Police Corruption

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A police drug lab scandal broadens in San Francisco, somebody stole the drug evidence in suburban Atlanta, a former US Customs agent heads for prison, and yes, yet another pair of jail guards go down. Let's get to it:

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evidence room of opportunity
In San Francisco, prosecutors may be forced to drop as many as 1,400 drug cases in a growing scandal at the police drug lab. That number includes as many as 400 cases where people have already been convicted and are in drug rehab programs. Some 500 cases have already been dropped, although prosecutors say they may refile charges in some cases when independent testing is done. The lab was shut down March 9 after the department learned of allegations that veteran lab tech Deborah Madden had stolen and used cocaine held as evidence at the lab last year. Now, police are acknowledging that Madden may have stolen other drugs, including Oxycontin. She has yet to be charged. Other lab techs may have been involved in misdoings as well. Defense attorneys have reported the lab saying it had tested drug samples when it appears that the samples remain untouched. Stay tuned on this one.

In Lawrenceville, Georgia, drugs have gone missing from the Gwinnett County Police narcotics locker. The theft was discovered March 19 after an audit of the locker. The Gwinnett County Police have asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine who stole the unspecified amount of drugs. In the past year, only 10 police supervisors have had access to the locker, and currently, only three can get into it. Last year, then narcotics and vice unit supervisor Lt. David Butler was busted for a similar theft from the narcotics locker.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former US Customs agent was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for taking bribes to allow designated vehicles carrying drugs or illegal immigrants pass through his US port of entry inspection lane in Brownsville. Jose Raul Montano Jr. pleaded guilty to bribery, drug trafficking, and immigrant smuggling charges in November. Prosecutors said he made tens of thousands of dollars in the scheme.

In St. Louis, a city jail guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge after being indicted for smuggling heroin into the jail. Marilyn Denise Brown, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to possess heroin. Brown admitted meeting an undercover officer and accepting a package she believed contained heroin. She was one of three city jail guards busted in a joint effort by the St. Louis Police and the DEA. The other two have already been convicted and sentenced to prison. Brown admitted meeting an undercover officer and accepting a package she believed contained heroin.

In Folsom, California, a Sacramento State Prison guard pleaded guilty Wednesday to smuggling drugs and cell phones into the prison for inmates. Domingo Garcia, 40, admitted receiving a $1,500 payment from one inmate for bringing him pot and $1,300 from another inmate for bringing him cell phones. He pleaded guilty to three felony counts and faces a one-year jail sentence.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Atlanta cop gets nailed, a Tarheel State two-fer and the de rigeuer dope-smuggling jail guard make the hall of shame this week. Let's get to it:

In Atlanta, an Atlanta police officer was arrested Wednesday for participating in multiple cocaine sales and protecting what he thought were cocaine deals, but were actually FBI stings. Officer Lucius Solomon, 31, faces seven drug and weapons counts, including conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possessing a weapon while participating in drug sales. He's facing up to 65 years in prison.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a former Burgaw police officer was sentenced last Friday to 10 years and one month in federal prison after being convicted in December of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Michael Carl Stevenson, 46, went down after traveling to Richmond County to buy a half kilo of cocaine with a convicted drug dealer and the dealer's uncle. All three were arrested during a controlled buy. Prosecutors said Stevenson had taken three Narco test kits from the department to test the drugs and that he had run the license plate of the other vehicle they met at the buy. Testimony during trial also revealed that Stevenson had stored drugs for the convicted dealer at his home and profited from it.

In Durham, North Carolina, a former Durham police officer pleaded guilty in federal court March 18 to a single weapons charge in a plea agreement that saw a drug distribution charge dropped. Sherrod Peace, 35, copped to possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime in return for the dismissal of a charge of distributing less than five grams of crack cocaine. Peace was indicted in January after Durham police received a complaint in October 2009 and investigated further, with help from the DEA. He was accused of selling crack and carrying a firearm while doing so. He is out on bond until he is sentenced in August.

In Chicago, a Cook County Jail guard was arrested March 16 after being caught going to work with marijuana in his boot and the trunk of his car. Jail guard Kenneth Crawford, 33, went down after drug dogs sniffed out the weed, and allegedly struggled with investigators as they tried to take him into custody. He is now charged with possession of contraband in a penal institution, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, official misconduct, resisting arrest and battery to a police officer.

