CLEVELAND, OH -When Cleveland cop James Skernivitz joined President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s Operation Legend task force his use of Scott Dingess as a confidential informant had to be approved under federal guidelines found in the U.S. Department of Justice’s manual in accordance with applicable “federal” laws. He may have been a Cleveland cop, but Skernivitz was under federal law supervision.
Skernivitz joined the U.S. DOJ’s “Operation Legend” task force on September 2, 2020. The next day he was shot dead around 10 p.m. at 65th and Storer in either an unmarked police car or an undercover car that didn’t look like the unmarked police car. In the car with him was an unarmed American citizen by the name of Scott Dingess, 50. The car Skernivitz sat in with the citizen whose life he endangered was riddled with bullets the way Cleveland cop Michael Brelo and 12 others shot Timothy Russell’s car and killed him and Malissa Williams in East Cleveland.
Published reports have identified Dingess as an “informant.” A copy of an indictment Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley filed last September identifies him and April Dingess as stealing five pairs of sunglasses for Lenscrafters. Theft and petty theft.
WKYC’s Ryan Hader misreported Dingess as being charged with “aggravated theft” and created the false illusion with the misuse of the word “aggravated” that force or a weapon was involved. WKYC is represented by the law firm of Squire, Patton & Boggs that also represents the Russian Federation’s businesses from its Moscow office.
Reporters from news organizations with Communist ties often misrepresent facts like this to promote a conceal-minded government official’s perspective. Dingess is being intentionally dehumanized as the violation of his constitutional rights are being ignored by the pro-police television station, Barr and Cleveland officials. Did the city even pick up his burial costs for his September 9th funeral at 4420 Rocky River Drive at Chambers Funeral Home at 7 p.m?
Has Cleveland Police Patrolmens Association president Jeffrey Folmer offered to pay the family’s burial costs or raised money to help them survive after Skernivitz cost their loved one his life?
What Dingess appears to be from 7 closed Cuyahoga County court cases is an American citizen living in Strongsville with a drug habit he couldn’t afford. The constant petty crimes records he accumulated kept him from an education and work. Two of his most recent cases were dismissed. Dingess also admitted guilt to crimes he didn’t commit to keep his wife out of jail. All minor.
So even for Dingess’ “state” criminal history to be of use to Skernivitz’s “federal law enforcement” activities with the U.S. DOJ, he needed a federal prosecutor and the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s approval. Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley would not have the authority to cut a deal with Dingess as a federal task force’s informant within 24-hours after he joined the federal task force.
Skernivitz also did not have have time to get the approval from a federal prosecutor that would have authorized him to use Dingess as a confidential informant within 24 hours after he was appointed to the Operation Legend task force. Instead of being praised as a fallen hero, Skernivitz should be post-humously facing a criminal investigation for violating those laws and getting Dingess killed.
Dingess had done nothing that would have encouraged him to place his life at risk unless he’d been promised a deal that Skernivitz had no legal authority to even “offer.”
Confidential informants are nothing more than “sources” of information according to federal laws that guides every interaction with them in sections 509, 510 and 533 in Title 28 of the United States Code. The U.S. DOJ has a manual headlined “THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S GUIDELINES REGARDING THE USE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANTS.” It was authorized under John Ashcroft as President George W. Bush’s U.S. Attorney General in 2003. The page images I’ve shared are directly from that manual.
The authorized method of engaging sources requires a “vetting” process to first determine in a meeting with federal prosecutors investigating a case or terrorism if the information is worth it. It can take as long as 45 days.
A Confidential Informant’s file has to be set up. No cop or federal law enforcement officer can ever “individually” promise an informant a deal and doing so is a prohibited act. None has that legal authority to do so and any cop or federal agent doing so is committing a crime.
Dingess was a “state” offender. Specific federal law guidelines must be met in dealing with state and not federal offenders. Dingess’ signature on official forms, acknowledging the relationship and its limits is required by federal law to be in his Confidential Informant’s file.
Under no circumstances was Dingess allowed to be engaged in a criminal act but to save his life or maintain his credibility if he was “inside” an illegal operation providing information to law enforcement authorities. If he received compensation for his information the payment had to be authorized, recorded and placed in Dingess’ Confidential Informant’s file. He was also supposed to be “registered” with a JLEA or Justice Department Law Enforcement Agency.
As he’s now deceased Dingess’ informant’s file is a public record under Ohio law. That’s if Operation Legend’s federal law enforcement officers created one within 24 hours after Skernitz’s appointment.
It appears every act city officials are engaged in now to portray Skernivitz as a hero is to conceal the fact he appears to have disobeyed laws that got Dingess killed in a “color of law” violation of his constitutional rights. Dingess was not supposed to be sitting in either an unmarked public safety or undercover private vehicle the city owns as Skernitz’s partner in a dangerous organized crime investigation.
