Police Corruption

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Florida police department has a fine drug war racket, plus more cops with pain pill issues, a Texas deputy goes down for slinging cocaine, a former Milwaukee cop gets slapped for putting his hands in the wrong place, and an ex-Chicago cop goes away for ripping off drug couriers. Just another week of drug-related police corruption. Let's get to it:

In Sunrise, Florida, the police have made a fine -- and legal -- art of corruption around asset forfeiture by paying informants hundreds of thousands of dollars to lure would-be cocaine buyers to the suburban paradise, where the cops then relieve them of their cash and possessions under state and asset forfeiture laws. The racket brought in more than $5 million for police coffers last year, five times more than any other Broward County community. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's "Cops, Cash, Cocaine: How Sunrise's Police Make Millions Selling Drugs," tells the sordid tale with some old-school investigative reporting. It's at the link above and deserves to be read in full.

In Johnston, Rhode Island, a state prison guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he was peddling pills. James Petrella, 49, was arrested after selling oxycodone and clonazapam to an undercover officer on three occasions last month. Petrella worked at the Maximum Security Facility until being placed on sick leave in June for a work-related injury. He is now charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance. At last report, Petrella was still being held after his bail was set at $20,000.

In Dallas, a former Yoakum County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty last Thursday over his role in a cocaine distribution conspiracy. Inoe Valdez, Jr., 43, admitted to selling at least 1.5 pounds of cocaine, conspiring in a multi-hundred pound marijuana deal that never materialized, and using his cell phone to communicate with a drug trafficker. He copped to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. No word yet on a sentencing date.

In Milwaukee, a former Milwaukee police officer was found guilty last Friday of charges related to illegal strip and body cavity searches of drug suspects. Jacob Knight, 32, was one of a group of four officers led by Michael Vagnini who were accused of widespread resort to the illegal and invasive searches. Vagnini recently got 26 months in prison. Knight was found guilty of criminal misconduct and sentenced to 20 days in jail.

In Price, Utah, a former Carbon County sheriff's sergeant pleaded guilty Monday to taking drugs from the department's evidence room without authorization. Christopher Basso went down after deputies suspected he was going to the evidence room on the down low and they set up a surveillance camera that caught him in the act. He was placed on administrative leave after failing two drug tests in January, fired in February, then charged with multiple offenses in March. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, burglary, and misdemeanor evidence tampering and faces sentencing on December 2.

In Chicago, a former Chicago police sergeant was sentenced Wednesday to nearly two years in federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars from a "drug courier" who turned out to be an FBI informant. Ronald Wright, 19-year veteran of the force, was arrested along with another officer, Kallatt Mohammed, in 2012 after they were caught stealing drug proceeds. Mohammed pleaded guilty last summer, testifying that he and Watts had demanded protection payoffs from drug dealers in the now closed-down Ida B. Wells housing complex on the South Side. He got 18 months, but didn't testify against Watts, who copped a plea just before trial in July. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of theft of government funds. His sentence was greater than the 10-16 months called for by federal sentencing guidelines, but less than the 36 months prosecutors sought.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops peddling pot, cops gobbling steroids, cops with sticky fingers, and, of course, a crooked prison guard. Just another week on the drug war corruption beat. Let's get to it:

In Sunrise, Florida, a Sunrise police officer resigned Monday after he and his girlfriend were accused of selling marijuana from his home. The officer, Joseph Rodriguez-Santiago, 27, was cited last week for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and quit his job of six years after he was placed on administrative leave. His girlfriend faces two felony counts after twice selling pot to a snitch, including once while Rodriguez-Santiago was present. The two dope deals were for $20 and $40.

In St. Clair Shores, Michigan, a Roseville police officer was arrested last Thursday on federal drug charges. Officer Gregory Moore, a 10-year veteran of the department, went down in a DEA probe of steroid and performance-enhancing drug use. He faces two counts of felony drug possession and one count of maintaining a drug house. He's out on a $5,000 cash bond.

In Tampa, Florida, a Tampa police officer was arrested last Friday on charges she stole money orders seized during a drug investigation. Detective Jeannette Hevel allegedly took $1,900 worth out of the evidence room and then cashed them. She has been charged with grand theft. At last report, the 27-year veteran was still in jail after being booked in.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a former Tuscaloosa narcotics officer agreed to a plea deal Monday that would see him doing 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to theft charges. Prosecutors have accused Snyder of ripping off more than $125,000 from the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force. He had commanded the unit before retiring last year. A judge still has to approve the deal, and a hearing is set for December 5.

