On September 8, 2015, the prosecutors in Fred Wyshak’s Public Corruption Unit brought a charge by means of an information against Boston Police Detective Brian Smigielski for actions that took place between late 2009 and April 2011, four years after the last incident. The charge was a conspiracy to defraud the United States as set out in 18 U.S.C. s. 371,
That law reads: “If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
Smigielski is describes as: “a highly decorated detective.” Smiglielski in March 2014 was awarded the Boston police commissioner’s commendation for a 2013 arrest; likewise in 2008 he received the award for catching a suspect after shots were fired; and in 2009 he was awarded the state’s George Hanna Medal of Valor after he was hit in the head while he chased a man with a loaded gun into a backyard. Though stunned, he stopped the suspect from fleeing over a fence and arrested him.
He sounds like the type of courageous police officer who we need working for us. So you figure to charge him with a crime it should be more than some piddling thing. It should be such as to justify him being severely punished and removed from the force.
Unfortunately the charge that he was forced to plead guilty to is something that any good cop could be charged with under similar circumstances. It is trivial because strange enough, the sentence recommendation from the prosecutor is “a sentence of one year of probation”along which as part of the agreement he will have to resign from the police force.
I say forced to plead guilty because if things work as they normally do in the Boston U.S. attorney’s office he was told he would be charged with other more serious crimes and go to prison if he did not cave in.
You have to wonder “what is the point?” A hard working detective losing his job over an offense that does not even justify a little time in prison. Isn’t this nothing more that piling up statistics by the federal prosecutors? You’d have to think it preferable to have a cop like Smigielski walking the beat rather than not.
What then did he do to warrant removal from the job? He was in charge of a group of Boston cops investigating cocaine dealings in the Academy Homes housing project in Roxbury. The FBI got involved with Smigielski’s group using informants and doing electronic surveillance. In late 2009 the FBI decided that it wanted to claim credit for the investigation itself so Smigielski’s group was kicked out of it. Smigielski allegedly got upset.
He is alleged to have conspired with a fellow officer named Steele (who pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent) and two drug dealers, D1 and D2. He allegedly did this when he and Steele in January, 2010 met with D1 and D2 at Daisy Buchanan’s. They told them the FBI was investigating them.
Stop there. If FBI agents talk to you and a friend about X and you and your friend decide to tell X the FBI was asking questions about him is that now a crime of defrauding the United States?
It is further alleged that on September 27, 2010, Steele at D2’s request checked out the identity of a vehicle that was following D2. In December 2010 Steele and D2 arranged for D1 to talk to Smigielski on the telephone (it is not set out what it was about). In March 2011 Steele asked a state cop about D2’s arrest for weapon’s possession (the statie refused to give him information).
In April 2011 D1 was stopped by Boston police. During the stop D1 asked them if they knew Smigielski hurt his shoulder. D1 later met with Smigielski who was on medical leave. Smiglieski told D1 the stop by the Boston police was for the purpose of identifying him in preparation for his imminent arrest.
That’s it. No money exchanged hands. Nothing is alleged to have been compromised. It is unknown if D1 or D2 were informants of Smigielski or Steele. Even if not, isn’t it good police work to talk to the enemy to learn from them things and to throw back some harmless tidbits to them? Isn’t that what the FBI is doing every day with its informants?
It is alleged Smigielski conspired “to defraud . . . [the FBI] by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating [its] lawful functions.”
There is no allegation that anything he did impeded, impaired, or obstructed the FBI investigation. Probably it went along quite well. There is no allegation of any sinister motive or money changing hands. All that is involved is the U.S. Attorney and FBI deciding how a Boston police detective should handle his job in dealing with criminals.
This is just another example of the Boston U.S. attorney exalting form over substance, hurting people who aren’t criminals, and continually forcing people into making pleas since the cost of defending themselves is so great.