Cops + Drugs = Corruption

It's really just that simple. As long as police are in charge of solving "the drug problem," there will be outrageous stories of police misconduct in the newspaper every morning for you to read about. It's as predictable as it is disturbing:

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Charges have been dropped or convictions vacated in 185 drug cases in one of the nation's most crime-ridden cities because information gathered in a criminal investigation of five police city officers suggests evidence could have been tainted, a prosecutor announced Friday.

One of the officers pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to conspiring with other officers to deprive others of their civil rights. Kevin Parry, who has resigned from the department, admitted he planted drugs on suspects, conducted illegal searches, threatened additional charges for suspects who refused to cooperate, stole drugs and money from suspects, and paid informants - many of them prostitutes - with drugs in exchange for information. [Washington Post]

You really don't have to look very hard to discover that many of the scariest drug crimes are perpetrated by the people who supposedly enforce our drug laws. The fact that 185 cases now have to be thrown out is just incredible and yet there's nothing even the least bit unusual about any of this. It happens constantly and it's perfectly typical that huge numbers of cases are affected by corruption scandals; the cops got away with it the first 184 times.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A lying narc, a horny narc, and yes, another crooked jail guard. Let's get to it:

In Garland, Texas, a Garland narcotics detective's credibility has been called into question, and Dallas County prosecutors say they are dismissing all his pending drug cases, a number that could go as high as 80. Garland police have also transferred almost everyone in the narcotics unit. Detective Dennis Morrow had been a "star" narc, who has testified in hundreds of drug cases, but now two of his colleagues have accused him lying about what happened in one drug case and testified in court last week that the misrepresentations were part of a pattern of misbehavior by Morrow. He has denied making fabrications, both to internal affairs investigators and in court. In the case that has opened the door to challenging Morrow's honesty, he is accused by police colleagues of falsely characterizing the behavior of a drug raid target in order to make charges stick. Morrow is now on paid administrative leave. No criminal charges have been filed against him.

In Daphne, Alabama, a Baldwin County Drug Task Force member has resigned after being accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a female confidential informant. Daphne Police Officer Jesus Villa stepped down after the FBI came forward with a complaint alleging the sexual contact. Under Alabama law, law enforcement officers are prohibited from having sex with those who are in custody, and the Daphne Police Department has asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to determine whether Villa should be charged under that law. The FBI continues to investigate as well.

In Chicago, a Cook County jail guard was arrested Monday after being caught bringing 10 grams of marijuana, a cell phone and charger, and several DVDs into the jail. Correctional officer Dwayne Jones, 25, was immediately fired since he was a probationary employee. He is charged with two counts of possession of contraband in a penal institution and one count of misconduct by an officer. He was released on $10,000 bail Tuesday.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Bad cops, bad cops, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Although the Chronicle took a week off last week, corrupt cops didn't. Here are two weeks' worth of rogues and villains. Let's get to it:

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evidence room of opportunity
In Providence, Rhode Island, three Providence police officers were arrested March 4 on charges they helped in a cocaine-dealing operation. Narcotics Detective Joseph Colanduono, Sergeant Steven Gonsalves, and Patrolman Robert Hamlin have been suspended without pay. The trio went down after a four-month investigation whose primary target was Hamlin's brother, Albert, who is described as a major cocaine dealer. Robert Hamlin, a school resource officer at a Providence high school, is accused of helping his brother avoid arrest by giving him the names of narcotics detectives and descriptions of their cars. Hamlin is charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine, while Gonsalves is charged with soliciting another to commit a crime and Colanduono is charged with conspiracy to deal cocaine and compounding and concealing a felony.

In San Francisco, drug cases are being dismissed after a police department crime lab tech admitted stealing cocaine being tested there. Debbie Madden, 60, who recently retired from the job, is accused of stealing small amounts of cocaine from evidence containers, but she has not been charged yet. San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon announced this week that the crime lab's drug testing was temporarily suspended pending an internal investigation and an outside audit of the lab. Twelve cases involving evidence tested or reviewed by Madden were dismissed Wednesday morning, and many more could follow. Local news reports Thursday night put the number of cases dismissed at "near 100." New drug cases may also be dismissed because the evidence will have to be sent to outside labs and will not be returned within the 48 hours required for the filing of charges.

In Weston, Kansas, a former Weston police officer was charged March 3 with stealing drugs from the police department evidence room. Kyle Zumbrunn, 27, is accused of stealing a controlled substance. He's already behind bars, serving a 16-month sentence for selling drugs to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation undercover agent. The new charge came after an investigation into evidence handling procedures at the Weston police department. After Zumbrunn was originally arrested for selling pills, Weston police did an inventory of their evidence room and discovered 28 morphine tablets, 45 Oxycodone pills, and 37 morphine sulfate pills were missing. Zumbrunn faces up to seven more years in prison if convicted on the latest charges.

