Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories 2/24/06

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It's two for Texas, two for Tennessee in this week's rogues' gallery, but also cops gone bad from Pennsylvania and Maryland, South Carolina and Florida. Some have only been arrested or indicted, not convicted, and deserve the presumption of innocence. Some are on their way to prison. All of them are victims not only of their own characters but also of a system of drug prohibition that generates endless opportunity and enticement for the ethically impaired. Let's get to it:

In Baltimore, three members of Southwestern Police District "flex squad" were indicted February 17 on charges they conspired to rape a 22-year-old woman at the station house.

A Baltimore City Grand Jury indicted Jemini Jones, 28, Brian Shaffer, 31 and Steven Hatley, 27, over a January incident where the woman was arrested, but released and given marijuana after agreeing to have sex with Jones as Hatley and Shaffer stood by. The latter pair are being charged for not stopping the assault. The incident led to a search of the "flex squad's" quarters at the station house where investigators found stolen property, drugs, and unregistered weapons. There is more to come on this case.

In Nashville, hot-shot veteran vice officer Clark Williams III was indicted last month on federal charges of handcuffing a suspected drug dealer and stealing more than a pound of cocaine at gunpoint, the Nashville Tennessean reported. According to the indictment, Williams, 37, "did unlawfully draw his Metro Nashville Police Department service weapon and handcuff an individual involved in cocaine trafficking in furtherance of a plan to rob over 500 grams of cocaine from said individual." Williams was a well-respected narcotics officer who got a letter of commendation from then FBI Director Thomas Pickard in 2001 for his role in busting members of the Mexican Arellano Felix drug trafficking organization. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

In Dyersburg, Tennessee, a prison guard at the Northeast Correctional Center in Tiptonville was arrested February 16 and charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell, WMC TV-5 reported. Corrections officer Santressa Cole was charged along with three others after an investigation involving 20 (!) undercover officers in what local police called the largest drug bust in city history. Agents made a buy of 18 ounces of crack valued at $14,000, and seized drugs, a pistol, several cars, and $1,000 in cash. Cole was immediately fired from her job, although prison officials said they had no evidence she was peddling rocks at work.

In San Antonio, a 10-year veteran of the San Antonio Police Department was arrested February 17 on marijuana possession charges after raiding the home he shared with his girlfriend, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Joseph Evans, 42, went down after his girlfriend, Katherine Sanchez, was pulled over in a traffic stop and police found drugs. She then consented to a search of their home, and police found marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription drugs, much of it packaged for resale in small baggies. While neither Evans nor Sanchez are charged with drug trafficking at this point, a Bexar County District Attorneys Office investigation is continuing. Evans made $800 bail the next day, but Sanchez remains jailed on heavier narcotics possession charges.

In Texarkana, Texas, a 14-year police department veteran is on paid leave on suspicion he conspired to have his wife killed and is involved in drug dealing, the Texarkana Police Department announced February 17. Officer Randy Case "may have conspired to have his wife killed and may have conspired to manufacture and distribute methamphetamines," the department said, citing information it received from the FBI. Although Case has actually been on leave since the FBI notified Texarkana police of the investigation in December, the department made no announcement until now.

In Florence, South Carolina, a former Lake City police officer was sentenced to at least 13 years in federal prison February 16 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. William Webb, 41, was arrested a year ago as part of a joint state and federal investigation into corruption and drug dealing in Florence and Williamsburg counties. He was a lieutenant with the Lake City department, but according to investigators, had spent the last decade taking payoffs from drug dealers. He was also accused of selling cocaine from his patrol cruiser, the Associated Press reported.

In Gainesville, Florida, former Polk County sheriff's deputy Roderick Stevenson, 39, will have to stick with his plea bargain after all. Stevenson was arrested in February 2004 after being indicted by a Florida grand jury in a yearlong investigation of corruption in northern Florida. He was accused of taking bribes to provide protection for a drug-dealing ring that stretched from Gainesville to Miami and pled guilty last August to conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine. Three months later, Stevenson reconsidered, and filed a motion to withdraw his plea, charging prosecutors reneged on an offer to recommend a reduced sentence for ratting out other officers. That motion was denied February 16. He will be sentenced March 3.

In Scranton, Pennsylvania, a Jessup police officer was charged February 18 with stealing a gun and marijuana from the department evidence room. Robert Santarelli, 36, was arrested by state police on multiple charges after a break-in on January 25 or 26 where an ounce of pot, a rifle, and three syringes were taken, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported. He is charged with burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and could face up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. He was released from the Lackawanna County Jail the next day on $50,000 bond. The 10-year veteran has been suspended without pay.

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Issue #424 -- 2/24/06

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Feature: The Olympics Meets the War on Drugs | Feature: Maryland Delegate Introduces Bill to Ease State Aid for Students Affected by Federal Drug Provision | Feature: From the East Bay, the Cannabis Culture Speaks | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Ayahuasca: Supreme Court Okays Use of Psychedelic Tea in Church Rituals | Prohibition: The Wall Street Journal Wavers | Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Moving, Passes Senate Committee | Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Dies in House as Time Runs Out | Southeast Asia: Drug War Success Means Poverty for Laotian Farmers | Canada: British Columbia's New Democrats Say Legalize It | Search and Seizure: Florida Appeals Court Restricts Warrantless Drug Dog Searches | Celebrity Mouth: Bruce Willis Declares War on Cocaine | Web Scan: Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment, Perjury in Police Misconduct | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Community Liaison, PreventionWorks!, Washington, DC | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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