Click Here for list of other stories
Click Here for post with YouTube Videos. I, Steven G. Erickson, speak in front of the Connecticut Judiciary Reform Committee in one of the videos.
(note www.freespeech.com no longer has older posts and might have been shut down, links are no longer good)
For more about Steve Erickson's story, go to Free Speech
Whistleblower goes to Prison
August 25, 2003
An open letter to Stafford Springs, Connecticut asking why young and old criminals are rewarded and honest property/business owners are punished.
I was a successful bidder at a CT HUD auction in '94, buying a single family house on Brown Ave Ext, previously known as 'Cat Alley' in older town records and not because there were 'cats' in an alley. Moving into what was one of America's first Spa/Resorts (only in heyday which lasted until early 1900's) and did not know what I was getting into and how my life would be adversely impacted.
I had only owned the house for a matter of a week or so, when I discovered my mail opened with a child's writing with threats to leave town and a separate incident on coming home to a pry bar stuck in the door. I called Troop C State Police in Stafford Springs, the responding officer told me it was too bad I bought property in a crime/drug area, that there was nothing he was willing to do or investigate, and if it was youths, the police did not have time to deal with youth crime.
I joined the Crime Watch. The woman who started the Crime Watch could not even walk outside with her baby, battling teens that would swear at her. These teens would openly drink, sell drugs, smoke cigarettes. The ones I became aware of would openly vandalize houses, break into houses, sell stolen items, sell drugs from drive thru style/open air drug markets in Stafford.
Hold ups, break-ins, muggings went somewhat investigated, although most downtown residents knew the names of perpetrators, but most of them knew they were wasting their time reporting these individuals to police and would cause the teens and criminals to retaliate against the 'cop caller' and police would also become hostile to the caller. A couple that was part of the start of the Crime Watch got sick of the 24 drug market and teens wilding, could not get police to remedy the situation, just let the bank foreclose on their house to escape Stafford Springs, Connecticut, and the rampant teen, drug, and crime problem.
My wife fell down the stairs at our home as she had not drank enough fluids and was sick. I called for an ambulance. I was known to police from being vocal at crime watch meetings and they had become hostile to me. When an ambulance arrived with police, I tried to walk over to my wife to try to cover her up as she was exposed when she was on a stretcher and a Stafford police officer slammed me into my house and told me that they were going to arrest me as they thought I may have pushed my wife down the stairs. Rasa was a former Lingerie model I had met while in Europe and told police that I was not near her, so the officer could not concoct anything then.
In '95, we finally took our honeymoon in Hawaii, and took a month vacation to her native Lithuania, and then to Poland, Latvia, and Estonia for a month. After coming home I continued my rounds downtown as part of the crime watch. A 14 year old, Amanda F, propositioned me for sex for money which I reported. I stumbled on Peter P. and a powdered cocaine drug deal. Peter P. called me an undercover cop and told me to leave the area. I did not and Peter (6'3 or so, possibly 280 lbs, I was 175lbs, 5'9) picked me up by the neck, pummeled me, and tried to bite my ear off (blood trickled all the way down to my underwear). Peter took off from the scene after I dialed 911 as his friend told 'Pete' that he was holding drugs and the police soon would be there.
Pete's friend told police they did not see anything. I persisted calling police worrying I may have contracted a disease from the human bite from the drug dealer. Police relented and took me to all the bars in town where I found Pete. I then was arrested at my house in front of my wife six weeks later, as Peter P.'s friends who had previously told police they did not see anything and did not know my assailant, wrote statements saying I had attacked their friend without provocation and he is in fear of me.
I told the prosecutor my account and was told it was not whether I was guilty or innocent there was enough on her plate to collect a fine. I went to the Stafford LT that I had given information to. He told me I had interfered with a drug investigation and the police were looking to confiscate a bar and a house. The officer told me I was not allowed downtown unless I did drugs. The LT called the prosecutor to get my charges dropped, thinking I would now keep my mouth shut and stay out of the downtown in which I lived.
My wife told me I lacked good judgment locating us to Stafford, and we later divorced. I recovered from the break up in Paris, then bought a 2 family house in Somersville, CT, and the 3 and 4 family houses that were boarded up, next to my former single family house in Stafford Springs, Connecticut in Summer '98.
I had trouble getting teens and drug dealers to stay off my Stafford property as they told me they were there first and continued to have drug and alcohol parties breaking into my properties. 'Jaybone' D. pulled a gun on my and chased me into my house when I told him to not sell drugs off my yard. Jaybone would have drug/alcohol/sex parties with underage girls at his Brown Ave Ext apartment. John T. slammed my head into my house when I asked him not to sell drugs off my yard. As far as I know police did not do anything about either situation.
