Recently there has been yet another interesting turn of events in Sheriff Falco’s Rockland County Jail which has been the subject of several articles in Rockland Voice. The first article was a Letter to Rockland Voice written by several retired and resigned corrections officers. It was followed by a second article asking if Sheriff Falco decided to selectively prosecute several corrections officers, in particular one named Jacque Millien, who supported his opponent, Richard Vasquez, in the November 2015 election.
It can now be reported that Falco was forced to suspend the Corrections Officer who was the subject our previous article and that officer has now abruptly resigned in a pattern that was described in the letter from the group of corrections officers. (See ‘Sheriff Falco – The Tyrant In The Tombs‘) Additionally, ADA Richard Kennison Moran, possibly DA Zugibe’s most trusted underling has been removed from the prosecution of Officer Millien. Millien has been criminally charged with dozens of felonies relating to delayed log-journal entries while monitoring prisoners in the suicide and precautionary suicide cell blocks.
This story is being covered by Rockland Voice and Clarkstown-What They Don’t Want You to Know because other local media outlets, apart from the Rockland County Times, seem unwilling to investigate the descent into chaos that is occurring in the Rockland County Jail under Sheriff Falco’s management.
We will begin our update of the latest developments with John Cocuzza who was one of the corrections officers that prepared the initial article for Rockland Voice. The Rockland County Times reported (italicized text) about his case as follows:
Ed Day was kind to Sheriff Louis Falco when asked about the criminal case Falco has brought against the president of the Rockland Corrections Officers Union, John Cocuzza, for allegedly improper log book practices.“It’s a stretch” County Executive Day told the Rockland County Times. Day noted he was a police commander during his law enforcement career and often oversaw men who kept logs in log books.
Like Millien, Cocuzza was facing dozens of felony charges for checking 15-minute interval log book boxes after the fact, instead of at the exact moment the log book indicates. The log entries were made while – or immediately after – Cocuzza was watching an inmate on suicide watch. In other words, Cocuzza was watching the inmate for long intervals and then later marked the 15-minute interval boxes that had happened earlier in his shift.
According to Cocuzza and other corrections officers who spoke off the record, such log book practices are routine within the Rockland jail, and are not subject to reprimand from supervisors. Among Cocuzza’s supervisors was Falco’s son.
It is somewhat unprecedented that the county executive went on the record so openly on this matter. It demonstrated the severity of skepticism felt by the county executive towards Sheriff Falco’s behavior given Day’s own personal experience with – and knowledge of – how officers complete such log book record keeping.
Falco, for his part, refused to answer many questions when called by the Rockland County Times, stating, “You should have called me before taking a statement from Mr. Cocuzza.” When asked if there is precedent for making log book box-checks a criminal matter, Falco asserted, “I am not going to do this in the media.” He declined to characterize the nature of the log book errors and what made the errors severe enough to rise to felonious crimes.
Prior to his arrest, Falco had offered Cocuzza a chance to settle the case without felony charges if he was willing to go on professional probation. Cocuzza told the Rockland County Times that probation would allow the sheriff to terminate him for any reason whatsoever, and would in effect almost guarantee the end of his career as a corrections officer. Cocuzza and other top Rockland union members have allegedly been on Falco’s “hit list” since they endorsed Falco’s rival Richard Vasquez for sheriff in the 2015 election. Rumors that Falco had actually promised retribution against the union for their perceived disloyalty have been circulating since September 2015.
Many members of the union have complained that Falco is a “tyrant” and a “bully prone to vendettas”.
Cocuzza eventually decided that the personal and financial cost of fighting Sheriff Falco and D.A. Zugibe in court were prohibitive and he resigned. Corrections Officer, Jacque Millien, on the other hand decided that he was prepared to shoulder the personal and financial costs of clearing his name and with the help of past retired and resigned colleagues has taken Falco and Zugibe to task in both his internal hearing and in criminal court.
In a further article in the Rockland County Times we read: Millien has served as a CO for over a decade without disciplinary issues and prior to that worked with troubled youths, helping many young persons turn their lives around. Millien has by all available evidence been a productive member of society and has raised six children of his own. He has received honors for his community service and even been recognized by former County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. Now he faces felony charges.
Is it because of a log book practice or because he voiced an unpopular political opinion? Millien and his allies say the latter is the reason and he is vowing to fight the case until justice is his. Over a dozen retired COs and others from the correctional and law enforcement community signed their name to a letter claiming the charges against Millien are baseless, and that Millien had been doing his job as trained. One-by-one, Sheriff Falco’s regime has pressed criminal charges or other extreme sanctions against former top union brass over issues typically dealt with verbally or in disciplinary forms. Falco has cut deals with most of the men and women, dropping the charges if they resigned from their jobs.
Falco’s strategy worked well to this point but now his bluff has been called. The name of the Corrections Officer who has abruptly resigned is Jeff Krichten and his story was the subject of our article ‘The Tyrant In The Tombs – Part 2 – The Tomb Of Exile’. Mr. Krichten (shown putting his fingers to his face in ‘hang loose’ fashion on the left hand side of this picture) was the officer profiled in Rockland Voice a couple of weeks ago. It was explained in that article and verified through publicly available records that Mr. Krichten was on the same jail surveillance video that Sheriff Falco is using to prosecute Mr. Millien. The fact was that Mr. Krichten, a supporter of Falco and a cohabitant with Falco’s son a sergeant in the Rockland County Jail, was observed making delayed entries in his own log book by all who viewed the video except amazingly by those who brought charges against Officer Millien.
This appears to have created a major problem for both Sheriff Falco and DA Zugibe and there are more problems to come as we shall now explain.
