The FBI notifies the home warrants of Omaha police officer, Consigliere Palermo

OMAHA, Neb. (Nebraska) – Omaha FBI agents issued federal search warrants Tuesday morning at the home of an Omaha city councilman and two city police officers.

The FBI serviced the South Omaha home of Counselor Vinny Palermo and the homes of officer Johnny Palermo, who is not related to the Counselor.

Since it’s an ongoing investigation, the FBI isn’t saying why they were there.

6 News also learned that federal agents also issued search warrants Tuesday at the offices of Police Athletics for Community Engagement, a nonprofit known as PACE that is dedicated to helping at-risk children learn about the importance of education through sports such as soccer, baseball, and flag football.

The two Omaha police officers were placed on paid administrative leave following the investigation, OPD Lieutenant Neal Bonacci said in an email to 6 News. They will also be subject to an internal investigation.

Both officers have strong ties to the Omaha Latino Peace Officers Association and PACE. Johnny Palermo is the current president of the Omaha LPOA and Torres is the former president, according to his website. The organization also started PACE in 2005.

The Omaha FBI issued a warrant on the home of Counsel Vinny Palermo, right, on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Omaha Police Officers Daniel Torres, left, and Johnny Palermo, who is not related to the Counsel, were placed on administrative leave. (Nebraska / OPD / City of Omaha)

OPD chief Todd Schmaderer expressed concern about the developments and thanked federal authorities for their work on the case.

“I am concerned that PACE may have been used for criminal activity. Adding to my concern is the possibility that some current and former Omaha police officers may be involved. Criminal impropriety and unseemly conduct will not be tolerated. I want to thank the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for their work. The OPD will continue to assist under the direction of the FBI.

On Monday evening, 6 News heard the organization’s tax attorney, Howard Kaplan, say the Latino Peace Officers Association and PACE are “cooperating fully in a federal investigation.”

Omaha LPOA Vice President Greg Gonzalez, a retired Omaha Police Deputy Chief, says the accountant turned over the financial records to the Internal Revenue Service.

While detectives remain silent about the motives for the search warrants, 6 News knows that to get one, officers would have had to convince a judge that they suspected some sort of criminal activity and that a search would yield invaluable evidence to the case.

Some OPD detectives have assisted the FBI in its investigation, Bonacci said.

“Confidentiality of the federal investigation has been of paramount importance, and only a few OPD commanders are aware of that investigation,” he said in the email.

6 News has not yet received a response or acknowledgment of a recent text message sent to Councilor Palermo asking for a comment.

Mayor Jean Stothert released a statement saying she was “shocked and beyond disappointment” at developments involving Palermo, officers and the PACE organization. Noting that PACE is not officially affiliated with the city, the mayor said the city will suspend all of its financial support for the organization. The city has allocated $100,000 in community service funds to PACE for 2022 and 2023.

“I have been notified of the FBI’s investigation into the Police Athletics for Community Engagement (PACE) organization and a potential criminal action being pursued by the United States Department of Justice.

I am shocked and beyond disappointed that the PACE organization, created to provide opportunities and mentorship for young people, is under federal investigation.

In regards to Councilman Palermo and the Omaha police officers placed on administrative leave, we believe our public officials are top notch.

Until the investigation is concluded, all financial support from the city to PACE is suspended. PACE is a non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the City of Omaha.

The Omaha Police Department is a strong believer in community engagement. Despite the alleged criminal activities of some former and current officers, Omaha citizens can be confident in Police Chief Todd Schmaderer’s leadership, his commitment to excellence, and our expectation that officers will be held accountable when they violate the trust of the public. “

As a footnote, Councilor Palermo is still on probation after pleading guilty in 2019 to failing to file tax returns in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Officer Daniel Torres’ home was raided by police. 6 News regrets the error.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.

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