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Three Former Milwaukee Police Officers Sentenced on Civil Rights-related Charges

WASHINGTON – Former Milwaukee, Wis., police officers Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler, and Daniel Masarik were sentenced today in federal court on civil rights charges arising out of the October 2004 assault of Frank Jude and Lovell Harris by off-duty Milwaukee police officers. Bartlett was sentenced to 208 months imprisonment; Spengler was sentenced to 188 months imprisonment; and Masarik was sentenced to 188 months imprisonment. After release from prison, each will be on federal supervised release for three years.

On July 26, 2007, a federal jury in Milwaukee found Bartlett, Spengler and Masarik guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Jude and Harris, and of violating the civil rights of Jude. Previously in April 2006, all three were acquitted of state charges related to the assault on Jude and Harris. The evidence in their federal trial showed that these defendants and others, after several hours of drinking at a party at Spengler’s home, surrounded a vehicle containing Jude, Harris, and two women, and wrongfully accused them of stealing a police badge. The evidence established that Bartlett and another off-duty officer then held Harris at knife-point and that Harris was cut on his cheek. The evidence also proved that Bartlett, Masarik, Spengler and others punched and kicked Jude in the head, body and groin both before and while he was handcuffed, threatened him with a knife and gun, and that Bartlett stabbed a pen into each of Jude’s ears.

“The defendants sentenced today engaged in egregious, brutal and unlawful behavior. They disgraced the badge they alleged was stolen, and violated the oath that badge represents – to protect and to serve the people of their community,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rena J. Comisac. “The crimes of these officers undermine the tireless efforts of the vast majority of law enforcement officers throughout our nation who do a tough job with professionalism and courage. While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit such wanton and unlawful acts.”

In addition to Bartlett, Spengler and Masarik, four other former Milwaukee police officers have been convicted of federal charges relating to the October 2004 assault on Jude and Harris. On Sept. 7, 2007, Joseph Stromei was sentenced to two years imprisonment and three years of supervised release for obstructing justice by covering up the assaults on Jude and Harris. On Nov. 2, 2007, Ryan Lemke was sentenced to a year imprisonment and a year of supervised release for his role in the assault on Jude. Two other former Milwaukee officers – Jon Clausing and Joseph Schabel – have pleaded to federal felony civil rights charges but have not yet been sentenced.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and the Milwaukee Police Department. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mel Johnson and Carol Kraft, and Trial Attorneys Stephen Curran and Edward Caspar of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted this case.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of the federal criminal civil rights statutes, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Department of Justice has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement misconduct prosecutions in the last seven years (FY 2001 - 2007), as compared to the previous seven years (FY 1994 - FY 2000). During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in color of law cases than the previous seven years.