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CBI Court Rejects Ex-Maharashtra Minister Anil Deshmukh’s Bail Plea

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CBI Court Rejects Ex-Maharashtra Minister Anil Deshmukh's Bail Plea

The ED arrested Mr Deshmukh in November 2021, and he is in judicial custody at present.

Mumbai:

A special CBI court here on Monday rejected former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh’s plea seeking default bail in a corruption case registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The court also rejected the pleas of two other accused in the case – Sanjeev Palande (Mr Deshmukh’s former personal secretary) and Kundan Shinde (Mr Deshmukh’s former personal assistant).

“The applications for default bail are hereby rejected,” special CBI court Judge SH Gwalani said.

Mr Deshmukh, Mr Palande and Mr Shinde sought default bail on the ground that the CBI had not submitted its charge sheet within the 60-day mandated period and that the charge sheet filed by the agency was incomplete.

The pleas also claimed the CBI had not submitted relevant documents along with the charge sheet and that those were submitted after the mandated time period.

As per section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the charge sheet in a case ought to be filed within 60 days from the arrest of the accused. If not done, then the accused can seek default bail.

The CBI had opposed the pleas and argued that it submitted the charge sheet in the mandated time period.

Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged in March 2021 that NCP leader Mr Deshmukh, who was then the state’s home minister, had given a target to police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month from restaurants and bars in the city.

Later, the HC in April last year, while hearing a petition filed by an advocate, directed the CBI to carry out a preliminary inquiry.

The CBI, based on its inquiry, registered an FIR against Mr Deshmukh and his associates on charges of corruption and misuse of official power.

Based on the CBI’s FIR, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also lodged a case of money laundering against the NCP leader.

The ED arrested Mr Deshmukh in November 2021, and he is in judicial custody at present.

Mr Deshmukh was arrested by the CBI in the corruption case lodged by it in April this year. He is currently in judicial custody in that case also.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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Former top cop and Crime Intelligence generals nailed in R54m corruption scandal

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Former national police commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane


Former national police commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane

PHOTO: Herman Verwey/Gallo Images

  • The Investigating Directorate arrested former national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and a host of high-ranking generals in the Crime Intelligence Division.
  • The arrests were effected in a series of raids across the country, over a R54-million corruption probe which has spanned years.
  • The case is central in years of instability within a beleaguered police service.

Former top cop Khomotso Phahlane and high-ranking officers in the Crime Intelligence (CI) division were arrested in a series of raids – the fruit of an Investigating Directorate (ID) probe into a R54-million procurement scandal which has spanned years.  

Sources close to the investigation told News24 that swoops played out in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Gqeberha on Monday night, with the operation stretching into the early hours of the morning.

According to impeccable sources:

  • Former national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane was taken into custody at his home in the plush Sable Hills Estate on Tuesday morning.
  • Acting head of the Crime Intelligence secret fund, Major-General Obed Nemutanzhela, was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport while attempting to board a flight to Cape Town.
  • Colonel Godfrey Mahwayi was arrested in Pretoria.
  • The last to be placed in handcuffs was Major General Agnes Makhele, head of CI in the Free State, who was arrested in Bloemfontein on Tuesday. 

The investigation centres on a procurement scandal from the state capture era, in which the cop spook division manipulated procurement processes for a R54-million splurge on social media monitoring tools and telephone encryption software. 

The R33-million purchase of a social media monitoring tool called RIPJAR began in December 2016, using emergency procurement prescripts, with the tool “urgently” needed to address “Fees Must Fall” university protests.

ALSO READ | ‘Blue lights’ tender fraud: Phahlane wants corruption charges quashed

These prescripts are usually used when there is an urgent need – and in this matter – the urgency is undercut by the fact that the Fees Must Fall movement and the protest action around it began a year and a half earlier.

The not-so-perfect source

To procure the software, Crime Intelligence obtained two quotations, one from a company named I-View owned by businessman Inbanathan Kistiah, and the second from a firm called Perfect Source Solutions. Perfect Source was a human resources and recruitment company. The sole director of perfect source was Gevani Naidoo. Her husband, Avendra, provided the other quote Kistiah needed. 

The procurement was driven by Mahwayi, who in his role had no authority for procurement. He sourced the quotations and, within two days, R33 million landed in Kistiah’s bank account, with no contract or agreement in place.

