Herkimer Gangs Fade, Danger Remains: The Crippen-Carpenter Effect

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Stephen Ames Berry

The Crippen-Carpenter Effect: an unwitting dark synergy of nonfeasance and malfeasance…

2023 saw Herkimer’s long-entrenched drug and child trafficking gangs fade away. Gang-central Pleasant Avenue has rejoined civilization. It’s a delight after ten years of menacing, assaults and hundreds of poison gas attacks to bask in the silence along Pleasant Avenue and to chat with decent new neighbors.

Still with us, though, and clouding Herkimer’s future, are two complementary pillars of enduring rot that continue to make us all unsafe: District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter and Herkimer Police Officer Jason Crippen. 

Carpenter’s unblushing sweetheart plea bargains and Crippen’s sneering suppression of citizen complaints and false incident reporting form the Crippen-Carpenter Effect: an unwitting dark synergy of nonfeasance and malfeasance, creating a dangerous community in which the law is flouted, criminals go free and people Aren’t safe. If Crippen can’t put the shutup on your complaint, Carpenter can arrange a cheap plea deal. Between the two of them, Herkimer’s gangs were for years assured a steady supply of jail-free workers while the rest of us took our chances.

The good news for the Herkimer police is that they no longer have to blatantly ignore wholesale trafficking out of obvious long-time gang hubs. Nor do they have to scramble to avoid taking evidence-based complaints: the gangbangers are gone. 

End of the Trail

8.3.23 Brooding Herkimer gangbanger moves out of long time drug and child trafficking central 328 Pleasant Avenue. It and two adjacent properties long barracked active drug and child traffickers. It was Herkimer's Historic Chiuld Trafficking Hub.
8.3.23 Brooding Herkimer gangbanger moves out of long-time drug and child trafficking central at 328 Pleasant Avenue. It and two adjacent properties long sheltered active drug and child traffickers. It was Herkimer’s Historic Child Trafficking Hub.

Gangs need poverty to flourish. The Rust Belt’s long hardscrabble existence is ending as a rising tide of prosperity sweeps the region. It’s eliminated the Section 8 housing that used to barrack Herkimer’s drug and child trafficking gangs. As property values continue to rise, owners are rehabbing houses and either selling them or renting them to newcomers, many of them driven by climate change, flock to climate-safe Central and Upstate New York. Google Guide Linda Kaidan’s photos of the Herkimer area have drawn 15 million views via Google Maps. 

Climate Migration Banishes Gangs

Stepped-up regional and federal law enforcement has helped convince traffickers to move on; a flotilla of federal surveillance drones often fills our night sky. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested in chip fabrication facilities spanning the Mohawk Valley on into Syracuse. Rust Belt gangs won’t be allowed to threaten what’s becoming the heart of America’s and the Rust Belt’s economic rebirth.

And yet…

Officer Jason Crippen – The Sorry Saga Continues

It’s disappointing to see Jason Crippen still on the Herkimer Police, patrolling with impunity despite the many recently revealed and substantiated complaints against him. Crippen’s continued wearing of a badge reflects a decision by Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory to prioritize the protection of his officers over that of the community. Unfortunately, it’s a very common decision.

Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory in 2017. Don't be fooled by his "Aw, shucks, I'm just a simple country boy" shtick. He's sharp and perceptive.
Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory in 2017. Don’t be fooled by his “Aw, shucks, I’m just a simple country boy” shtick. He’s sharp and perceptive.

Says police oversight specialist, Professor Daniel Bodah of  John Jay College of Criminal Justice: “It’s important for the police and the general public that (discipline) records are open. Departments opposed to making police disciplinary records public are possibly looking to shield officers and themselves from potential embarrassment. It’s a desire to not hurt the person, not a desire to have honest policing.” 

Certainly, the Herkimer Police Department has a lot to be embarrassed about, which we saw when three years of litigation finally compelled the release of the village’s police discipline records. The files reflected with the Utica Observer charitably called “substandard [police] performance” over many years.

Crippen tased a suspected shoplifter he knew to be pregnant. Left his service pistol lying about in a public area. Allegedly filed a false police report to revenge himself on a citizen who chastised him for driving recklessly. Why does a public embarrassment like Crippen enjoy continued protection as he imperils the community? Does he know where the bodies are buried? The money laundered?

