Feds fire, demote employees over NY killing, rape

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Federal probation officers in upstate New York have been fired or demoted after a man they were monitoring was charged with slipping out of his electronic bracelet, raping a 10-year-old girl and killing her mother during a carjacking at a New York mall.

The changes at the federal probation office in Syracuse were detailed in a letter from U.S. courts administrators to Rep. Dan Maffei, who had written to the courts and Attorney General Eric Holder in May, asking for an investigation into the probation office.

The probation officers were criticized in March after authorities said David Renz quickly removed and reassembled an electronic bracelet so monitors didn’t immediately realize he’d taken it off. Police say he then strangled and stabbed a woman in her car and raped the woman’s daughter.

Renz, 29, has pleaded not guilty to murder and rape charges. He wore the monitor because of an earlier child pornography arrest.

The letter from Judge Thomas Hogan, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, did not specify how many probation officers were let go or demoted.

“While nothing can diminish the severity of the crimes attributed to David Renz or excuse the deficiencies in supervision of his case, our view … is that David Renz was not supervised in a manner typical of federal probation and pretrial services practices,” Hogan wrote.

The Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper first reported the letter from Hogan, who also noted a drop in probation department funding from the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.

“We need to make sure that the courts have every resource necessary to get to the bottom of this and make sure that it never happens again,” Maffei said in a statement Tuesday.

The office did not inspect Renz’s ankle bracelet despite 46 alerts showing the equipment had been tampered with. The bracelets can give off a false alarm if, for example, they are bumped. The Syracuse office had a policy to ignore alerts shorter than five minutes, a practice Hogan said was unique in the nation.

A report by a federal judge in April also found that probation officers failed to do monthly checks on Renz that would have included inspection of the monitor.

Besides the staff changes at the office, the federal government has retrained staff and brought in federal consultants.

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Information from: The Post-Standard, http://www.syracuse.com

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