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Ex-East Haven Police Officer Miller Sentenced to Four Months

During his sentencing hearing, former EHPD Sgt. John Miller — one of four officers indicted for civil rights violations — was credited by the judge for his cooperation in the federal government's investigation and prosecution of the case.

East Haven Police Department cruiser. Credit: Julie Weisberg
East Haven Police Department cruiser. Credit: Julie Weisberg
All four East Haven Police Department officers arrested in December 2011 for federal civil rights violations related to racial profiling of Latino residents will each spend time in jail, after the fourth and final officer awaiting his legal fate was sentenced in Hartford on Wednesday.

John Miller, 44, a former sergeant with the department, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson to four months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for violating an individual’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during the course of an arrest, according to the United States Attorney District of Connecticut's office.

Miller was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.

Federal Investigation

Miller's sentence is the result a federal criminal investigation into members of the East Haven Police Department using excessive force during arrests, conducting unconstitutional searches and seizures and filing false police reports. 

As a result of the investigation, Miller and former officers Dennis Spaulding, Jason Zullo and David Cari were all convicted of various civil rights offenses.

'Excessive Force'

According to Tom Carson, the public information officer for the U.S. Attorney of Connecticut's office, court documents and statements made in court report that in the course of making an arrest  on Jan. 3, 2010, Miller struck a handcuffed individual while the victim was in the secure custody of two other East Haven Police officers.

Although he had originally plead not guilty to the charges, on Sept. 21, 2012 Miller changed his plea to guilty to one count of depriving an individual of his right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer. 

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Thompson credited Miller for his cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of this matter and imposed a sentence below the recommended sentencing guidelines range of 12 to 18 months of imprisonment, Carson said.

Miller, who has retired from the East Haven Police Department, was ordered to report to prison on March 13.

Other Officers

On Oct. 23, 2012, Jason Zullo — who had also originally plead not guilty — changed his plea to guilty to one count of obstruction stemming from his filing of a false police report in order to prevent a possible excessive force investigation. On Dec. 16, 2013, he was sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment.

On Oct. 21, 2013, David Cari was found guilty of one count of conspiracy against rights, one count of deprivation of rights for making an arrest without probable cause, and one count of obstruction of a federal investigation for preparing a false report.  On January 21, 2014, he was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment.

