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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Man, the Chronicle takes a week off and look what happens: We've got more corrupt cops, sheriffs, ICE agents, and prison guards than you can shake a stick at. And a state prison mental health counselor, too. Let's get to it:

In Nogales, Arizona, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor was arrested last Friday for helping Mexican drug cartels move large quantities of cocaine across the border. Richard Cramer, the former agent once in charge of the Nogales ICE office, faces charges of cocaine trafficking and public corruption. DEA investigators said Cramer used his position to run database checks under the guise of drug investigations when he was really checking to ensure that drug traffickers he worked with were not snitches for law enforcement. He is being extradited to Florida, where federal prosecutors say a majority of his illegal acts occurred.

In Memphis, a Memphis police officer was arrested August 27 by FBI and DEA agents as part of the ongoing Operation Tarnished Blue, which targets corruption within the Memphis Police Department. Officer Lowell Duke, 33, faces federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. He is at least the 34th department officer or civilian employee to be arrested under Tarnished Blue and other investigations since 2003. Charges in those cases have included ticket fixing, robbery, prostitution, extortion and drug conspiracy.

In Tavares, Florida, a Lake County Correctional Institution mental health counselor was arrested September 3 on charges she brought drugs into the prison. Now former prison employee Julia Bedenbaugh, 39, is charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. She went down when an inmate in trouble after being caught with a contraband cell phone snitched her out. Authorities found her name and P.O. Box address on the phone, seized two envelopes from the box and got a positive hit on them from a drug dog. Police then returned the packages to the P.O. Box and arrested Bedenbaugh after she picked up the packages. One contained a cell phone and charger and the other contained two cigar tubes packed with crack and wrapped in electrical tape. She is out on a $20,000 bond.

In Monongahela, Pennsylvania, a Monongahela police officer was arrested last Friday on drug and corruption charges. Officer George Langan is accused of subverting the work of a Washington County drug task force by tipping off dealers and peddling dope himself. He is the fifth Monongahela police officer arrested on corruption charges in the past year-and-a-half in what a local prosecutor called a "culture of corruption." Langan was hit with 11 counts of violating the state drug law and 23 counts of public corruption, including official oppression, evidence tampering and criminal conspiracy. Authorities said Langan had been under investigation by various bodies for the past 10 years. He has been jailed under a $500,000 bond.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was arrested September 3 for trying to shake down an undercover internal affairs investigator posing as a drug dealer. Officer Michael Sylvester, 29, was arrested after stealing $70 from the investigator. Police later recovered three small bags of cocaine from Sylvester's locker. He had recently been transferred from the Central District's Pennsylvania Avenue task force, working one of the East Coast's largest drug markets, after complaints about him extorting drug dealers surfaced. He will face theft and drug possession charges.

In Pine Bluff, Arkansas, an Arkansas state prison guard was arrested August 29 after marijuana was found in her bra as she reported for duty. Maximum Security Union guard Michelle Anderson, 26, is charged with possession of drugs with intent to deliver and possession of a weapon on prison property. She was arrested after another guard searched her and found more than an ounce of pot in her bra. Officers then searched her vehicle in the parking lot and found a handgun.

In St. Joseph, Michigan, the former head of the Benton Harbor police narcotics unit pleaded guilty Wednesday in a corruption investigation of the Benton Harbor police. Former officer Bernard Hall, 33, conspired with another, already convicted and imprisoned, officer, Andrew Collins, to falsify search warrants, obtain warrants without probable cause, embezzle funds, file false police reports, steal money and personal property, and divert seized drugs. Hall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Benton Harbor residents. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He has been in custody since his July 17 arrest. No word yet on a sentencing date.

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, a former state prison guard pleaded guilty August 31 to smuggling drugs and a syringe to an inmate at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Cumberland County. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend he do five years. The eight-year veteran will be permanently barred from public employment in the state.

In McAllen, Texas, a former Texas sheriff was sentenced September 3 to more than five years in federal prison for helping Mexican drug traffickers smuggle drugs through his county in return for cash payments. Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra. Guerra was one of more than a dozen people indicted by a federal grand jury in Operation Carlito's Weigh, which targeted the Gulf Cartel. He pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute narcotics.

