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By Edmund H. Mahony
Hartford Courant

NEW HAVEN - A New Haven man is suing the city for $10 million, claiming political pressure to crack down on drug dealing led to his arrest and incarceration two years ago by corrupt detectives who planted drugs in an apartment he was visiting.
Norval Falconer charges in the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Haven that pressure by the mayor and chief of police to clean up drug-plagued city neighborhoods created a culture of lawlessness among narcotics detectives that led to the falsification of evidence and widespread civil rights abuses.
Despite its claim of systemic law-breaking, Falconer's suit is so far the only one to emerge from the arrests a year-and-a-half ago on corruption and civil rights charges of former Lt. William White, head of the city police department's narcotics enforcement unit, and Dets. Justin Kasperzyk and Jose Silva.
The three police officers were arrested in March 2007 following an undercover investigation by the FBI and state police. During the investigation, a state police detective joined the city's police narcotics unit to document the planting of evidence and theft by the three officers of money they thought had been discovered in the residences - and in one case an automobile - of suspected drug dealers.
White and Kasperzyk are in prison. Silva has completed his sentence.
Falconer's lawyer, Diane Polan, names the three detectives, as well as the city and former New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, in the lawsuit, claiming that lax or nonexistent supervision by the chief and city officials led to a police culture of "widespread corruption and pattern of violating individuals' constitutional rights."
"The failure of Ortiz and City of New Haven to properly supervise White, Kasperzyk and Silva created a pattern and or custom of tacit approval to the custom of unlawful practices and policies that ultimately resulted in the violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights," Polan wrote in the lawsuit.
Ortiz, who resigned as chief in January and became a senior security official at Yale University, did not return a call. A city spokesman said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. condemns the corrupt behavior, but said that the FBI and a private consultant have concluded that it was limited to the three officers.
"Obviously, we deplore the actions of White, Kasperzyk and Silva, which we think were clearly illegal and corrupt," Robert Smuts, New Haven's chief administrative officer, said Monday.
"But we think that the FBI investigation as well as the internal review that we commissioned show that the corruption stopped there. The mayor expects the police department to put a stop to illegal narcotics activity but he does not think - and did not think - that translates to systemic law-breaking and corruption."
New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington said his office dropped the charges against Falconer after the arrests of the three officers. He said his office has found no additional cases tainted by police misconduct.
"When asked, we've reviewed cases," Dearington said. "When a defendant makes a claim, we will look at the file. So far we haven't found any where a red flag has gone up."
According to information provided by the FBI, the state police and Polan, Falconer was visiting an apartment on Truman Street in New Haven on Nov. 9, 2006, when members of the city's now-disbanded narcotics unit broke down the door and announced they had a warrant to search for drugs. Falconer was detained as he was leaving a rear bedroom.
During the confusion, according to court records, Kasperzyk transferred drugs he found in the building basement to the bedroom. Falconer was arrested based on a fraudulent report written by Silva.
White, who was later arrested for stealing money planted in the room by the undercover state police detective, supervised the raid.
Polan said in the suit that Falconer was charged with eight drug-related crimes and jailed when he was unable to make bail. Falconer pleaded guilty to reduced charges in December after being advised by a court appointed lawyer that it was the only way he could get out of jail for Christmas, Polan said.

Wire Service
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