Former SCS police officer sentenced to jail time

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 14, 2016

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DETROIT — A former St. Clair Shores Police sergeant will spend six months in the Wayne County Jail for the misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty in connection with a July 2013 incident in Detroit.

“The episode and conduct of Mr. Notoriano ... was nothing less than vigilante justice. It may make for Hollywood box office winners, but it’s a loser in real life and it’s a disaster for police officers to perform in that function,” Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny said March 14.

Michael Notoriano, of St. Clair Shores, faced charges of armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, felonious assault, ethnic intimidation and felony firearm against Sergio Love, of Detroit, along with willful neglect of duty and failure to uphold the law in connection with an alleged assault in July 2013 in which he attempted to take back an iPhone that had been stolen from his then-16-year-old daughter in the city of Detroit the day before.

A trial in 2015 ended with a hung jury. A second trial in January concluded with a jury finding Notoriano guilty on the one-year misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty in the case. Notoriano was a sergeant with the St. Clair Shores Police Department in 2013 and was fired June 10, 2015.

The sentencing recommendation for Notoriano called for one year of probation, but the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office had asked that that be extended to 18 months of probation.

“I find it deeply disturbing that a peace officer, a person that is sworn to uphold the law, would harbor such thoughts as he evidences in his text messages,” said Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Lindsey, referencing text messages from Notoriano’s phone that used racial slurs to refer to the man that allegedly took his daughter’s phone. “You cannot encounter members of the minority community ... and not have that have an effect on how he does his duties.”

After listening to Notoriano’s assertion that he is a changed person since the incident, Kenny agreed, but said that the testimony of his racial animus over at least 10 years is as indicative of the type of man he is as his years of exemplary service on the police force.

“That’s an attitude and that’s a behavior that was as much a part of Mr. Notoriano as his conduct and his service when he was a police officer. Mr. Notoriano owns it all,” he said.

And while it is “not a crime to be a bigot,” Kenny said, he did not feel that probation was an appropriate sentence.

“One would hope, though, that one would not want to indulge being in service in a police department if one held those views,” Kenny said. “There is a need, based on conduct that occurred, that (the sentence) be a deterrent.”

That is why, Kenny said, he was sentencing Notoriano to 6 months in the Wayne County Jail, with credit for 20 days of time served. The decision was received stoically by Notoriano, but with tears from his family waiting in the courtroom.

Notoriano’s attorney, Richard Convertino, of Plymouth, told the court that the text messages only reflected his client’s thoughts, not his actions.

“That’s the only evidence — that there were thoughts. There’s nothing and there was nothing indicative of anything Mr. Notoriano did at the time before the incident or after the incident that manifested any action,” he said during the sentencing. “He is not the same man that he was then. He seriously regrets the use of the terms, the vocabulary he used in private text messages.

“He has suffered and paid the price of those words.”

He pointed out his client’s meritorious commendations for bravery in action as evidence of his professionalism in serving as a police officer.

Also speaking during the sentencing, Notoriano said he “deeply” regrets the incident.

“There were no winners at all in this situation, not only for myself and my family, but for all those involved in this incident,” he said. 

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