More fun for the Philly narcs, a New Jersey ICE employee goes down, and a Brooklyn drug squad supervisor gets off easy. Let's get to it:

In Brooklyn, New York, the former supervisor of an NYPD narcotics team was sentenced last Friday to 160 hours community service for stealing $40 from a drug dealer and giving it to an informant who turned out to be an undercover cop. Michael Arenella was arrested in 2007 and charged with conspiring with corrupt cop Jerry Bowers, who agreed to testify against him. But Bowers flipped-out, allegedly killed his girlfriend, and wounded another woman. Bowers is doing time for the corruption case and faces trial for the attacks. Arenalla was acquitted by his trial judge of drug possession and sales charges, and has continued to deny significant involvement in a corruption scandal that put hundreds of cases against drug dealers at risk.

In Newark, New Jersey, a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employee was arrested last Friday after allegedly trying to steal what he thought was a 110-pound shipment of cocaine. Valentino Johnson, 25, who worked for ICE's Detention and Removal Operations, was instead busted by federal agents and a New Jersey State Police SWAT team in a sting operation. He and two codefendants are charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine. They face between 10 years and life in prison. Johnston and his pals went down after one of the pals bragged to an ICE informant that the trio had been robbing drug dealers. The informant set up a meet and told Johnson a cocaine shipment would be arriving. Johnson and pals went for the bait. Now, they're in jail.

In Philadelphia, another victim of a Philadelphia police drug squad run amok has filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Jose Duran, owner of Super One Market is suing over a September 2007 raid in which members of the Narcotics Field Unit entered the store, arrested Duran for selling small plastic baggies sometimes used by drug dealers, then proceeded to take what they wanted and trash the place. Part of the raid was captured on store video cameras -- before one of the officers was seen climbing toward a camera and grabbing the wires before the screen went black. The lawsuit contends police destroyed video equipment to "cover up illegal search and seizures" and that the narcs "intentionally and maliciously destroyed property, consumed food and beverages, stole money and merchandise, and deliberately caused food and other items to spoil by their illegal search practices." Duran said $15,000 worth of video equipment was destroyed and that the narcs stole or ruined another $10,000 in cash and merchandise. The Duran case is only one of many being investigated by a joint police Internal Affairs-FBI task force after one drug officer's former snitch publicly alleged that some officers made up information to get judge's to approve search warrants. Four veteran drug officers -- Jeffrey Cujdik and his brother Richard, Robert McDonnell, and Thomas Tolstoy -- have been put on desk duty pending the outcome of the inquiry. Both Cujdiks, Tolstoy, and three other police drug officers are named as defendants in the Duran suit. Jeffrey Cujdik, McDonnell, and two others are named in a separate lawsuit.

Read last issue's corrupt cops stories here.

Resignation of Mexico's Attorney General Won't Change Much

I have an invited comment online at JURIST, explaining why the resignation of Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora won't change much. (Hint: It's Prohibition.) JURIST, which is published at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is "the world's only law school-based comprehensive legal news and research service," according to its FAQ. It's also free, archives included. I've already added it to my Google Reader.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a Deep South trio of dirty officers this week. Let's get to it:

In Brandon, Mississippi, a veteran drug enforcement officer with the Rankin County Sheriff's Office was arrested August 20. Deputy Scott Walters, head of drug enforcement and the department's drug dog officer, is charged with falsifying his time sheet. That charge is a felony. More charges could follow.

In Cochran, Georgia, a Cochran police officer was arrested August 20 on drug and other charges. Officer Elijah Mills, 30, faces charges of conspiracy to sell a controlled substance and violating his oath of office. His arrest comes as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating allegations of misconduct in the department.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy was sentenced last Friday to 10 years in prison on drug charges. Former deputy Larry Wright, 28, was convicted of attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He will also do three years of supervised release after serving his time.

Read last issue's corrupt cops stories here.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A quiet week on the corrupt cops front, but the two stories we do have share a common theme: problems with snitches. Let's get to it:

In Gaffney, South Carolina, a Cherokee County sheriff's officer was arrested Tuesday and fired Wednesday for exchanging drugs for sex with a female confidential informant. Now former Officer Troy Cooper, 56, is accused of providing marijuana, money, and other contraband to the informant in return for sexual favors between March 2008 and last week. Investigators from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) were called in by Sheriff Bill Blanton. A search warrant in the case indicates that SLED has recorded telephone conversations between Blanton and the informant.