According to investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), who first pursued the probe after they were alerted by a whistleblower, could find no evidence that the RIPJAR software was ever delivered.

Do you have a tipoff for our investigations unit? Send an e-mail to tips@24.com

Several months later, Crime Intelligence looked to I-View and Kistiah to provide phone encryption software called Deadelus for R21 million. Similarly, Mahwayi obtained two quotes from the same two companies, and I-View secured their second windfall.

Both deals bear the hallmarks of cover quoting, a collusive practice where the prices of counter-quotations are inflated to ensure that the deal goes to a predetermined recipient.

Sources within IPID, who could not be named, alleged that the Deadelus system was purchased in order to shield Phahlane from their investigators, who were hot on his heels over a mammoth blue light tender. Phahlane and other top cops face criminal charges for this scheme and are currently before court.

Criminal intelligence 

Kistiah and Avendra Naidoo were arrested in Durban and Gqeberha respectively. The former was said to have been boarding a plane, the destination of which could not be independently confirmed.  

Kistiah is central in a string of IPID investigations into high-level police corruption which have since been ceded to the ID.

Another dubious deal pushed Kistiah’s way was the purchase of a sophisticated spying device known as a grabber, which can intercept calls and infiltrate cellular phones. I-View was to provide such a device at R45 million, several times more than what it is worth, just days before the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec elective conference.

The deal was abandoned after pressure from IPID sleuths, who insisted that the splurge was in fact a money laundering scheme which would see cash from the Crime Intelligence slush fund used to bribe voting delegates at the conference.

This scandal haunted former top cop Khehla Sitole for the entirety of his tenure and contributed to his axing earlier this year. This over his refusal to declassify evidence needed by IPID to conclude their investigations.

Sitole and two other top generals were found to have intentionally withheld information of a crime, in breach of their duties as police officers.

The six are expected to appear in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.  



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Detective’s lawsuit against Baltimore Police Department claims ‘corruption and misconduct’ at highest levels – Baltimore Sun

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A Baltimore Police detective is suing Commissioner Michael Harrison, Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau, an internal affairs captain and a retired colonel, claiming they conspired against him to prevent a separate, negligent death lawsuit against the department.

Detective Jeffrey Lilly’s lawyers filed the complaint in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Tuesday, and Lilly is seeking backpay and for a jury to award him and his wife an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.

In the complaint, Lilly claims Harrison, Nadeau, Public Integrity Bureau Capt. Lekeshia Blue and former police Col. Robert Smith “orchestrated and executed a continuous campaign of pressure and intimidation” to damage Lilly’s career, going as far as to suspend him without pay and serve him with a criminal warrant. His offense? Trying to recover a litter of French Bulldog puppies that James Blue III, Lekeshia Blue’s husband, had agreed to raise for the Lillys before James Blue was killed in January.

“The plaintiff’s allegations stated herein show that corruption and misconduct in the Baltimore Police Department are perpetuated by its policymakers and leaders,” attorneys Michael Turiello and Patrick Jennings wrote on behalf of Jeffrey and Raquel Lilly.

In its entirety, the lawsuit says the BPD has failed to reform its internal affairs division as required under the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree, with Lilly’s treatment as proof.

The complaint says Smith, using his relationships as a former high-ranking police official, leaned on the current administration to punish Lilly through a bogus internal affairs investigation, and that the administration obliged out of fear the Blue and Smith families would sue the department over James Blue’s death. (Smith is Lekeshia Blue’s step-father.)

James Blue was shot to death Jan. 25 in Northeast Baltimore, and the person arrested in his killing, 18-year-old Sahiou Kargbo, had two warrants out for his arrest before Blue’s death. One warrant was issued Jan. 20 for an armed robbery Jan. 6, and the other was issued Dec. 28, 2021, for a November shooting. A SWAT team arrested Kargbo at his home a day after James Blue’s killing.

A Baltimore Police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. However, the department typically does not comment on pending legal matters. The Smiths could not be reached for comment, either.

At the time of Blue’s death, city and county police officials blamed scheduling, planning and overtime concerns as reasons why officers didn’t serve the warrants sooner.

