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TOPIC: 2 JSO Police Officers Arrested
#63830
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2 JSO Police Officers Arrested 4 Years, 4 Months ago  
QUOTE:
2 JSO Police Officers Arrested
Officers Accused Of Falsely Filing Incident Reports About August 2009 Burglary
http://www.news4jax.com/news/22421189/detail.html

Video: Officers Accused Of False Reports
http://www.news4jax.com/video/22424924/index.html

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2010
UPDATED: 5:33 pm EST February 3, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police officers were arrested Tuesday night, accused of falsely filing incident reports about a burglary in August 2009, JSO announced at a news conference Wednesday morning.

According to arrest reports, Sgt. Marc Garza and Officer David Cervone manufactured a reason to enter and search a vacant Northwest Jacksonville apartment known to be a drug house and then filed an elaborate false report about the incident. Garza removed a window air-conditioning unit and went inside the home, according to the reports.

The officers did not have a warrant to search the home, and investigators said they had no reason to enter the home.

Another officer turned the two in to the JSO Integrity Unit, according to the reports. The officer said Garza directed Cervone to submit a general offense report listing burglary as the offense, even though police had no reason to believe a burglary had been committed, according to the reports.

Police said the report the officers filed wrongly stated that the officers were "flagged down by a ... female who stated she observed someone enter through the side window," adding that the air-conditioning unit had been moved to the side.

Garza, a 14-year veteran, has had 21 incidents in his career, including 12 citizen complaints, according to Undersherrif Frank Mackesy. Garza has never been suspended but has been sent to counseling three times.

Cervone, a four-year veteran, has had two incidents in his career, according to Mackesy.

Both officers are on voluntary leave without pay, which Mackesy said is normal during an investigation.

"Sometimes what happens is these guys go out there and they think that they're doing a good deed and they forget that we have rules," Mackesy said. "And by God, that's what makes us who we are, is the rule of the law ... These guys put a blemish on every single officer out there that's trying to do it the right way."

Eighteen officers have been arrested since 2005, including three this year, two in 2009, two in 2008, two in 2007, three in 2006 and six in 2005.

 
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#63832
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Re:2 JSO Police Officers Arrested 4 Years, 4 Months ago  
QUOTE:
JSO Officer Pleads Guilty; 2nd Arrested
2 Originally Charged With Falsifying Burglary Report
http://www.news4jax.com/news/23685150/detail.html

POSTED: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
UPDATED: 4:08 pm EDT May 26, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of two Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officers arrested in February on charges of falsifying a burglary report so they could gain entry into a suspected drug house last August pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Officer David Cervone also agreed to testify against Sgt. Marc Garza. Each officer was also charged with official misconduct.

Also Wednesday, Garza was arrested on unrelated charges of assaulting drug suspect Somario Atkins, who was in handcuffs in another incident in August.

Police said the assault took place after Garza was told Atkins had bitten another officer.

Garza's new charges are aggravated battery and official misconduct. He was released on his own recognizance.

Garza's trial on the original charges is scheduled for next month.

Atkins was convicted on the charges stemming from his arrest, including battery on a law enforcement officer, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Garza's arrest was the fourth arrest of a JSO officer this year.
 
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#63833
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Re:2 JSO Police Officers Arrested 4 Years, 4 Months ago  
QUOTE:
Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Marc Garza Faces Two New Charges
http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/...=156619&catid=3

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The officer already charged with falsifying a police report has been charged today with more crimes.

Sgt. Marc Garza, a 14-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, was arrested in February following an August incident in which witnesses said he removed an air conditioner to break into a home. The incident was written up as a burglary in progress.

Today, the a new arrest report against Garza shows more charges stemming from a separate incident last summer.

On Aug. 18, 2009, Garza was among the officers who responded to a home on Cagle Road on the Southside for a narcotics investigation.

Somario Atkins was arrested and placed in the back of a police car while officers continued investigating.

Witnesses at the scene that day said Garza learned that Atkins bit another officer during the arrest, police said.

The witnesses said Garza then went to Atkins, who was handcuffed in the back of the car, and repeatedly hit him on the head with his portable radio.

Atkins needed treatment at Shands for a 2-inch laceration on his head.

Garza turned himself in Monday to face the charges, but didn't say anything, as he invoked his right to counsel.

He is charged with aggravated battery and falsifying an official document, both felonies.