In St. Louis, police commanders are at odds with the police union over departmental demands that up to 20 officers reveal details about their confidential informants. The department has acknowledged in court filings that "one or more" officers "have included false information in affidavits" for warrants, and says the investigation is aimed at stopping "the concerns of police abuse and violation of civil rights." At least two officers, Shell Sharp and William Noonan, have already resigned, and prosecutors have dropped 39 cases in which one or the other officer was involved. But the police union has won a temporary restraining order to block the revealing of informant information, saying it would endanger snitches and officers. Whether they can win a permanent injunction will be decided next week.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The Chronicle may have taken a week off, but corrupted law enforcers didn't take time off from their illicit enterprises, and there was no letup in corrupt cops stories. Here's this week's motley crew.

In Verona, Virginia, an Augusta County Correctional Center guard was arrested August 1 for smuggling in marijuana for inmates. Guard April Hogsett, 26, faces a Class 5 felony charge and is looking at up to 10 years in prison. A Virginia Department of Corrections Office of the Inspector General agent executed a search warrant on Hogsett's vehicle the previous day and seized a phone, plastic baggies, and letters -- but no marijuana. That search came after an informant told authorities Hogsett was to supply marijuana to an inmate known to be dealing in the jail. Authorities said cell phone and inmate money order records backed that story.

In Clatskanie, Oregon, a Clatskanie police officer was arrested August 5 for burglarizing a home to steal prescription drugs. Officer Joseph Lee Harrison, 35, was charged with burglary, theft, and official misconduct for the late July burglary. He was accused of stealing prescription painkillers, and the victims told deputies they believed he was addicted to the drugs. Harrison is out on bail.

In Crossett, Arkansas, a Crossett police officer was arrested Sunday for selling drug investigation information and other files to the target of that investigation and conspiring with him to invest in the crack cocaine trade. Officer Darrell Webb is now a former officer, having been fired immediately after being charged with second degree forgery, theft of property, conspiracy to deliver cocaine and laundering criminal proceeds. Last July, Webb stopped a vehicle driven by the drug suspect, set up a meeting at a remote location, showed him a case file on him, and offered to sell it to him for $800. The suspect gave Webb $600 and agreed to meet later to pay the balance. The next day, the suspect called Webb at work and asked him if he wanted the rest of the money. The suspect recorded that call. The pair met, the suspect paid, and again recorded the conversation, with Webb saying he had deleted the damaging information. Webb then asked if he could make a profit investing in drugs for retail sale. The drug suspect then went to the department's top brass with his information, and Webb went down. He's now in jail trying to raise $50,000 bond.

In Zanesville, Ohio, a former Zanesville police officer was sentenced July 30 to 20 years in prison for teaming up with two other former local cops to rip off drug dealers. Former officer Sean Beck and his co-conspirators Trevor Fusner and Chad Mills had all originally been charged with six felony counts after being arrested in October 2007 in the act of ripping off a drug dealer at gunpoint in a local cemetery. All three eventually pleaded to one count each of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count each of having a weapon while committing a drug trafficking offense. The trio went down after a local drug dealer went to the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office to complain they were shaking him down, making him sell drugs for them, and splitting the proceeds. He then became a confidential informant, recording various conversations, and informing authorities so that deputies and FBI agents were waiting when Beck and buddies tried their cemetery heist.

In San Diego, a former San Diego police officer was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in federal prison for giving inside information to drug traffickers. Former officer Juan Hurtado Tapia, 39, had admitted informing drug traffickers about an ongoing investigation and lying to federal officials about it. He pleaded guilty to obstructing an official investigation, making false statements, and a misdemeanor count of misusing a computer. Hurtado provided traffickers with background check information about a person they suspected of being an informer.

(Read last issue's corrupt cops compilation here.)

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A potentially very ugly scandal is brewing in the DC suburbs, a Pennsylvania cop gets busted just after buying some smack, a California prison guard was peddling PCP, and a former Miami-Dade cop cops a plea in an Ecstasy sting. Let's get to it:

In Washington, DC, federal authorities are investigating a group of Washington area police officers they suspect took money to protect a gambling operation frequented by powerful drug dealers. The officers include five from Prince Georges County, Maryland, a DC police official, and a former DC Housing Authority officer. Investigators have phone records, surveillance, and other records tying the officers to the game's operators, which include known drug dealers. Investigators are looking into whether any of the officers are linked to several killings connected to the ring. An FBI task force and Prince Georges internal affairs are investigating at least two of the officers for active participation in the drug trade and several of them for trafficking in stolen property.