“The circumstances didn’t meet the criteria to call them in on overtime,” said Detective Chakia Fennoy, a city police spokeswoman, in February. “Baltimore County and SWAT supervisors agreed to execute the warrant on SWAT’s next date of availability.”

The lawsuit alleges that Harrison and Nadeau realized the department was derelict in its duty to serve the warrant and could be held liable in court for James Blue’s death. During his tenure with the Baltimore Police Department, Smith at one point oversaw the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, and would have known whether police served Kargbo’s warrants in a timely manner, or if they waited too long, the lawsuit reads.

The Baltimore Sun obtained a letter Baltimore attorney Billy Murphy sent May 31 to police department lawyers, on behalf of the Smiths and Lekeshia Blue, that said the families planned to sue the department for more than $1 million over James Blue’s death.

Murphy declined to comment about the pending matter between the Smiths, Lekeshia Blue and the Baltimore Police Department.

In the hours and days after James Blue died, the Lillys tried to work with Blue’s relatives, including Smith and his wife Delphine, to get the litter of five puppies back, according the complaint. Originally, the Blue and Smith families agreed to return the puppies, but later decided they wanted to keep them.

Raquel Lilly and Lekeshia Blue are cousins and Robert Smith is Lekeshia Blue’s step-father.

Lilly and his wife Raquel owned and operated Twisted Roots Kennels, a French Bulldog breeding company, and James Blue had a signed contract with the Lillys to raise their current litter in exchange for 60% of the proceeds from their sale, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says the total value of the litter was about $50,000.

On Jan. 30, five days after James Blue’s death and after multiple attempts to retrieve the puppies, the Lillys went to the Baltimore County Police Department to get their help in retrieving the dogs.

An officer met the Lillys outside of the Smith home, where the dogs were, and went inside to speak with Robert Smith, the retired colonel, and after a few minutes came back outside and said the family would not give up the dogs, according to the complaint.

A day later, Jan. 31, Jeffrey Lilly got a phone call from Baltimore Police Lt. Col. John Herzog, telling him Robert Smith had called police brass to get the Lillys to “stop bothering” the family about the dogs, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 2, Raquel Lilly filed a formal complaint with the Public Integrity Bureau, where Lekeshia Blue is stationed, claiming Herzog and Deputy Commissioner Sheree Briscoe were interfering in a private family matter, and that their interference had created a hostile work environment for her husband. No one ever followed up on Raquel Lilly’s complaint, according to the lawsuit, which alleges Lekeshia Blue conspired with Nadeau to make it disappear.

On Feb. 8, Jeffrey Lilly was summoned to a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Nadeau, who oversees Lekeshia Blue’s unit, where Nadeau apparently asked Lilly why he was “bothering the Smith family,” according to the complaint. Nadeau called the ordeal over the dogs “embarrassing” and said getting county police involved was “ruining” the relationship between the two departments.

Nadeau, according to the lawsuit, eventually revealed Robert Smith had called and complained, telling Jeffrey Lilly: The Smiths “are a police family.”

“Look at the timing of it all,” Nadeau said in the Feb. 8 meeting, according to the complaint. “I don’t want you to embarrass the BPD and get yourself in trouble.”

In the complaint, Jeffrey Lilly alleges Nadeau repeatedly said he did not want “anything bad” to happen to Lilly, and pressured him to quit pursuing the dogs. Lilly interpreted that as a threat and he and his wife stopped contacting Lekeshia Blue and the Smiths.

At the same time Lilly was seeking the dogs, the Smiths and Lekeshia Blue were preparing a wrongful death suit against the department, and police brass were concerned about the negative attention surrounding Blue’s death, according to the complaint.

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In March, the Lillys hired lawyers to help retrieve the dogs, sending a demand letter to the Smiths and Blues dated March 10, according to the suit. On March 15, the attorneys received confirmation the letter was delivered, but the litter was not returned. On March 25, Jeffrey Lilly received written notice from department leadership that he was under internal investigation for harassing Robert Smith and for providing “false information” to Baltimore County police about the contract between him and James Blue. Lilly’s attorneys allege in the suit that the Smiths prompted the department to look into him.