In Jersey City, New Jersey, a former state prison guard was found guilty last Wednesday of smuggling drugs to inmates at the state's prison for sex offenders. Bobby Singleton, 55, was found guilty of conspiracy, official misconduct, and bribery for the scheme in which he carried in heroin and marijuana and inmates paid for the drugs by wiring money to co-conspirators on the outside. Singletary is looking at at least five years in prison when he's sentenced next month.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a doozy of a corruption tale out of West Virginia, a pair of Kentucky deputies get caught peddling pills, and a Georgia deputy gets nailed for selling weed from his cop cruiser. Let's get to it:

In Williamson, West Virginia, the Mingo county sheriff murdered earlier this year is now implicated in a wide-ranging corruption scandal. Sheriff Eugene Crum was gunned down in April, just weeks after announcing a hard-charging local "war on drugs," and a local man has been arrested for his killing, but the investigation into his death uncovered a rat's nest of corruption among Mingo County officials, including Crum himself. Crum, who was gunned down as he staked out a "pill mill," was himself illicitly buying prescription pain pills from a man who made his campaign signs. Instead of paying his $3,000 bill to the man, federal prosecutors say, he successfully conspired with county officials, including the district attorney, to frame and imprison the man on drug charges. Crum was by no means the only crooked thing in Mingo County. A local judge has also been indicted on charges he had an affair with his secretary and then tried to frame her husband on drug charges. And there's still more. The whole article is worth the read.

In Pikeville, Kentucky, a Pike County sheriff's deputy and a dispatcher were arrested last Thursday on charges they were peddling dope. Dispatcher Matthew Blanton, 33, and Deputy Bradley Childers, 34, went down after an undercover investigation by the local drug task force. The two were popped after selling oxycodone to a confidential informer. At one point, Childers "became suspicious" and asked Blanton to use his police resources to identify the informant, and then threatened him. It's not clear what the precise charges are.

In Covington, Georgia, a Newton County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Thursday on charges he was selling marijuana, including from his marked patrol car. Deputy Darrell Mathis, 40, kept large amounts of marijuana in the open at his apartment in Lithonia and bragged that he didn't worry about selling marijuana because he "drives safely and flashes his police credentials to get out of tickets if he is stopped," according to a federal complaint. Mathis went down after repeatedly selling pounds of pot to an informant working with the FBI and an undercover FBI agent, and after his arrest, admitted selling between 10 and 15 pounds a week. He is charged with distributing marijuana and carrying a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He has been released on bond and is looking at up to five years on the marijuana charge and up to life on the weapons charge.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A killer Utah narc gets fired, a New Jersey cop goes around the bend, an Illinois deputy gets caught stealing from the cookie jar, an Arizona Border Patrol agent goes away for smuggling weed, and a New York City prison guard goes away for soliciting cocaine bribes.

In West Valley City, Utah, a West Valley City narcotics detective was fired last Thursday amid allegations of wrongdoing. Detective Shaun Cowley was fired for mishandling evidence found in the back of his police vehicle the day he and another detective, Kevin Salmon, shot and killed 21-year-old alleged heroin user Danielle Willard as she sat in her car. The pair were recently found to be unjustified in shooting her. That death sparked an investigation into the department's narcotics unit that revealed missing money and drugs, the misuse of GPS trackers, and the theft of personal items from seized vehicles. The entire unit was disbanded, but three other officers were reinstated after being counseled or reprimanded for their involvement in the actions leading to the accusations of department policy violations. Cowley could still face criminal charges for the corrupt activities, which have forced local prosecutors to drop more than a hundred drug cases in which he was involved.