In Pittsburgh, a New Bethlehem police officer was arrested last week when his vehicle was pulled over just after purchasing $450 worth of heroin. Officer Charles Edwards III faces charges of felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver; carrying a firearm without a license as a third-degree felony; possession of a controlled substance as an unclassified misdemeanor; and two traffic law violations. Police saw a pistol in plain sight in his car when they stopped him, and Edwards consented to a search of the vehicle. Police found the heroin during the search. Edwards was booked and released last week on $5,000 cash bail. He has been suspended without pay while his department investigates.

In Fresno, California, a Corcoran State Prison guard was arrested last Friday for selling PCP. Argelia Tovar went down after a three week investigation into drug sales at her home. Fresno police found five grams of solid PCP, a small quantity of liquid PCP, and a dozen PCP-laced cigarettes. It is unclear whether she was smuggling drugs into the state prison. Tovar is now on administrative leave.

In Miami, a former Miami-Dade County police officer pleaded guilty July 22 to drug charges after he got caught in an FBI undercover sting involving Ecstasy shipments. Jorge Delgado, a three-year veteran, admitted using his patrol vehicle to protect what he thought was a shipment of Ecstasy. He was supposed to get $2,500 for his efforts; instead he got arrested. Delgado faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced September 30.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug war-related corruption extends beyond cops and deputies, and this week is a good example. We've got a federal probation agent in trouble, a US Navy police officer in trouble, a prosecutor heading for prison, as well as a crooked narc and an Ecstasty-dealing deputy. Unusually, what we don't have this week is a dope-smuggling prison guard. Let's get to it:

In McAllen, Texas, a federal probation officer was arrested July 15 for using government data bases to run background checks on truck drivers for a drug trafficking organization. Armando Mora, 36, is charged with drug trafficking and bribery. He allegedly took payments from drug traffickers to do the background checks and warned them against hiring three truck drivers this year because two were undercover agents and one was one of his own probationers and an FBI informant. Mora got paid $5,000 for that last bit of information.

In Benton Harbor, Michigan, a Benton Harbor police narcotics supervisor was arrested last Friday after being indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges. Bernard Hall, 33, had supervised former Officer Andrew Collins, who was convicted of planting drug evidence and falsifying search warrants in January. Collins is currently serving 37 months in federal prison. Hall is accused of conspiring with Collins to falsify search warrants and plant drugs, as well as unlawfully seizing cash and personal property during drug raids. A second count charges him with making false statement to a grand jury investigating Collins, and the third count charges him with making false statements to the FBI and the US Attorney's Office about a drug deal by a snitch he had overseen. That drug deal never took place. Hall stepped down after being arrested. Local prosecutors are reviewing more than 100 drug cases and convictions in which Hall and Collins were involved.

In Billings, Montana, a former Carbon County prosecutor was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison July 16 on a single count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. Robert Eddleman hosted cocaine parties at his residence before and after becoming the country prosecutor in 2006. He was convicted on state cocaine charges and resigned in March. Prosecutors said he tried to scuttle at least one drug case to cover up his own activities.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a US Navy police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to cocaine possession and distribution charges. Andy Regalado, 36, has been in custody since he was pulled over for driving erratically last month. Police turned up nine pounds of cocaine when they searched his vehicle.

In New Orleans, a Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputy was indicted July 16 by a federal grand jury after being arrested by federal agents earlier this month and charged with possession with the intent to distribute Ecstasy. Kevin Whittington, 44, faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's a corrupt cops twofer for New Jersey, another twofer for Indiana, a two-for-one special on Texas deputies, and a lone prison guard in Florida. Let's get to it:

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, a Cumberland County Jail guard was arrested Saturday for trading drugs to inmates in return for money and sex. Corrections Officer Sergey Udalovas, 52, was charged with aggravated sexual assault against a female prison visitor, with whom he had sex in return for smuggling drugs in to her jailed friend. He is also charged with possession of marijuana and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. He is currently in the Atlantic County Jail on $175,000 full-cash bail.

In Irvington, New Jersey, a New Jersey Transit police officer was indicted last Friday on charges of official misconduct, drug possession with intent to distribute, and possession of a gun during a drug offense. Sgt. Barrington Williams, 47, had been arrested last July when detectives stopped his vehicle and found 3.7 pounds of marijuana, $3,600 cash, and his service weapon. Williams, a 13-year veteran of the force, has been suspended without pay. He is out on bail.