The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) in a September 2015 report to Congress ripped the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals and 4 other federal law enforcement agencies for using informants as sources in violation of federal laws. Five of the 8 had policies that matched the requirements of the three federal laws under the guidance of the U.S. Attorney General’s “manual.” The federal government has manuals that guide the conduct of every federal employee in every department if they read and obey the instructions each contains instead of making up their own rules that criminally disobeys them.
More specifically, President Trump signed an executive order on June 16, 2020. It came 22 days after George Floyd’s death. Trump instructed Barr not to invest a federal dollar into an “uncertified” municipal police department.
Cleveland’s police department is not certified and is ineligible for Operation Legend money under Trump’s executive order. Trump’s order also required Barr to move forward with implementing a national database to identify the dirty cops like those in Cleveland he made his “law enforcement partners” and got Dingess killed.
As the U.S. DOJ’s manual backs “federal laws” municipal police in Ohio have a duty to obey, first, before they enforce them pursuant to Chapter 737.11 of Ohio’s Revised Code, every Ohio police department’s policies on the use of confidential informants must be “substantially equivalent” to federal laws in order to receive federal funds. Mayor Frank Jackson told me in his office, after I showed Chapter 737.11 to him on my cell phone, that Chief of Police Calvin Williams hadn’t read it. Jackson hadn’t either.
Mandating obedience to laws in a general law instructs cops not to ever disobey one even in the enforcement of laws. So the concept of “undercover” out-of-uniform police work with unregistered confidential informants is a crime. Section 4 of Title 18 of the United States Code is headlined, Misprison of felony” and requires everyone with knowledge of felony offenses to report them.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution no Ohio mayor, safety director, council or police chief appears to understand gives states the right to determine how and who enforces federal laws. State’s rights.
So Ohio in R.C. 737.11 gives municipal police “federal criminal” law enforcement authority. In Cleveland police are the highest legal authority inside the municipal corporation Not the troopers or the sheriff Cleveland cops can arrest for violating “federal” laws.
Neither the sheriff nor troopers are given “federal” law enforcement authority in the sections of Ohio law that identifies their duties. R.C. 737.11 also gives “municipal” police “organized crime” investigation authority, but under the guidance of R.C. 177.02. The bottom line is that all times within the municipal corporation the jurisdiction of the city’s police is “concurrent” with that of federal law enforcement officers.
737.11 General duties of police and fire departments. The police force of a municipal corporation shall preserve the peace, protect persons and property, and obey and enforce all ordinances of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, all criminal laws of the state and the United States, all court orders issued and consent agreements approved pursuant to sections 2919.26 and 3113.31 of the Revised Code, all protection orders issued pursuant to section 2903.213 or 2903.214 of the Revised Code, and protection orders issued by courts of another state, as defined in section 2919.27 of the Revised Code. The fire department shall protect the lives and property of the people in case of fire. Both the police and fire departments shall perform any other duties that are provided by ordinance. The police and fire departments in every city shall be maintained under the civil service system. A chief or officer of a police force of a municipal corporation may participate, as the director of an organized crime task force established under section 177.02 of the Revised Code or as a member of the investigatory staff of such a task force, in an investigation of organized criminal activity in any county or counties in this state under sections 177.01 to 177.03 of the Revised Code.
What’s of note in R.C. 737.11 is when municipal police can involve themselves in “organized criminal” investigations and under whose authority. Skernivitz, in his municipal police officer’s official capacity role, would have been authorized by law to join Barr’s Operation Legend task force if it was being done pursuant to R.C. 177.02. Williams didn’t have the authority to unilaterally assign him to the federal task force if the assignment wasn’t in accordance with R.C. 177.02.
