Two news stories caught my attention this week — one locally, the other from Hawaii.
First, from the Hawaiian Star-Advertiser:
Four Honolulu police officers, charged with falsifying DUI arrest reports so that officers who weren’t present would qualify for possible overtime, have pleaded no contest and have the chance to clear the charges from their criminal records.
Closer to home, the City of Chicago settled two claims based on false arrests by former Officer Richard Fiorito, in the amount of $450,000. I have represented several clients who were accused by Officer Fiorito, and I will have more to say in a future post.
This is from the Chicago Tribune:
Former Chicago police Officer Richard Fiorito was once honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his aggressive DUI arrests, but he was pulled off street duty three years ago amid allegations that he had falsified dozens of the charges.
After numerous lawsuits, the city has formally agreed to pay the last of the drivers who had alleged wrongdoing by Fiorito. In a judgment entered Monday in federal court, James Dean Jr. was awarded $100,000 in a lawsuit accusing Fiorito of false arrest and malicious prosecution. Four months earlier, the city settled with another motorist for $100,000. The city also agreed to pay lawyers for both drivers a combined $250,000 in legal fees.
The resolution came on the eve of a trial at which Dean’s attorneys planned to allege that Fiorito arrested Dean for DUI outside the Town Hall Police District just four minutes after he was freed from the station on unrelated traffic charges. Yet no officers inside the district house believed Dean was drunk when he left, Dean’s attorneys contend.
The award to Dean and the earlier settlement by motorist Steve Lopez mark the end to litigation over Fiorito, according to city Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew, who said the city never admitted wrongdoing on Fiorito’s part. A separate lawsuit filed against Fiorito in 2009 resulted in an additional $25,000 settlement, Drew said.
In a telephone interview Tuesday evening, Fiorito, 63, stood by all his DUI arrests.
“I don’t regret one day of it,” he said of his 13 years on the force. He resigned in December.
He also denied allegations he directed racial and other slurs at some of the drivers he arrested for DUI.
“Anybody that says I did is a liar,” he said.
Drivers started coming forward with similar stories about Fiorito in 2003, according to attorney Jon Erickson, who brought a number of the lawsuits.
“I remember being astounded by the brazenness of his dishonesty,” Erickson said Tuesday.
In court filings, attorneys alleged that Fiorito was motivated to fabricate the arrests by the overtime that he received to attend traffic court.
Read the entire story at the Chicago Tribune here.