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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The evidence goes missing in Galveston, a pill-hungry cop goes down in Oklahoma, a pill-peddling cop gets popped in New Jersey, and another pill-peddling cop goes to prison in Indiana. Let's get to it:

In Galveston, Texas, large amounts of cash and drugs have gone missing from the Galveston Police Department evidence room, prompting the dismissal of 16 cases and a Texas Rangers audit of more than 2,000 other cases. Some $18,000 in cash, as well as undisclosed amounts of cocaine, Ecstasy, and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) disappeared from the evidence room last month. One civilian employee has been fired, but no one has yet been charged with a crime. Charges could be filed once the state investigation is complete, city officials said.

In Trenton, New Jersey, a Trenton police officer was arrested May 7 on charges of distribution of prescription drugs and official misconduct. Officer Nicholas Fratticioli, 24, is accused of selling more than 100 doses of muscle relaxants. Fratticioli graduated from the Trenton Police Academy in August, but has now been suspended without pay. He is currently out on $25,000 bail awaiting trial.

In Durant, Oklahoma, a Durant police lieutenant was arrested May 8 after breaking into a pharmacy in an alleged attempt to steal prescription drugs. Lt. Johnny Rutherford has admitted he was the person shown in a surveillance video breaking into the pharmacy, according to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation affidavit in the case. Rutherford, who was due to retire this year after 20 years on the job, was on personal leave when he was arrested. He is now on administrative leave.

In Clarksville, Indiana, a former Clarksville police officer was sentenced May 8 to 10 years in prison for dealing drugs. Former office Franklin Mikel had pleaded guilty to selling morphine tablets to a police informant three times in March and April 2007 at a roller rink he owned in Clarksville. The eight-year veteran officer was running for a town judge position at the time of his arrest. He was suspended from the force and later left the department.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Belated justice comes for two crooked cops, one in Dallas and one in Long Beach. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, a former Long Beach police officer was sentenced Monday to eight years and one month in federal prison for participating in a series of home invasion robberies staged to look like legitimate drug raids. Joseph Ferguson, 33, was convicted of three counts in January, including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Ferguson was part of a ring of Los Angeles and Long Beach police officers who committed more than 30 home invasion robberies, using stolen LAPD vehicles to rob homes where they thought drugs or cash were stored. Of the 19 members of the ring, 15 have pleaded guilty, two are fugitives, and two, Ferguson and his brother, another Long Beach cop, were found guilty at trial.

In Dallas, the former Dallas narcotics detective at the center of the "sheet-rock" scandal has begun serving a five-year prison sentence. Former Dallas police officer Mark Delapaz was found guilty of lying to a judge to obtain a search warrant in the scandal, which saw dozens of innocent immigrants sent to prison after being arrested by Delapaz and his partners and charged with cocaine possession. But the "cocaine" turned out to be gypsum, similar to the stuff sheet rock is made of. Delapaz was sentenced for tampering with evidence and aggravated perjury. The scandal has cost the city $4 million in payouts to victims and led to changes in departmental policy. Another officer involved, Jeffrey Harwood, was sentenced to two years probation after a jury found him guilty of lying on a police report, and cases are still pending for two other officers, Eddie Herrera and David Larsen.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

New Haven's former top narc heads to prison, a Louisiana DARE officer goes down, a South Carolina jail guard gets caught shooting cocaine, and an Idaho deputy gets caught ripping off cash and drugs. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In New Haven, Connecticut, the former head of the New Haven police drug squad was sentenced Monday to 38 months in prison for stealing thousands of dollars in supposed drug money planted by the FBI in a sting and for taking bribes from bail bondsmen. Former Lt. William White, 64, pleaded guilty last October in US District Court to conspiracy to commit bribery and theft of government property. He admitted to stealing $27,500 planted by the FBI in a car trunk and another $1,000 planted at a house after being told it belonged to drug dealers.

