Drug prohibition-related law enforcement corruption continues apace. This week's cases range from the silly to the subversive, with "good cops gone bad" breaking out all over the place. Without further ado:
* When a cop smokes dope, that's not necessarily corruption, just hypocrisy. When he smokes dope in the office, that's not necessarily corruption, either, just stupidity. But when he sits in his office and smokes dope that he stole from his own evidence room, that's hypocrisy, stupidity, and corruption. And that's what Weatherly, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Brian Cara found himself contemplating Wednesday. Cara was freed on his own recognizance, after being charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, obstruction of justice, and attempted obstruction of justice.
According to prosecutors quoted by the Associated Press, a grand jury had been hearing evidence for more than a year about strange goings-on with Chief Cara. Police officers reported that sealed evidence envelopes containing cocaine had been opened and resealed, with the cocaine having mysteriously disappeared. Two of Cara's officers told the grand jury Cara told them missing drugs could have exploded while inside the evidence locker. Police officers also reported smelling marijuana smoke inside the police department on numerous occasions, and that drugs and paraphernalia missing from the evidence locker had been spotted in Cara's desk.
In August, state drug agents installed a hidden video camera. They watched Cara smoke pot on duty nine times in one day and on numerous other occasions on succeeding days. The camera recorded Cara filling a pipe with marijuana and sticking it in his breast pocket before going out on control. When they raided Cara's office on August 4, they found his pipe and stash. Dude, you are so busted!
* Two Newark, New Jersey, police officers were indicted October 1 in an ongoing investigation of corruption in the Newark Police Department. They are among six Newark cops named last week by a fellow officer as he pleaded guilty to working with them over a two-year period to enrich themselves by stealing from alleged drug dealers, the New York Times reported. Officers Lawrence Furlow, 44, and Darius Smith, 33, face numerous charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, and theft. Furlow faces 25 years in prison, while Smith faces 30 years. Both have been suspended from the force. They were named by former officer Tyrone Dudley during his guilty plea September 23. Dudley told the court Furlow, Smith, and other officers robbed drug dealers, planted drugs on innocent parties, lied to obtain search warrants, and lied in official reports to cover up their thefts. The activity took place from December 2002 to March 2004.
Such thefts under official color took place at least a dozen times, prosecutors said. In one case detailed by Dudley, the thieving cops went to a Newark apartment building where they knew a drug seller was in business. They grabbed a man who knew the drug dealer, planted heroin on him, then threatened to arrest him if he did not help them get into the dealer's apartment, investigators said. When the dealer opened his door, the cops rushed in and seized money and drugs, which they did not report. They later claimed they had probable cause to enter the apartment because they had seen drugs in plain view when the dealer opened the door. Two drug cases have been dropped so far because of the scandal, said Essex County prosecutors, and more could follow.
* A Tennessee drug task force member was arrested October 1 and charged with felony theft after being accused of ripping off task force funds. Cpl. Jeff Tabor of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department and the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force had admitted to taking $888.61 out of the task force drug buy fund for personal use, the Johnson City Press reported. He approached his superiors in a bid to pay back the money, but instead was suspended in September and then arrested and charged last week.
* In Baltimore, two detectives were suspended and placed under departmental investigation for perjury after searching a suspect's car without a search warrant and lying about when they obtained one. Detectives Clarence Grear and Kevin Jones were suspended August 20, after a complaint by Antoine Collins, whose car was searched. In a report written the day after the search, Grear wrote that the car was searched on July 20, after a warrant had been procured. But the Baltimore Sun investigated and found the car had been towed by police the day before and searched immediately. Baltimore prosecutors have dismissed some cases where Grear and Jones are key witnesses and are postponing others in an effort to find other witnesses who could salvage the prosecutions. If the investigation shows that Grear and Jones are lying about the search warrant, their credibility in every case in which they have been involved will be challenged, defense attorneys and prosecutors told the Sun.