In Lubbock,Texas, a former Hockley County Sheriff's deputy was sentenced February 27 to 36 months in federal prison for his role in a massive motorcycle gang methamphetamine operation. Former Officer Jose Quintanilla admitted using his position to supply sensitive law enforcement information to the gang and to deter law enforcement efforts to investigate the ring. Another Hockley County deputy, Gordon Bohannon, pleaded guilty to similar charges in December. He awaits sentencing.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a former Benton Harbor Police narcotics supervisor was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the residents of Benton Harbor. Bernard Hall, 33, was accused of a pattern of falsifying police reports, committing perjury, falsifying affidavits in support of search warrants, stealing money and property from citizens, and embezzling funds from the police department. Along with former Officer Andrew Thomas Collins, whom he was supposed to be supervising, Hall embarked on a "pervasive pattern of corruption." Collins is already doing 37-months for his role in the rogue operation.

In Crespatown, Pennsylvania, a dietary officer at the Western Correctional Institute was arrested February 12 after attempting to smuggle heroin in for an inmate. The arrest wasn't announced until late last month. Justin Wayne Smith, 27, went down after a drug-detecting dog alerted on his vehicle. During a subsequent search of his vehicle, officers found a balloon containing heroin and a syringe. Smith admitted to using heroin earlier in the day and said he was attempting to smuggle the rest to an inmate. He faces six charges, including intent to distribute, possession and intent to deliver drugs into an area of confinement. Combined, the charges could bring incarceration of more than 30 years and fines in excess of $65,000.

In Baltimore, Maryland, a Baltimore City Detention Officer guard was arrested February 21 for trying to smuggle an ounce of pot and a cell phone in to the prison for an inmate. Officer Shanika Johnson went down when her bag was searched as she arrived at the prison. She admitted being paid $1000 to make the contraband delivery. She is now out on $35,000 bond, with trial set for later this month.

In Oklahoma City, an Oklahoma County jail guard was arrested March 4 on charges he smuggled contraband, including marijuana, into the jail. Detention Officer Okello Adenya, 25, went down after a confidential informant told the sheriff's office Adenya was providing contraband to inmates over a two-month period in December and January. Prison guards recovered tobacco, marijuana, and a cell phone charger. Adenya admitted to the crimes and said he earned $1,100 in bribes for his efforts. He faces three felony counts of bringing and possessing contraband in a prison.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pill-peddling cop, a court officer fudging drug tests in return for pills, and, of course, the requisite crooked jailers -- just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Port Richey, Florida, a Port Richey Police sergeant was arrested February 19 for allegedly selling 1,000 Oxycodone tablets to a DEA snitch. Sgt. James Ruland, a 12-year-veteran of the force is alleged to have left work and gone to his home to arrange a deal to peddle the pills. He was arrested after selling the pills to the snitch for a $5,000 down payment. At last report, he was being held without bond in the Pinellas County Jail.

In South Boston, Pennsylvania, a Halifax County court services officer was arrested February 9 for allegedly accepting Schedule II drugs in return for falsifying drug test results, although the arrest wasn't announced until this Monday. Court officer Robert Wazeka III went down after being turned in by someone who knew what he was up to. It's not clear exactly what he is charged with, but he is out on a $3,500 unsecured bond.

In Hickman, Kentucky, a Fulton County jail guard was arrested February 18 on charges he smuggled marijuana, cocaine, and prescription pain relief drugs into the jail. Deputy Jailer Ian Whittington is charged with promoting contraband 1st degree, trafficking controlled substance 1st degree (cocaine), trafficking controlled substance 1st degree (Opiates-Oxycontin) trafficking marijuana under 8 oz., drug paraphernalia- buy/possess 1st degree, official misconduct-1st degree. Whittington went down after another jailer shared his suspicions about him with the county sheriff.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a Milwaukee County jail guard was arrested last Friday for smuggling contraband, including marijuana, into the jail for an inmate. Former guard Eric Colon is charged with delivering contraband to an inmate and misconduct in public office. Both counts are felonies, and he's looking at up to seven years in prison. Colon is accused of becoming friendly with an inmate and buying a car at a discount from his family. In return, Colon smuggled in a number of items to the inmate, including "deodorant, a hairbrush, matchsticks, two packs of Newport cigarettes, two marijuana cigarettes hidden inside a deodorant container, crushed tobacco, a container of hair grease, a fabric hair net, a Mini Bic cigarette lighter, two ink pens, 14 pornographic photographs and 20 Duracell batteries."