In Pineville, Louisiana, the Pineville Police DARE officer was arrested April 23 after a drug deal he was plotting with an informant while on duty was inadvertently broadcast over a police scanner. Officer Raymond Smith, 37, a nine-year veteran and DARE officer for the last year, was working at a local elementary school, when local law enforcement starting overhearing a conversation about taking "bricks" and "kilos" to Detroit. Smith then met with the informant, and was arrested for conspiring to obtain and distribute one kilogram of powder cocaine.

In Union, South Carolina, a Union County jail guard was arrested April 23 for stealing cocaine used to train drug dogs and shooting it up on the job. Union County Detention Center Officer Ricky Haney, 53, is charged with possession of cocaine and misconduct in office in the April 7 incident. He is now a former Union County jail guard at last report residing at his former place of employment.

In Boise, Idaho, a former Fremont County deputy sheriff was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing cash and prescription drugs from the county jail. Deputy Bradley Holjeson, 25, came under suspicion after an inmate being released asked for his cash back and it couldn't be found. An audit quickly turned up missing prescription pain relievers, and after several interviews with investigators, Holjeson resigned and moved to Boise. He now faces charges of grand larceny and possession of a controlled substance.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A perverted Oklahoma sheriff gets indicted, an Atlanta narc goes on trial, an Indiana jail guard goes to jail, a Santa Fe narc doesn't -- and a cop who made these pages three years ago is found not guilty.

We do try to follow these stories to their endings, but we don't catch everything. If there is anyone else out there who has an update we haven't mentioned, please send it on to us. In the meantime, let's get to it:

In Arapaho, Oklahoma, the Custer County Sheriff resigned April 16 as state prosecutors filed a 35-count indictment charging him with coercing and bribing female inmates to participate in sex acts. Now former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess faces 14 counts of second-degree rape, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy, and five counts of bribery by a public official, among other charges. A federal lawsuit filed by 12 former inmates alleges that Burgess and his employees had them participate in wet T-shirt contests and gave cigarettes to inmates who would flash their breasts. He also allegedly had sex with a female drug court participant after telling her she would be sent to prison if she didn't satisfy his sexual demands. Another prisoner alleges she was given trusty status after agreeing to perform a sex act on Burgess, but lost that status when she later refused. He also faces two counts each of sexual battery, rape by instrumentation, and subornation of perjury. It being Oklahoma, Burgess now faces 467 years in prison.

In Atlanta, an Atlanta police officer involved in the November 2006 raid that resulted in the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston went on trial this week in connection with her killing. Officer Arthur Tesler was one of three officers charged in the case, in which they ginned up a story to get a search warrant at her address, did a no-knock entry, then shot and killed Johnston after she opened fire on them as they burst through her door. They then planted marijuana in her basement and asked another informant to lie in an attempt to cover up their errors. Former officers Gregg Junnier and Jason Smith pleaded guilty to state charges of voluntary manslaughter and a federal charge of violating her constitutional rights and are now in federal prison awaiting sentencing. Tesler, the only one to go to trial, is charged with the lesser crimes of making a false statement to an investigator, violating his oath of office and unlawful imprisonment. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted.

In Pendleton, Indiana, a Pendleton Correctional Facility guard was arrested April 15 after police found 3.2 pounds of marijuana in his car. Tracy McGrady faces charges of bribery, trafficking with an inmate, official misconduct, and possession of marijuana over 30 grams. Police say she hid drugs in containers of frozen food to smuggle them into the prison. McGrady went down after another guard inside the prison tipped off authorities.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a former Santa Fe police detective was sentenced April 17 to three years probation for stealing money seized from a drug suspect. Former Det. Danny Ramirez, 48, had pleaded guilty January 22 to one count of theft after being caught stealing $5,000 during the May 2006 drug arrest. He was also fined $1,000.

