The City Council Finance Committee on Monday recommended paying out $525,000 to settle two cases of alleged police misconduct, one involving a cop stripped of his police powers who still works for the department.
If approved by the full council on Wednesday, the city would pay $325,000 to settle a case involving Officer John Haleas, who was considered the department’s top enforcer of drunken driving laws before prosecutors accused him of falsifying police reports.
In the case, Julio Martinez Jr. accused Haleas of beating him and falsely accusing him of driving under the influence after handcuffing him to a bar in March 2006, said Leslie Darling, a top city attorney. Martinez, a hemophiliac, suffered a head injury that required medical treatment that cost $106,000, Darling said.
In 2008, Haleas was stripped of his police powers. Last year, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice, years after a felony case against him fell apart. He served a one-day suspension and now works in the police records department earning nearly $81,000 a year, which Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, called “unacceptable.”
Nine lawsuits were filed against Haleas and the city, with more than 25 people alleging wrongdoing by Haleas, according to Law Department statistics.Aldermen also recommended paying $200,000 to settle a case filed by a man who was run over by a police squad car chasing him after a robbery in May 2009. Officers at first said RL Johnson fell, but that was inconsistent with his injuries, Darling said. A video recording of the incident is missing, she added.
In other action, the committee recommended closing a loophole that allowed some developers and real estate investors to avoid the city real estate transfer tax by purchasing a property note and mortgage from banks prior to foreclosure.
Banks and other lenders are not required to pay the taxes when they take a home at foreclosure to avoid double taxation when the lenders sell the foreclosed property, said Wes Hanscom, a city attorney.
“Some people are trying to use that exemption in a way that avoids the tax being paid at all,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to address here. . . . What we’re trying to do is close that loophole.”
The committee also recommended creating a pilot program to offer $100 rewards for people who report companies that dump construction, landscape and flood-cleanup waste on vacant lots, on city property or even in backyards. The program would be self-funding, through fees assessed on fly dumpers, said Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, who proposed the plan.