The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 12, 2009

Solicitation letter wasn't sent by Brookfield Police Department

By Patrick W. Connelly

BROOKFIELD — A solicitation letter seeking donations to a police defense fund received by some Brookfield residents isn’t from the township’s police department, Chief Dan Faustino said.

“It’s a sham when you look at it,” the chief said of the letter from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

The letter asks for donations to help Stephanie Lawlor with court costs in defending her husband, Robert — a former Hartford, Conn., patrolmen who in 2006 killed a civilian while on duty.

The letter says he’s been indicted on manslaughter charges and could be convicted. Updated information on the case couldn’t be found on The Hartford Courant’s Web site. Other sites had initial reports on the story published by the newspaper.

Faustino said he’s never heard of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and found the organization’s been given the lowest possible rating by Charity Navigator, an online watchdog of philanthropic groups.

He said it’s in no way affiliated with Brookfield police.

The group is based in Arlington, Va., and helps defend “good officers who have been unfairly prosecuted,” the letter says.

Charity Navigator has the group listed in 2007 as donating less than 11 percent of what it collects. It donated only $362,718 that year after collecting $3,221,697.

A message left with Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund Chairman David Martin wasn’t immediately returned.