You see it has been Mr. Millien’s – and many other civil servant’s contentions – that marking entries a few minutes after the entered time in the journal is standard fare in all municipalities across the country. That appears to be the point that County Executive Day may well have been indicating too. There is nothing devious about the practice as it is an accepted way to keep the log books symmetrical and easy to follow. Additionally, Mr. Millien’s attorney has submitted to the departmental hearing officer that he could not find one instance in NYS history where a civil servant was ever arrested and prosecuted for this type of conduct.
The bad news for DA Zugibe and Sheriff Falco is that it appears that this case will continue to worsen for the both of them and that Officer Krichten may not be the only officer to become “collateral damage“. Millien’s case appears to be gaining strength as it appears increasingly obvious that he was arrested with motives of political revenge. Mr. Millien was one of many Correction Officers that opposed Sheriff Falco’s last reelection bid against Richard Vasquez. Many of those Corrections Officer’s were allegedly threatened with arrest on the same charges if they didn’t immediately resign. This would appear to our understanding to be a clear and obvious example of extortion in many legal circles. It appears that the conduct emanating out of Sheriff Falco and DA Zugibe’s office is at a bare minimum, deplorable.
What is amazing is that DA Zugibe has gone along with Falco’s apparent acts of retribution. Why is Zugibe demeaning his office by filing felony charges against corrections officers when staff under his command were themselves hoping for Falco’s defeat in the November 2015 election? We note that the Strategic Intelligence Unit headed by Zugibe’s alleged business partner and friend – the now-resigned and retired Stephen Cole-Hatchard – operated out of Zugibe’s office while under the direct supervision of both him and the suspended Clarkstown Police Chief, Michael Sullivan. That unit apparently opposed the re-election of Sheriff Falco as revealed when Cole-Hatchard sent Sullivan a four-page “refresher” strategy which stated: “Lou Falco is the worst thing to happen to public safety and law enforcement in Rockland County in decades.”
The relationship between these two elected officials, DA Zugibe and Sheriff Falco, now smells of political malfeasance and is something that deserves further exploration. For example, to the best of our knowledge we believe that Zugibe has two individuals related to him by marriage who are presently working under the command of Sheriff Falco. This makes one wonder where the line is crossed when possible political malfeasance involved with political retribution becomes political incestuousness?
Beyond such questions it remains eminently clear that Jacque Millien is fighting for his reputation and his family’s financial life and he will not be backing down. There are indications that Millien is currently in possession of video containing many additional officers and supervisors making the same delayed log-journal entries for which he is being criminally prosecuted. This is a common mistake of powerful politicians who are not cautious about abuse of their office. They never consider the fact that if one, just one person, dares to buck extortionist desires and not resign instead taking them and their extortionary tactics to trial, the whole sham can be blown to smithereens.
Mr. Millien’s attorneys have apparently submitted subpoenas for the entire time frame that his work performance was audited before charges were preferred against him. They are currently awaiting jail video for the entire suicide and precautionary suicide housing blocs from the dates of August 21, 2015 through September 1, 2015. It is expected those video records will contain video of up to 35-40 officers and supervisors performing surveillance in the same area of the jail that Mr. Millien worked within.
What Sheriff Falco and DA Zugibe will plan on doing remains to be seen if more evidence is uncovered that many other officers were making the same routine delayed entries that are known by all to be standard operation practice in the county jail. We know that numerous officers are prepared to testify to that fact under oath in any future criminal proceeding.
Do Sheriff Falco and DA Zugibe plan on sending all of Rockland County’s Corrections Officers into forced early retirement or into criminal court to cover their own deplorable behavior?
As stated DA Zugibe’s most trusted Assistant DA, Richard Kennison Moran has just recently been removed from the felony prosecution of Officer Millien. This could portend that he is needed on some other major matters now unfolding in Rockland County with respect to the important matter of political corruption. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that what County Executive Day referred to as “stretch” charges may result in powerful political heads rolling. There are safeguards in place to make sure that a District Attorney and a Sheriff do not overstep the bounds of their offices and abuse their political and prosecutorial powers to extort confessions over minor disciplinary matters using the threat of felony charges. We stand prepared to publish the videos and the names of any and all other corrections officers seen to be behaving in the same manner as Millien and the other corrections officers that have been similarly charged.
Finally, let us take note of what happened over ten years ago with District Attorney Mike Nifong from North Carolina. He was the person that arrested several Duke University Lacrosse players for rape and maintained the charges even as more and more conclusive evidence came pouring in that the allegations were fraudulent. Mr. Nifong heavily politicized the case to try to score political points with certain segments of his constituency. Eventually, Nifong dropped all charges because the families of the players and the media started conducting and reporting on their own findings about the investigation.
There seems to be an eerie parallel to the Nifong case with what is going on in the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s departments. DA Mike Nifong was removed, disbarred and jailed following court findings concerning his conduct in the Duke Lacrosse case. Mr. Nifong was cited for his “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation” and Nifong was personally sued by all of the vindicated Lacrosse players for “engineering a wide-ranging conspiracy to frame the players“.
Moran’s removal from the prosecution of Jacque Millien may prove to be a fortuitous event allowing him to avoid the fate of Nifong. Any junior prosecutor thrown onto the tracks of the lawsuit freight trains that are rapidly gathering speed against Falco should take heed. Numerous lawsuits have been filed, others will be built against Sheriff Falco as further corrections officers lose their jobs and become additional collateral damage in the alleged political vendetta being orchestrated by a ‘Tyrant In The Tombs’ and a ‘Nifong’ District Attorney.