Infamous BART Police Officer Charged With Unemployment Fraud

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    The petition submitted by ColorofChange.org alleges that BART officer Tony Pirone "appears to have committed a serious crime" by punching Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, shortly before officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Grant at the Fruitvale station in Oakland early on New Year's Day.

    A former BART police officer who was fired for his role in a  confrontation that ended with the fatal shooting of passenger Oscar Grant III  four years ago has been charged with unemployment fraud and grand theft.

        The charges against Anthony Pirone, which were filed in mid-April,  allege that he collected unemployment checks from the state for a seven-month  period in 2011, after he had been fired by BART, even though he had a job.     However, Pirone's attorney, William Rapoport, said today that he  thinks the allegations against Pirone are "not provable" and he's "confident"  that Pirone, who currently is serving with the Army National Guard in  Afghanistan, won't be convicted.
        Rapoport said Pirone wasn't on active duty with the military at  the time he was receiving the unemployment checks that are the subject of the  criminal charges and was only in training with the Army National Guard.
        Rapoport said Pirone probably received some type of payments while  he was in training but those payments aren't considered earnings or wages  that would make him ineligible to collect unemployment benefits.
        Pirone had been scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior  Court this week but he couldn't attend because he's in Afghanistan so his  case was postponed until next year, when he's scheduled to return to the U.S.
        Grant, 22, of Hayward, was shot and killed by former BART police  Officer Johannes Mehserle in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2009, after  Mehserle, Pirone and other officers responded to reports that there was a  fight on a BART train.
        Mehserle was charged with murder but he was only convicted of the  lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
        Pirone wasn't charged in connection with the incident but John  Burris, an Oakland attorney who represented Grant's family in a wrongful  death lawsuit, alleged that Pirone escalated the situation at the Fruitvale  station.
        Pirone was the first officer to arrive at the station's platform  and video recordings showed him acting aggressively.
        Pirone is in the midst of an arbitration hearing in which he is  seeking to get his job back at BART and Rapoport alleged that the criminal  charges against him are an attempt by BART to gain "an advantage" in the  arbitration process.
        BART officials didn't respond to a request for a comment today.
        Rapoport said an evidentiary hearing in the arbitration matter  concluded on Wednesday and will be followed by about six months of legal  briefs. He said he expects a ruling late this year or early next year.
        Rapoport noted that Marysol Domenici, another BART police officer  who was fired for her role in the Grant incident, was victorious at the end  of her arbitration process in December 2010 and has been back at the transit  agency for more than two years now.
        Rapoport previously said he thinks the incident that led to  Grant's death has been "politicized" and he believes Pirone will win his  arbitration case.