 
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Re:2 JSO Police Officers Arrested 4 Years, 4 Months ago  
QUOTE:
Fla. Sgt. charged in beating of handcuffed man
Marc Garza, a 13-year veteran, already had been charged with ordering an officer to falsify a burglary report
http://www.policeone.com/news/20730...handcuffed-man/

By Jim Schoettler
Florida Times-Union

The leader of an anti-crime squad of Jacksonville cops has been charged with repeatedly beating a handcuffed man in the head last summer after being told the man bit one of his officers, Undersheriff Frank Mackesy said.

Sgt. Marc Garza, a 13-year veteran, was already free on bail on a charge of ordering an officer to falsify a burglary report when he surrendered Wednesday morning in the beating case. About the same time, Officer David Cervone was coincidentally pleading guilty in court to filing the false burglary report in August at Garza's behest.

Cervone's plea agreement includes his promise to testify against Garza in the false report case, which police said stemmed from a hunt for drugs that turned up empty.

Both men were part of a special anti-crime squad sent to high-crime neighborhoods to curb ongoing violence.

The squad worked under the Operation Safe Streets program, begun by Sheriff John Rutherford in response to the city's homicide rate.

In the beating case, Garza is accused of using a heavy, metal portable police radio to repeatedly hit Somario Atkins in the head after his arrest in August.

Police charged Atkins, 24, with cocaine possession, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest after a tip led them to him in a hotel room on Cagle Road. Atkins was sitting handcuffed in the back of a police car when he was beaten in the head, causing a 2-inch laceration, Garza's arrest report said. In the report, Garza is accused of opening the car's door and attacking Atkins after Garza was told one of his officers was bitten. Mackesy said the bite wound was superficial.

Atkins was taken in a patrol car to Shands Jacksonville hospital, where he received two staples to close the head wound, an arrest report said. Atkins apparently did not report the attack, but two officers came forward with information that led police officials to take Garza off the street and begin an investigation of his squad, Mackesy said.

A jury found Atkins guilty in January of all counts. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence and has no intent to appeal because of Garza's arrest, Public Defender Matt Shirk said in an e-mail.

The investigation into Garza's squad led to details about the beating, the fake burglary report and a third incident last year in which Garza is accused of ordering a door being kicked in without a warrant, Mackesy said.

Garza, 44, is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct in the beating case. He was released on his own recognizance. He remains free on $150,000 bail in the false police report case, which is set for trial June 28.

Mackesy said the Sheriff's Office has no tolerance for rogue police officers.

"Garza doesn't represent what this agency has to offer at all," Mackesy said.

Garza's attorney, Mitch Stone, declined to comment.

Garza, promoted to sergeant in April 2007, has 12 citizen complaints and two in-house complaints in his police record. Those accusations led to two written reprimands and two formal counseling sessions, records show.

In the false report case, Cervone, 32, was accused of writing a fake police report in August at Garza's direction.

Investigators said Garza's squad went to a home on West 26th Street in Northwest Jacksonville as part of a drug investigation. No one answered the door of what turned out to be a vacant home. Garza is accused of moving a window air-conditioning unit so police could crawl in and search for drugs rather than leave.

Garza and at least one other officer went inside without probable cause to enter, police said. They found nothing illegal. Garza then ordered Cervone to write the report as if a burglary was reported and officers found the air conditioner already removed when they got to the scene, records show.

Cervone faces a year probation, fines and community service hours as part of his plea agreement on the misdemeanor charge. The agreement also calls for adjudication of guilt to be withheld, which means Cervone won't have a criminal record if he upholds the conditions of his sentence.

A felony charge of official misconduct was dropped as part of the agreement.

Cervone hung his head in court while waiting to be called before Circuit Judge David Gooding. Cervone said little during the proceeding. His attorney, Donald Mairs, said Cervone regretted his actions.

"You're dealing with a squad that's out there trying to interdict drug sales, gun usage ...," Mairs said. "If you have leadership sending you in a direction, I think there is a danger that you could make a mistake and end up answering for it as Mr. Cervone has."

Prosecutors declined to comment.

Cervone declined to comment after the hearing. He remains free on $100,000 bail. His sentencing was scheduled for next month. The three-year officer remains suspended without pay pending a Sheriff's Office internal investigation that could lead to his dismissal.

Garza faces similar charges in the fake burglary. He remains suspended without pay pending the outcome of his criminal cases.

In the third case, Mackesy said Garza is accused - but not charged - with ordering an officer to kick in a door of a suspected drug house on Shenandoah Avenue last summer without a warrant. No drugs were found. Prosecutors are continuing to investigate that case.

At least one other unnamed police officer possibly involved in illegal activity connected to Garza has been placed on desk duty as the criminal cases continue, Mackesy said.

 
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