Latin America: Mexico's Drug War Stirs Opposition in the Streets and from the Bishops

As the death toll tops 17,000 since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the so-called drug cartels in December 2006, and with no end to the killing in sight, demonstrators took to the streets of bloody Ciudad Juárez Sunday to denounce the killing and the government's approach. The next day, Calderon's drug policies came under attack from an entirely different direction: the Catholic Church in Mexico.

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Council of Bishops event releasing report
In Juárez, where more than 2,600 people were killed in prohibition-related violence last year and 15 teenagers were gunned down last week in an incident that shocked the nation, more than a thousand people took to the streets Sunday in a "March of Anger" against the drug violence, with some leaders saying the presence of 6,000 federal troops is only making things worse.

"The army's presence is anti-constitutional and violates citizens' rights. That's why we're asking them to withdraw," National Front Against Repression leader Javier Contreras told the crowd.

Human rights and civil society groups in Juárez and, more broadly, across Mexico, have charged that Mexican law enforcement and armed forces have harassed, tortured, kidnapped, "disappeared," and killed innocent people in overzealous prosecution of the drug war. That won't work, said Contreras.

"You can't fight violence with more violence and breaking the laws," he said.

The protest came just days after President Calderon visited Ciudad Juárez in a bid to placate angry and frightened citizens. He apologized to the families of the massacred teenagers for initially blaming their deaths on gang warfare, said he was sending in 400 more federal police, and vowed to seek community cooperation in setting a new strategy against crime and violence. Still, he was booed by crowds during that visit. He returned again this week, touting a new security plan.

If Calderon is having a hard time placating angry Juárez residents, he's not having much better luck with the Catholic Church. The day after the Juárez protest, the Mexican Church's Council of Bishops issued a report critical of Calderon's drug policies.

In the report, the bishops said that using thousands of army troops to police Mexican cities raises severe human rights concerns. The bishops also pointed at a corrupt judicial system. They said many suspects are paraded before the media in "perp walks" even before being charged with any crime and called on the government to speed up police reforms so the troops can return to their barracks.

The bishops conceded that Calderon's deployment of the military initially had broad public support, but warned it was eroding. "As time passed, the participation of the armed forces in the fight against organized crime has created uncertainty in the population," the report said. "The armed forces have the obligation to respect human rights."

The bishops also harshly criticized the criminal justice system, saying few criminals are brought to justice because of corruption and inefficiency, while at the same time, innocent people are too often jailed because of police tactics. They noted that many of those people arrested and paraded before the media end up being released or charged with much lesser crimes than those announced at the time of their arrest.

The "perp walks" should stop, the bishops said. Authorities must "respect the judicial principle that someone is innocent until proven otherwise, because now we see that detainees are exhibited before the media before they are brought before judicial authorities."

More than halfway through his six-year term, President Calderon faces the threat of seeing his presidency defined by the bloody drug wars his policies have not only failed to stop, but have exacerbated. He seems to have no response except more of the same.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's prison guards gone wild this week, with 16 going down in one Florida sting alone, and one in New York City busted with a half-pound of smack. A crooked Texas border town cop cops a plea, too. Let's get to it:

In Belle Glade, Florida, 16 Florida state prison guards were among 22 people arrested February 11 in a two-year FBI undercover sting targeting drug smuggling into two Florida prisons. Eleven of the guards worked at the Glades Correctional Institution in Belle Glade. They are charged with attempting to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. The arrests went down after FBI undercover agents told guards they were members of a drug trafficking group and the guards agreed to use their positions to help transport multi-kilo cocaine loads from warehouses in Miami to West Palm Beach. The guards were allegedly paid a total of $145,000 in bribes and transported cocaine on at least nine occasions. Five other guards at Glades and one from South Bay Correctional Facility are charged with bribery for smuggling non-drug contraband into the prisons.

In New York City, a New York City prison guard was arrested Monday after he was stopped for running a red light and police found eight ounces of heroin in his car. Although eight ounces of heroin is by no means a personal use amount, Marco Villacris, 46, is charged only with possession of a controlled substance and two traffic infractions. Villacris has been a guard at Rikers Island since joining the city's Department of Corrections in August 2008. He will be fired, the department said.