In Edison, New Jersey, an Edison police officer was arrested last Thursday on a variety of charges suggesting an officer out of control. Patrolman Michael Dotro, 36, was already facing attempted murder charges for allegedly trying to burn down his supervisor's home in May, but now faces new charges that he bought marijuana while in uniform and conspired to sell it, slashed a woman's tires, and illegally accessed the department's records database for personal use. Prosecutors also accused him of carrying prohibited weapons -- brass knuckles and a blackjack -- in his police duffle bag. Dotro faces 17 new charges,including four counts of official misconduct and one count of engaging in a pattern of official misconduct. Each count carries a maximum 10-year sentence. The acts are alleged to have taken place before he was placed on leave after being arrested May 20 on the arson charges. Dotro was angered after his supervisor ordered him to get a fitness-for-duty evaluation with a psychologist. The supervisor acted after Dotro picked up his fifth excessive force complaint in a decade. Dotro is now in jail.

In Decatur, Illinois, a former chief sheriff's investigator was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing from the department's narcotics fund. Steven Jones had retired in 2011 after 30 years on the job, but went down after an internal audit raised questions about the fund after he retired. The investigation suggested he had been pilfering the funds, which came from cash seized from alleged drug dealers, since 2003. He was charged with theft of government property and is out on bail after posting a $75,000 cash bond.

In Phoenix, a former Border Patrol agent was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for smuggling marijuana while on duty. Aaron Anaya admitted loading up bundles of marijuana that had been dropped over the border fence between Yuma and Welton last December 2. He pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He must also do five years' probation and pay a $2,000 fine.

In New York City, a Rikers Island prison guard was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in state prison for accepting three kilograms of cocaine from an inmate in return for shortening his sentence in the Department of Corrections computer system. Robert Whitfield, 51, had been arrested after sending an intermediary to pick up $100,000 worth of the drug in what turned out to have been a sting operation. Whitfield went down after soliciting a number of inmates for a bribe, and one of them reported his offer to authorities, who set up the sting. He was convicted in May of charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy, several counts of receiving bribes, and official misconduct.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More jail guards in trouble, and a Georgia cop gets nailed for helping meth dealers. As an aside, we occasionally get news of police officers busted for their pain pill habits, a phenomenon that has been ongoing for the past few years. There were a couple more this past week. We don't include them unless they are committing other crimes -- stealing them from evidence rooms, stealing them from homes, stealing them from drug takeback boxes -- that qualify them as corrupt cops and not just strung out people. Okay, let's get to it:

In Georgetown, South Carolina, a Georgetown County jail guard was arrested August 29 on charges she supplied drugs to inmates. Kelvenia Davis faces one count of furnishing prisoners with drugs or alcohol, one count of furnishing prisoners with contraband, and one count of public official misconduct. She was jailed on a $15,000 bond.

In Malone, New York, a state prison guard was arrested August 30 on charges he smuggled drugs into the Franklin Correctional Facility. Ricky Hance, 51, is charged with official misconduct, second-degree receiving rewards for official misconduct, second-degree introduction of contraband into a prison, first-degree prison contraband and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Hance has allegedly admitted his guilt. He is currently free on $1,500 cash bond.

In Decatur, Georgia, a DeKalb County police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he helped a ring of methamphetamine dealers. William Miguel, an 11-year veteran, is accused of serving as a lookout for drug dealers and funneling confidential law enforcement information to them, as well as providing security and counterintelligence advice. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic meth. He is being held at the DeKalb County Detention Center and has been placed on administrative leave.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Even corrupt cops take the Labor Day weekend off. We've only got two this week, and they're both from before the holiday, but they're doozies. Let's get to it:

In Normangee, Texas, the Normangee police chief was arrested last Wednesday on charges he was feeding information to an alleged methamphetamine trafficker. Chief Joseph Ray Navarro, 40, was arrested by state and federal law enforcement agents after running a background check on a name for a local meth dealer. The dealer has been arrested on meth distribution charges. It is unclear if the dealer then set up Navarro. He is charged with one count of intentionally exceeding authorized access to a protected computer and is looking at up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

In Jonesboro, Georgia, a Clayton County police officer was arrested last Wednesday on charges he plotted with a drug dealer to rip off another drug dealer and sell the stolen cocaine. Officer Dwayne Penn, a nine-year veteran, got caught red-handed in an FBI sting after an informant recorded meetings between him and the drug dealer with whom he plotted. They hatched a scheme to disrupt a six-kilo cocaine transfer by staging an arrest and seizing the drugs and actually went through with it, but unbeknownst to them, the FBI and DEA were watching the whole thing. He was arrested shortly thereafter and is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, unlawfully concealing a controlled substance, and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime. He is now on unpaid leave and in federal custody pending a bail hearing this week.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two Texas cops lose their jobs, a California jail guard gets busted at the playground, a Tennessee sheriff's lieutenant cops to slinging pain pills, and an Arizona Customs officer is headed for the pen. Let's get to it:

