‘That’s Not Me:’ How a Mistaken ID Put an Innocent Couple in Jail

Vickson Korlewala drove from his West Philadelphia home on April 2, 2014, planning to pay off some utility bills. Instead, he and his wife Lorpu found themselves caught in a four-year roller coaster ride inside the justice system. 

After driving just a few blocks, he pulled over when a police cruiser flashed its lights behind him. Korlewala, 62, a Liberian immigrant and the CEO of his own renewable energy business, Ecopower Liberia, was expecting to hear about a traffic violation. 

To his shock, he was told that he was being placed under arrest for the recent robbery of an elderly woman. One of the officers pulled out a cell phone and showed him a grainy surveillance camera picture with the face of another black man—not Korlewala.

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In Drug Case, Supreme Court Holds That Unauthorized Rental Car Drivers Have Rights, Too

The US Supreme Court recently annulled a major search and seizure case around a rental car filled with heroin with a ruling that could impact the legal rights of Americans who may get stopped by police while driving a vehicle rented by another person. That case is U.S. v. Terence Byrd (#16-1371).

On May 14, Supreme Court Justices released their decision in Byrd’s case, announcing when the Fourth Amendment was applied to the evidence in the case that Terence Byrd had “reasonable expectation of privacy while driving a car rented by another party.”
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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

It’s a special Northeast edition of corrupt cops this week, with bad apples being harvested from the Big Apple, Albany, and upstate, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut. Let’s get to it:

In New York City, an NYPD officer was arrested Monday for not turning in all the cash he seized from a drug suspect, returning the suspect’s cell phone, accepting a $250 bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label scotch as a thank-you gift, and offering to fix the man’s pending court case for $20,000. Officer Johnny Diaz, a 23-year veteran, also helped transport a kilo of cocaine from the Bronx to upper Manhattan in exchange for $4,000. He is initially charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, but more charges are pending, officials said.

In Geneseo, New York, a Livingston County correctional officer was arrested last Thursday for allegedly smuggling synthetic cannabinoids into the jail. Raul Santiago, 38, went down after an internal investigation and is now charged with bribery, promoting prison contraband, and official misconduct.

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How could someone confess to a crime they didn’t commit? Watch ‘The Confession Tapes’ and see

Every defense attorney has heard it more than once: “I was coerced!”

Usually the proclamation comes from a client trying their best to explain why they confessed. I’ve found that in the vast majority of my confession cases, it appears there weren’t many, if any, external pressures forcing the client to the breaking point. Sometimes people get caught and decide to fess up. Maybe it’s out of remorse. Maybe it’s out of self-preservation. Maybe it’s a chance to get the weight off one’s chest.

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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

Whoa! It’s prison and jail guards gone wild, plus some New York state cops get themselves in trouble. 

Let’s get to it:

In Wewahitchka, Florida, a state prison guard was arrested last Monday after being caught smuggling drugs in her bra and tampon. Officer Julia Eagerton voluntarily surrendered nine bundles of synthetic cannabinoids weighing 334 grams when confronted by security staff at the prison. She is charged with introducing contraband into a state correctional institution, possession of narcotics and unlawful compensation.

In Pendleton, Indiana, a county jail guard was arrested last Tuesday after being caught with drug contraband on him when he reported to work. Guard Joshua Myers faces a misdemeanor charge of trafficking with an inmate and a felony charge of official misconduct.

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HART: Homeland Security’s Massive New Database Will Include Face Recognition, DNA, and Peoples’ “Non-Obvious Relationships”

So why do we know so little about it?The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

The records DHS plans to include in HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate. Data like face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings. Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships. These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias.

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DOJ Adds 300 Prosecutors, ‘Largest Increase in Decades’

The Department of Justice is adding 300 assistant U.S. attorneys to its rolls around the U.S., referring to the hires as the “largest increase in decades,” The Hill reports. DOJ said the move would “increase resources to combat violent crime, enforce our immigration laws, and help roll back the devastating opioid crisis.” The department said it will add 190 violent crime prosecutors, 86 civil enforcement prosecutors and 35 immigration prosecutors. The department said that many of the civil enforcement assistant U.S. attorneys would help support the Trump administration’s Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force. 

The announcement came as President Trump continues to attack the department for its role in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia’s election meddling. Trump said last month that he regretted his decision to choose Sessions as attorney general. Sessions has been a target of the president’s ire since he recused himself from Mueller’s Russia probe in 2016. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself … I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined.”                      

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1,600 ICE Detainees Going to Federal Prisons

U.S. authorities are transferring 1,600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees into federal prisons, in the first large-scale use of federal prisons to hold detainees amid a Trump administration crackdown on people entering the U.S. illegally, Reuters reports. Five federal prisons will temporarily take in detainees awaiting civil immigration court hearings, including potential asylum seekers, with one prison in Victorville, Ca., preparing to house 1,000 people. President Trump has made his hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and has promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to stem the flow of migrants. He promised to keep immigrants targeted for deportation locked up “pending the outcome of their removal proceedings.” 

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