Three fired Milwaukee police officers were found guilty yesterday in a beating case that has rocked the city and its police force for almost three years, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After deliberating 30 hours, a federal jury of eight women and four men found Jon Bartlett, 35, Andrew Spengler, 28, and Daniel Masarik, 27, guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Frank Jude, Jr., and his friend Lovell Harris and of assaulting Jude while acting as officers. The assaults happened outside an off-duty officers’ party at Spengler’s house in 2004. A suspended officer was acquited. Four former officers earlier pleaded guilty to federal crimes in the case – making it the largest criminal case against police in modern Milwaukee history.
The three convicted defendants will be sentenced Nov. 29. The verdict comes 15 months after a state jury acquitted the same three men, prompting protests and the federal investigation. The federal case focused on what happened in the street and made no mention of the so-called police code of silence, which was central to the state prosecution. There also were new witnesses, including some from inside the conspiracy. Jude’s beating led to the largest single-day purge in Police Department history. In May 2005, Chief Nannette Hegerty fired nine officers, suspended three. and demoted one. It also prompted new hiring and training practices. Until they are sentenced, Masarik and Spengler will continue to draw their salaries under a state law unique to Milwaukee that requires fired officers be paid until their appeals of termination are exhausted or they are sentenced on a felony.