Complaints Against Officer Jason Crippen

6.16.22 Herkimer Police Officer Jason Crippen trying to intimidate Herkmer Post's Stephen Ames Berry under the color of law.
6.16.22 Herkimer Police Officer Jason Crippen trying to intimidate Herkimer Post’s Stephen Ames Berry under the color of law.

Here are the publicly known complaints filed against Crippen, most only recently released after a three-year Freedom of Information lawsuit by Gannett/USA Today against the Herkimer Police and its brazen  flouting of New York law:

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There’s a suspiciously long gap in reported incidents between 2019 and 2022. Perhaps Crippen did nothing worthy of a complaint in those three years? The Herkimer PD didn’t release my complaints, filed before the suit was settled. Perhaps other incidents are being kept hidden?

The Crippen-Carpenter Effect: A Case Study

Here’s an example of the Crippen-Carpenter effect: On 9/30/22, I was attacked by neighboring drug thug Jordan Bormann and left unconscious on the sidewalk with a life-altering traumatic brain injury. Crippen, despite his history with me, was appointed the incident’s investigating officer. (With its annual budget of $1.45 million, the Herkimer Police Department supports a chief, a captain, an investigator and a squad of sergeants, led by a first sergeant.)

Kim Vargas' son Jordan Bormann assaults elderly neighbor in front of 328 Pleasant Avenue, causing traumatic brain injury. Officer Jason Crippen investigation, found elderly neighbor guilty of the assault. Reinvestigation based on victim's survei9llance cam footage saw Bormann charged with Class D Violent Felony.
Kim Vargas’ son Jordan Bormann assaulted me in front of 328 Pleasant Avenue, causing traumatic brain injury. I blogged about their alleged drug trafficking. Officer Jason Crippen’s investigation stated I was responsible for my own assault. Reinvestigation based on my surveillance cam footage saw Bormann charged with Class D Violent Felony and Crippen’s report given the lie.

Crippen has a history of using allegedly false reporting to revenge himself on complaining citizens. This was another instance. In his incident report, Crippen stated that Bormann was defending his mother from me. He reported the incident as harassment on my part. In the week it took for me to write up a complaint and prepare the video device, Crippen avoided asking for video evidence of the incident from our security cameras, which he knew covered the scene of the attack and which outed his investigation as yet another falsity.

I presented the undeniable video evidence of Bormann’s guilt to the Herkimer PD, which arrested him and correctly charged him with violent felony assault on an elder, which carries mandatory jail time.

District Attorney Carpenter Parrots Crippen’s False Incident Report

No one from the District Attorney’s well-staffed, well-paid office appeared at Bormann’s arraignment. Instead, DA Carpenter later offered Bormann a plea deal of $100 fine for misdemeanor assault and two years probation. Bormann unsurprisingly accepted. The plea bargaining process is murky. Money could easily change hands and no one would know.

Herkimer District Attorney Jeffrey S. Carpenter. His Sweetheart Plea Bargains Help Keep Violent Criminals On The Streets
Herkimer District Attorney Jeffrey S. Carpenter. His Sweetheart Plea Bargains Help Keep Violent Criminals On The Streets

No Time for Trials: $554,425 – 2023 Herkimer DA Jeffrey Carpenter and Four Assistant DAs’ Salaries

Not Shabby: 2023 Herkimer District Attorney Carpenter and Assistantt DAs' salaries. (From the 2023 Herkimer County Budget)
Not Shabby: 2023 Herkimer District Attorney Carpenter and Assistant DAs’ salaries. (From the 2023 Herkimer County Budget)

The young thug never spent a moment in jail. I’m still recovering from my traumatic brain injury. (My walking’s advanced to an enhanced Parkinson’s shuffle.)

“If Carpenter forgot about the evidence he had, he was nonfeasant. If he knowingly didn’t cite the evidence, he’s malfeasant–no wiggle room.

Insult to injury, DA Carpenter, ignoring the video evidence on which he based Bormann’s felony assault charge, parroted Crippen’s bogus and disproven investigation report to the NY Attorney General’s Victims Services unit. I was denied full compensation for medical copays as “the instigator.” I’ve appealed. If Carpenter forgot about the evidence he had, he was nonfeasant. If he knowingly didn’t cite the evidence, he’s malfeasant–no wiggle room.

