
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on May 29, 12 7:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
I've reread the article and the posts. Seems to me y'all jump to conclusions easily. The Proctors I used to know and attend school with were very nice law abiding folks. and before you say it of course we all know all families have a black sheep in the pack.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 27, 12 3:32 PM
Seriously summertime? They found enough drugs in the guys house to get the whole town high. How is that jumping to conclusions? Make no mistake, the guy is a criminal no matter how you slice it. It just sucks that this officers foolishness is causing criminals to be released.
By bubby (236), southampton on May 27, 12 8:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Without more facts being released, this seems like a premature and bad decision.
By disinterested observer (4), Southampton on May 28, 12 9:06 AM
They did not release all the facts to the public. I doubt they woulld move to vacate without a good deal of investigation and consideration. WE don't know all the facts but I think the DA's office does.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 29, 12 4:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 28, 12 8:40 PM
I wonder if these two people will take this opportunity and get their acts together. I do know people who have done there time, come out with a record and managed to start over and live productive non crimminal lives. They are coming out with a clean slate (for the most part) I hope they realize that.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 29, 12 4:29 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 29, 12 6:26 PM
They are not coming out with clean slates.One has a conviction for a home invasion using a machete.The other with assault over a drug deal gone bad.The best for all is if these guys move far away.They will have money once they sue Southampton Town and we pay for it.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on May 30, 12 11:32 AM
I did say (for the most part)
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 1, 12 1:50 PM
Seems to me that the TAXPAYERS are funding a very corrupt police department that is autonomous and buries things within, protect and serve themselves without reprimand until a squeaky wheel comes along and still the public is left in the dark and put into a precarious position with the release hardened crimminals and still the taxpayers are responsible to foot the bill for the OUTRAGEOUS SALARIES these crimminals we call PUBLIC SERVANTS earn!!!! Disgusting!!!!!!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 30, 12 1:20 PM
The only way that the DA would throw out all those convictions is if their was a possibility that the PO manufactured evidence against the alleged criminals.
By Walt (292), Southampton on May 30, 12 1:33 PM
Give me a break. They pulled a bag of cocaine out of the guy's rectum. Nice guy.
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on May 30, 12 1:42 PM
And they lied about it...on the police report...not good. Might be one of the reasons he got to walk.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 1, 12 1:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
The county should take over the police dept ASAP.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 30, 12 1:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Seems to me that perhaps we should keep the Police Chief and "oust " the town board!
By blbandit (21), Southampton on May 30, 12 2:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
So, exactly how are you related to Wilson?????
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on May 30, 12 6:14 PM
Concerned Citizen,
Are you off to Town Hall this morning to purchase Herman Lamison's house that is up for forclosure sale on the steps of Town Hall with your "9/11 disability retirement" money? Be careful they are looking into your dirty dealings next!
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on May 31, 12 9:19 AM
The town board has this under control-they are meeting on June 12th to discuss this matter. Good job Anne
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 30, 12 5:30 PM
Bill keep up the great work. Keep our streets safe. Change is good to clean house and make things right moving forward.
By MR.? (8), southampton on May 30, 12 7:21 PM
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on May 30, 12 8:08 PM
At first I was opposed to bring in an outsider as chief. I thought promoting from within was the way to go.Now it seems it was time for a change.It is a shame this reflects on the whole dept.
By shep (2), east quogue on May 31, 12 5:43 AM
Sad! It takes a few bad eggs to tarnish the entire departments reputation. Thank you Chief Wilson for cleaning house. Its about time someone did it.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on May 31, 12 8:15 AM
All I have ever heard about Chief Wilson is good. One of the "pulled up by his own boot straps" kind of person. Clean and decent.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jun 1, 12 2:45 PM
Anyone wishing to hear an educated and experienced Dr. speak about drugs and addiction go to YouTube and search Dr. Gabor Mate.
He is the author of the book "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts"
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Jun 3, 12 12:30 PM
and now a 50 Mill lawsuit over a drug dealer who used his son as a lookout and was found with drugs in a place I would never mention. what is this liberal worl coming too?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jun 3, 12 6:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jun 3, 12 6:02 PM