Wondering what some of you LEO guys think of this one...

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Austin4Wyo

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I've been following this particular story since it read about it back in December, and it sounds, well, for lack of a better term, odd. Neither side seems to be in the right, and it just seems strange that the DEA would need to use something like the drunk driving hotline to accomplish their goals around here.

By JARED MILLER
Star-Tribune capital bureau

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 7:57 AM MDT

CHEYENNE -- A former state trooper who was fired for calling in a bogus drunken-driving report has agreed to settle his wrongful termination claim against the state.

Ben Peech, 36, of Cheyenne said Monday that a deal is being crafted that will clear his record of the April 2007 incident, although the agreement bars him from providing details.

Col. Sam Powell of the Wyoming Highway Patrol confirmed that a deal is in the works but said he is also bound by the gag order.

"It's not completely final yet," Peech said in an e-mail to the Star-Tribune. "I can say, however, ... that the incident is no longer in my file."

The settlement comes about a month before the agency that reviews state employee grievances, the Office of Hearing Examiners, was slated to hold a hearing on Peech's case.

Peech, who served nearly 10 years with the Highway Patrol, was fired over an April 7, 2007, collaboration with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that netted $3.3 million during an early-morning traffic stop on Interstate 80.

Shortly before the stop, Peech used the much-praised statewide drunken driving hotline to call in a phony DUI report. Peech said he made the call to prevent the owners of the money from realizing that the traffic stop was a setup, and to protect an undercover federal agent in the suspect vehicle.

He claimed that similar types of subterfuge are a normal part of the law-enforcement process, but Powell disagreed and fired Peech in November for abusing the DUI hotline and for a long history of infractions as a state trooper.

Peech in turn hired Denver lawyer Sean Olson, who specializes in cases involving law enforcement issues. The national Fraternal Order of Police threatened to demonstrate in Cheyenne on Peech's behalf.

Peech, the former president of the Wyoming Highway Patrol Association, has insisted that his firing was an act of retaliation for spearheading the launch of a lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, a labor organization.

Powell and Wyoming Department of Transportation Director John Cox have denied the allegation.

Since leaving his post in November, Peech has openly criticized Highway Patrol practices, accusing department administrators of forcing troopers to focus on speeders instead of serious criminals, and insisting that the top brass is out of touch with modern law-enforcement techniques.

Peech also penned a letter during the recent budget session of the Legislature urging state lawmakers to reject increases in the Highway Patrol budget.

The case drew more attention when one of the men involved in the April traffic stop filed a petition in federal court for return of the $3.3 million, which the government claimed in a civil forfeiture lawsuit.

Rusty Boschee of Oregon eventually dropped his claim to the money as part of a plea agreement involving criminal drug charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

It was later revealed that the Wyoming Highway Patrol didn't apply for a share of the $3.3 million, which will be distributed to other law enforcement agencies involved in the bust. Powell said WHP involvement in the overall investigation and bust was minimal, and he declined to seek the funds.

Peech is now working as a Converse County deputy sheriff, although he still lives in Cheyenne. Sheriff Clinton Becker, a former 20-year member of the Highway Patrol who worked with Peech as a state trooper, said he hired Peech about two months ago.

"He's doing a good job for us," Becker said.

Reach capital bureau reporter Jared Miller at (307) 632-1244 or at jared.miller@trib.co


Now, I'm no expert, so I was wondering if you guys would weigh in and what you thought of this story.
 

hoser147

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He used it to protect the agent inside, big deal im sure its been abused in much worse ways. It was probably on of those on the spot better come up with something quick. 3.3 million not exactly chump change............Hoser
 

RolnCode3

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If the DUI hotline was simply a cover, and they independently had either probable cause or a warrant, then I don't see why he got fired over it.

If he called a DUI driver and THAT was the PC, then it's a 4th Amendment violation (which I don't see mentioned). So it seems it's simply a matter of using the hotline, rather than a violation of rights.

Again, I don't see the big deal. Maybe politics are at play as the officer suggests.
 
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