In Westville, Indiana, an Indiana Department of Corrections guard was arrested July 7 when she arrived for work at the Westville Correctional Facility. Both the Indiana State Police and the prison's Internal Affairs Division were involved in the investigation and arrest. Guard Karen Gibson, 27, is charged with one felony count of drug trafficking. If convicted, she faces two to eight years in prison. She was last reported in jail trying to make bail.

In Indianapolis, a former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was sentenced July 9 to 10 years in federal prison for ripping off marijuana dealers and reselling their wares. Former officer James Davis, 34, was convicted last month of drug possession and conspiracy to distribute. He was one of three officers indicted by a federal grand jury in the scheme, which included one "raid" where they ripped off five pounds of pot and $18,000 in cash. His two partners, Jason Edwards and Robert Lear, were convicted earlier and await sentencing.

In Lubbock, Texas, two Hockley County sheriff's deputies were arrested last Friday as part of a 110-count federal indictment aimed at the Aces and Eights outlaw motorcycle gang for a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. Deputies Gordon Bohannon and Jose Quintanilla are accused of providing gang members with information that hurt efforts to shut down the conspiracy. They and the other 28 defendants are all charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of meth, which carries a mandatory minimum 10 year prison sentence. Other defendants face additional charges.

In Sebring, Florida, a Florida prison guard was arrested last Friday for planning to smuggle drugs into the prison. Richard Pillajo, 37, thought he was conspiring with an inmate's family, but was actually talking to a Highland County Sheriff's office undercover officer when he agreed to purchase 112 grams of marijuana, 29 grams of cocaine, and 20 hydrocodone tablets and smuggle them into the Avon Park Correctional Institute in exchange for $2,500. He was charged with possession of an opium derivative with intent to sell, distribution of marijuana, trafficking in cocaine, smuggling contraband into a prison facility, and possession of narcotic equipment. At last report, he was in the Highlands County Jail trying to make a $50,500 bond.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A crooked Chicago cop goes to prison and a pair of jail guards get stung. Let's get to it:

In Chicago, a former Chicago police officer was sentenced June 30 to almost 11 years in prison for robbing drug dealers. Former officer Richard Doroniuk, 33, had pleaded guilty to racketeering and bribery and testified against another officer involved in return for prosecutors dropping a civil rights charge that could have left him looking at 30 years in prison. Doroniuk and his partner went down after they were videotaped in an FBI sting stealing $31,000 from self-storage lockers they thought were rented by drug dealers.

In Miami, an Everglades Correctional Facility guard was arrested July 2 in a sting where he thought he was negotiating with an inmate's family to smuggle a pound of pot, four ounces of cocaine, and two cell phones into the prison. Correctional Officer Shamel Watson went to collect the contraband in Collier County, but was instead met by a Collier County sheriff's deputy and arrested. It's not clear yet what the charges are, but Watson has been fired and prosecutors are promising to go after him to the fullest extent of the law.

In Amite, Louisiana, a Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday in a DEA sting. Deputy Kevin Whittington, 44, was allegedly providing drugs to inmates at the parish jail, and was arrested after a DEA snitch gave him 24 grams of crack cocaine and he agreed to take it to an inmate at the jail. He faces federal charges for intent to distribute crack cocaine, and is looking at up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine if convicted.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's been a relatively quiet week on the corrupt cops front, with just two stories this week, but one of them is a real doozy. Let's get to it:

In Memphis, a former Memphis police officer was sentenced Wednesday to a whopping life plus 255 years after being convicted of 44 counts of civil rights, narcotics, robbery, and firearms offenses. Arthur Sease IV was one of a group of rogue Memphis police officers who from November 2003 through April 2006 robbed drug dealers of cash, cocaine, and marijuana, and then sold the stolen drugs for their own profit. Sease was linked to at least 15 armed robberies during the trial. Three other Memphis police officers and two civilians have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced in the case, though none to anywhere near as long as Sease.

In Bentonia, Mississippi, a part-time Bentonia police officer was arrested Monday on felony drug charges. Officer Carl Fleming, 49, is charged with two counts of selling cocaine. He will remain behind bars until trial. He is not eligible for bail because he is already under indictment for assaulting a school teacher and was out on a felony bond at the time of his arrest.

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