In Blue Mound, Texas, one Blue Mound police officer was fired and another resigned Monday after they were accused of tipping off the mayor that his name had been mentioned in a drug investigation. The mayor has denied any drug involvement, but his name came up during an investigation into drug sales at a local business by the Tarrant County Drug Task Force. Task force members tried unsuccessfully four times to purchase drugs at the business. Officer Robin Wall told Officer Fred Jepsen a task force member had asked him if he had ever seen the mayor going into the business, and Jepsen then informed the mayor, who promptly called the deputy chief of police to tell him one of his officers was divulging information about an investigation. Jepesen resigned his position and Wall was fired.

In Merced, California, a Merced County jail guard was arrested last Friday not for smuggling drugs into the jail, but for selling drugs to a minor. Officer Micha Justin Imler, 34, is charged with selling to a minor on or near a school's grounds. Three other suspects were arrested on similar charges at the same time. Imler is on paid administrative leave pending a full investigation.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, a former Cocke County sheriff's lieutenant pleaded guilty last Tuesday to peddling pain pills. Richard Caldwell, a former lieutenant and shift supervisor with the Sheriff's Office, pleaded guilty to delivery of the Schedule III controlled substance hydrocodone. Caldwell went down after an FBI investigation two years ago showed he was involved in illicit prescription drug distribution. Under his plea agreement, he will be sentenced to two years in prison in October.

In Tucson, Arizona, a former Customs and Border Protection officer was sentenced Monday to 12 years in federal prison for allowing loads of marijuana to enter the US. Luis Carlos Vasquez let the loads pass through the lane he monitored at the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry. Prosecutors had sought 19 years; the defense argued for the mandatory minimum five years.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More sticky-fingered cops, including one on a DEA task force, a cop tries to cover up a fatal drug deal at his home, another cop goes away over dope and hookers, and another jail guard goes down. Let's get to it:

In Chicago, a Cook County jail guard was arrested last Tuesday as she tried to enter the jail with a backpack containing hundreds of prescription pills. Candice Grube, 45, is charged with official misconduct and bringing contraband into a penal institution.

In Ludlow, Massachusetts, a Ludlow police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he stole drugs from the department's evidence locker. Lt. Thomas Foye, 49, went down after department internal investigators called in the Hampden County DA's office which in turn called in the state attorney general's office. He was caught red-handed last Thursday morning after entering the evidence locker without authorization and exiting with what appeared to be cocaine. The former DARE officer is charged with theft of drugs from a depository and possession of a class B substance (cocaine). He's out on bail, but must remain drug free, and has been ordered to turn in all firearms.

In Woburn, Massachusetts, a Medford police officer was charged last Thursday with trying to cover up a drug deal that led to a slaying at his home. Officer Miguel Lopez, 53, went down after a 28-year-old man living at his home arranged to sell drugs to two men. The men instead robbed and killed him and another man who was visiting the home. Lopez is accused of lying to investigators and removing evidence from the home. He is charged with two counts of witness intimidation.

In Bothell, Washington, a former King County sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday on charges he stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs and other goods while working undercover for the DEA as part of a joint drug task force. Mitchell Wright, 33, went down after a Bothell police officer found a woman shooting up heroin in a van in a McDonald's parking lot in May. The van was registered to Wright, and the woman said she was an informant for him and lived with him. Wright was placed on administrative leave in July, and when his patrol was cleaned out, deputies found three baggies marked with DEA case numbers that contained traces of heroin. Investigators later determined that somewhere between $36,000 and $52,000 worth of drugs seized by Wright were never placed into evidence, including hundreds of prescription pain pills. He is charged with possession of stolen property, possession of narcotics, theft, and tampering with evidence.

