STRIP-SEARCHES Warren police reopen one case

It is not known if all the strip-search cases are being reopened.
WARREN -- A few days after U.S. Justice Department officials left town, city police reopened a 2002 strip-search investigation.
Law Director Greg Hicks and Doug Franklin, safety-service director, said Thursday that Police Chief John Mandopoulos ordered Capt. Tim Roberts to reopen the investigation involving Dominic Gambone.
News the investigation was reopened came after The Vindicator requested copies of Gambone's internal affairs complaint and the subsequent investigation.
"Since it is reopened we cannot release it at this time," Hicks said. "We don't know why the chief decided to reopen the case but he did. The officers involved received letters today telling them that it has been reopened."
The file will be reviewed and the officers may be interviewed again, Franklin said.
Previous investigation
In July 2003, The Vindicator reported that one officer admitted routinely conducting body-cavity searches and strip-searches on male suspects even in minor crimes, according to the internal police investigation on Gambone.
Gambone, 27, who lived on South Project Southeast when he was arrested in February 2002 on charges of driving under suspension and driving slow,filed a complaint with police saying he believed he was illegally strip-searched.
Lt. Joseph Marhulik, who investigated the complaint agreed with Gambone. The police chief changed the policy on strip-searches but exonerated the officers involved.
The officers were never disciplined.
Gambone filed a civil lawsuit and settled for about $75,000, officials said.
None of the police officers involved in the alleged illegal strip-searches in 2002 have been disciplined. It is not known if all the strip-search cases are now being reopened.
Mandopoulos did not return calls to comment.
Fred Harris, former safety-service director, has said he met with U.S. Justice Department officials last week and the majority of questions he was asked dealt with the strip-searches.
In February, Atty. John Gibbons, who was hired by Hicks to determine whether any officer involved in the strip-searches should be criminally charged, announced that he believes laws were broken but that the statute of limitations had expired, making prosecution impossible.

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