In Chicago, a former Maywood police officer was acquitted April 15 of charges he tipped off a local gang leader about a police drug raid in 2005. Former Officer Arian Wade, 36, had been charged with criminal drug conspiracy and official misconduct after an investigation by the Cook County state's attorney's office and Cook County sheriff's police. The misconduct charge was dropped before trial. During the two-week jury trial, prosecutors alleged that phone calls between Wade and a drug suspect were aimed at helping him evade law enforcement, but the defense successfully argued that Wade was grooming him as an informant and feeding him false information to ingratiate himself. The jury deliberated for four hours before delivering the not guilty verdict.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Problems in the crime lab in Tucson, a small-town Georgia cop gets caught redhanded, and a Georgia sheriff's deputy follows in his father's not so illustrious footsteps. Let's get to it:

In Tucson, a police crime lab supervisor has resigned after being accused of stealing drug evidence. Steve Skowron, a veteran of the department for more than two decades, went down after requesting leave for personal reasons on February 27. When a fellow lab employee went to his work station to get items needed for testing, he discovered unsealed packages of drugs with the drugs missing. Tucson police said Skowron was taking the drugs for his personal use. Still, the Pima County Attorney's Office now plans to reopen up to 200 cases Skowron was involved in. He is currently accused of mishandling evidence in six criminal cases between December 2004 and January 2006. No charges have yet been filed.

In Homerville, Georgia, a Lakeland police officer was arrested April 10 for possession of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and other drugs. Lakeland Police Officer Brian King, 25, will be charged with four counts of possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. King was fired last week.

In Rome, Georgia, a former Bartow County deputy sheriff faces sentencing next month after pleading guilty to federal embezzlement charges. Former Deputy Brenton Garmon stole $80,493 in money seized in drug busts between 2004 and 2007 while making a reputation for himself as the department's best narc. He is now working for an industrial services company while awaiting sentencing. Garmon is upholding a family tradition: His father, James Garmon, was a veteran Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer when he was arrested and ultimately convicted of bribery for collecting $1,600 in cash from a pawn shop that bought 81 guns seized by his son's drug unit. He did a year in a federal prison camp before getting out last fall.

If Progress in the Drug War is Measured in Dead Bodies, It's Going Well

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has drawn praise from U.S. drug warriors for his commitment to fighting back against the drug cartels. Unfortunately, current strategies for reducing drug trade violence tend to have the opposite of their intended effect. Via New York Times, this is what you get when you really crack down on the drug traffickers:
"a hand-scrawled list of 22 officers, 5 of whom had already been gunned down in the street."

"A turf war among drug cartels has claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year."

"The number of homicides this year is more than twice the total number of homicides for the same period last year."

"Several mass graves hiding 36 bodies in all have been discovered in the backyards of two houses owned by drug dealers."

"At the height of the violence, around Easter, bodies were turning up every morning, at a rate of almost 12 a week."

"'Neither the municipal government, nor the state government, is capable of taking on organized crime,' Mayor José Reyes Ferriz said in an interview."

"The local police are outgunned, underpaid, prone to corruption and lack the authority to investigate drug dealers…"

"The first batch of 150 new recruits came out of the academy in January, but they entered a force where most officers either feared drug dealers too much to move against them or lived on their payroll."
After decades of full-scale international drug war, the central fronts in this great crusade appear before us today literally smoldering, littered with shell-casings and stained in blood. That is drug prohibition's legacy and it will not change or improve. Violence will fluctuate between frequent and perpetual. Illicit drug markets will fluctuate between high availability and totally saturation. That is just the way it is and the way it will always be so long as the people currently in charge of addressing the drug problem are permitted to continue trying their ideas.

Thus, any realistic debate over our drug laws shouldn't be spiked with fictitious references to future victories or meaningful progress. An honest defense of the drug war, if such a thing could exist, would have to defend our current conditions and claim that it would be best if things stayed this way forever.
Location: 
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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A sticky-fingered Pennsylvania cop causes a DA to drop some drug cases, a pill-pushing Massachusetts cop resigns, and an unnamed New Mexico narc is under investigation for undeclared misdeeds. Let's get to it:

In Erie, Pennsylvania, an Erie police officer's theft of cocaine from the evidence locker has led to the dismissal of cocaine trafficking charges against four men. Erie County DA Brad Foulk dropped the charges April 3 after a police inspector testified that Lt. Robert Leibel had admitted stealing 28.5 grams of cocaine that was evidence in the case in November. Foulk said the charges should be dropped because the theft broke the chain of custody of the evidence in the case. Liebel, 46, has not been charged in the November theft, but is awaiting an April 29 preliminary hearing on charges he stole another 12 grams of cocaine on February 10. The disappearance of the cocaine in November led to the investigation that resulted in Liebel's arrest in the February case.

