Monday, October 15, 2007

Officer Robert Vargas - Sentenced - Lansing PD



Lansing police officer sentenced to probation for stalking officer in Jackson County
by Danielle Quisenberry
Jackson Citizen Patriot
Thursday May 28, 2009, 3:27 PM

A former Lansing police officer convicted of stalking a Blackman Township public safety officer was sentenced Thursday to five years probation.

As a condition of his probation, Robert Vargas, 39, is not to have any contact with Officer Joseph Merritt or his family, said Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson.

A jury convicted Vargas, who recently retired as an officer after he was given a duty disability pension, of misdemeanor stalking and acquitted him on a charge of malicious use of a telephone.

Merritt testified at the trial that Vargas twice called him and made threatening statements after Merritt arrested Vargas in 2007 on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and telephone harassment.

In that case, Vargas was convicted of telephone harassment and was sentenced in October 2007 to 15 months probation.

Four days after his probation ended, Vargas first called Merritt and said, "You are going to need an attorney ... you're dead," according to testimony.

Thursday, Vargas turned to Merritt, who was sitting in the courtroom, and apologized. "Joe, I am truly sorry that things got to this point," he said. "I wish you all the best in the future."

His lawyer, Fred Blackmond, said Vargas is "changing his life."

Merritt said it did not seem as though Vargas had gotten over Merritt arresting him.

According to you, I have some general disdain for you. That's not true," Merritt said.

He said he never wanted to arrest a police officer, but had to make a difficult decision, which, as a former police officer, Vargas should understand.

Merritt said Vargas deserved jail time, but asked Wilson not to send him to jail. "I would ask Mr. Vargas to move on with his life and get past all this."

Wilson said he had planned to order Vargas to jail for "impact purposes," but did not.

A few years down the road, if Vargas has done well, Wilson said he may consider taking Vargas off probation.

Vargas was placed on paid administrative leave from the police department after he was first charged with crimes in 2007. Since then he was granted the pension.

In April 2004, Vargas was shot four times and killed one suspect during what authorities said was a robbery in progress.

Officer found guilty of verbal abuse
Lansing policeman on trial for incidents with ex-girlfriend
Lansing State Journal, MI - 1 hour ago
Kevin Grasha
Published September 11, 2007

A Lansing police officer has been found guilty of being verbally abusive toward his former girlfriend over the telephone.

But he was found not guilty of a domestic violence charge.

Robert Vargas, 39, was arrested after a May 22 fight at the woman's Blackman Township home.

They had recently broken up, police said. Both charges are misdemeanors. Vargas, who has been on paid administrative leave since the incident, faces up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Jackson County District Court.

Vargas' attorney, Fred Blackmond, did not return calls seeking comment. Vargas' telephone number is not listed.The verdict came Friday after a jury trial before Jackson County District Judge R. Darryl Mazur.

A few days after the woman broke off the relationship, Vargas went to her home, yelled at her, and at one point, pinned her to a bed, according to trial testimony. On the stand, Vargas admitted lying to a superior when he at first denied being at the woman's home.

An internal investigation continues, Police Chief Mark Alley said Monday.
He could not say when it would be completed."Discipline could include, but is not limited to, termination of employment," Alley said. "Whether it's a misdemeanor or a felony, we look at the facts surrounding the incident on a case-by-case basis and make a determination from there."

Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Schwalm, who handled the case, said the county's elected prosecutor, Henry Zavislak, instructed him not to offer Vargas a plea deal.

"He wanted to make sure (county residents) know we enforce the law equally with everyone, regardless of position," Schwalm said.

Vargas has worked for the department about a decade.

In 2004, Vargas was shot four times when he interrupted a robbery.

After being wounded, he shot and killed one of two men involved in the break-in. It was determined that Vargas' use of deadly force was justified.

Lansing police officer charged with domestic assault
Evening update
Lansing State Journal
Kevin Grasha
Published May 23, 2007

A Lansing police officer, who was arrested Tuesday night on a domestic assault charge, was placed on paid administrative leave today.

Rob Vargas, who has been with the department about a decade, was arrested in Blackman Township in Jackson County.

Vargas could not be reached today for comment.

Lansing Chief Mark Alley said Vargas also will face an internal affairs investigation, "where he could face anything from exoneration to termination.""We do not tolerate criminal misconduct by any member of our agency," Alley said.

In 2004, Vargas was shot four times when he interrupted a robbery at a south Lansing townhouse. After being wounded, he shot and killed one of two men involved in the break-in. Prosecutors determined Vargas' use of deadly force was justified.

The incident was the first time in more than a decade that a Lansing officer was shot in the line of duty.


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