I started renting out the 9 apartments as I fixed them up. Stafford Police and Connecticut State Police would refuse to do anything when my property was destroyed, broken into, when I was attacked and threatened, when teens and tenants fought, had out of control drug/alcohol parties, sold drugs and stolen items to no avail. Police told me that they did not serve downtown property owners, especially landlords.
I got fed up and started writing letters to the editor describing the rampant drugs and crime in Stafford Springs and the lack of police help. I proposed civilian oversight of police to legislators. I wrote Bush September 15, 2001, about the teens drinking/fighting/selling drugs off my front yard all hours, how frauds flourished, and how all this hurt small downtown business and property investors. I got a response from that letter from the SBA and HUD. I had finally gotten all the apartments rented and had only one problem tenant I was in the process of evicting. I finally felt I turned the corner as I was finally having money coming in after years of hard work. I was happy that I had cleaned up my little corner of the world and had with my own efforts stemmed the tide of the drug trade myself on my end of the main drag of Stafford. I would own about $500,000 in real estate and could retire on the $6500 gross monthly rents in as little as 12 years when the mortgages were paid off.
Stafford Officers and Connecticut State Police began to tell me I was to leave town. An alleged police informant, Brian C., began to harass and threaten me. I would have to get to my vehicle quickly as he would chase me to my back door. He disturbed my neighbors after midnight banging on my door telling me he would cut my penis off if he caught me outside.
10-11-01, Brian C, told my tenant Don L. that he would not have a landlord as he (Brian C) was going to kill me when I got home. Brian C. left me a voicemail at 1PM telling me he would 'hurt' me when I got home. Brian C. left a threatening message on tenant, Sue J's answering machine. Brian C finally caught me on my yard at almost midnight. I had worked a double shift and was too tired to notice him when he beat me severely from behind demanding money or he said he would kill me.
I pepper sprayed Brian C. and police were right there to arrest me and refused to take my complaint against Brian C. The arresting officers committed perjury at trial and I was sent to prison losing everything. Police had allowed Brian C to harass, threaten, and attack me all the way up to trial. From my personal experience I can say hard work and property investment is punished with prison and being run out of Connecticut, and teen delinquency, alcoholism, vandalism, drug use, and their older criminal career parasites are also welcome and encouraged in Stafford Springs. I have lost my family, pets, and everything I have ever worked and saved for.
I was treated with the maximum harshness by the legal system after being declared the victim of a robbery/beating on my own property. I think the downtown drug and crime problem is the fault of the police and policy makers. Crime cannot be curbed by targeting the wallets and purses of honest taxpayers while almost ignoring criminal activity.
Steven G. Erickson
Reprinted by permission of the author from freespeech.com
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Click Here for post on Connecticut State Police Misconduct. The "100 Club" is where officers make up stories and arrest as many citizens as possible for DUI and DWI, guilty or not.
Click Here for my Oct. 2, 2003 Letter to the former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland
Click Here for story and pictures of a Stafford Springs Connecticut drug dealer using his illegal gun to shoot a pig in the head in a downtown area.
Click Here for the Donald Christmas Story. Donald Christmas is also a landlord that got mouth about police, prosecutorial, judicial, and attorney misconduct. Donny proposed Civilian Oversight of Police and was also openly threatened with police arresting him and falsely imprisoning him, at a public meeting! Don Christmas was attacked by an Enfield Police Officer's 16 year old prostitute girlfriend and only Donny faced a year and a half in prison, no deals. Do you see a pattern?
Click Here for my Nov. 2003 letter to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
Click Here for my open letter to Connecticut Supreme Court Justice William Sullivan. If Sullivan was aware of judges committing felonies, is he also guilty of felonies for not reporting the bad behavior to the proper authorities? If a judge is acting as an individual breaking the law, not a judicial officer, shouldn't he or she be arrested and face a trial? Should Judicial Immunity be abolished?
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Did taxpayers pay this woman, Barbara D. Sattal, to date me and try and set me up for false arrest and imprisonment? Would she have set me up for a DUI and planted drugs on me? Would police have beaten me up and then charged me with assault on them? Well, we may never know. For the post on Barbara Sattal, click here
Barbara D. Sattal?.
Is this Barbara D. Sattal with a birth date of May 21, 1960 or 1954, she has used various birth years? She is probably now 52.
She has frequented Stafford Springs, Connecticut, also the towns of Enfield, Windsor Locks CT, West Springfield Massachusetts, various campgrounds, and with anyone that will take her in and pay her bills.
Barbara is allegedly a freelance confidential informant or may do contract work or be employed by the Connecticut State Police and/or Feds.
