East Haven Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Obstruction Charge
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 23, 2012|
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that East Haven Police officer Jason Zullo, 34, pleaded guilty today before Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to one count of obstruction stemming from his filing of a false police report in order to prevent a possible excessive force investigation.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on October 18, 2008, Zullo struck a motorcycle carrying two individuals with his police car at least twice during a chase. The motorcycle subsequently crashed and the two victims were thrown to the ground. On October 22, 2008, Zullo prepared and filed a police report that omitted the fact that he struck the motorcycle during the chase. Although Zullo contends that he unintentionally collided with the motorcycle, he admitted today that he omitted facts in his police report of the incident in order to obstruct any potential investigation of criminal excessive force.
“During a chase, this defendant repeatedly struck a motorcycle with his police cruiser, causing the motorcycle to crash.” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “He then tried to cover up his conduct and prevent an excessive force investigation by filing a false police report of the incident. This kind of deceitful police work cannot be tolerated, as it decays the public trust in all law enforcement officers.”
“Maintaining the public’s trust in elected officials and particularly law enforcement is of the utmost importance,” said FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Galligan. “Four years later, Mr. Zullo stands guilty of obstructing our investigation. It is our hope that today’s developments bring us closer to renewing confidence and respect for those, particularly in East Haven, who enforce the law.”
On January 18, 2012, a federal grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging Zullo, Sergeant John Miller, and two other East Haven Police officers with various civil rights offenses. After Miller pleaded guilty, Zullo and two co-defendants were charged in a superseding indictment that was returned on September 25. Today, Zullo pleaded guilty to count four of the superseding indictment.
Chief Judge Thompson has scheduled sentencing for January 18, 2013, at which time Zullo faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
On September 21, 2012, Miller pleaded guilty to one count of violating an individual’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during the course of an arrest. He awaits sentencing.
As to the defendants who are awaiting trial, U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Civil Rights Squad of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Fein stated that the investigation is ongoing and encouraged individuals with information that may be helpful to the investigation to call the FBI at 212-384-2240.
Deputy United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Assistant United States Attorney Krishna R. Patel are prosecuting the case with assistance from the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.