It’s been almost a  year and my appeal for reimbursement is still pending at Victims Services. Expectant mom-tasing Crippen still patrols Herkimer. Carpenter, who earns $200k a year and has four assistant DAs, will probably be running for reelection in 2024, based on his 16 years of protecting and serving Herkimer.

12.6.23 Herkimer Officer Jason Crippen, Co-Receiving Charitable Christmas Donation. Note his expectant-mom taser (yellow), ready for fast cross draw, and the Glock pistol he leaves lying around in public. (See his discipline record.)
12.6.23 A relaxed and confident Officer Jason Crippen as a jolly elf, co-receiving a charitable Christmas donation. Note his expectant-mom taser (yellow), ready for fast cross draw, and the Glock pistol he left lying around in public. (See his discipline record.)

“As long as their chief protects his rogue officers from scrutiny, rather than protecting the public by firing them, the community is not safe. 

Herkimer Police Chief Mike Jory has done a lot of good things. Most recently he’s promoted some of his best line officers to positions of authority and brought mental health professionals on board to help decriminalize mental illness.  He’s turned the Herkimer PD’s Facebook page into a Happy Hour of good news.

Herkimer Cops Aren’t the Baddies

This is our tenth year in Herkimer, using social media to out criminals who wanted us gone. We’ve worked with a lot of the Herkimer cops–the great majority of them are dedicated professionals, good people in a bad system. It must be very frustrating to see so many of your solid busts subverted by sweetheart plea bargaining that puts bad actors back on the street. That won’t change as long as  Herkimer’s chief law enforcement officer is the criminal-coddling king of low-ball plea bargains.

Why no Herkimer County DA attorneys are available to represent victims at arraignments. (Even when you reach the secret plea deal number, expect a delay.)
Why no Herkimer County DA attorneys are available to represent victims at arraignments. (Even when you reach the secret plea deal number, expect a delay.)

Carpenter’s old boss, former Herkimer County DA and retired New York Supreme Court Judge Bill Daley, ran against Carpenter for DA in 2016. He says of Carpenter’s criminal coddling:

Every felony is plea bargained and violent criminals put back in our community. There is a statute in place and that must be followed. When you plea bargain every single case, that tells me the offers are so low that the defendant has to take them.  When you’re offering such sweetheart deals that the defendants can’t turn them down, you end up with no trials.

Carpenter’s Instrument of Betrayal: Charge of Violent Felony on an Elder, with Mandatory Prison Time, Becomes a $100 Misdemeanor

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Case Study: People v. Jordan Bormann. How DA Carpenter Betrays the Public Trust

Eager to see how DA Carpenter magically transformed a violent felony into a misdemeanor, I researched my own case. It’s not for the faint of heart. Carpenter’s contempt for the community he’s charged to protect is on full display:

Open Season on Herkimer Elders As District Attorney Carpenter Waves His Magic Wand

Was Your Complaint to the Herkimer Police Not Made Public? Tell USA Today’s Police Discipline Records Team

New York law makes all police complaints, not just the unsubstantiated ones, open to public access. If you’ve filed a written complaint about a police officer, you’re entitled upon request to that information, no matter the disposition of that complaint. If you filed a complaint about a Herkimer police officer and it wasn’t released in response to the USA Today suit, tell USA Today’s Police Discipline Records Team. Here’s the link: https://shorturl.at/ty459

Public access to police discipline records in New York is now down to a department-by-department trench fight. Time, resources and the law are on the side of the public. Don’t be deterred.

“The window is fast closing on our chance to put our own house in order before heavy hammers fall. And it won’t be pretty.

Making Herkimer Safe Again

The only way for Herkimer to ever be truly safe again is to replace District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter with a chief law enforcement officer of proven worth and integrity. Someone who’ll enforce the statutes passed to protect us, not cut backroom deals and put violent criminals back on the streets. Someone who doesn’t flout the law but ensures its observance.  Someone who’ll prosecute bad cops, not parrot them.

Jason Crippen so needs to go, before he does even more and greater harm to the people of Herkimer. If Chief Jory won’t or can’t get rid of him and run a clean shop, then Jory needs to retire. Climate migration is sending a lot of people and new industries our way. They won’t tolerate the cozy corruption of old boy-run Rust Belt towns like Herkimer. This region is vital to the future of America.

A lot of eyes are on us–look up, count the surveillance drones. Too much is at stake here in an increasingly perilous world. The window is fast closing on our chance to put our own house in order before the heavy hammers fall. And it won’t be pretty.