In Swampscott, Massachusetts, a Swampscott police officer facing federal drug charges has resigned. Officer Thomas Wrenn, 37, resigned Saturday, thwarting any disciplinary action by the town and leaving him entitled to resignation benefits, including pay for unused vacation and personal time. Wrenn had been placed on leave last month after he was arrested on federal charges he possessed oxycodone with the intent to distribute. Wrenn was busted after buying 50 Percocet pills from a snitch. He subsequently admitted to providing pills to five other people, including a former Nahant cop and four young women. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

In Albuquerque, a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department narcotics officer is on paid leave while the department investigates claims of misconduct. Neither the officer's name nor the specifics of the misconduct have yet been revealed. The investigation began April 4.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cop Stories

A Pittsburgh cop rips off the evidence locker, and four Metro Detroit cops get indicted for slinging steroids, helping a biker gang, and lying to the feds. Let's get to it:

In Pittsburgh, a retired Penn Hills police lieutenant was charged last Friday with stealing thousands of dollars worth of heroin and cocaine from department evidence lockers. Former Lt. William Markel, 54, is charged with three counts of theft and three counts of possession of a controlled substance. Markel went down after narcotics detectives told the police chief 110 bags of heroin were missing from a locked evidence locker. Further investigation revealed that an additional $2,000 worth of crack and powder cocaine was gone, as was another heroin stash valued at between $200 and $2,000. According to an affidavit in the case, Markel first said he took the drugs to give to informants, but then admitted stealing heroin and cocaine for his own use on multiple occasions. He also came up dirty on a departmental drug test and was fired. Markel says he has completed in-patient drug rehab and is now undergoing out-patient therapy. He is due back in court June 2.

In Detroit, four Metro Detroit police officers were indicted last month on drug charges and for lying to federal agents and a grand jury in an FBI operation targeting the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club, the Detroit area's largest outlaw biker gang. The feds were going after the Highwaymen for alleged drug dealing, murder for hire, interstate theft, acts of violence, mortgage and insurance fraud and police corruption. Although the March 13 indictments served up only one Highwayman (for marijuana and prescription pill peddling), they did get since-fired Garden City Police Officer David Tomlan for perjury and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and steroids. He had joined the biker gang and lied to agents about his contacts with club members. Brownstown Police Officer Michael Ramsey and former Detroit reserve officer Dennis Abraham are charged with lying to agents and a grand jury, and are accused of informing club members of an informant in their midst. Hamtrack Officer Randell Hutchinson, who was assigned to the DEA's Metro Detroit task force, allegedly told the Highwaymen the FBI was wiretapping a club member. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Our corrupt cops are all southern-fried this week. An Atlanta narc cops a plea in fallout from the Kathryn Johnston case, a Mississippi cop heads for prison, a pair of Florida jail guards will be looking out from the other side of the bars, and a Florida sheriff has some problems in his department. Let's get to it:

In Atlanta, an Atlanta police narcotics sergeant pleaded guilty Monday to a federal civil rights charge for searching a residence without a warrant and trying to make it look like a break-in. Sgt. Wilbert Stallings, 44, a 23-year veteran of the force, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for an October 2005 raid where his unit had a search warrant for marijuana for one apartment, but failed to find any inside. The team then broke into an adjoining apartment, but failed to find anyone or anything, and Stallings told the team to leave the apartment and shut the door so it appeared there had been a break-in. Stallings' demise is part of the fallout from the shooting of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in 2006 by Atlanta narcs. One of the narcs involved in that killing, Greg Junnier, was part of Stallings' team and had obtained the apartment search warrant. Prosecutors said the break-in was part of a pattern of misconduct by Stallings and his team.

