As we've reported, at least seven Denver police officers have gotten into trouble in 2014, with offenses ranging from departmental violations (like keeping 600 nude photos on a work cell phone) to alleged assaults, prostitute-solicitation and more; see our previous coverage below.
Now there's an eighth case: Officer Mark Beluscak has been arrested in Douglas County on a misdemeanor child abuse accusation. Details below.
Google Beluscak's name and the first item that comes up is a 2010 West Denver Cop Watch post in which he stars.
Unusually for the site, the item begins with a testimonial to the good character of Beluscak, a ten-year DPD veteran then working as a bicycle cop in the area of the 16th Street Mall. It reads:
Officer Beluscak is one of the few nice/decent Denver Police Officers I have come across. I can truly tell he is in the law enforcement profession for the right reasons. Most I have encountered have negative attitudes/opinions and are often times too quick to share those negative opinions when it's quite inappropriate. It's officer's like Beluscak that restore my faith that there are still people in that profession that actually are there to help people.
This opinion is countered by site administrators. Here's the response:
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, we receive more complaints regarding Officer Beluscak than almost anyone else. For instance, he is notorious for harassing homeless folks. In fact, Officer Beluscak has been issuing tickets to folks for ashing their cigarettes. Not throwing them out, but ashing them. He does this as a means to clear folks out of Skyline Park so that yuppies can eat their lunch without having to see people that the DPD feels don't deserve to be there. We will be posting a video of Beluscak documenting this harassment in the near future.
A video did indeed surface shortly thereafter. Here it is:
Despite Copwatch's complaints, Beluscak isn't in the spotlight due to on-duty behavior. According to Fox31, he was actually on leave from the department when he was arrested Saturday in Douglas County. The charge: misdemeanor non-injury child abuse.
Nonetheless, Beluscak's bust brings more embarrassment upon the Denver Police Department at a time when it's desperately trying to turn the page.
Continue for previous coverage about seven other Denver police officers who've gotten into trouble in 2014, including additional photos. Original post 8:50 a.m. June 10: After the arrest of Denver Police Department Detective Daniel Diaz de Leon on charges including domestic violence and child abuse, 9News reported that he was the sixth member of the DPD to get in trouble over recent months. By our count, however, there have actually been seven -- a small total when you consider the department employs approximately 1,400 officers, but extremely troubling nonetheless.
Look below to get information on de Leon and the other six, as drawn from previous coverage.
Number 7: Detective Craig Miner Back in March, Detective Craig Miner was slapped for regularly rendezvousing with his mistress for sex at her apartment while supposedly fighting crime.
In a hidden-camera interview with CBS4's Brian Maass, the woman said Miner used to refer to their romps as "monkey business."
This business wound up costing Miner. He was suspended from the force for ten days.
Number 6: Detective John White DPD Detective John White, a well-known figure in the community owing to his work as a public-information officer, was suspended for his own sexual peccadilloes.
A former girlfriend reportedly accused White of having sex with her in his car while he was on the clock.
In the end, DPD investigators couldn't corroborate these assertions. However, there was no doubt about the presence of dubious photos on White's department-issued phone -- some 600 of them, many featuring nude shots.
He also used the phone to text things like "Nothing better than a nice hard round booty :-))" and "Gonna spank that little tushy :-))."
White was ultimately suspended for ten days without pay for misuse of his taxpayer-funded phone.
Continue for more about the seven Denver cops to get in trouble so far in 2014. Number 5: Detective Michael Ryan On April 10, as we've reported, Ryan and a 49-year-old woman described as a known prostitute were found together in a car parked near the intersection of West Colfax and Ingalls. Ryan, a seventeen-year-veteran of the DPD whose duties included the investigation of prostitution cases, is said to have had his belt and pants unbuckled, while the woman was bent over the car's center console.
Ryan wasn't immediately charged with a crime after being cited by Lakewood cops. Why not?
"Our people indicated in their reports that once Michael Ryan was released, it was only pending charges," Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis said last month in a Westword interview. "They wanted to talk to our special-investigations unit, and they also knew the case was going to involve two law-enforcement agencies. I think they had every intention of speaking to superior officers in our department as well as the Denver Police Department as to how this was going to shake out. There were some unusual circumstances about the whole contact, so I think they were being very cautious about how they did it."
Davis added that "a summons can be issued up to eighteen months later in a misdemeanor, so they knew they had plenty of time to do it right and make sure both departments had everything in order before charges were brought against him... They knew it was a case that was going to garner a lot of attention, so they wanted to make sure their ducks were in a row."
In the end, Ryan did receive a summons.
Number 4: Officer Stephanie Southard Back in November 2013, the Denver Post revealed that Officer Southard had been charged with misdemeanor harassment owing to a June incident during which she's said to have socked another Denver cop, Nathan Sanchez, after he ended their affair.
An affidavit cited by the Post maintained that Southard walked up to the driver's side of his vehicle in a Glendale parking lot, and at the sight of his wedding ring, she "grabbed and hit Sanchez's face as he turned his head away," knocking off his glasses and leaving a scratch near his eyebrow in the process.
Southard denied these claims and was still on duty up until April 14, at which time she was fired for what CBS4 describes as "violating three department regulations including sexual misconduct and lying about having sex on duty." At last report, she was appealing her dismissal.