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The below found here on the web
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff
I hope this letter finds you all safe and well. My name is Jeffrey Scott Hornoff. I am a detective with the Warwick, Rhode Island police department, and I used to be in favor of the death penalty; that is until I was charged, tried and convicted of first degree murder.
If Rhode Island had the death penalty I'd have been on it. Instead I was sentenced to life in prison. After six years, four months and eighteen days (on November 6, 2002) I was freed when the one responsible, filled with remorse and hauntings, came forward and confessed.
Having experienced both sides of the fence, I now have a new path. I intend to speak out about our judicial system and how innocent people are wrongfully imprisoned every day. I hope to help at least one other innocent see freedom. Perhaps I can do the most good at law/journalism schools and police academies, and other organizations, educating and informing future police officers, prosecutors and judges, but I also feel the need to inform everyone of just how tenuous our freedoms are. If it could happen to me- a white, upper-middle class, 40-year-old cop- it can happen to you. If you're interested in my speaking with your organization please contact me. Take care, ~Scott Hornoff
April, 2003: How are you? I'm doing okay. I just wanted to let you know that Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian has decided that I am not entitled to my backpay, benefits or pension. I'm stunned. I had been told that he was fair, compassionate and reasonable; and I was only asking for my backpay and pension, not even seeking compensation for legal fees, the loss of my and my Mom's homes and more. I guess my trials aren't over. I'd really appreciate it if you and those in your organization would consider writing letters to the mayor and to the local media (The Warwick Beacon and The Providence Journal). I thought my trials were over.
Below are some of the news reports regarding the Hornoff case. To set the record straight, Scott Hornoff would like people to know:
- Vicky was not my mistress
- The 'affair' lasted about 2 weeks
- I didn't deny knowing Vicky; I initially denied being intimate with her because my interview/interrogation was being tape recorded. I admitted to it in my pre-polygraph interview, within an hour. See my press conference statement.
- Todd Barry's name and number were on Vicky's Rolodex, siezed and tagged as evidence.
- The Associated Press story is way off. I didn't change my story several times. And I never whimpered-that was RISP Detective Denniston's description. Yeah, I held my head in my hands and stared at the floor in disbelief. Is that the sign of a guilty man? Sheldon Whitehouse merely grasped at my initial denials of intimacies because that's all the State has to justify my wrongful imprisonment.
- The letter from Vicky to me was found in a sealed envelope.
- The Warwick Police did not attempt to protect me. They were simply incompetent. The Warwick Police were put on trial. ~Scott
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff's Conviction of Murdering His Former Mistress Is Exposed As A Sham When The Real Killer Confesses
By Hans Sherrer For Justice Denied Magazine (12-17-02)
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff's 1996 conviction of murdering a women he had an affair with was based solely on specious circumstantial evidence that made him appear guilty. Namely, in an effort to conceal the affair from his wife he initially lied to police about knowing the murdered woman, After serving 6-1/2 years of a life sentence, he was freed five days after the real killer confessed on November 1, 2002.
In the summer of 1989, 27-year-old Warwick, Rhode Island police officer Jeffrey Scott Hornoff began an affair with 29-year-old Victoria Cushman. Married with an infant child, Hornoff decided after a few months to break it off with her. She didn't take kindly to his decision, since she took their relationship much more seriously than he did. She had even told several people at the sporting goods store where she worked that she thought he was going to leave his wife for her. On August 11, 1989, two days after telling co-workers that Hornoff wanted to end the affair, Victoria Cushman didn't show up for work. Several of them went to her apartment and found her lying in a pool of blood. She had been bludgeoned to death with a 17-pound fire extinguisher that was found near her.
Suspicion that Hornoff was her killer was fueled when an unmailed letter to him was found in her apartment. In the letter she refused to accept he was ending their romance and demanded that he leave his wife. Hornoff cemented the appearance of his guilt when in an effort to conceal the affair from his wife, he denied knowing Victoria Cushman when police who knew about the letter - first questioned him about her death.
However, the appearance of his guilt was counteracted by his seemingly rock solid alibi of being at a party with his wife and friends on the night of Victoria Cushman's murder.
Since there was no physical evidence of any kind or any witnesses linking him to the murder, and the Rhode Island State Patrol had to take over the murder investigation when fellow members of the Warwick Police Department were accused of interfering with the investigation, Jeffrey Scott Hornoff wasn't charged with Victoria Cushman's murder until more than five years after her death. However, he had been painted with a black brush for so long, that as Warwick City Councilman Carlo Pisturo said recently, "By then it was almost common knowledge that Scott had killed the girl. All indications were that he was guilty and that the cops had covered for him."
