East Haven officer pleads guilty to intimidating Latinos
By WFSB Staff
EAST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -
An officer in East Haven, who along with three other officers who are accused of intimidating Latinos in East Haven, has pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice.
Officer Jason Zullo appeared in Hartford Federal Court on Tuesday afternoon and after pleading guilty, he is expected to serve no less than 12 months and no more than 24 months in prison.
"Mr. Zullo is the father of two young children, although I think we could have beaten this case, and wish that he had tried it," said Zullo's attorney Norm Pattis. "His view is that if he's gotta do a little bit of time given the children's age, he's home before they've missed him."
According to federal prosecutors, Zullo followed a person on a motorcycle and deliberately hit vehicle at least twice, speeding up as he hit it. Pattis said Zullo inadvertently hit the motorcycle while trying to make evasive maneuvers.
Pattis said Zullo pleaded to the charge of obstruction of justice because it omits any mention of a collision with the motorcycle from his police report as well as "threat of liability in the future."
Zullo was arrested for violating the civil rights of Latinos in East Haven in January along with three others, officers Dennis Spaulding and David Cari as well as Sgt. John Miller.
Miller pleaded guilty to depriving civil liberties on Sept. 21 after he reportedly punched a man in the chest while he was handcuffed.
"So to the degree that the government held out Mr. Zullo as some sort of ethnic based criminal intent on preying on the Hispanic population, the answer to that is this plea does not address those allegations," Pattis said. "Those allegations are categorically untrue."
Pattis said Zullo will either resign or be terminated by the East Haven Police Department. Zullo, unlike Miller, has not agreed to testify against the remaining two defendants, Spaulding and Cari.
"There have been discussions about whether there has been a silent cooperation agreement. Mr. Zullo has nothing to cooperate for," Pattis said. "The sole offense to which he plead to was leaving something out of a police report. We would not consider a plea to anything else. Mr. Zullo maintains he's not guilty of those. "
Zullo will be sentenced on Jan. 18 at Hartford Federal Court.
In addition, the Department of Justice reached a proposed agreement with the town of East Haven to resolve the allegations of misconduct by the police department.
The proposed agreement provides four comprehensive reforms in seven core areas.
The four areas include: biased-free policing, use of force, search and seizures and policy and training.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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