Update – Springdale Police Officer Sentenced to Prision

Comments Off on Update – Springdale Police Officer Sentenced to Prision

Earlier I had written about Springdale police officer Mark Thom, his abuse of local citizens, and the city council that enabled him.

Last week Thom was sentenced to prison for a year and a day, and then to 3 years probation following release.  U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak told Thom that he would never serve as a police officer again.

The former police chief Joseph Naviglia said that Thom is “a habitual liar and a very conniving and manipulative person.”  Naviglia also said that the city council protected and covered up for Thom.  You’ll remember that I pointed this out in my past article.

Springdale has had to pay out $225,000 in the incident leading to the criminal charges, and $98,500 in a separate case.  But I guess Dave Finley doesn’t care about that either.

Sovereign Citizen at Court: How’s that working for you?


I don’t think I really need to add a lot of commentary – the video pretty much speaks for itself.

Why Springdale, PA Citizens get Abused – It’s their own fault


Springdale, Pennsylvania is a small town of about 20,000 about 18 miles outside of Pittsburgh.  Recently they have had several incidents of police abuse, and in addition to being abused, they are paying for the privilege.  But that’s OK, because they are getting what they deserve.

In the winter of 2010, Allegheny County Police Officer Ray Hrabos was going to his home in Springdale when he stopped to ask Springdale Police Officer Mark Thom if he could move so he could get by.  Hrabos was immediately assaulted by Thom and thought Thom was going to kill him, even though Hrabos had identified himself as an officer.  Two weeks later, the police department filed terroristic threat, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct charges against Hrabos.  They were dismissed and caused the judge to comment that it was insane to bring that into his courtroom.  Hrabos sued and settled with the city for almost $100,000.

In 2011, Gary Cahill was arrested and was sitting in the back of Thom’s squadcar when Thom began to strike him and to use his taser on Cahill.  Cahill was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest, and other charges, but all charges were dismissed.  Cahill has also sued, stating that Thom violated his rights and the city had prior notice of Thom’s violent tendencies.

But wait – it gets better.

Earlier this year, Thom pled guilty to violating Cahill’s civil rights in U.S. District Court, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.  Thom faces up to 2-1/2 years in prison.  So of course Thom resigned as a police officer.  And then Springdale hired Thom in a non-police capacity.

Huh?  This guy has already cost the city $100K, pled guilty to a federal felony for violating civil rights, will cost the city more in the Cahill lawsuit, and you rehire him?  And it is not the department head that did it, it was the city council.

According to Council President Dave Finley, Thom was the victim of “character assassination.”  Finley stated that as far as he was concerned, Thom did a fine job as an officer, and when asked about Thom’s guilty plea, said “I don’t care.”  “Maybe he was wrongfully accused.” “He pled guilty, yeah. You keep harping on the pled guilty. Are you asking me if he’s a good man or did he plead guilty? It’s an obvious thing: he accepted a plea bargain. I’m telling you he’s a good man in the eyes of the residents of Springdale. He has two young children and we take care of our own.”

Well, Finley may take care of his own, but he sure doesn’t take care of protecting the citizens from rogue officers.  Another former officer ,Jeremy Liotta, is facing theft, drug, and impersonating an officer charges.

And the reason Springdale citizens deserve the abuse?  They elected this bozo and the other four council members that rehired Thom.  There has been no indication of protests or concern by the citizens.  You get what you allow, and you’re allowing this to be done to you.  Plus you get to pay for it too.

Past incidents:

  • Joseph Liotta was fired by the council from his position after cash was found to be missing.  He sued and lost his case.  See Liotta v. Borough of Springdale, 985 F.2d 119 (3d Cir. 1993).  It is not known if Joseph is related to Jeremy.


What an Out-of-Control Police Dept. Looks Like: Middletown, CT


Middletown, CT is a typical New England town of about 47,000, located about halfway between New Haven and Hartford on the Connecticut River.  It is also the headquarters for the Connecticut State Police, although I’m not sure that this is a good thing, based on what we’ll discuss here today.

My attention was drawn to Middletown by Carlos Miller of Photography Is Not A Crime.

In 2010, Efrain Carrion died while in police custody, after his family had called 911 to get him help.  Carrion was arrested and handcuffed with his hands behind his back.  He then “assaulted” the officers to the point that they felt it was necessary to tase him 34 times.  While handcuffed.  This is before Carrion “fell” down the stairs.  While handcuffed.  The State Police spokesman talked on the news about how violent Carrion was and the danger he posed to officers, that he was choking the police dog.  While handcuffed. Cause of death was “excited delirium” which is normally associated with drug use.  Carrion died at the scene and the family has sued.

