Hartford, CT – Police departments only hire the best of the best people. Officers are held to the highest standard to which they live by but in the event they don’t, their punishment is just as severe. Truly only the best and the brightest fill the rank and file and they lead by example. We should all be thankful for cops like Hartford Police Sergeant Justin Torniero.
The finest that Hartford, CT. has to offer has been arrested for stealing from the department. The items he stole, he turned around and gave it to his local dealer. Add to that, this rotten apple is also accused of using cocaine and drinking liquor while in uniform.
The world came crashing down on the police sergeant when multiple law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant at a home in Farmington. The home was suspected of dealing narcotics and was under surveillance. Agents found that the suspect, John Butler, was in possession 228 grams, or 8 ounces, of cocaine; 2.8 pounds of marijuana; 1.7 pounds of edible marijuana; 98 Percocet pills; packaging materials; and drug paraphernalia in his home. He also had 28 rifles, 29 handguns, ammunition, about $108,840 in cash and $900 in U.S. bonds. The discovery of Hartford Police Department issued equipment, including a ballistic vest and mountain bicycle with Torniero’s name on them tipped the scales and sparked an investigation by Internal Affairs.
Detectives concluded the items were provided by the disgraced police sergeant. They said Torniero stole the items from the department and gave them to Butler. While investigating Torniero, they also discovered that the 10-year-veteran of the department also used cocaine and alcohol at Butler’s residence. Police even suspect that Torniero drove a police vehicle to Butler’s Farmington home while in uniform.
“Torniero would drive in a Hartford Police Department vehicle to Butler’s residence in Farmington while in uniform to partake in cocaine and alcohol use,” police said. Butler even told police after his arrest the officer would come to his house to use. Butler told police that he told his friends to stop providing cocaine to Torniero.
According to an arrest warrant for Torniero, “he would steal cocaine from Butler while Butler was in the shower. Torniero stole different amounts of cocaine from Butler, with the most on one occasion being approximately fourteen grams.”
Butler told police he never asked for or wanted the police-issued items. He thought the disgraced cop brought the items as an excuse to get into his home. “Butler … believed that Torniero was giving him the items as an excuse to get into Butler’s residence and steal cocaine from him,” the warrant reads. Butler also told police that on at least 20 different occasions Torniero drove him around in his police patrol vehicle while the pair consumed cocaine and alcohol, answered calls and made stops at police headquarters.
The police sergeant is also accused of giving Butler a police nightstick, a police department reversible jacket, a police department shirt and baseball cap, six evidence bags, police evidence tape, four drug testing kits and a sharps container.
Butler is currently free on $500,000 bail.
Here is the kicker. At the time of his arrest, Torniero was already on unpaid leave/suspension stemming from a December 2017 arrest. At that time, he was accused of routinely using a police vehicle while off duty and without permission. He was charged with sixth-degree larceny, fifth-degree computer crime and using a motor vehicle without permission.
Torniero “repeatedly took a police vehicle, filled it with city of Hartford gas and drove it for extended miles without authorization or permission” while he was out from work on accrued leave, police said in December. He also tampered with a computer modem and automatic vehicle locator inside one of the department’s vehicles.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement addressing the actions of one the city’s finest. Bronin said:
“This officer has been suspended since last year, after he was arrested for larceny, and these latest charges stem from the Hartford Police Department’s own internal investigation. The criminal activity he has been accused of is egregious, and it goes without saying that it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Torniero is being held on $175,000 bail. The public defender has requested that Torniero be released on a promise to appear citing his ties to the community and his regular appearance in court for the other case against him. The judge declined to release him or reduce his bail. Instead, the judge ordered that he be placed in protective custody at the Department of Correction. The case was continued to Oct. 3.