This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Lead us not into temptation with seized cash, nearby evidence rooms, and the perks of police powers, amen. A few law enforcement officers haven't been reciting the prayer. Let's get to it:

In Austin, Texas, the state attorney general's office is reviewing the use of asset forfeiture funds by the Brooks County Sheriff. An audit of $562,000 in asset forfeiture spending by Sheriff Balde Lozano found that he spent $394,000 to purchase 18 cars without county approval for reasons that had nothing to do with law enforcement and that he charged more than $88,000 in restaurant dinners, department and electronics store purchases, and at hotels and gas stations. He spent $3,000 at Cavender's Boot City alone. Lozano has not yet been charged with any crime, but the investigation comes only eight months after former Brooks County DA Joe Frank Garza was sentenced to prison for skimming at least $1.2 million from the fund for himself and his former staff members.

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, a Williamstown police officer was arrested last Wednesday on steroid-peddling charges, including a count of intending to deal drugs near a local school. Officer Robert Smith, 31, went down after local police received information he was involved in narcotics. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute, and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance in a school zone. At last report, he was being held in the Salem County jail on $75,000 cash bail. He has been suspended without pay and faces dismissal if found guilty.

In Alexandria, Louisiana, a former supervisor of the Rapides Parish drug task force was indicted last Thursday on a slew of drug and malfeasance charges. Michael LaCourt had originally been arrested in Augusts, but a parish grand jury issued a superseding indictment charging him with distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute meth. He is also charged with having sex multiple times with a woman who was under the supervision of the Division of Probation and Parole. He faces four malfeasance charges, three of them for his misbehavior with the woman and one for falsely telling Crimestoppers that a certain person had provided information in a case, allowing that person to collect reward money. Bond was set at $150,000. LaCour had headed Metro Narcotics from 2008 until his August 2011 arrest. He went down after "three female offenders" complained about him.

In Carlsbad, California, a Carlsbad vice and narcotics detective was arrested last Thursday after he was caught stealing drugs from the evidence room "by various police employees." Det. Michael Koch, 44, an 18-year veteran of the department, was arrested within hours of the incident and posted $25,000 bail last Friday. The department declined to comment on the type or quantity of drug is accused of taking.

In Tucson, Arizona, a Border Patrol agent and an Arizona prison guard were arrested last Thursday on charges they had conspired to smuggle drugs into the US. Border Agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang and corrections officer Michael Lopez are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. Herrera-Chiang had been part of the Border Patrol's Smuggling Interdiction Group since March 2011, but was actually acting as a middle man between Mexican drug traffickers and Lopez. He is accused of monitoring Border Patrol radio and agent locations and notifying Lopez where the smuggling effort should occur. Both men are reported to have made at least partial confessions.

In Savannah, Georgia, a former Savannah-Chatham police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to extorting drugs and a cell phone while working off-duty at a night club while in uniform. Floyd Sawyer, 45, went down after DEA agents informed the FBI they had received reports that Sawyer and another Savannah police officer, Sgt. Kevin Frazier, were shaking down dealers at the club and taking their drugs and other possessions. FBI agents set up a sting, sending an undercover agent into the club posing as a dealer. Sawyer and Frazier shook down the agent, taking Oyxcontin pills and a cell phone from him. The pills ended up going to a local small-time dealer and the phone ended up with one of Sawyer's relatives. Sawyer pleaded guilty to extortion, but denied using force or intimidation, leaving the judge in the case to warn that he may not accept the plea bargain.

In Palm Beach, Florida, the commander of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office SWAT team has been placed on administrative leave, the office announced Tuesday. Lt. Daniel Burrows, a 17-year-veteran of the department was placed on leave January 3 amid allegations of misuse of prescription pain medication and possibly being under the influence of drugs while on duty.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Drum Beat

Just dropping in to thank you for continually beating the drum of obvious inevitability that is police corruption, and for that matter corruption on a grand scale in all levels of society from banking to government to "treatment", during a time of extended prohibition.  We saw the same with alcohol prohibition.  Our fear of the unknown is keeping us stagnant. So thank you, and continue knowing we're paying attention to your RSS feed.  Viva Sativa!

Florida SWAT commander

Your last tidbit may or may not be the result of corruption.  I know of several cases of officers injured in the line of duty who became addicted to prescription pain medications (due to mismanagement of their ails by doctors) and ran into trouble because of their pain/addiction.

 

Their mistake may have been in not seeking help for the problem, resulting in working "under the influence", but they were not corrupt.  Pain is a horrible thing that puts many people outside the law.

Mistake

@Florida Swat Commander: I agree that it's a mistake not to seek help for drug problems. I read daily accounts of people arrested due to a drug problem that has nothing to do with corruption.

seizure and over policing

The way to stop over policing and corruption is to change the way seized assets are distributed. It just begs for a corrupt police department to enrich it self and grow itself with seized assets from marijuana arrests. A free society should only be policed as much as it will allow.  clearly the people want to stop the 855,000 marijuana arrest a year and asset seizures over pot. this will never happen as long as the police are allowed to enrich and grow themselves at your expense. Your cries for help will fall on deaf ears as the police grow in numbers and are fed well. Stop the money train and you will not have so many police with so much free time to harass the public. A state appointed citizens group should distribute the seized funds and assets to any program or state project they see fit to fund with no more than 10% allowed to go back to police departments. This will stop them from going cowboy on the public. the way things are now there is no reason for them to stop. Many police do a great job and face many dangers but clearly pot smokers are not one of them. Not localizing seizure money will help correct this issue. a petition on how seizure funds are distributed would be a good way to get the ball rolling.

impunity

and again and again... Frankly, I think everyone's being a bit to airy against all our fine police officers. Everyone that serves and protects should be able to go about in uniform dealing drugs, shooting at people, covering-up shake-downs and whatever else they choose to do,,,and so so with total impunity. tania

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