Detectives earn Officer of the Year awards for lengthy investigation

FI-PoliceTales of heroism and bravery filled the Greenwich Police Department Silver Shield Association’s award ceremony earlier this month, and it was two town detectives who earned the prestigious Officer of the Year commendation for 2012.

Detectives Pasquale Iorfino and David Wilson were not only named Officers of the Year by the Silver Shield Association but also earned themselves Investigators Medals for their efforts in tracking down a suspect accused of murder in Norwalk and of robbery both in Greenwich and in neighboring towns.

The awards ceremony was hosted by retired Greenwich Police Department Lt. Tom Keegan, who shared the detectives’ lengthy investigation from its beginnings in 2009 through the suspect’s sentencing.

The story began in November 2009, while School Resource Officer Carlos Franco was traveling on East Putnam Avenue. As Officer Franco approached the Mobil On The Run gas station, he witnessed a man bleeding from an apparent head wound emerge from the gas station driveway. It was discovered that minutes before, the man had been shot in the head while the gas station was being robbed.

A number of officers were assigned to investigate the incident, and during a subsequent search of the area surrounding Mobil On The Run, a suspicious pile was discovered near Greenwich Commons that included coins and a piece of a handgun. The handgun would later be a key piece of evidence in the case, Lt. Keegan said.

Video footage of the gas station incident was later reviewed by the detectives and showed a masked male commit the robbery, and prior to his escape, shoot the cashier in the head at point-blank range. The gun used was clearly visible in the footage and was determined to be an uncommon make, prompting GPD to distribute flyers identifying the weapon to police departments in the area.

Approximately three weeks later, a sergeant with the Stamford Police Department called GPD investigators to inform them that the gun they sought might have been found. He explained that they had a man in custody, identified as Greenwich resident Alain LeConte, who had just committed a robbery in Stamford. Stamford officers had interrupted the robbery and in the process confiscated an unusual looking gun missing a piece of its handle. The gun handle previously discovered by GPD was found to be an exact match with the weapon Stamford police had obtained, but more evidence would be needed to convict the suspect of the Greenwich robbery.

With help from fellow officers, Detectives Iorfino and Wilson then began a “painstaking investigation” lasting several months, including interviewing scores of Mr. LeConte’s associates both in and out of jail, Lt. Keegan said. Many of those interviewed were gang members and several later entered the witness protection program for fear of retaliation, he said.

During these interviews, the detectives often heard the name T.J. Nelson pop up, eventually discovering that he was a confidant of Mr. LeConte and might have key information that could lead to the suspect’s arrest. Mr. Nelson was interviewed several times until finally he confessed to being the getaway driver the night of the Mobil On The Run robbery. He told the detectives that LeConte had shot the Greenwich cashier in the head and admitted that he was also responsible for the robbery of a gas station in Norwalk in which the cashier was shot and killed execution-style — an “utterly senseless” murder, Lt. Keegan said.

Detectives Iorfino and Wilson then worked with the Norwalk Police Department to find sources in the prison system willing to wear wired listening devices and to record conversations with Mr. LeConte. Eventually they recorded Mr. LeConte admitting to killing the Norwalk cashier and even boasting about his crime.

From there, arrest warrants were approved and Mr. LeConte was charged with a list of serious crimes. The Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk gas station cases were combined and tried together, and Mr. LeConte was found guilty of felony murder, first-degree murder, criminal attempt at murder, and robbery. He was sentenced to 90 years in prison and Detectives Iorfino and Wilson were applauded for their efforts in the investigation.

Also awarded for their work on the case were Deputy Chief Mark Marino, Lt. Brian Briggs, Sgt. Joseph Ryan, Sgt. John Rodriguez, Sgt. Pierangelo Corticelli, Sgt. Timothy Hilderbrand, Detective Joseph Rondini, Detective William Weissauer, Detective Richard Stook, Detective Kyle O’Neill, Detective Vincent O’Banner, Detective Steven Hickey, Officer Carl Johnson, School Resource Officer Carlos Franco, Officer George Backiel, Officer Stan Sanders, and Officer Robert Hanson, all of whom received a unit citation, along with Detectives Iorfino and Wilson, for their efforts.

 

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