That incident of course has made the police re-evaluate their use of tasers.  Or not, considering they recently tased a seventh graderReally?  Even after police had been removed from the schools for their use of tasers against a 17-year-old in 2010?  Really?  The community and school is upset you tase a 17-year-old, so you come back and tase 12- or 13-year-old?  But that’s OK, because the student was “combative” according to a police spokesman.  A 12-year-old.  Really?

Last year the Acting Police Chief, Patrick McMahon, was demoted by the mayor, who said in regards to an incident the chief was involved it, “that while his description of the particular incident may have been technically accurate, there were a lot of other facts that should have been related to me and were not.”  McMahon was subsequently fired for drinking alcohol in uniform on at least five occasions, according to news reports.  You know, an out-of-control chief creates an out-of-control department.

The police department also does not like cameras.  Several years ago, they seized a cellphone camera because it may have “evidence” on it to support a loitering ticket.  This was covered on PINAC.  The cited individual was found not guilty in January 2013.  It’s actually kind of funny–the officer involved, Sebastian Bartolotta, had himself taped recorded an altercation with the Middleton Police in 2007 to protect himself from unfounded allegations by his superiors.  I guess he didn’t want it to be done to him.  Oops.

And they don’t like you filming their station, either, also on PINAC.  This is the one where the officer claims that “suspicion” is a crime.

The city has plenty of notice of the problem.

  • A lawsuit by Carrion’s estate.
  • A lawsuit by an individual for injuries suffered in jail, when they sent a K-9 into his cell.
  • A lawsuit by an individual shot in the arm in 2011.
  • A lawsuit by the mother of the 17-year old that was tasered in 2010.
  • The city settled a case from 2010.
  • A lawsuit from 2010 where the officers performed a body cavity search on the side of the road.
  • A lawsuit from 2008 alleging false arrest and search, dismissed on a technicality in 2009 (involving Bartolotta & Richard Siena).
  • A lawsuit from 2008 alleging illegal search and excessive force.
  • A complaint that a sergeant was viewing pornography on duty, Siena initially lied, then admitted it.  Three months later he was promoted to lieutenant.
  • A lawsuit from 2005 alleging excessive force where the suspect was beaten without warning.
  • A lawsuit from 2003 alleging assault and battery by officers.
  • A police officer and a lieutenant fighting in the police station (no charges were filed) in 2002.
  • A lawsuit from 2002, where officers threw a flash-bang grenade on top of two non-suspects while executing a warrant.

Cotati, California Police Kick in Door, Taser Disabled Vet without Warrant


According to this Youtube video, officers of the Cotati California Police Department kicked in a door of a residence and tasered a disabled veteran because they residents would not allow them to enter unless they had probable cause or a search warrant.

The police were called to the scene on a noise complaint and told the residents that they needed to enter because of possible domestic violence.  The residents told them that they could not enter without either a search warrant or probable cause.  The officers then kicked the door, and although the residents were not offering any resistance, immediately tasered the disabled veteran who was filming the encounter.

The residents were arrested and charged with obstruction for standing up for their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

So let me get this straight.  According to the Cotati Police, all they have to say is that they were investigating a domestic disturbance, and you no longer have Fourth Amendment rights.

Something is wrong in California.


take that, goliath.

just another day sitting next to the defendant

Hercules and the umpire.



Classical liberalism, criminal laws, the war on drugs, economics, free speech, technology, photography, sex work, cats, and whatever else comes to mind.


Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Chasing Truth. Catching Hell.

A Public Defender's Blog, @normdeguerreesq

The Legal Satyricon

Occasionally irreverent thoughts on law, liberty, tech, and politics.

Legal Writing Prof Blog

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer


General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

How Appealing

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer


General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Real Lawyers

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Say What?! Classic Courtroom Humor from Judge Jerry Buchmeyer

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Judge Bonnie Sudderth

Law Blog on the Texas Rules of Evidence


Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

Defending People

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Preaching to the choir

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Crime and Consequences Blog

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

Koehler Law

Criminal and DUI Defense in Washington, D.C.

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer

The Volokh Conspiracy

General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer


A Group Complaint about Law, Liberty, and Leisure


General ramblings of a former police officer turned lawyer