The Baltimore Police’s public integrity bureau scheduled an April 26 hearing for Lilly. Minutes before the supposedly confidential hearing began, officers served him with a criminal summons for forgery charges that Delphine Smith had sworn out against him hours earlier in Baltimore County accusing him of creating a fake contract about the puppies, according to the lawsuit. Lekeshia Blue was a lieutenant in the public integrity bureau at that time. She has since been promoted to captain.

Lilly declined to make any statements at the initial hearing and police officials suspended him without pay from his role as an FBI task force officer, according to the complaint. At that time, Lilly was the affiant on a wiretap case, meaning he submitted the warrant to the judge, investigating a string of drug-trafficking crimes and homicides in the city, and his attorneys said the false charges against him could have jeopardized the ongoing wiretap case.

Lilly had another hearing May 4 where he shared text messages between him and James Blue, and the signed contract in order to prove his innocence, according to the complaint. Officials upheld their decision and continued his suspension without pay.

On June 9, Lilly appeared in Baltimore County District Court on the forgery charges, presenting much of the same evidence to prosecutors as he did in his internal affairs hearing. Upon reviewing that evidence, prosecutors dismissed the charges against him, according to online court records.

Five days later, police officials lifted Lilly’s suspension and offered him backpay totaling $12,520 on the condition he disclose all of his financial records and agree to waive any claims of wrongdoing against the department, according to the complaint. Lilly declined the offer.

Lawyers for Lilly said the stress of the alleged pressure campaign against him added up, with Lilly visiting his doctor June 22 where he was informed he had likely suffered a heart attack, according to the complaint.


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Advocate demands accountability involving allegations of corruption in East Cleveland police department

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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio— An advocate for East Cleveland accused city police officials of corruption Friday and urged authorities to pursue civil-rights violations against officers who they say assaulted residents.

Mariah Crenshaw, the founder of the grassroots group Chasing Justice, spoke in front of East Cleveland City Hall minutes after a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted two of the city’s police officers on aggravated robbery charges. Crenshaw and residents demanded accountability from the city’s administration and its police department.

In the past month, seven officers have been indicted on charges, including Scott Gardner, the city’s police chief. On Friday, Willie Warner-Sims, 31, and Alfonzo Cole, 34, were indicted and accused of stealing from multiple individuals while on duty from July 2020 to July 2021. Gardner is accused of theft and tax-related charges.

Crenshaw placed some of the blame for the department’s problems on state officials for failing to make sure officers have documented training records.

“They’ve allowed a culture of unconstitutional policing to occur,” Crenshaw said, referring to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost.

“And what they failed to do is ensure that peace officers take their training, but more importantly, they have failed to audit departments to see who is in these departments that should not be there.”

Crenshaw said that she is pushing for the arrests and prosecutions of other East Cleveland police officers who she says have violated the civil rights of residents. She claims that officers have assaulted people, incidents that have been caught on body cam videos.

In February, a police officer kicked a man in the head who was on his knees. A video surfaced of the incident, and Gardner placed Ian McGinnes on paid leave.

On Friday, Dominique Campbell, 33, spoke to reporters about an incident that happened on Dec. 30. In the video, East Cleveland officers pulled a man over because his license was suspended. Campbell, who was parked across the street recording the incident, was later arrested by officers. He said they assaulted him during the incident.

“They (police officers) punched me in my private part,” Campbell said. “They punched me in my nose and continuously elbowed me in my face. I lost my breath, and I kept telling them that I could not breathe. The officer covered my face, and I kept asking why are you doing this?”

Campbell has been charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest, court records show.

“I could see my own face on the ground,” Campbell said. “I was terrified.”

Crenshaw said: “Young men like Dominique have a right to be free. They have a right not to be unlawfully detained. They have a right not to be brutalized by people who did not go to basic training. And those rights are being infringed upon by these people unlawfully engaging in law enforcement. The state of Ohio has just turned a blind eye to it.”

A reporter went inside City Hall after the press conference, seeking to speak with Mayor Brandon King and police officials. They could not be reached.

Crenshaw and residents said the issues in the city have simmered for months. King and Councilman Ernest Smith face recall elections in November.

Unlike Crenshaw, some residents said they are worried about speaking out.

“Personally, I am afraid of the corruption within the police department,” a woman who declined to be identified said. “That’s why I do not want to disclose my name because I’m in fear that I won’t be able to ride down the street without being harassed by police.”


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