Hornoff's ace in the hole at his trial was his alibi of being at a party with many other people when Victoria Cushman was murdered. The prosecution, however, casually brushed that aside. It claimed he slipped away, murdered her, and returned to the party without anyone noticing his absence or any indication from his clothing that one would expect to be visible if he had just committed a brutal and messy murder with a fire extinguisher. The unmailed threatening letter was presented as circumstantial evidence of Hornoff's motive, and his initial denials of knowing her was presented as circumstantial evidence that he tried to cover up murdering her.
After the jury bought the prosecutor's argument and convicted Jeffrey Scott Hornoff of murder without any proof he was guilty, he professed his innocence at his sentencing. He told the packed courtroom, "Am I guilty of something? Yes I am. I broke my sacred wedding vows, and for that I will never forgive myself."
Sentenced to life in prison, the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Hornoff's arguments when it upheld his conviction in 1999. At that point all indications were that he would be spending the rest of his life in prison branded as a heinous and vicious murderer. However, fate intervened on his behalf when on Friday, November 1, 2002, 45 year old carpenter Todd Barry walked into the office of the Rhode Island Attorney General and confessed to murdering Victoria Cushman. Barry indicated he was consumed with guilt over an innocent man spending his life in prison for something Barry had done.
After the A.G.'s office spent the weekend verifying that Barry's confession coincided with the known evidence and facts of the case, he was charged on Monday, November 4th with her murder. The degree to which Victoria Cushman's murder was inadequately investigated is indicated by the fact that although Barry lived near her and had dated her, he was never considered a suspect and had never even been questioned about her murder. Todd Barry was home free once law enforcement officials locked onto Hornoff as her killer. At that point they became tunnel blind to clues leading to anyone else and all meaningful investigation into her murder ended. Although they had a friendship with Victoria Cushman in common, there is no evidence that Barry or Hornoff had ever met or knew of each other.
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff leaves the Providence County Courthouse a free man on November 6, 2002 after spending 6-1/2 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff walked out of the Providence County Courthouse a free man on November 6th, five days after Todd Barry confessed to Victory Cushman's murder. His release on bail pending further proceedings was ordered by the same judge that had presided over his trial and assuming his guilt, had sentenced him to spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Hornoff's claim of innocence had fallen on the deaf ears and to the blind eyes of everyone, including the judge, who chose to substitute the appearance of his guilt for any proof that he actually was.
Although Barry's confession is what led to Hornoff's release, concerned people had been publicizing his nearly self-evident innocence for some time. The group truthinjustice.org, for example, explained on its website that the case against him was based on "innuendoes and speculation. There were no fingerprints, no blood evidence, no DNA matches, no witnesses, and no evidence."
Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse tried to deflect attention away from the failure of the police to adequately investigate Victoria Cushman's murder and the failure of the prosecutors to demand evidence Jeffrey Scott Hornoff was guilty before prosecuting him. Whitehouse used the same sort of hollow sophistry and disregard for the truth that led to Hornoff's false conviction when he denied investigators and prosecutors "did anything improper or wrong." Although Hornoff was the victim of a horrible wrong by law enforcement officials and judges that obliterated his life, Whitehouse blamed him for his wrongful prosecution, conviction and imprisonment by saying he shouldn't have made the sort of "misstatements" to police typical of someone "who is trying to hide something." Yet it was soon made plain to police after they first questioned Hornoff in 1989 that he was trying to hide something: his illicit affair with Victoria Cushman from his wife. For initially lying to police about that indiscretion he paid the heavy price of being tormented and punished for over thirteen years: the seven years he spent as a suspect and accused from her 1989 murder to his 1996 conviction, and the six and a half years he spent in Rhode Island's maximum-security prison falsely branded as her killer.
The horrific travesty perpetrated on Jeffrey Scott Hornoff by the police, the prosecutors, and the trial and appellate court judges involved in his case is not lessened by the sophomoric effort of Rhode Island officials to cover up for their blundering incompetence and callousness. All he can now do is to rebuild his life from the ashes of the atomic bomb dropped on it from his purely coincidental choice of having an affair with the woman murdered by Todd Barry. In a particularly cruel twist of fate, the wife he had tried to protect from knowing about his affair with Victoria Cushman by lying to the police, divorced him while he was in prison. It was that lie told to try to preserve his marriage that prosecutors used to destroy his credibility and falsely paint him as a heinous murderer. So telling that lie intended to protect what A.G. Whitehouse called the "small secret" of his affair, is what he spent over six years in prison for, not her murder.
