One crooked sheriff gets indicted, while another cops a plea. Meanwhile, the border generates another three cases of corruption or thuggery. Let's get to it:
In Carlisle, Kentucky, the Nicholas County sheriff pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing asset forfeiture money. Sheriff Dick Garrett was accused of taking more than $43,000 from the forfeiture account and and using at least $10,000 to pay his homeowners insurance and pay off personal loans. He pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and abuse of public trusts. A jury had recommended five years in prison on each charge. Garrett will have to pay restitution of $38,237.60 within five years and resign immediately as sheriff. He will be sentenced in November.
In Phoenix, two Border Patrol agents were indicted August 4 on charges they forced accused drug smugglers to eat marijuana and flee barefoot and nearly naked into the desert. Agents Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, were charged with five civil rights violations by a federal grand jury in Tucson stemming from the November 2008 incident. According to prosecutors, the pair caught four men taking part in a marijuana smuggling operation. They forced the men to eat some of the weed and strip down to their underwear, burning their outer clothes and shoes and socks, then told them to flee into the desert night, where the temperature was around 40 degrees. Prosecutors said the actions deprived the four men of their civil rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The two face 10 years each on the civil rights charges, while Castillo faces up to 20 years for a count of witness tampering.
In Laredo, Texas, a former Laredo police officer was sentenced August 4 to 6 ½ years in prison for helping a drug trafficker move and store cocaine. Pedro Martinez III, 34, agreed to escort loads of cocaine in exchange for payment from undercover FBI and BATF agents he thought were smugglers and recruited fellow officer Orlando Hale to help out. He escorted three loads and Hale escorted two, with the pair receiving $1,000 for each load. The undercover agents also persuaded Martinez to lead them to a cocaine supplier, who has already pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and awaits sentencing. Martinez testified against Hale when Hale took his case to trial last year. Hale lost and got 24 ½ years. Martinez pleaded to bribery charges.
In Laredo, Texas, a Webb County deputy constable was arrested Monday by FBI agents on charges he acted as an escort for a cocaine trafficker. Eduardo Garcia, 44, was indicted for escorting loads of cocaine through Laredo for a local trafficker for $500 a pop. Unfortunately for Garcia, the trafficker became a DEA informant and flipped on him, allowing the DEA to record meetings where they would discuss load arrangements. Garcia, wearing his badge and driving a law enforcement van, would escort the loads through the city. The snitch also asked Garcia to run a pair of license plates through a state law enforcement data base, which he did. He's looking at up to 20 years in prison on three bribery charges and five more on one count of unauthorized access to protected computer information.