In Natchez, Mississippi, a former Vicksburg police officer was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison for taking bribes to protect what he thought were drug shipments. Kevin Williams, 37, was convicted of extortion last October in federal court. Prosecutors said Williams took bribes totaling $3,000 from undercover officers between November 2002 and May 2003, when he was serving as a sergeant in the city's narcotics division. He was indicted in March 2007 and arrested in Hawaii, where he was serving as an Army military police officer.

In Bartow, Florida, two Polk County Sheriff's Office detention deputies were arrested March 20 for smuggling marijuana into the Polk County Jail. Detention deputies Michael Redmond, 23, and Jarrett Brice, 34, are accused of accepting marijuana from the girlfriend of an inmate and delivering it to him. The girlfriend was also arrested. Cell phone text messages between the girlfriend and the inmate showed that six deliveries were made. Brice is also accused of altering inmate visitation records to cover up visits between the prisoner and the girlfriend and of warning Street that an investigation was underway. Both detention deputies have resigned, Street is in jail awaiting trial, and Brice is out on bail.

In New Port Richey, Florida, the arrests of two Pasco County sheriff's deputies on drug charges is leading the sheriff to evaluate hiring and drug-testing policies. Both deputies have been fired. Former Cpl. Donald Riggins is accused of conspiring to possess and distribute hydrocodone after using his patrol car to help steal $25,000 in drug money earlier this month. Former detention Cpl. Rodney Philon is accused of dealing anabolic steroids after getting caught selling 10 Dianabol tablets to an undercover informant. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office does not currently drug test its employees except when there is "reasonable suspicion," but may now consider random tests, the sheriff said.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Greedy jail guards, pill-peddling cops, sticky-fingered cops, and a sticky-fingered prosecutor. On the corrupt cop front, it's the same old same old. Here's this week's version. Let's get to it:

In Charleston, Illinois, a former Coles County assistant prosecutor is considering voluntary disbarment after being accused of stealing drugs from a Coles County Sheriff's Department evidence locker. Former prosecutor James Baba, 39, took 10 grams of marijuana from the department and never returned it after telling deputies "he needed the evidence for court purposes," according to an official with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). The ARDC accused Baba of theft in a complaint filed last August but not publicly known until now, and also noted the he successfully sought the dismissal of the case against the man to whom the 10 grams of pot belonged. While Baba had reportedly agreed to voluntary disbarment, he had not submitted paper work to the ARDC by last week, and the commission said it will move to disbar him if he doesn't do it himself. The missing marijuana was discovered after Baba had been fired in 2006 for excessive absences. State prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges.

In Cleveland, a Cleveland police sergeant got out on bail Tuesday after being arrested on charges he stole money from a department evidence locker. Sgt. Carlton Darrell, 41, is accused of stealing $5,779 while he served as supervisor of the narcotics unit. He was originally arrested in November after a four-month Internal Affairs investigation and was rearrested last week after being indicted. He is charged with theft, theft in office and tampering with records. Each count is a third degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Lebanon Correctional Institution officer was arrested last Friday for trying to smuggle heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana into the Turtlecreek township prison. John Curless, 35, is charged with third-degree felony attempting to convey drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility, fifth-degree felony possession of drugs and fifth-degree possession of criminal tools. Curless went down after the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections obtained information that he was working with a prisoner to bring drugs into the prison. He was arrested as he met with his contact to pick up the drugs headed for the prison. He faces up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.

In Swampscott, Massachusetts, a Swampscott police officer was arrested March 13 on federal charges of selling Percocet pills. Officer Thomas Wrenn, 37, is charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. According to an affidavit, Wrenn purchased Percocet pills, which contain oxycodone, over a period of months and routinely consumed them and cocaine. He is also accused of selling some pills to a former Nahant police officer and a young woman in whom he had a romantic interest. Wrenn was arrested by DEA agents and Swampscott police as he purchased 50 pills from his regular supplier.

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