On Oct. 21, 2013, Dennis Spaulding was found guilty of one count of conspiracy against rights, one count of use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer, two counts of deprivation of rights for making arrests without probable cause, and two counts of obstruction of a federal investigation for preparing false reports to justify the false arrests.  On Jan. 23, he was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment.
CAjones February 15, 2014 at 03:51 PM
Read carefully esq. Lance. I said "many" have the belief that you may have committed those acts. I got that information right here on this thread.... I never said I believe it, but have at it tough guy LOL..... Waste all the time and money you like, or just get on a boat to nowhere, in the end there will be the same yield.
CAjones February 15, 2014 at 03:56 PM
Hey Lance, the following is just one of the things said about you. I ask, WHY would anyone make such assertions if they are false?........"This is for Lance Coughlin. Lance you should stop throwing rocks I remember the officer and sgt Coughlin who used to stop Hispanic people driving on Frontage Road 1996-2001 time frame for no legal reason then strip search them on the side of the road. I remember when you were a sgt and were called to the Sunoco gas station on Frontage Road, you assaulted the male clerk, punched him in the face, then stole the security tape in the back room. Remember Lance you used to show that tape to your fellow officers at your house in Foxon. I remember the Lance Coughlin who fired his gun at an innocence civilian in 093. You should throw stones when you live in a glass house. You should be thankful that you were able to get out on your bogus disability injury. Gallo was a terrible chief but I remember you getting promoting twice under gallos team."
Nick February 15, 2014 at 04:06 PM
CAjones don't be threaten by the former East Haven Police Sgt, Lance Coughlin, he's very salty, lance is his own worst enemy. Sitting around all day picking on people in front of his computer Try doing something positive for people Lance instead of throwing rocks. Talk to some retired east haven police officers about Lance, everything is 100 percent true of which is posted here about him.
Nick February 15, 2014 at 04:10 PM
Hey Lance didn't Gallo save your Job that time when you fired your gun at someone at the 4 corners 093 when you were working. Just one of many reckless actions of the former east haven police officer. The new haven chief wanted your head on a platter remember, imagine if the press got a hold of that story back then.
Lance Coughlin February 15, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Untrue - you continue to make false libelous comments "nick" and you will face the consequences.
Nick February 15, 2014 at 04:52 PM
What's wrong East Rock you did not think your past could be posted on this site, don't threaten people on this site with your consequences that don't exist. People are tired of you.
Richard Poulton February 15, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Come on guys this is getting out of hand. Julie will pull the plug on both of you and we don't want that to happen.
CAjones February 15, 2014 at 06:42 PM
@Richard, come on this is the most interesting thread on patch since the Capone days.... I for one want to see it through to the end. It would be interesting if more people come forward with stories about the Coughlin years..... Those days when being a cowboy cop was niche.... Was Lance rogue or wasn't he? Inquiring minds want to know.
CAjones February 17, 2014 at 11:31 AM
I really would like to know if the following has any truth to it...."Hey Lance didn't Gallo save your Job that time when you fired your gun at someone at the 4 corners 093 when you were working. Just one of many reckless actions of the former east haven police officer. The new haven chief wanted your head on a platter remember, imagine if the press got a hold of that story back then." ........ Did this happen?
CAjones February 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Could it be true an East Haven officer would do this?......"remember the officer and sgt Coughlin who used to stop Hispanic people driving on Frontage Road 1996-2001 time frame for no legal reason then strip search them on the side of the road."....Seriously?!
ROUGE February 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM
A Cajones. What happened to your buddy EZU aka Red? Nothing when name clicked on. Someone deleted the account. Lastly were you in time-out the past couple of days?
CAjones February 17, 2014 at 11:56 AM
I don't CARE what happened to EZU as there are no bridges in the area high enough, I'm sure she/he is only hibernating. I did not get put in time out.... Thanks for your concern.
Lance Coughlin February 17, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Perhaps this is the incident he is referring to http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n394/a08.html
CAjones February 17, 2014 at 05:38 PM
And this Lance, any truth to this?....." Lance you still have that video you stole from Sunoco Gas station of you assaulting a clerk. If I remember correctly that clerk had called the police for help and he ended up getting punched. Very easy to pull that case number, track down the clerk and see what he remembers, or maybe a respected east officer still working will come forth and say what he saw when showed that tape. This happen between late 2002 to 2003."...... We still want to know!
Lance Coughlin February 18, 2014 at 03:09 AM
Ask nick he may be busy pulling the report, or you can wait until his lawyer deposes me. miller turned against many of his union brothers according to his lawyer, just to save his own ass. Now that AFSCME employs him, What would stop him from using information he obtains as a union employee about officer involved incidents and going to the Feds, AGAIN, to bury cops and gain favor with the government in hopes of obtaining a pardon in his case?
Joanne February 18, 2014 at 09:31 AM
http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n394/a08.html Just read this and the "victim" sounds like a guy on Cops...I didn't know those drugs were in my pants, I just bought them at Goodwill!
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Lance out of curiosity, are you suggesting that no matter what an officer does he should be protected by his fellow officers and his union. So your saying if a cop punches an innocent store clerk and steals the video or pilfers confiscated drugs for personal use, they should expect to be covered by the silence of brother officers and his/her union rep. If an officer commits a felony he should expect free passage not granted a civilian. Furthermore if another officer reports said felony, he/she is nothing but a rat? Conspiracy be damned..... Is this what you are saying?
Lance Coughlin February 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM
I'm saying it would be nice to know your union people have your best interests in mind and aren't an agent for the other team
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM
The "other team"? How many "teams" are there? My thinking is your either law enforcement or a criminal. What team were you on? Or is there a third team law enforcement who are also criminals ...... Is That your team?
Richard Poulton February 18, 2014 at 11:28 AM
I wasnt' going to jump in but what the heck, why not. Maybe L.C. can explain to us all what the courts have called "vicarious liability" and what it means in relationship to criminal acts of PO's, witnessed by other PO's, and how that witnesssing officer(s) is just as responsible as the offending PO if nothing is reported or actions taken to stop such violations. FYI to LC, you couldn't shine my shoes in comparing my contributions to my department or to the population of NH in general.
On the Beat February 18, 2014 at 12:24 PM
This is part and parcel of the larger issue. "I'm saying it would be nice to know your union people have your best interests in mind and aren't an agent for the other team" This is another way of saying 'the union should help cover for law enforcement officers that commit crimes.' Laws apply to all...including those who are sworn to enforce them.
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 12:37 PM
I for one would like former Sgt. Lance to clarify exactly what he means, exactly where the thin blue line gets crossed..... Well Lance, you say?......
Lance Coughlin February 18, 2014 at 03:12 PM
Sure Richard whatever you say lol. And no cahones were you ever a union member?
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 03:40 PM
Yes Lance I was a union member, however brotherhood aside I was never a party to a crime. None of my union brothers ever punched an innocent store clerk and stole the video tape that proved the crime. Nor did any of my union brothers misappropriate confiscated drugs to get high. Now if they had, that is if one of my brothers committed any of the above mentioned crimes, I would tell rather than be a party to the crime..... That makes me a rat? What does it make the union "brother" who committed these acts? I'm betting you won't answer a direct question with an honest answer!
Lance Coughlin February 18, 2014 at 04:04 PM
It wouldn't make you a rat. Unless of course you were committing criminal acts together with a person and only decided to "do the right thing" to save your own ass.
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Thanks Lance, I know you don't usually like chatting with anonymous posters so I appreciate your answer.
On the Beat February 18, 2014 at 04:41 PM
That's clearly not a truthful answer by Mr. Coughlin. We all know what his definition of a "rat" is...make no mistake about it. If you give up the goods on a union member/fellow cop then you are considered a rat; regardless of your involvement or lack thereof. Any layperson knows damn well how the "brotherhood" works...
CAjones February 18, 2014 at 04:48 PM
Frankly I don't care what is or isn't the definition of "rat". My interest is what you call an officer who punches innocent clerks or pilfers drugs for personal use is called. More specifically if Lance knows anything about such activities.
Lance Coughlin February 18, 2014 at 06:14 PM
I don't and false allegations will be dealt with accordingly
CAjones March 06, 2014 at 03:07 PM
So it's Been a while since anyone has visited this thread... Certainly long enough for legal proceedings for alleged libelous comments. So does anyone have a status update? Lance? Nick? What's going on fellas?

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