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East Haven, Conn., police chief resigns amid Latino-abuse scandal

January 30, 2012 | 10:46 am

Easthaven

The police chief of East Haven, Conn., where four officers were arrested last week and accused of violating the rights of Latinos, is resigning under pressure, as calls continued for the mayor who appointed him to step down as well.

Chief Len Gallo's resignation was announced Monday at a news conference, with Mayor Joseph Maturo saying he was putting together a search committee to find a replacement, the Hartford Courant reported.

Gallo's lawyer, Jonathan J. Einhorn, said Gallo decided to step down to avoid becoming a "distracting element" in East Haven's efforts to recover from the scandal. The issue has enveloped the city since the Department of Justice in 2009 began investigating allegations that the police force targeted Latinos for abuse.

That probe led last week to the arrests of four officers in connection with harassment and abuse of Latinos, federal officials said. Einhorn said Gallo also could be charged in the case. "He is not guilty of any wrongdoing. He should not be arrested; if arrested, he will be acquitted of any charges," the lawyer said.

Gallo and Maturo have been hammered by demands from the Latino community that they step down, and those calls reached a crescendo last week after Maturo cracked that he would show his support for the Latino community by going home and eating tacos. Maturo, who made the quip to a reporter, has since apologized for it -- but that hasn't lessened the cries for his resignation.

A Facebook page calling for his ouster has 1,106 "likes." A petition launched on Change.org calling for Gallo's ouster had more than 15,000 signers by Monday morning.

-- Tina Susman in New York

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Photo: East Haven, Conn., Mayor Joseph Maturo appears at a news conference Monday to announce the departure of Police Chief Len Gallo. Credit: Jessica Hill/Associated Press

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