Accused New London police officer was cited in earlier case

Day file photo Roger Newton, at right, was a member of the city's honor guard when four new New London police officers were sworn in on April 14, 2011.

New London - A city police officer suspended Friday after allegations were raised that he had planted drugs on a suspect was found last month to have participated in improper and unprofessional conduct when he attempted to entice a Baltic woman into a drug deal, according to police department documents.

The Dec. 21 report, conducted by former police Deputy Chief Marshall Segar, included a "notice of an ongoing internal affairs investigation" and said that "further review of this case by the State Police or the State's Attorney is in order."

"The facts and circumstances contained in the report are narrow in the scope and reflect only the basic allegations made by the complainant and none of the peripheral information obtained as part of this inquiry," it reads. "The internal investigation is ongoing and the serious portions and findings will be addressed in the report for II 2011-07."

K-9 Officer Roger Newton was placed on paid administrative leave Friday, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said at a press conference that day, as federal, state and local agencies investigate a city man's allegations that Newton planted drugs at the scene during his arrest on drug-dealing charges in October 2010.

In a different case and just weeks before, a complaint by a woman and the subsequent investigation conducted by Segar resulted in "administrative action" against Newton.

A 52-year-old Baltic woman, who asked to not be identified, had filed the complaint Dec. 6 against Newton, alleging Newton had harassed her via text messages.

An internal investigation found Newton had "engaged in a free-lance operation outside his normal duties or in accordance with his official duties at the time."

Newton was on duty and at training Nov. 14, the internal police memo said, when he sent text messages to the woman.

"He admits to sending the complainant texts on the 14th so as to initiate a drug transaction," Segar's report said of Newton.

The woman said in an interview Monday that she had paid to research the phone number associated with the texts and found it belonged to Newton, who she said is a friend of a neighbor who has repeatedly harassed her.

She said she had frequently seen a New London police cruiser with the license plate "62-NL" parked on her street.

She was first interviewed by Lt. Brian Wright, who took her statement Dec. 6. Wright examined her cell phone, the woman said, and when he returned the phone to her, most of the text messages had been deleted. Segar made note of this claim in his report.

The woman said she also contacted Norwich and state police in Montville about the text messages, of which she exchanged about 10 with Newton.

One text message, sent on Nov. 15, contained just a four-letter expletive.

"He denies purposely sending her the '(expletive)' text on the 15th," the report reads. "He claims that it was accidental and meant for someone else."

Segar's report concludes "… I find that this complaint is SUSTAINED against Officer Newton as my investigation revealed enough proof to substantiate misconduct, violation of policies, rules, errors in performance or judgment."

In May, Newton was honored at the New London Elks annual Law Enforcement Night as one of the city's top officers.

Newton is an executive board member of New London Police Union Local 724, members of which met with Finizio Monday afternoon to discuss concerns with department leadership.

"The union will make sure all his employment protections are provided," Richard Gudis, a union attorney, said after the meeting. "We understand that the situation is being investigated by other police agencies, and we are confident in their abilities to arrive at a correct conclusion."

Newton was required to turn in his gun and police dog, Kilo, once he was suspended Friday as the state investigates claims he planted drugs on suspect Lance Goode during an Oct. 20, 2010 arrest.

Finizio said that state police on Saturday seized a police vehicle and several pieces of evidence as part of the investigation.

"The City of New London is grateful for the support of the Connecticut State Police as we continue an ongoing and expanding probe into possible corruption in the New London Police Department," Finizio said in a release Saturday.

Three court officials who are familiar with Goode's possession of narcotics case said Monday that the alleged planting of drugs was never at issue while Goode's case was pending at the GA10 court on Broad Street. The issue was whether the police had probable cause to pull over Goode in the first place, the sources said. The police said they pulled him over for failing to use a turn signal. Following several pretrial discussions of the case between prosecutor Christa L. Baker and Goode's attorney, public defender Shawn Tiernan, the state decided not to prosecute Goode. The charges were "nolled" in November.

The investigation into the alleged planting of a bag of Oxycontin by Newton began in late December after Goode obtained a copy of the patrol cruiser video from his attorney. Goode took the video to State's Attorney Michael L. Regan and Chief Inspector Phil Fazzino. They in turn took the video to Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane and top state police officials. The Central District Major Crime Squad was assigned to investigate the incident. Regan would not comment on whether the probe goes beyond the Newton incident.

"There is an ongoing investigation, but I can't comment on it," Regan said.

s.goldstein@theday.com

k.florin@theday.com

Find full coverage of the allegations of corruption in the New London Police Department and the harassment claims by Police Chief Margaret Ackley at www.theday.com/nlpd.

New London Police Union President Todd Lynch, front left, union attorney Richard Gudis, front right, union Vice President David McAlroy, back left, and union Past President Darrin O'Mara arrive for a meeting with Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio Monday.
Buy Photo Sean D. Elliot/The Day New London Police Union President Todd Lynch, front left, union attorney Richard Gudis, front right, union Vice President David McAlroy, back left, and union Past President Darrin O'Mara arrive for a meeting with Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio Monday.

New London police corruption investigations

1974. A federal grand jury convenes to investigate reports of wide-ranging corruption within the police department. The probe, begun in November 1974, ends 18 months later with no indictments.

1978. A one-man grand jury investigates the hit-and-run death of 20-year-old Kevin Showalter. Police are accused of failing to gather evidence or losing evidence and witness accounts that conflict with police reports of the incident. Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Dannehy faults the New London Police Department for its “shocking and abysmal failure” to investigate. No charges are filed in the case, which remains unsolved.

1984. FBI investigates a claim of police brutality involving a patrolman accused of striking a man involved in a car accident with Police Chief Donald R. Sloan. The complainant said the officer hit him behind the knees and then hit him two more times with a nightstick — once on the back of the head — while he was down on the ground. FBI finds no evidence that claims were true. Later that year, Sloan takes a medical leave for treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation center. Within two years, three top supervisory officers are fired or take early retirement. Sloan retires in 1987.

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments