Coercion Alleged in Riverside County, CA Polygraph Interrogation

North County Times staff writer Tim Mayer reports in an article titled, “Fogelstrom said investigators deceived them” that the Riverside County (California) Sheriff’s Department conducted a coercive polygraph examination of a minor under false pretenses. Excerpt:

CARLSBAD —- The father of the teenage companion of 17-year-old Eric Sears —- who was found dead in Joshua Tree National Park last month —- said Thursday that investigators have presented a concoction of events and statements involving his son that are either false or taken out of context.

“They coerced, badgered and intimidated Ben until he didn’t know what he was saying,” said Joe Fogelstrom, the father of Ben Fogelstrom, 17.

“I feel like a sucker. Our kid trusted us, and we put him in the hands of these (investigator) guys.”

Fogelstrom said an affidavit released Monday by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was based in part on a polygraph exam of his young son that was obtained under false pretenses. The affidavit was used to obtain a warrant to search their Carlsbad home.

Fogelstrom said the polygraph exam was done without parents or an attorney present.

No charges have been filed against Ben and law enforcement officers have said he is not a suspect, but investigators said in the affidavit that they were looking into the possibility that Eric had been murdered.

Fogelstrom said he, his wife, Valerie, and Ben drove to San Bernardino on July 18 at the request of investigators who told them they had found items in the desert that they needed Ben to identify.

But when the family arrived, investigators suggested that a polygraph test of Ben might help him remember more of the incident, the father said.

During the exam, Fogelstrom said he was told, Ben would “create the questions to ask so maybe it would jolt Ben’s memory about which direction Eric went.”

“The polygraph (idea) seemed weird, but I said anything we can do to help as long as Ben has a say in it and his mom’s there,” Fogelstrom said. “Well, Ben didn’t have a say in it and his mom wasn’t there.”

As it turned out, Fogelstrom said that after he left, Ben was taken into another room, where he was questioned for about four hours, and his mother was left in the locked reception area unable to go to her son. Fogelstrom said he left to drive a pair of neighborhood kids back to Carlsbad.

Fogelstrom said his wife reported that by the time she was allowed to see Ben again, “he was crying, he was upset, he was traumatized.”

“He told Valerie, ‘They made me say stuff, Mom. They made me say stuff that wasn’t true.'”

“We believed them and we trusted them,” Fogelstrom said. “They used that trust to get Ben in a back room to interrogate him, to just hammer him.”

“I-580 Sniper Suspect Set to Take Lie Detector Test”

Lisa Fernandez reports for the San Jose Mercury News. Excerpt:

The man accused of but never charged with being the prime suspect in a string of Feb. 23 shootings along Interstate 580 in the East Bay has agreed to take a polygraph test, hoping to show he wasn’t responsible, his public defender said.

Matt Bockmon, who represents Chris Gafford on unrelated drug charges, said Tuesday that during a federal court hearing last week, prosecutors announced that if Gafford passed the lie detector test next Tuesday it could have a “positive impact” on “another case.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bender said he told the judge the test would “make the resolution simpler” of a federal drug case that is officially unrelated to the shootings. Bender wouldn’t talk about what would happen if Gafford failed the test, or about the inadmissibility of a lie detector test as evidence in court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bender should know better than to place any reliance on the outcome of a pseudoscientific lie detector test. His willingness to do so casts doubt on his fitness for the job.

73% Polygraph Failure Rate Reported for Yolo County, California Sheriff’s Office Applicants

Davis Enterprise staff writer Elisabeth Sherwin reports in an article titled, “Sheriff Prieto pushes high standards.” Excerpt:

[Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto] said 15 people interviewed recently to become deputy sheriffs. As part of the screening process, candidates are routinely given polygraph tests. Out of the 15 who took the test, only four passed and maybe one will be hired, he said.

San Diego Police Department Polygraph Failure Rate Pegged at 40%

In an article titled, “Long arm of the law reaches out for help,” San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Shanna McCord reports on the SDPD pre-employment polygraph failure rate. Excerpt:

And then there’s a lie detector test, which weeds out a large number of applicants.

“Number one for us is honesty,” said Stacee Botsford, a recruiter for the San Diego Police Department, which operates with 2,100 sworn officers. “We can’t take anyone who lies or tells half-truths or omits information.”

Botsford says 40 percent of San Diego police applicants – 2,300 a year for about 100 to 150 openings – fail the lie detector test.

Victims/Suspects in Arson-Homicide Case Refuse Polygraph

Pasadena (California) Star News staff writer Emmanuel Parker reports in an article titled, “Fatal fire in 200[0] remains unsolved.” Excerpt:

ALTADENA — Sometimes the simplest crimes are the hardest to solve. So it is with the death of Justine Marie Kaposy, 14, a popular Rose City High School student burned beyond recognition on December 3, 2000, in a house fire in the 1700 block of Oxford Avenue.

Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives labeled the fire an arson and Justine’s death a homicide. But 18 months after her death, no one has been charged or arrested and, as one investigator put it, the case “is not going anyplace.”

“The mother, brother and Justine were the only ones present,” when the fire destroyed the house, Sgt. Rich Longshore said. Mother and son escaped with minor injuries, Justine didn’t.

“We know it was not an accidental fire. One of those three started it. One of them is dead and the other two are not cooperating with law enforcement,” he said.

The case stalled after detectives asked Emily Marie Kaposy, 47, the mother, and her son, Sean Kaposy, 12, to take polygraph tests. They initially agreed.

“But they never showed up or called and since then we haven’t been able to contact them,” Longshore said. “We can’t force them to take the tests, which are not admissible as evidence in California courts.”

Justine’s father, Paul Kaposy, 51, said after detectives requested the tests he consulted an attorney who said they shouldn’t submit.

He added the family is indignant that the detectives treated Sean as a suspect.

“They questioned him and my wife the night of the fire at the Altadena Sheriff’s Station. They separated them and were trying to get Sean to admit he started the fire. He was devastated. He left the station crying,” said Kaposy, who said he advised them not to take the tests.

“My son didn’t have anything to do with the fire,” he added. “The kid risked his life trying to save his sister.

“I told the detectives `If you’ve got a case, make it,’ ” Kaposy said. “I assume they were just fishing and really had nothing to go on.”

Guilty or innocent, anyone suspected of a crime is well advised to refuse to submit to any polygraph interrogation. The “test” is little more than a pretext for interrogating a suspect without a lawyer. If you are ever asked to submit to a polygraph “test” with regard to a criminal investigation (whether or not you’ve been told you’re a suspect), be sure to read Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector first.

“McKinney Polygraph an Issue: In Defending Malpractice Suit, His Ex-Lawyers May Say They Think He Flunked It”

John McDonald reports for the Orange County [California] Register on the $10,000,000 lawsuit brought by a man who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder. Excerpt:

The two Orange County public defenders who represented DeWayne McKinney on murder charges say they kept secret for 20 years their belief that he flunked a lie-detector test.

A federal judge ruled Monday that they can testify about the polygraph at a civil trial in order to counter McKinney’s assertion that the county’s legal malpractice led to his wrongful incarceration for 19 years.

The lawyers representing McKinney in his lawsuit against the county dispute the charge that he flunked the lie-detector test, saying their expert found the results inconclusive.

McKinney was convicted in 1982 of the murder of a Burger King manager in Orange, but he was released in January 2000 after a convicted robber incriminated another man in the slaying and some eyewitnesses said they now believe the other man was the killer.

Norman Watkins, lawyer for the county, argued in court that the lie-detector test is crucial for the public defenders’ case. Watkins said that in 1998, Holmes believed the polygraph was a critical obstacle to McKinney ever being freed from prison.

Holmes obtained a promise from Strople to keep the polygraph results secret so that a new investigation could be launched with the goal to free McKinney, Watkins said. Holmes has declined to comment because the suit is pending.

Taylor said he is uncertain whether he will allow the jury to see the actual polygraph results, but that Holmes and Strople may need to tell the jury of its existence and their belief that he flunked the test in order to defend themselves.

No competent attorney should place any reliance whatsoever on the pseudoscience of polygraphy, and any who does should be held liable for any resultant harm.

Los Angeles Considering Sex Offender Polygraphs

Stuart Pfeifer of the Los Angeles Times reports on the monitoring of sex offenders in “O.C. to Track Sex Criminals With GPS.” Excerpt:

Authorities said the tracking and lie detector tests represent powerful deterrents for offenders and could also tip off police to crimes the probationers might commit. “It is a controversial issue for us. But our primary concern is the protection of the community,” said Bill Daniel, director of special operations for the Orange County Probation Department.. .

By taking polygraph tests, offenders are more likely to tell the truth during counseling sessions and therefore can more easily confront and deal with their problems, Daniel said.

“To be successful treating sex offenders, we need them to be completely honest,” he said .. .

Los Angeles, however, has expressed interest in the polygraph program Orange County has instituted but is waiting to see what kind of reception it receives in the courtroom.

Orange and San Diego counties are the only major jurisdictions in the state to use random lie detector tests on sex offenders. And in the year since it began, some judges have raised warning flags.

Modesto, Calif. Mayor Issues Polygraph Challenge

The Modesto Bee reports on a polygraph challenge issued by Modesto mayor Carmen Sabatino in an article titled “Mayor argues for lie detector test.” This short article is cited in full, with hyperlinks added by


Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino [] publicly challenged Stanislaus County Supervisor Ray Simon [] on Tuesday to take a lie detector test regarding the 1999 mayoral election.

Simon was not interested. “I wouldn’t be so foolish as to take a lie detector test — I don’t care what (Sabatino) demands,” he said. “Frankly, this is just another example of his bullying attitude.”

Though the California secretary of state’s office cleared county officials of wrongdoing, Sabatino continues to charge that Simon, County Counsel Mick Krausnick and others tried to manipulate when ballots would go out for the all-mail runoff election.

Monday, a Superior Court judge agreed with Sabatino’s recommendation that the civil grand jury investigate itself for a possible breach of confidentiality regarding release of a document tied to Sabatino’s manipulation claim.

Though no one admits leaking the document, which Simon had on his Web site at one point, Krausnick said no breach occurred because the document is public record.

“Missing Woman’s Husband Misses Polygraph Test”

Los Angeles radio station KFWB and the Associated Press report. Excerpt:

(KFWB/AP) 8.30.01, 5:10p — Homicide investigators using body-sniffing dogs planned to search an oil field Friday for clues to the disappearance of the daughter of a former state senator. The area to be combed in Signal Hill is near the garage where a sport utility vehicle belonging to Jana Carpenter-Koklich was found earlier this week.

Her husband, Bruce Koklich, failed to show up Thursday for a scheduled lie-detector test, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“He wanted the questions to the test (ahead of time),” said Deputy David Cervantes. “It’s not our policy to provide them.”

It was unclear if the Lakewood man would reschedule the examination.

His mother-in-law said Koklich was leary of how the polygraph test would be administered.

“He’s been given a lot of advice by a lot of friends, some of them… in the law field and even in law enforcement, and has heard all kinds of horror stories about how they use tricky questions,” Janet Carpenter said.

Koklich has not been named as a suspect in the disappearance but also has not been ruled out, authorities said. He has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his wife’s return. Former Sen. Paul Carpenter says he does not consider his son-in-law a suspect.

Anyone requested to submit to a polygraph interrogation in connection with a crime — whether innocent or guilty — would be well-advised to refuse. “Passing” this pseudoscientfic “test” will not clear one of suspicion, while “failing” it is highly prejudicial.

“Senator’s Daughter Still Missing; Husband Fails to Show Up for Polygraph

NBC4.TV reports. Excerpt:

LOS ANGELES, August 30 – The husband of the missing daughter of former state Sen. Paul Carpenter failed to show up Thursday for a scheduled polygraph examination, a sheriff’s deputy said.

Bruce Koklich of Lakewood was supposed to take the examination at 9 a.m at the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Scientific Service Bureau at 2020 W. Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, said Deputy David Cervantes.

“He wanted the questions to the test yesterday. It’s not our policy to provide them,” Cervantes said.

The investigation into the disappearance of Jana Carpenter-Koklich will continue, he said, adding that her husband — who was at his real estate office Thursday morning and not commenting — has not been ruled out as a suspect.