In the days since the inquest, a dedicated effort to absolve Trooper Anthony (Tony) Piercy has been evident. The narrative presented to the public and the media by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Piercy has taken on more leaks than the Lake icon, the Larry Don. What has been brought to the surface in the wake of the inquest is a veritable boatful of omissions, lies, misrepresentations and a clear and determined effort to clear Piercy of criminal charges.
This campaign, waged by local elected officials, the MSHP and Piercy, is founded on a litany of half and untruths. It has called into question not only the actions taken by Piercy on Saturday evening, May 31, but also the credibility and legitimacy of elected Lake area officials and the MSHP’s Troop F, who worked in conjunction to stack the deck in favor of Piercy.
The narrative put forth by the MSHP, reinforced by ‘evidence’ carefully selected and presented at the Coroner’s inquest, has begun to fall apart under scrutiny from both the public and the media outside of the Lake of the Ozarks area. What lies beneath the surface of this failed attempt to mislead the public is a stark, harsh truth for both residents and visitors to the Lake of the Ozarks.
The message is clear: Lake area law enforcement will not be held accountable for their actions, even if those actions result in murder. The public is not safe at the Lake of the Ozarks, not with regard to law enforcement. The lack of accountability and transparency has become the institutional norm and, as a direct result, cops of every stripe, municipal, county and state, are allowed to run roughshod at the Lake, a thuggish street gang whose colors are the gold of badges protected by the infamous ‘blue line’. The result? An arrogant, out of control, untrained, inexperienced, testosterone fueled, highly armed and predatory posse that roams the communities of the Lake of the Ozarks, looking for their next victim.
Most visitors and tourists to the Lake aren’t privy to the actions taken by these departments. Those who are unfortunate enough to learn the ugly truth about the Lake’s Gestapo, like Brandon Ellingson, can only hope they live through a traffic stop, whether on land or water. If they don’t survive the encounter, like Brandon and former Linn Creek resident Glenn David Norman, Tased to death by four Lake area cops for the crime of knocking on the wrong door, there is little hope for justice.
Instead of criminal charges in these cases, families are told to seek remedy through the civil court system. This avenue, not designed or intended to be used as the last stand for victims, is a costly one. For those who cannot afford to pursue a lengthy, protracted legal battle against these departments (funded by our own taxes), the notion of justice is unattainable. For a police force whose aggression level and intrusive practices have continued to creep forward, this is tantamount to being ‘above the law’.
A review of the case of Brandon Ellingson’s death, the negligence and reckless actions that contributed to it and the subsequent cover-up are undeniable proof of this institutionalized mindset. Cops are beyond prosecution. They don’t have to adhere to the rules as we are expected to. Instead, they have been handed a license that exempts them from being charged as criminals, regardless of the offensiveness of their behavior.
The recent case of Osage Beach police officer, Richard Calvino, speaks directly to the protection local police receive from the ‘good ol boy’ network.
Richard Calvino was charged with five felonies after his molestation of a local girl. The molestation began when the girl was 11 and continued until she was 17. He faced charges of first degree sexual abuse, sodomy, first degree deviate sexual assault, first degree sexual assault with a victim age 14-15 and second degree deviate sexual assault with a victim age 16.
This deviant predator was charged initially with statutory rape, after an investigation was conducted by none other than Highway Patrol Troop F. The investigation, conducted in 2011, resulted in Calvino initially being charged with first degree statutory rape. Statutory rape only, despite the probable cause statement issued by the Teflon Troop’s Sgt. C.W. Wirths. It described several descriptions of sexual contact between Calvino and the girl.
In 2010, the victim had several recorded and preserved conversations with the molester. These conversations were turned over to the Teflon Troop, who interviewed Calvino near the end of 2010. The Teflon Troop, in relaying the story to local media, made sure to include Calvino’s denials and the statement: “Calvino also stated he was not the type of person to do such a thing.”
Apparently, that was good enough for his brothers in blue, as the relatively minor charge of statutory rape was the only one filed initially. The ‘blue line’ circled Calvino in a protective cocoon, despite a public statement by former Osage Beach Police Chief Dave Severson meant to assuage anger from the community. Severson assured the public that ‘Calvino would remain on suspension until the case is resolved.’ That statement, as is becoming the norm for law enforcement at the Lake, was a lie.
Calvino not only returned to work after a brief suspension, he remained working in the Osage Beach Police Department, until he entered a guilty plea less than 24 hours before his trial was scheduled to begin in Morgan County.
The plea deal was a travesty.
Richard Calvino pled guilty to two of the counts: Deviate sexual assault in the first degree with a victim aged 14-15 and deviate sexual assault in the second degree with a victim aged 16-17. This child molesting cop was given a suspended imposition of sentence, five years of supervised probation.
He did not and will not serve any jail time for his crimes.
This verdict was rendered by 26th Circuit Judge Kenneth Hayden.
This offensive, gross miscarriage of justice was agreed to by Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Keedy, and it speaks to the institutional, systemic problems at the Lake of the Ozarks.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Morgan County prosecuting attorney Dustin Dunklee as reaching the plea deal in Calvino’s case. This was incorrect and has been changed to reflect Brian Keedy’s role in this case.