Her partner in these escapades is said to have been Sanchez, who has resigned. He did so after apparently divulging that they'd had sex 25--30 times while on duty.
Continue for more about the seven Denver cops to get in trouble so far in 2014. Number 3: Officer Tim Kelley As we noted last week, Tim Kelley has worked on a number of high-profile cases during his nineteen years with the Denver Police Department, including the murder of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams on New Year's Day 2007.
Kelley's current spotlight time is far less positive. 7News reported that Kelley was named in an arrest warrant charging him with sexual exploitation of a child due to his alleged possession of child-porn videos.
According to an affidavit obtained by the station, a Douglas County sheriff's detective conducting an online child-porn investigation was able to trace downloaded child-porn videos to the Comcast account associated with Kelley's condo in Westminster. One is described as featuring sex between a man and an eight-year-old boy.
After seizing Kelley's computer last month, investigators say they found more startling videos, as well as 160 files that "'contained identified victims of sexual exploitation' found on a database at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," the station revealed.
Kelley is currently free on bond, but he's not back on the job. He resigned the day after the warrant was issued.
Number 2: Officer Jeremy Ownbey Jeremy Ownbey and and fellow officer Steven Sloan are said to be best friends who entered the police academy together eight years ago and have since grown so close that they even vacation together.
They apparently share other things in common as well, including Jamie Ownbey, Jeremy's wife, who divulged that she'd taken part in wife-swapping activities that included Sloan, but not his betrothed, Stephanie.
According to a police report obtained at the station, the couples came together on May 19 at Sloans' Aurora home.
However, the Aurora Police Department got involved after the quartet's get-together devolved into a booze-fueled party out of bounds.
What set it off? Clues can be found in the following police report excerpt:
"Jamie stated she, Jeremy and Steven have been involved with swinging (amongst themselves) and Steven would like Stephanie (Sloan) to join but she (Stephanie) will not. I asked Jamie (Ownbey) if she had ever been personally intimate with Steven (Sloan), she stated 'yes, during a swing session with Steven and his ex-wife years ago.' Jamie further stated she also participated in two swing sessions with Steven and Jeremy, the most recent was approximately four years ago."
The contact on the 19th wasn't quite so loving, despite reported highlights such as Jamie shedding her top to expose her "lacy undergarments" and supposedly force-feeding Stephanie tequila shots. The document maintains that Sloan "started to fight with Jeremy, with both of them throwing punches at each other.... He admitted to not winning the fight, and after being punched numerous times in the head, he felt as if he was going to lose consciousness."
As such, Sloan "went to get his gun from his truck because he was in fear for his safety and thought he was in danger," the document continues. "Steven stated he punched Jamie in the face for punching Stephanie, and Jamie fell to the ground. Jeremy punched Steven in the face for punching Jamie. Steven stated he then punched Jeremy."
There was initially doubt about whether any of these events would result in criminal charges. Although the APD submitted the case to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office with a recommendation of several charges against the Ownbeys, weeks passed with no action taken.
But then last Thursday, mere days after the case went public, the logjam miraculously broke. As 9News pointed out, Jeremy and Jamie have been hit with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse, because they left their two small kids at home during festivities on the 19th. Plus, Jamie is looking at a misdemeanor assault beef and Jeremy has been accused of trespassing.
Jeremy and Sloan are also under investigation by the Denver Police Department and are currently riding desks as a result.
Continue for more about the arrest of Denver Police Department Detective Daniel Diaz de Leon. Number 1: Detective Daniel Diaz de Leon Detective de Leon's background is laid out in his LinkedIn profile, which lists him as having served in the Army from 1990 to 200, after which he signed on with the Denver Sheriff's Office. After four years with the DSO, he joined the Denver Police Department, moving up to the rank of detective in 2012. He's listed as an investigator with District 2, with the following responsibilities:
• Investigate criminal acts such as assaults, aggravated assaults, armed robberies, home invasions, and property crimes such as burglaries. • Collect and use forensic evidence to solve crimes. • Interview informants, suspects, and witnesses to ascertain alibis, clues, time frames, and possible suspects. • Keep detailed records. • Bag evidence carefully and ensure it gets sent to proper department. • Send specimens to laboratory to obtain DNA. • Collect enough evidence to support a court case against a criminal. • Process crime scenes. • Request additional police assistance. • File paperwork. • Follow up on leads. • Prepare investigative reports. • Prepare sketches and diagrams. • Explain to the jury the significance of evidence as it relates to proof. • Maintain an in-depth knowledge of federal and state statutes and court cases related to work performed and agency rules and regulations. • Obtain search warrants and arrest warrants. • Perform surveillance and monitor suspects. • Analyze laboratory findings. • Exchange information and coordinate activities with other departments. • Record physical information about suspects. • Perform plainclothes operations.
On Sunday, however, de Leon reportedly engaged in a number of actions not on this list. A Thornton resident, he was booked into Adams County jail on charges that include domestic violence, child abuse, reckless endangerment and prohibited use of weapons.
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The details of these allegations have not yet been released, but de Leon is said to be off the streets at present while the incident is under investigation.
If this kind of thing keeps up, the DPD may have to buy more desks. Here's a larger look at de Leon's mug shot.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.