When released from custody on November 6th Jeffrey Scott Hornoff literally had nothing but the clothes on his back. His home, his wife, his career, his possessions - it was all gone. Five weeks later, on December 11, 2002, about 150 people turned out for a fundraising dinner in Warwick, Rhode Island to help him get back on his feet financially. Over $5,300 was raised and his three sons, 13, 11 and 6, who now have their father back, attended.
Sources: Man To Be Freed On Murder Rap, Douglas Hadden, Pawtucket Times, November 5, 2002. Convicted Killer Freed As Another Man Confesses, Brian Carovillano (AP), Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 23, 2002. Friends Hold Fundraiser for Hornoff, Cathleen F. Crowley, The Providence Journal, December 13, 2002. From Capitol Hill Blue
Guilty? Yes, but not of murder
By The Associated Press, Nov 24, 2002
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- For someone who claimed to be innocent, Jeffrey Scott Hornoff behaved a lot like a guilty man.
In the days, weeks and years after Victoria Cushman was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher in 1989, Hornoff changed his story several times. Under police questioning, he whimpered, held his head in his hands and stared morosely at the floor.
Now, more than six years into a life sentence for murder, it turns out his only offense was adultery and lying about it to police. The former Warwick police detective's attempts to hide the infidelity were apparently what got him convicted.
None of that, however, became clear until this month, when Todd Barry, a 45-year-old carpenter who was never even a suspect, came forward and confessed to the murder. Investigators said he acted out of guilt.
They gave no motive for the slaying but said Barry and the victim had dated.
"It's an utter stroke of luck," said Rob Warden, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law. "We probably don't have more than a dozen examples nationally of cases in which a voluntary confession has led to an exoneration."
He added, "If this had happened in another state that had the death penalty, Hornoff would almost certainly be dead."
Two days after Barry was charged with murder, a judge set Hornoff free.
"Scott Hornoff had small secrets that he wanted to protect," said Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse. "Protecting those small secrets made him look like he was protecting the big secret that he had murdered Victoria Cushman."
Hornoff, a 40-year-old father of three, has declined all interview requests until his case has been dismissed, which could happen Dec. 6.
Hornoff and Cushman met in 1989 while she was working at a sporting goods store where Hornoff, a member of the Warwick police diving team, bought his scuba gear. He was married and had a baby. He and Cushman began sleeping together that summer.
Cushman, 29, told co-workers she thought Hornoff would leave his wife for her. Later that summer, Hornoff apparently told Cushman he was breaking it off with her. A co-worker of Cushman's testified that Cushman was surprised and angry.
Two days later, Cushman failed to show up for a work, and she was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment. The weapon, a 17-pound fire extinguisher, was found nearby. Detectives also found a letter she had written to Hornoff in which she refused to break off their affair and insisted he leave his wife.
Lacking any blood, fingerprints or other forensic evidence linking Hornoff to the crime, prosecutors seized on the letter.
There was also Hornoff's behavior. In the hours after Cushman's body was discovered, he gave conflicting accounts of his relationship with Cushman, even once denying that he knew her. His alibi differed from what his wife and brother told investigators.
Tangle of truth, lies
"The criminal justice system is simply unforgiving when people do things that are quite natural," Warden said. "When somebody asks if you're having an affair, it's quite natural to lie. Then you're a liar. When you start telling the truth, you're changing your story. That's two strikes as far as a jury's concerned."
The Warwick Police Department's handling of the case probably didn't help. In their zeal to protect Hornoff, his fellow officers may have made him look more guilty, Whitehouse said. Evidence was lost or misplaced.
Police also gave him a polygraph and said he passed; investigators later said the test violated every rule for conducting such procedures.
The state police eventually took over the case and, in 1994, more than five years after the slaying, Hornoff was charged with murder.
"By then it was almost like common knowledge that Scott had killed the girl," said City Councilman Carlo Pisaturo Jr., who pushed for an independent investigation of the department's handling of the case. "All indications were that he was guilty and that the cops had covered for him."
Colleagues caught in scandal
Warwick Police Chief Wesley Blanchard and another high-ranking officer resigned amid allegations that they aided in a cover-up.
At trial, prosecutors argued that Hornoff killed Cushman to keep his wife, Rhonda, from learning about the affair. They said he left a party that night, went to Cushman's apartment to kill her and then returned. Partygoers testified he seemed dazed and out of breath.
His attorney, Joel Chase, argued that Cushman was killed by a burglar she had startled.
Hornoff and his wife were divorced a few years ago. At his sentencing, Hornoff professed his innocence.
"Am I guilty of something?" he said. "Yes, I am. I broke my sacred wedding vows and for that I will never forgive myself."© Copyright 2003 Capitol Hill Blue
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