In Laredo, Texas, a Laredo police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to escorting cars he believed were loaded with cocaine through the city. Pedro Martinez III pleaded guilty to one federal count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Martinez admitted meeting with an undercover FBI officer posing as a drug dealer and agreeing to escort two loads of cocaine through town, including one while he was in uniform and driving a marked police vehicle. He faces a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison and up to life. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A dope-dealing probation officer, a detective who buddied-up to a dope dealer, and a sticky-fingered small town cop make the roll-call of dishonor this week. Let's get to it:

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evidence room cash
In Cranston, Rhode Island, a juvenile probation officer was arrested Tuesday after police said he sold heroin to an undercover officer. Michael Ayer, 49, faces two counts of delivering heroin to a police officer. He went down after the State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force got a tip from an informant last month. He allegedly made repeated heroin sales to the undercover officer, and did so using his state vehicle and his state-issued cell phone. There is no indication Ayer peddled any dope to his probationers.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a Santa Fe police detective has been recommended for termination after he was caught on an FBI tape promising to provide a gun to a drug dealer "who clearly conveyed his intent to commit murder," according to police documents. Detective Jose Valencia, who headed the police union at the time of the taping, is also accused of providing an undercover narc's description to the drug dealer and making disparaging remarks about fellow officers. Valencia faced a hearing Thursday to revoke his certification as a law enforcement officer in New Mexico. That decision will be made next month.

In Moab, Utah, a former Moab police officer was arrested February 4 for stealing $900 in drug bust proceeds from his own police station. Edward Guerrero, 43, faces burglary and theft charges in the break-in, which occurred last August.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Rogue narcs in Camden, cops dealing weed out of police cars, a crooked DARE officer, cops helping dealers, and, of course, another prison guard goes down, more jail and prison guards go down. Let's get to it:

In Camden, New Jersey, the FBI is investigating corruption in a special operations team handling drugs and gun crime. The four officers involved, who have been suspended without pay, are Jason Stetser, Antonio Figueroa, Kevin Parry, and Robert Bayard. They are suspected of beating defendants, planting drugs, and bringing phony charges to enhance their arrest records and force reluctant players in the drug underworld to cooperate. Drug charges made by the rogue cops have already been dropped in seven cases, and defense attorneys say dozens, if not hundreds, more could be dismissed. The group generated a pattern of complaints of mistreatment and illegal behavior. In one case, a victim complained that Stetser harassed him to become a snitch, then planted drugs on him and arrested him when he refused. In other cases as well, suspects said the officers stole money and drugs during searches or planted drugs on suspects who refused to cough up information on dealers and their stashes.

In Earlville, Illinois, an Earlville police officer was arrested last Friday for delivering an unspecified amount of marijuana to a person who was an informant for the local Tri-DENT drug task force. Officer Sergio Javier Fuentes, 41, is charged with felony drug possession and official misconduct. According to Tri-DENT, Fuentes drove an Earlville police car to deliver the weed to a house in town. He was arrested when he drove back to the Earlville Police Department. More weed was found in his vehicle, and so was Clonazepam. Fuentes is looking at two to five years for the official misconduct and one to three years for felony marijuana possession. He is out on bail and has been suspended with pay.

In West Pittston, Pennsylvania, a former West Pittston police officer was charged Monday with improperly receiving $20,000 in grant money as compensation for DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) classes he never taught. Joseph Campbell, 47, is charged with five felony counts of theft by deception -- one for each year submitted fraudulent payment vouchers. Campbell taught elementary school DARE classes in Wyoming Area schools, but did not teach them at middle or high school level, as his payment vouchers claimed. Campbell has admitted to wrongdoing and has been fired. He was released on a $25,000 bond, with a preliminary hearing set for February 10.

In West Gardinier, Maine, a Cumberland County jail guard was arrested Wednesday for scheming to smuggle drugs into the jail. Guard Toby Post, 38, a six-year veteran, was seen taking control of a stash of drugs and was arrested trying to bring them into the jail. He is charged with trafficking in prison contraband. He is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation and out on bond awaiting a March 10 trial date.

In New York City, a former NYPD sergeant was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison for lying to DEA investigators during a drug investigation. Former officer Roosevelt Green got busted for using NYPD computers to obtain vehicle registration information for a pair of DEA surveillance vehicles and passing that information on to a drug trafficking suspect. He went down because the DEA was wiretapping the suspect and overheard the conversations. Then he lied to the DEA, and now he's going away.

In Staunton, Virginia, a former Augusta Correctional Complex guard was sentenced January 28 to 18 months in prison for smuggling marijuana to inmates at the prison in Craigsville. Former guard April Hogsett, 26, had pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and bribery. She was fired a week after her August arrest.

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