LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — A sex scandal involving a high-ranking Lorain police command officer, a patrolman and a convicted drug dealer has ended the careers of at least three officers and led to the indictment of the command officer on criminal charges.
According to a Lorain Police internal investigation report obtained by FOX 8 News, investigators with LPD’s Office of Professional Standards discovered that Lt. Tabitha Angello, the highest-ranking woman in the department, engaged in sex with at least one subordinate officer while on duty, and also had an ongoing relationship with a known felon with a history of drug trafficking.
According to the report, the various trysts were discovered after police seized Angello’s phone as part of a separate investigation of an off-duty incident involving Angello and her live-in boyfriend, Lorain Police Sgt. Kenneth Zapolski, during a party at the Fraternal Order of Police Hall on Sept. 21. Investigators said Zapolski confronted Angello and another off-duty officer in the alley behind the hall, and then Zapolski punched and stomped the other officer. Zapolski was arrested on charges of assault, domestic violence and menacing by stalking.
As part of the investigation that began the next day, two command officers went to Angello’s home to ask for her cell phone. Body camera video shows Angello allegedly manipulating the phone for about 10 minutes before turning it over to investigators. When they began searching through Angello’s phone, they said it appeared some text messages and photos had been deleted and others were moved to a protected file by using an application called Keepsafe. However, investigators also discovered hundreds of sexually explicit texts between Angello and two patrolmen who were under her command.
The messages reveal that as night watch commander, Angello would arrange clandestine meetings with at least one of the officers, where they would engage in sex in their patrol cars. Among the locations of the trysts were the parking lots of the Cleveland Clinic Lorain Family Health & Surgery Center on Cooper Foster Park Road and the National Guard Armory on Grove Avenue. Investigators then discovered surveillance video of the police cruisers of Angello and the other officer parked in those locations on the nights in question.
According to the investigative file, a search of Angello’s phone also revealed her ongoing intimate relationship with a convicted drug dealer. Investigators said in addition to numerous explicit messages, the phone records show that Angello attempted to intervene when the convicted felon was pulled over by another officer for an equipment violation. Investigators said the text messages also reveal that on several occasions, Angello told the convicted felon about police activity in his neighborhood, but investigators have been unable to determine if any information provided by Angello assisted directly in the trafficking of drugs or other crimes.
The internal report also reveals that Angello ran the man’s name and license plate numerous times through LEADS, the Law Enforcement Automated Data System. The investigators concluded that Angello had no legitimate law enforcement purpose in searching for such information, which is a violation of the Ohio Revised Code and Lorain Police policies.
When confronted with the evidence gathered during the investigation, Angello initially denied any criminal or professional wrongdoing, and described her relationship with the two subordinate officers and the convicted drug dealer as being of a personal nature. However, after being served with dozens of departmental violations, Angello submitted her resignation from the Lorain Police Department, in advance of a termination hearing.
One of the patrolmen that she was involved with, identified in the report as Carlos Trujillo, was fired by Lorain Service and Safety Director Sanford Washington, as recommended by Police Chief James McCann. The name of another patrolman, who had an unspecified relationship with Angello, was redacted from the investigative report because he has not had a disciplinary hearing. Sgt. Kenneth Zapolski retired from the police force before a disciplinary hearing could be held to determine the punishment he would face for the Sept. 21 incident at the FOP Hall. A special prosecutor has been appointed to handle the criminal case against Zapolski.
Lorain County prosecutors presented evidence against Tabitha Angello to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges, and the grand jury has returned indictments, charging Angello, 45, with multiple counts of tampering with evidence, tampering with records, obstructing official business and authorized use of the LEADS data base.