A federal judge heard compelling testimony in day two of a federal wiretap trial involving the South Bend Police Department. But it will be at least 6 weeks before the judge issues an opinion in the case.
Two police officers told a judge the former police chief intimidated and threatened them over recorded phone conversations.
The judge heard from three sides in this case. One of those is the City of South Bend, asking the judge to decide whether that line in the police department’s detective bureau was recorded illegally.
The second is a lawyer representing the City Council – arguing the line was recorded legally and police officers have no expectation to privacy on department phone lines.
The third is the group of four police officers and one of their wives that sued city, the former police chief, and former 911 director. They claim they had "no idea" their conversations were being recorded on former South Bend detective bureau captain Brian Young's phone line.
Former South Bend Police Detective Bureau Chief Steve Richmond was the first of three witnesses to testify.
He told the judge he did not know about a department policy saying officers’ lines could be recorded. Richmond testified “from time to time” he recorded phone conversations with equipment he purchased himself.
But he would not be comfortable having his line tapped without his knowledge because of his involvement in federal investigations.
Richmond said he first became aware a line was recorded in January 2012, around the time he interviewed with Mayor-elect Pete Buttigieg for the police chief position.
On the stand Richmond detailed a conversation with then Chief Daryl Boykins about that interview.
"[Boykins] looked at me and told me I was no longer considered to be a loyal employee," Richmond testified. "He considered me to be a disloyal employee and a backstabber. He told me he had been told I had been disrespectful toward him in my interview with the mayor."
Richmond also testified Boykins said he would "wait four to six weeks after Pete Buttigieg took office before he'd consider whether he would demote, discipline, or fire anyone who had been a backstabber to him."
Young gave similar testimony, saying he first found out his line was recorded when he heard rumors from other officers that Boykins had copies of his private conversations.
Both Young and Richmond testified they felt intimidated by Boykins' threats to demote or fire them.
When asked if Chief Boykins took any action against them within four to six weeks, Young testified, "Boykins was demoted in six weeks."
The wiretapping saga became public in 2012 with the demotion of Chief Boykins and firing of 911 director Karen DePaepe.
Federal prosecutors never pressed charges in the case.
According to court documents, Boykins turned over five cassette tapes to federal investigators. He says they were made and given to him by DePaepe.
DePaepe testified she first heard what she believed to be "illegal" and "disturbing" conversations in February 2011. She told the judge she waited a few weeks then told Boykins about it in March 2011.
DePaepe also testified she only listened to those conversations on three different occasions -- February 2011 when the recording system crashed, July 2011 after receiving a Freedom of Information Act Request from a local television station and in December 2011 when Boykins ordered her to make copies of the recordings.
She also said she never listened to live conversations.
The wiretapping saga has so far cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Earlier this year the City of South Bend doled out $900,000 in settlements to the four officers and one of their wives, DePaepe and Boykins. The city has already paid more than $100,000 in outside legal fees and South Bend's Common Council has paid its outside lawyers more than $20,000.
Those numbers were compiled before this week's trial. It is unclear how much legal fees will be after the two day trial.