In Pittsburgh, a former Pittsburgh police officer was sentenced last Wednesday to 18 to 36 months in federal prison for his role in a prostitution ring. Michael Johns, 45, beat the prostitution counts, but was convicted of providing drugs to the hookers. He was also convicted of insurance fraud, obstruction, false statements, official oppression, and conspiracy. In addition to providing drugs to the women, he also paid for rental cars for them and allowed them to use his home as a place of business.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There's trouble down South, and more out-of-control NYPD narcs cost the taxpayers. Let's get to it:

In New York City, NYPD narcs run amok in Queens have cost the city $365,000 so far in payments to settle lawsuits filed by people beaten and falsely arrested by Queens narcotics officers. Thirteen civil rights suits have been filed against nine detectives and a sergeant alleging the abuses, as well as the theft of cash during raids. The city appears to be quietly settling the claims rather than go to court where the allegations could be aired publicly. City lawyers said the settlements were "straightforward business decisions that are not in any way an indication of guilt." Some members of the squad have been repeatedly accused of picking suspects at random, ignoring due process rights and the NYPD's requirement that cops must have "reasonable suspicion" to question a citizen. The pattern of abuses in Queens North Narcotics echoes a similar pattern of claims against Brooklyn North Narcotics. Click on the link above to read some of the horror stories.

In Union City, Tennessee, a former Union City drug court probation officer was arrested Tuesday on charges she stole money collected from drug court participants. Martha Sue Moore is charged with two counts of theft over $60,000 and one count of money laundering. Moore went down after the 27th Judicial District Attorney General office requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation look into discrepancies in the reported amounts of money that Moore had collected from probationers. The investigation found that Moore had embezzled more than $63,000 from the probationers. She is now in the Obion County Jail on $150,000 bond.

In Tyler, Texas, a former Smith County sheriff's deputy was arraigned last Tuesday on a variety of charges after being caught with drugs in his patrol car last month. Kimbrick Jones, 38, faces five counts: conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of more than 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and less than 28 grams of cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute less than 50 grams of methamphetamine, use and carry of a firearm related to a drug trafficking crime (2 counts) and possession with intent to distribute less than 28 grams of crack cocaine. He is being held without bond at the neighboring Gregg County Jail pending an October hearing.

In Ashland, Kentucky, a former Ashland police officer was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison in a prescription drug and firearms case. Melvin Schoch, Jr., 30, admitted that he and two other men had conducted a home invasion robbery in the guise of a drug raid in order to score cash and oxycodone tablets for their own benefit. Schoch provided the other men with police tactical equipment and used his own service weapon in the robbery, which occurred because Schoch and the others thought they would find a large amount of pain pills and cash. They didn't. He had pleaded guilty to attempting to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone and using a firearm during a drug offense, which carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A pair of Indiana prison guards get in trouble over weed in separate incidents, a Florida deputy is apparently having way too much fun, and an Alabama cop gets nailed in a cocaine sting. Let's get to it:

In Chesterton, Indiana, an Indiana state prison guard was arrested last Tuesday after being caught reporting to work with nearly three-quarters of a pound of marijuana. Marcus Crenshaw, 27, went down after being stopped and searched as he reported for work. He is charged with one count of marijuana trafficking and is now lodged at the LaPorte County Jail. He has also been suspended without pay.

In South Bend, Indiana, an Indiana state prison guard was arraigned last Thursday on charges he had a marijuana grow-op in his home. The charges against Kenneth Bell, 26, came after police raided his home and found a dozen pot plants in the basement, along with other "drug-related materials." He is facing charges of marijuana possession and distribution. There is no indication it is connected with his job.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Broward County sheriff's deputy was suspended without pay last Friday for allegedly having sex while on duty, dating escorts, and allowing the use of drugs in his presence. Deputy Michael Hennessey came under the spotlight in February, when an ex-girlfriend ratted him out. Since then, he has been under surveillance, and investigators also used undercover officers and confidential informants to try to nail him. The investigation revealed that he was in constant contact with his live-in girlfriend, "a known escort and drug user and dealer." A Friday search warrant said investigators were looking into the possibility he had committed two felony crimes, possibly conspiracy to deliver cocaine and illegal use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

In Pritchard, Alabama, a Prichard police officer was arrested Saturday after trying to buy five kilograms of cocaine in what turned out to be a sting operation. Officer Edmund Burke is now charged with trafficking cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana. He has two previous arrests, one for interfering with custody in 2000 and one for possession of a controlled substance in 2006.

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