177.02 Complaint that alleges that organized criminal activity has occurred in county. (A) Any person may file with the organized crime investigations commission a complaint that alleges that organized criminal activity has occurred in a county. A person who files a complaint under this division also may file with the commission information relative to the complaint. (B) Upon the filing of a complaint under division (A) of this section or upon its own initiative, the commission may establish an organized crime task force to investigate organized criminal activity in a single county or in two or more counties if it determines, based upon the complaint filed and the information relative to it or based upon any information that it may have received, that there is reason to believe that organized criminal activity has occurred and continues to occur in that county or in each of those counties. The commission shall not establish an organized crime task force to investigate organized criminal activity in any single county unless it makes the determination required under this division relative to that county and shall not establish an organized crime task force to investigate organized criminal activity in two or more counties unless it makes the determination required under this division relative to each of those counties. The commission, at any time, may terminate an organized crime task force it has established under this section. (C) (1) If the commission establishes an organized crime task force to investigate organized criminal activity in a single county or in two or more counties pursuant to division (B) of this section, the commission initially shall appoint a task force director to directly supervise the investigation. The task force director shall be either the sheriff or a deputy sheriff of any county in the state, the chief law enforcement officer or a member of a law enforcement agency of any municipal corporation or township in the state, or an agent of the bureau of criminal identification and investigation. No person shall be appointed as task force director without the person’s consent and, if applicable, the consent of the person’s employing sheriff or law enforcement agency or of the superintendent of the bureau of criminal identification and investigation if the person is an employee of the bureau. Upon appointment of a task force director, the commission shall meet with the director and establish the scope and limits of the investigation to be conducted by the task force and the size of the task force investigatory staff to be appointed by the task force director. The commission, at any time, may remove a task force director appointed under this division and may replace any director so removed according to the guidelines for the initial appointment of a director.
I’ve not reviewed or at this point requested any public records from Ohio Attorney General David Yost to learn if a complaint had been filed with his office of organized crime activity in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County that he’s directed Cleveland police to conduct. I’ve not sought to verify whether or not Barr and Yost met to discuss Operation Legend. What I know is that R.C. 737.11 does not give Williams in his official capacity as chief of police pursuant to R.C. 737.06 the legal authority to assign police to any agency on his own.
That state general law is captioned “Chief of police.” If Williams had read R.C. 737.06 then his name would not be attached to any of the rules and regulations he, Mike McGrath and Martin Flask created without any legal authority to do so.
The chief of police shall have exclusive control of the stationing and transfer of all patrolmen, auxiliary police officers, and other officers and employees in the police department, and police auxiliary unit, under such general rules and regulations as the director of public safety prescribes.
As a former mayor and director of public safety for the municipal corporation of East Cleveland, Ohio, I met with FBI Special Agent in Charge Frank Figgliuzzi in December 2009 to discuss Carl Monday’s story about ex-cop David Hicks strangling Sandra Varney and dumping her body behind the Noble Motel. I took chief of police Ralph Spotts with me.
Spotts had originally claimed that Monday was lying and told me Hicks did not know Varney. That’s not what Spotts said when asked by FBI agents I knew he would not lie to when questioned. Why do you think I took his azz to the meeting with me?
I sat to next to Figgliuzzi as a Special Agent named “George” questioned him with Special Agent Mike Malley present. Spotts admitted to the three FBI agents present that Hicks knew Varney and that she was “his” informant. The lead agent asked Spotts if he’d created a Confidential Informant File and he said no. He asked Spotts if she was Hicks’ “out of pocket” informant and he said yes. I whispered to Figgliuzzi if that shit was legal and he said no.
When I returned to city hall I reviewed the USDOJ manuals on informants and knew nothing East Cleveland cops had done, even under my watch, in using them was lawful. For me it was too late as I had less than 10 days left in office. I had a conversation with the young female Special Agent the FBI assigned to investigate Hicks for Varney’s death; but that was after I was out of office.
Dingess leaves behind his wife and five children. He was a grandfather and his mother, Wilma, loses a son because of reckless policing. Ronald Bond has lost his best friend. The only person Barr is concerned about is the reckless cop who cost Dingess his life.
Today is a very sad day for the city of Cleveland and the entire law enforcement community. Overnight, Cleveland Division of Police Detective James Skernivitz was shot and killed in the line of duty. Detective Skernivitz was a 22-year veteran of the Cleveland Division of Police and a sworn Operation Legend task force officer assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crimes Task Force.
“Two weeks ago, I had the honor of visiting the unit where Detective Skernivitz was assigned. I was briefed on the critical work that he and his colleagues do to keep our streets safe from violent crime. Detective Skernivitz selflessly gave his life in this cause.
“It takes a special kind of courage to be a police officer. Our men and women in blue put their lives on the line day after day in order to keep us safe. We will not forget Detective Skernivitz and his life of service and sacrifice. I send my heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, and family.” – William Barr, U.S. Attorney General.
Irrespective of whether or not Dingess was approved by the federal government as an informant, if Skernivitz used him in Cleveland he had no choice but to obey the laws that authorized it. In this case the laws are federal and Skernivitz did not get federal authorization to use Dingess as an informant within 24 hours.
[NOTE: To the law enforcement officers reading this story. Do not search my name in the NCIC or LEADS database. To do so will violate federal laws I know you haven’t read that I have included in my Fight Police License Plate Spying book. Within 30 days I will pay the less than $20 the FBI requires to search the database and provide me with all the information associated with my name. That includes who searched it. Remember. I’m a former mayor and safety director. I know more about police management and governing authorities than you.]