Omaha city councilman, former police officers accused of corruption

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – An Omaha city councilman, two former police officers and a Council Bluffs, Iowa, man are facing several corruption charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office released two related indictments on Friday for the four men: Vincent Palermo, 49; Johnny Palermo, 47; Richard Gonzalez, 55; and Jack Olson, 66.

All four men were arrested Friday morning, the attorney’s office said.

In the first indictment, authorities accused Johnny Palermo, Gonzalez and Olson of defrauding donors of the Latino Peace Officers Association.

Johnny Palermo and Gonzalez, both of whom are former Omaha Police officers, are also additionally charged with defrauding the association and another nonprofit, Police Athletics for Community Engagement, for their own personal benefit.

PACE gets at-risk youth involved in sports in an effort to keep them out of gangs.

Johnny Palermo is also accused of fraudulently applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and interfering in a sexual assault investigation in which Olson is a suspect.

In the second indictment, authorities charge Johnny Palermo and Gonzalez with conspiring with Vincent Palermo, a city councilman, to deprive citizens of the councilman’s honest services.

The attorney’s office says the councilman received benefits, including paid trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere, for acts done to benefit LPOA and PACE.

He also did not disclose the benefits he received from Omaha Glass Pro, a company that he voted to award city contracts, according to the attorney’s office.

All four men could face decades in prison if convicted.

United States Attorney Steven Russell said the indictments and arrests send “an important message to those who breach the public’s trust.”

“I appreciate the tremendous work of the Omaha Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement on this important case,” he said in the press release.

Eugene Kowel, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha office, said public corruption is a “top criminal priority” for the agency.

“Special Agents from the FBI Omaha field office, with the cooperation of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, worked hundreds of hours on the investigation that led to today’s arrests,” he said. “We especially appreciate our partnership with the Omaha Police Department in this case. Corruption tears at the foundation of our democracy.  No level of corruption should be tolerated or accepted.”

All four men are expected to appear in court in Lincoln on Monday.

Categories: Nebraska News, News